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Remember Ubuntu for Android? It's not dead, but it's in limbo

A recent bug report suggests that Canonical is pushing away from Ubuntu for Android. As it turns out, the project isn't actively in development, but it's not quite dead either.

Published onApril 29, 2014


In early 2012, Canonical took its first dive into the world of mobile computing by introducing an ambitious effort called “Ubuntu for Android”. This project’s goal was simple: it was about merging the mobility of Android with the desktop-functionality of Ubuntu Linux.

Basically, this meant that Android devices running Ubuntu for Android would still work the same as always when on-the-go. When these users needed a more traditional desktop experience, however, they could hook their phone to a monitor and keyboard and their Android handsets would instantly turn into full-fledged Ubuntu computers.

This project’s goal was simple: it was about merging the mobility of Android with the desktop-functionality of Ubuntu Linux.

The Ubuntu on Android project had a ton of potential, but it was more than likely never meant to be a major area of focus for the company, and instead was simply a way to ‘break in’ to the market. In January of 2013 Canonical revealed they were expanding their mobile efforts beyond just letting Ubuntu co-exist with Android. Instead, Canonical announced what is often referred to as Ubuntu Touch.

The big difference between Ubuntu for Android and Ubuntu Touch is that the latter is designed to run as a replacement to other mobile OSes like Android, while the former was meant to compliment an existing Android installation.

It still remains unseen whether or not Ubuntu Touch can establish itself as a real alternative to Android, iOS and Windows Phone, but we have to wonder: what ever happened to Ubuntu for Android? According to a recent bug report, the project is more or less listed as dead with Canonical’s Matthew Paul Thomas stating the following:

[The website] describes Ubuntu for Android as “the must-have feature for late-2012 high-end Android phones. Ubuntu for Android is no longer in development, so this page should be retired, along with [the features section].

So does that mean the project is done for good? Yes and no. Reaching out to Canonical, we learned that while the project is no longer in active development, it’s not necessarily dead either. Here’s their official statement on the matter:

We are very happy with the reception of both the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS desktop, and the early Ubuntu phone images. We think these development show a desire in the market place for Ubuntu, and an Ubuntu for Android (U4A) solution would be a good way for it to reach users.
We still believe that U4A is a great product concept and that consumers would welcome the feature. The development within Ubuntu for U4A is complete. To take the development further requires a launch partner in order to make the necessary modifications on the Android side.
We are currently not in concrete discussions with launch partners, but we are still very much open to such a partnership. We are focused on Ubuntu for Phones at the moment, therefore we are not actively pushing for Ubuntu for Android.However, if a prospective partner steps forward, we are very much open to launching Ubuntu for Android.

Bottom-line, Canonical feels that Ubuntu for Phones (and tablets) should currently be their priority, but they are open to working with any potential partners that wish to continue pushing the U4A initiative further.