Canonical Plans Ubuntu Release For Tablet PCs

It's one thing when Apple tips their hat to Microsoft by announcing that Bing is now a selectable search engine within the next iOS release, but when someone in the Linux world gives a hat tip to Apple, well, we all had to check and make sure the world below wasn't frozen over. Canonical's CEO Chris Kenyon recently had a discussion surrounding tablets and slate PCs, and this is one of the lines: "The devices world is a really exciting space right now and we're really bullish on it; hats off to the iPad team for doing what they did."

There's no doubt that many people are crediting Apple to bringing mainstream attention to a form factor that failed years ago in most sectors, and now everyone seems to be putting together plans to rival the Apple tablet that has managed to sell two million units in around two months. What's interesting is that a major Linux build is also following suit, not waiting to see if this bandwagon will be short lived. Canonical is responsible for what's possible the world's most popular consumer Linux build: Ubuntu.

It's still not used nearly as much as Windows or OS X, but it certainly has a dedicated user base that's growing by the day. In the near future, we may see an Ubuntu tailored specifically for tablets, as the company strives to extend their presence in the mobile arena. According to Kenyon, Ubuntu could be customized for tablets by late in next year's Q1, with him stating that the company has "broader and bigger ambitions than just netbooks." In fact, Ubuntu already has a build made specifically for netbooks, so it shouldn't be too difficult to whittle that down a bit more for extra mobile devices.

The tablet-specific version will be built about v10.10, which is currently code-named Maverick Meerkat in keeping with tradition. There are also plans to merge the tablet and netbook OS into a single Ubuntu Light, which certainly makes a lot of sense given the move to touch even in the netbook space. It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out; Microsoft seems content with using a full version of Windows 7 even on tablets, while some consumers may prefer a more stripped-down experience. Could this be an opportunity for Linux to leapfrog Windows? Maybe!