Obligatory blog post on the importance/uselessness/totally-awesome/totally-NOT -ness of an Ubuntu Tablet (which may or may not actually ever exist).
First, I think that a Linux powered tablet would be awesome. BUT, there are some caveats which I’ll get to soon. Right now, as far as I’m concerned, the best flavor for the job is Android for obvious reasons. However, I really love Ubuntu (and have for the past 6 years or so). What I love about it is how it gets better with each iteration. Easier to install, more user friendly, and packed with useful software, not to mention that it ‘just works’ right out of the box. Yes, GNU/Linux has come a long ass way from the early days of SLS and Yggdrasil. Even the distros that I started out with over 7 years after Linus built his first kernel: Red Hat, Gentoo, Mandriva, early Debian breeds, and others that required a working knowledge of partitioning and specialty disk formatting just to get to a spot where you might be able to load the X desktop and have it crash because of incompatibilities with your video card. I spent many a lonely, late night trying to install an old (Mandrake?) distro on a 486 that hated me back in the mid/late 90s.
but, I digest. This was supposed to be a quick word on a Linux Tablet.
There are as many rumors of an Android tablet coming by x-mas as there are about the alien ancestors that will come again and tell us the true origins of our race. They might all just come true just to further annoy the Apple fan-boys who will be pissed because their locked down tablet is half as useful as it really could be. An Android tablet makes more sense to me than using another distro at this point, mostly because of the Android Market. Kinda like the iTunes app store, only a little more open. Which is not to say that an open app store on the iPad is impossible, just not as popular right now.
BUT, the thing is, if you are going to build a GNU/Linux OS powered tablet, you go with one of the two biggest operators around. ie: Android or Canonical (Makers of Ubuntu Linux).
Canonical has tons of deals with different vendors, developers, codec licenses, not to mention a HUGE community following. if any Linux OS can compete with Android on a mass market consumer device it would be Ubuntu. Now, the bad news: Canonical is not planning to release a tablet OS, or join forces with a hardware vendor to produce a tablet device. What they do have right now is what looks like an awesome new interface for Netbooks, which has touch capabilities, and which apparently works great on tablets:
If you ask me it looks pretty damned good. If they wanted to, Canonical could come out with an Ubuntu powered tablet tomorrow, and make a sizable dent in the emerging market. Although, I can also see the advantages of letting Android do that under the linux flag (for now). The tablet market is just starting out, and the netbook market probably hasn’t even hit it’s peak. So from a certain angle, it makes perfect sense to just keep making the best Server/Desktop/Laptop/Netbook operating system you can. Once the tablet market has gotten on a bit and people are more accepting, then you roll out your OS with a couple vendors at a reasonable price, and make some money. I’d say that even if Android wasn’t a percieved player here, let Apple do all the leg work to building the market before getting in. Like with the iPhone… half the people who have a smartphone now didn’t know they wanted one until the iPhone hit the shelves.
And don’t get me wrong. The Apple and Microsoft mobile OSs are the best they’ve ever been. OSX made the PC operating system Sexy. Even though , imho, the sexiest one was a screen shot I saw a few years ago of a Linux system on KDE with some slick desktop effects. Windows7 is damned cool looking, and I’d like to have a look at Windows-mobile7. or whatever its called, as well. I keep going back to checking out Android devices though (esp DroidX and the Samsung Galaxy S series). Maybe it’s just the sheer open attitude of a Linux based OS that draws me (HAH! despite t-mobile trying to rootkit the G2!)
In the end, each OS fan-boy/girl will have their pick of tablets, desktops, and mobile device, each with its own good points and bad points, etc. and it won’t really matter… because there will be no end. Which is probably the best part of the future. The market demands that technology keep getting better and better and each generation of device/OS will kick the living shit out of the last and I will finally have my dream smart phone: