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Ubuntu Phone contains CyanogenMod 10.1 code

Is Ubuntu Phone based on CyanogenMod 10.1? There's some truth to that, but Ubuntu Phone is not just another skin on top of CM 10.1 / Android.
March 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.