Ubuntu Core On The Nexus 7

A core goal for Ubuntu 13.04 is to get Ubuntu running on a Nexus 7 tablet. To be clear, this is not going to be a tablet Unity interface running on the 8/16GB Nexus 7, but instead will focus on getting the current Ubuntu Desktop running on the Nexus so that we can ensure pieces such as the kernel, power management and other related areas are working effectively on a tablet device.

Topics such as battery life, memory footprint, and support for sensors are all areas in which needs and expectations vary widely between a PC and a mobile devices. The 13.04 cycle will very much be focused on this exploration and learning and this is why we want to focus our efforts on getting the existing Ubuntu Desktop running on the Nexus 7. This will mean that some user-facing parts of the experience won’t make a lot of sense on the tablet, but we want to get the foundations optimized before we focus on these higher level challenges.

Naturally we want our community to be involved throughout this exploration and I want to talk more about how you can get involved both as a tester and as a developer.

As a Tester

To help with testing you will need an 8/16GB Nexus 7 tablet and be willing to replace the Android Operating System with Ubuntu (as such, please be sure to back up any valuable data on your tablet).

You can follow instructions of how to install Ubuntu on your device by reading the instructions at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Nexus7.

If you have any questions about the installation and setup, please post on Ask Ubuntu; we will use the mobile tag to track these questions. The Mobile development team will be regularly monitoring the questions, and we would like you folks to help answer the list of questions too if you have the answers.

When you find bugs, please use ubuntu-bug to file the bug (more details about using ubuntu-bug can be found here). Please also tag the bug with mobile so we can find them more easily.

You can also get in touch with our wider testing community in #ubuntu-testing on the Freenode IRC network.

As a Developer

If you are interested in contributing to making Ubuntu work flawlessly and optimizing the Ubuntu Desktop core for the Nexus 7, we would love to have you participate in this work.

You can find details of many of the areas that we would like to focus on over at Victor’s blog; this provides some great food for thought for performance and functionality goals.

Much of this work will be discussed at the upcoming Ubuntu Developer Summit taking place in Copenhagen from 29th Oct – 1st Nov 2012.

If you are unable to participate in person you can join the sessions remotely. For instructions of how to participate remote, see this page for instructions. You are also encouraged to join #ubuntu-arm on Freenode to discuss this work.

The following sessions are scheduled. Please note times may change, so be sure to click the link below to ensure the date/time is up to date. You can also find the appropriate blueprints linked from the links below too:

Monday – 29th Oct 2012

Tuesday – 30th Oct

Wednesday – 31st Oct

Thursday – 1st Nov

Thanks for reading!

  • Anon

    While I’m unhappy I can’t contribute as a tester, I can’t wait to see what I, as a user will get out of this. Battery life, responsivenes, those things need great improvement

  • Dragonbite

    This sounds like an awesome move forward! I wish I had one to contribute!

  • http://www.dylanmccall.com/ dylan-m

    This looks like a really nice project. I really like your focus on getting a solid foundation before diving into the tablet interface thing. Good idea! :)

    (Now, I guess I need a second Nexus 7, or some kind of dual boot setup. I don’t think I could live without this device at all times).

  • http://www.facebook.com/jjpflueger John Pflueger

    i’ll put it on a galaxy nexus!

  • Michael Schroeder

    I don’t know that I can really overhaul my N7 into an Ubuntu machine full time, but assuming the install process is quick, I’d be willing to simply flash back and forth.

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    Considering this seems to sit on top of Android itself it is going to be pretty resource heavy.

  • Anonymous

    I thought it was going to be a native install since they are trying to work on RAM usage and battery performance ?

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    It could be I guess I will comment back in a few minutes I have it flashing now but I heard from others who tried it earlier on different devices that it was pretty slow suggesting the possibility of it just sitting on top. Native running would be awesome.

  • Aleksandar Stefanovi?

    Ubuntu could learn alot about interacting with touchscreens from Android, they already devised whole UI scheme for tablet devices.

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    I was not able to get Terminal open so I cannot see what the filesystem or processes running look like http://benjaminkerensa.com/2012/10/26/ubuntu-on-nexus-7

  • http://twitter.com/andybleaden Andy Bleaden

    Yippee at last cannot wait for this to get involved

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    Jono, How is Canonical getting around the Amazon Product Advertising License which prohibits their content on Mobile Phones and Hand-Held Devices without prior written permission? https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/advertising/api/detail/agreement.html

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    Jono, How is Canonical getting around the Amazon Product Advertising License which prohibits their content on Mobile Phones and Hand-Held Devices without prior written permission? https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/advertising/api/detail/agreement.html

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    It takes about 25-30 mins for the whole process and it erases all your android data.

  • Sébastien Matte

    we, on the ” older ” transformer prime, are definitely gonna keep an eye on your project, wih the goal of maybe porting it to our tablet.. There is already linux distributions on ARM that runs on vnc, on top of android, but native will be amazing ! On top of that, tegra 3 + ubuntu 12.xx as of right now don’t mix well on that level, I am delighted to know that integration is a major goal. Thanks !

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    Ben, this isn’t a production deployment, this is a testing image

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    I believe this is the Ubuntu kernel for ARM, not the Android kernel

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    The license does not differentiate between testing and production it says its prohibited completely without prior written permission.

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

    I’m not sure you can expect an answer with regard to that. If Amazon has granted Canonical a written approval as per the language in the license, I would not expect Canonical to make such an agreement public as there is no requirement to do so.

    If Canonical hasn’t gotten written approval, then its up to Amazon to choose to cut Canonical’s access to the affiliate program for breach when they find out about the tablet image.

    Speaking of which, I guess someone needs to drop Amazon a note about possible breach and see what they do.


  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    The intent of the license isn’t being violated by testing images

  • http://twitter.com/jspaleta Jef Spaleta

    That sort of just punts the question down the line.

    Because fielding a tablet or a phone with Ubuntu installed will absolutely fall afoul of the intent . You can tiptoe around it now.. maybe..but a special agreement with Amazon is going to be needed at some point if Canonical is serious about fielding an Ubuntu phone, tv, or tablet form factor with any partners in the future or Canonical risks Amazon turning off the affiliate revenue dollars. Which would be..ironic.


  • http://www.facebook.com/penguian Paul Leopardi

    Is there a repository for this? Would I be able to install KDE once Ubunutu was running? If I did get KDE Plasma interfaces going, would anybody care?

  • Anonymous

    Battery life needs improvement on n7? – No, i dont think so. Its awesome compared to my SGS2

  • John

    That project is already there right? http://plasma-active.org/

  • monsto

    on my n7 with wifi on i get about 4 days, no shit. on my gs2 i get about 36h. Both are running standard android (not a mod). I rooted my gs2 and stopped and uninstalled all kinds of crap. on my n7 i didn’t even root it… i just stopped all the non-critical crap.

    rooting a gs2 takes about :10 including reboots. The install Titanium Backup on the junk to freeze activity and stop it from running.

  • Alex Chiang

    This is a native installation with a full Ubuntu stack. And the point of this project is to slim down the core of Ubuntu precisely to reduce our resource consumption.

    As for Ben K’s bugs, I suggest he check out the wiki with our known issues list, bugs, workarounds, etc. There is no known issue with launching apps from the dash. I bet he hit the “button1 gets stuck” issue. Try a reboot and it should go away.

  • caller9

    I think they meant battery life of N7 running Ubuntu. I am betting it doesn’t keep the processor in deep sleep states for long intervals like Android has been engineered to do.

  • vijayraj

    this is nice set and good set.

  • Teddy Reardon

    How hard would it be to make it for the nexus 10 when it is released? I think that it would be a better experience on the larger screen

  • http://www.mhall119.com/ Michael Hall

    When we do ship a tablet version of Ubuntu on tablets, then we will make sure we comply with any legal requirements.

  • Matt Fischer

    It is very easy to go back, instructions are in the wiki. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Nexus7/Installation

  • Anonymous

    We are looking further into it to ensure that we are no in breach of the terms.

  • Anonymous

    Hello sir,

    Congratulations on getting Ubuntu on the Nexus 7. I have a challenge for you now; getting Ubuntu on the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

    There already is one working Ubuntu build, but it has a broken touchscreen, broken audio, broken WiFi, bluetooth, and possibly more. However, I would be willing to pay you $30 if you can fix the issues and give us a fully working Ubuntu build for this tablet.

    Will you do it? 😀

  • NetBUG

    I’d be happy to see Ubuntu for Asus TF700. I’m ready to help making it better.

  • Trevor

    This is so funny, 30$ for developing drivers, including WiFi, which can be damn near impossible

  • Anonymous

    It’s not even developing the drivers, but rather rebuilding them with a couple of modified commits. Samsung already has out everything we need, but my computer can’t compile shit and no one seems to be willing to do it for us :(

  • richard

    are there plans for nexus4 images?

  • http://twitter.com/Sohaeb Suhaib Nabiel

    Anyone tried using the terminal?

  • http://profiles.google.com/mr.bones9 Bones X

    Hmmm, this could be good, but I would like to see this evolve to debian, and of course make a system flashable much like what we currently have, although I’m sure the latter wont be the easier of the two.

  • u976415

    Ditto with the Samsung Nexus 10. Although it is a diffferent SoC, Exynos 5, the bigger screen would be a better experience when interacting with apps designed for a mouse and a bigger screen.

  • Piotr Gajdowski

    Can’t wait! Though I don’t have an Nexus 7 tablet, but will buy it soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hyungtai.choi Hyungtai Choi

    2 weeks ago I installed ubuntu on my nexus7. After then, I used that just for a while. It is not good as a ubuntu device yet. I returned it to android.

  • http://metin2wiki.ru CSRedRat

    Great! May I find application for Ubuntu installation on the device in Google Play since the computer can not be near at hand or other operating system is installed? Must have!

  • Monica Oda

    I love Ubuntu. I like Ubuntu for my tablet.