09
Aug
07

Ubuntu Mobile On the Nokia 770/N800?

There’s been a lot of interest lately in Ubuntu’s initiative to produce an embedded version of its Linux distribution for mobile devices. Initially the consensus was that it would be x86 only, effectively ruling out any chance of it working on the Nokia tablets but pieces of information dotted about the Internet may imply otherwise.

Quoting the Embedded Ubuntu wiki page:

Suggestions were made to build “packages naitively or using pre-built cross-toolchains to build the ARM archive.”

Ubuntu Mobile should “consider [the] [WWW] Nokia 770 as potential platform for development – start with taking software from [WWW] Maemo.org, strip what seems to be not necessary (try to retain core SW as much as possible), and build on top of it.”

From the same page:

“EmbeddedUbuntu will initially cover ARM-based platforms, preferably with a LCD display. This includes ARM-based PDAs and Internet Tablets”

Another bit of information that points to a non-x86 release was Canonical Software spokesperson Gerry Carr’s comment that Intel “expects to see the first [MID] (Mobile Internet Device) devices in 2008″ which could be up to a year after the initial release of Ubuntu Mobile. This begs the question, what will Ubuntu Mobile be running on in the mean-time?


Initial development has begun on the ia32 platform and continues to gather pace in this direction although a few comments on the Ubuntu Mobile mailing list by Matt Zimmerman provides a glimmer of hope to the arm based crowd.

"If what you're asking is whether an ARM port is planned, that's wide open.
As I noted in the original announcement, this project has begun in
collaboration with Intel with an aim to support their new platforms."

We are committed to the success of UME, and ARM is clearly a relevant platform in the mobile and embedded space.

At present, we have funding for the ia32 platform work, and have plenty of
interesting work to do there in the near term. However, given a source of
funding for ARM, work on a port could begin very quickly, and all of the
work that we're presently doing to build the framework will carry over to
it.

Open source is all about alternatives. If Ubuntu does become available on the Nokia tablets I can see a lot of users at least trying it. Whether it will be better or not is another question although I do believe that Ubuntu has a more open development model than Nokia’s which can only benefit the end user.

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