Ubuntu for tablets is going live and mainstream

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Everyone's favorite Linux flavor is coming to tablets, with a pre-release version of the OS slated to go live on February 21 for the Google Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.

The tablet-specific iteration of the OS features a revamped user interface (UI) for touch-screens, along with support for tablet apps.

Nevertheless, as Liliputing's Brad Linder notes, the tablet OS is essentially the same under the hood as its PC counterpart, so if you plug in a keyboard, monitor, and mouse, you can use a tablet running Ubuntu as if it were a desktop.

Meaning, users can run full-fledged desktop apps that have been coded to run on ARM-based processors, including office software, web browsers, image or video editing apps, video games and dev tools.

"You can also run desktop apps in tablet mode - but much like Windows 8 (or Windows RT), Ubuntu on tablets offers a split-panel view that lets you run a tablet app in one window and a desktop app right next to it," Linder explained. "For example, you can make a Skype video call while surfing the web or editing a document."

As expected, the tablet version of Ubuntu includes a mobile SDK for devs coding native apps, although Canonical says it will be encouraging web apps written in HTML5.

Like Ubuntu for phones, the tablet-specific version supports touch-based gestures such as swiping from the left edge of the screen to view and switch between apps. Users can also swipe down from the top of the screen to view various notifications, volume and wireless toggles, as well as other settings.

Although it doesn't seem as if Canonical will be designing its own tablet anytime soon, we can infer that an entry-level Ubuntu tablet will likely require a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 7 inch or larger screen. Meanwhile, higher-end models will likely be equipped with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 or Intel x86 processor, 4GB of RAM and at least a 10-inch display.