For years I have tinkered with Mythbuntu, XBMC, and other iterations of the homebrew DVR and had basically given up on maintaining the setup because it would never quite work as advertised. In fact there was a time when the only non-Linux based PC in my home was the Windows Media Center that I had connected to my TV so that all my digital content was available, but there may be hope for me yet as Canonical (the makers of Ubuntu) have announced their biggest play towards integration in every home with UbuntuTV.
By far my favorite Linux distribution, Ubuntu has long held a place in my heart and literally on my sleeve and this innovative and grand plan to integrate Linux for Human Beings into TV for Human Beings is a huge step forward for Canonical. Targeting the US and Chinese markets initially (because of content restrictions) UbuntuTV will provide a more open approach then the offerings from Microsoft, Apple or even Google.
It is about simplicity and the ability to just work that is key and will incorporate the ability to use regular Cable or Satellite TV, Online Content, Personal Content and Disk Content all from one interface. There is seamless integration to Smart Phones to be used either as a remote or as a second screen and the design operates with out wires and all from the TV.
Being integrated into Tablets, Smartphones, TVs and all forms of Consumer Devices are a far cry from the humble beginnings as a Desktop Linux but according to TechCrunch’s Scott Merrill who interviewed Canonical’s CEO Jane Silber:
CES 2012 will be the first glimpse of an expansion of Ubuntu’s reach across a spectrum of consumer devices. Canonical has a broad multi-screen strategy, and much of their work on the Unity interface to date has been laying the foundation for that strategy.
There has been a lot of discussion about the Unity Interface since it first took over as the default desktop with Ubuntu 11.04 last April and many believe that it is that decision that lead to Ubuntu losing its long term role as the most downloaded and used version of Linux on the Desktop (being overtaken by its variant Linux Mint which kept its Gnome Roots) but I have been a fan of the Unity Desktop for a while…maybe it is because of my personal adoption of it with the Netbook Remixes since 2010 but I rather like how it lets me use what is most common and in the long term and removes many of the entry barriers that are typically associated with a Linux installation (ie Terminal installs, Root Commands etc.).
Back to UbuntuTV though, the Unity Interface lends itself nicely for use from the small 7″ Screen of Netbooks and Tablets up to the gigantic 80 inch LED TVs that Sharp announced last week and it is that “multi-display” that has fueled the continued inclusion of Unity for Ubuntu.
As you can see from the images, Ubuntu TV will have a similar interface to the current Ubuntu desktop, with the launcher on the side, but there will be fundamental differences. The goal is to make Ubuntu TV the “OS for your television”, and not necessarily a set-top box. In that regard, Canonical is working with hardware partners to execute Ubuntu TV. (Jane Silber)
I was surprised to not find an option to download anything other than the Source Code (found in the Launchpad) but this is a real move forward for Canonical and really puts them on the same playing field as Apple, Google and Microsoft when it comes to digital media. I for one will be looking for an UbuntuTV as SOON as it is announced to be commercially available!
Chris J Powell