Ubuntu Phone contains CyanogenMod 10.1 code

by: Chris SmithMarch 5, 2013


Is Ubuntu Phone based on CyanogenMod 10.1? This apparently simple question is not that simple to answer.

A new PocketNow report has explored this particular issue and found certain similarities between the two smartphone operating systems. But while the similarities are there, it doesn’t mean Ubuntu Phone is just built on top of CyanogenMod, and therefore just a customizable Android version:

First off, Ubuntu for Phones uses the same “basis” as CyanogenMod, by separating the various layers in such a manner that the UI and some of the operating system are essentially the “frosting” on top of the “cake”. The cake is the foundation. This makes it easier for developers to focus on “tweaking the recipe” for various hardware platforms. It sounds kind of backwards, since the frosting is already done and developers are baking the cake inside it, but that’s as close to a functional metaphor as I can get. That’s the way CyanogenMod does business, too — and it’s ridiculously successful! Ubuntu for Phones uses a similar methodology, so releasing the OS onto new devices shouldn’t be too terribly difficult.

Various people have found that Ubuntu Phone uses code taken directly from the CyanogenMod repository, which in turn is based on AOSP. But that doesn’t make Ubuntu Phone just a CyanogenMod skin of some sort – or an Android skin for that matter. At the end of the day, we’re talking about different open source projects that are, one way or the other, based on Linux.

Moreover, Canonical openly admits the use of CM code in the “Android layer” of Ubuntu Phone:

You can find all the needed Android code on the Android layer’s public git repositories. This is essentially a mirror of CyanogenMod 10.1, but containing only the needed low level services used by Android (e.g. no Dalvik at all).


And while Ubuntu Phone may share some code with CyanogenMod, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to run Android apps on Ubuntu Phone. Sure, in the future we’ll probably see developers come up with smart ways of running Android apps on Ubuntu Phones, but meanwhile that’s not possible.

Are you looking forward for Ubuntu Phones to become official?

Update: An earlier version of this post suggested that there’s a “scandal” in the open source community over the use of CM code in Ubuntu phone. That is not the case.

  • Njck Atkins

    What a terrible article. Question from the title was never answered. An answer was barely attempted

  • Terrible writing. Sensationalism at its worst. If you check the Ubuntu code you can see the CM base in there. The reason why is that CyanogenMod runs on more devices than AOSP. However it’s not Android because it doesn’t have the Dalvik which is what makes Android actually Android. It’s such a non-story.

  • While I did not liked the article, it’s worth mentioning that it’s like this just for now.

    Canonical will move away from the Android kernel and display server soon, and I assume the same will happen with a lot more stuffs.

  • https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MirSpec#On_Android_Drivers this explains more than this article does

  • kobazik

    Miss leading article. People should do they home work first before they attack others.

  • Mike Bastable

    Now this IS strange. Seems criticism or any remarks not purely full of praise and hallelujahs is now not only reserved for Samsung but also for Ubuntu mobile…which is certainly promising for Canonical.
    Chris’ article is a simplication of the issue, suited to a page aimed at Android users / fans. So why all the hate?

  • Adam Outler

    Horrible article. This is the open-source way. Code is written in hopes that it will be used and cary on into the future. The fact that the code is used is a good thing. As long as the copyrighted GPL header stays on the file, with notices about what has been modified, this is what is intended.