back to article Ubuntu tablet threat to iPad? Nah

The founder of Linux Ubuntu has laid to rest stories of a tablet version, no doubt causing widespread relief in Cupertino. Rumours of an Ubuntu tablet circulated over the weekend, based on an interview with Canonical's VP of Alliances and OEM Services. But those rumours have now been scotched by the man in charge, Mark …

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Jobs Horns

Shame - someone needs to beat the iPad

In a sense, it's a shame: the iPad isn't quite so revolutionary, in that most apps are basically the iPhone version either bolted side-by-side (folder/item or menu/item), or fullscreen 'HD'. No sign of Minority Report or Avatar swooshing and sweeping there!

It's a fair point about the competition, however, and Linux hobbyists aren't well-known for their ability to muster the level of UI innovation and polish that would 'make' such a device. I guess it's up to Google or perhaps Microsoft(?!) to come up with the really innovative stuff then - 3D, smoothly-rotatable tag clouds from search terms, 3D rotatable hyperlinked & overlaid world maps (Hmmm...), etc.

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What are you smoking?

And you think Apple fans are drinking the cool-aid?

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Go

Oxymorons

"Military Intelligence", "Business Ethics", "Ubuntu Threat"

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And

Don't forget "Apple Morality" and "Microsoft Sincerity" in there, or people might think your being biased.

Of course most of this is a question for trading standards isn't it.

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Unhappy

What a shame

That's a damn shame, I will have to wait for the windowsy tablets to arrive then defile it with Ubuntu designed for desktops instead of for tablets

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Well, yeah, but

Windowsy tablets are already here, but in any case installing a linux system designed for the desktop is not likely to provide a better UI experience than windows, since the various linux desktop UIs suffers from all the same design limitations that the windows one does - not surprising, given that they are practically identical - which is that they are designed to be driven by a mouse and keyboard, require clicking precisely on small UI elements which you generally can't do with your finger because the contact patch is not where you think it is, require right clicks (which you can simulate with tap and hold, but then you lose some of your ability to drag stuff, or are forced into some quite dreadful workarounds)

And that's assuming that you can get drivers for your touchscreen and it's associated hardware frills like orientation sensors or buttons which sensibly ought to use HID, but quite often don't.

Efforts are afoot, naturally, to provide some of these drivers, so YMMV, but the desktop UI metaphor is sucky on touchscreen kit.

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Thumb Up

The beauty of open source

There's nothing to stop someone else from starting a 'PadBuntu' fork.

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Bronze badge

Trademarks

Canonical has a trademark on "Ubuntu"; if you name your distro *buntu without their permission, they might sic that Bono Jacon on you.

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Silver badge

True but...

Canonical is pretty good about giving permission to use 'buntu in the name of Ubuntu derivitives.

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Trademarks

There is a legitimate community use of the trademarks which are decided by the community council. If your distro is community based then they'll bless it.

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Swooshy swooshy

"No sign of Minority Report or Avatar swooshing and sweeping there!"

Give it time. It's certainly the case that much development time so far has been spent on converting people's cash cow iPhone apps to run on the iPad. This is partly due to the fact that (most) devs were working purely in the simulator and didn't get access to the hardware until the same release date as everyone else.

Note also, built in default gesture recognisers didn't appear until v 3.2 of the OS, the one that shipped with the iPad, so again devs haven't really had time to play with them properly. But they'll get there once they start concentrating on iPad only apps. Writing your own gesture recognisers, while not vastly difficult, is bit of a pain in the arse, and if you end up defining your own set and someone else defines another set, you can end up with a horribly fragmented UI experience. Users not unreasonably expect the same gesture to represent the same intention in all apps. A solid set of built-ins allows devs to follow the principle of least astonishment.

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might actually help it gain traction

If Linux is serious about the consumer market where, let's be honest, it's still not "soccer Mum friendly" then perhaps going for a more tightly controlled, simpler user-experience led solution might be a great way for them to better understand some of the problems they face when up against Windows and OSX.

If they can learn the lessons in that sandbox then maybe they can scale up desktops but without the very scary prompts desktop Linux usually brings.

At the end of the day your typical home user doesn't give a rats if they are running Windows, OSX, Linux or AmigaOS on their machine as long as it just works. Apple have proven this quite well... people will pay a premium for that (and that's not a dig at Windows... most of the problems come from pre-installed crapware that the OEMs put on because the DoJ say MS can't stop them) ... even free Ubuntu doesn't exactly have people beating a path to it's door.

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Silver badge
Linux

DOS compatabilty versus shiny happy things.

Ubuntu isn't any less "soccer mom friendly' than MacOS.

Ultimately the mass adoption of a platform comes down to "being DOS compatible" versus some mythical set of technical criteria that don't really matter in practice. This is the real problem with many websites being replaced by "apps". Cross platform interfaces are replaced by Apple-only ones. It's like a blast from the past from the 80s and 90s but with Apple in control rather than Microsoft.

Apple is great at marketing and perpetuating hype and myth.

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Joke

Linguistics

What is an African word for "You call that thing a computer ?"

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Anonymous Coward

I thought you apple haterz

Couldn't see any use for the device? SO why bother??? I don't want an iPad so why do you want something that you dont have any use for ?

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Silver badge

I don't see a use...

for the iPad. I can't fathom why anyone one would one. Especially since you can't run anything on them that doesn't have Steve Jobs stamp of approval. Now if I could have a tablet that I could run anything I wanted on it then I could see some uses for it, but not enough to actually justify buying one.

But some people do. I say give them options if they want a tablet. The iPad shouldn't be the only one on the market. Ubuntu, with it's massive progress in recent years in the area of user experience, is the ideal distro to start with if you're going to make a Linux based tablet.

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Silver badge

I'm an Apple fan

And I can't see any use for the device. If I bought one, I'd expect to have run out of things to do with it after maybe three days.

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Linux

Loverz miss the point, of course.

> Couldn't see any use for the device? SO why bother??? I don't want an iPad so why do you

> want something that you dont have any use for ?

Something that can play any video?

Something that can read any website?

Something that isn't under Apple's thumb.

The form factor isn't the problem. The problem is the fact that it is an overgrown

ipod rather than a proper MacOS tablet with all of the end user flexibility that is

implied.

Until the iPad was announced, the "lovers" would have advocated a Mac as that

which embodies all of their current rhetoric regarding the iPad.

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Bronze badge
Jobs Halo

Doing an Apple

Apple claimed for YEARS that they weren't making a tablet, but lo and behold what we have now. Perhaps this is just more Apple-mimicry from the aubergine spaceman?

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Anonymous Coward

Won't happen

Won't happen, and if it does, it won't matter. Not enough common sense to do it. The reason I say that is because many years ago everyone was looking at putting their OS on devices, Windows, Linux, Java, etc.... Yeah, they did, but the devices were slow, not very user friendly, and resembled their desktop counterparts. they just didn't take due to limited use and high price.

Apple, yes Apple of ALL companies, did something that just made sense, common sense that is, they made a device with a very friendly user interface that does it all and is easy to do.

I don't want to press a start button to and sort through a menu to select whatever task I need to do, I'd like it right there for me to easily select. apparently, everyone else does also.

After several years of seeing stuff come and go, and seeing Apple, yes, Apple of all companies just simply "do it". Well, at least someone has common sense. how many people are trying to clone Apple now? why didn't they do it way back when?

I never thought I'd see the day when Apple pulled ahead of the competition and left them in the dust with no hopes of catching up.

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Grenade

Duck sauce

If it quakes (like Quake 3) like a duck and walks like a duck...

I'm sure if Canonical does not do it someone else will on Ubuntu and elsewhere.

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Silver badge

You cant do an Apple with open source

the whole idea of apple products is to make people feel special by overcharging them for something not so special that will put them on the defensive when criticised.

Open source just isn't cut out for that kind of sado-masochistic relationship - we all know FLOSS hackers people dont have girlfriends let alone bloodied wives cowering in the kitchen for them to base their brand 'development' on.

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Defensive?

Where do you get the idea from that people who buy and actually use Apple products are defensive about it?

Sorry mate but I have never met one.

No flame intended but it always seems to me that it's tits like you who have to justify why you are so clever in choosing to use crap open source applications and a half baked OS you did not have to pay for.

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Defensive much?

>> in choosing to use crap open source applications and a half baked OS you did not have to pay for.

I don't think I'd be investing my full time into a crap half baked os. Perhaps you 'ort to consider anger management.

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Silver badge

Far to early

It's far to early for that. What's missing right now is concepts on how to actually do stuff on tablets.

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Open Source Tablets...

Are you having a laugh?

Here is the reality and why Apple deserve respect wether you buy there stuff or not:

To make a purely touch/gesture tablet style device a success (and again; like it or not the iPad is a runaway success) you need to throw out all you have developed for a desktop mouse and keyboard GUI and then spend millions of man-hours on developing a new user interface metaphor, then spend years refining it till it feels natural for Joe public to just pick up and use...

Sorry but that takes a persistence of vision; obsession with detail, and eye for aesthetics that a load of UBuntu bedroom code bashers would never be able to string together. The best they could hope to do is copy iOS.

As for all this whining that you are "so limited" by what software you are allowed to install on a non open source device... Exactly what? Believe me, if there was anything worth having that is not already available someone would develop it and make Money from it.

You may hate Steve Jobs for his perceived control freak and ruthless nature but that's what it takes to make a success out of a concept others have tried to bring to market before and failed so miserably.

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Silver badge

Actually, that's where Ubuntu's on the right track.

They are not rushing in to the tablet market. They are *not* trying to imitate iOS. It seems they understand that real innovation isn't just running after Apple and doing a half-baked attempt at imitation; real innovation is bringing something that the users will find useful.

SonyEricsson copied a half-baked implementation of the iPod menu. It sucked.

BlackBerry kind of copied the same concept ... but added "text search", which is a major improvement. They rocked.

So any "iPhone killer" or "iPad killer" will not actually be a look-alike, it will be something more useable, and quite different from the iPad.

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Go

If any distro could pull it off…

it would be Ubuntu or one of the variants. I'd guess one of the simplified-UI variants, say Xubuntu or Unbuntu Netbook Edition, could be tweaked to work well on a tablet. Android too, I suppose, seeing as it *is* designed for touchscreen devices.

I'm getting some extended play-time with my sister in law's (wifi-only) iPad, and it's nothing special hardware wise… except that screen does look soooo nice and sharp, and they've managed to keep it light without making it feel flimsy. Apple's big win with the hardware design is that they resisted the engineering temptation to cover the thing with more buttons than absolutely necessary: power/sleep on top, volume and screen lock on one side, and home below the screen. Anyone could do that… they just don't. Note that keeping the physical controls to a minimum also keeps costs down: gotta keep those margins up, right?

Start with decent hardware, put some lightweight office apps on the thing, and market the spit out of it (but it wouldn't shock me if the cost were close to the iPad's). Make sure there's plenty of other apps that will run on it, and for Tux's sake, make sure most of those apps are things that normal people would want to use.

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