I have been vaguely following ubuntu’s attempt to dominate the mobile phone market. It promised to be the best mobile OS for phones and tablets while adding the feature of turning into a fully functional ubuntu desktop when docked. At first it was said that it would also support Android apps, which turned out… well, more on that later.
Next came that big crowdfounding campaign for ubuntu Edge, the cutting edge phone (hardware). Everyone was excited, as it promised the best phone ever built. However, they did not get the 32 million USD that they pledged for.
Little by little my interest in ubuntu’s platform grew. It spiked when I saw that ubuntu actually supports Nexus 4 as a hardware platform for ubuntu Touch, ubuntu’s mobile OS. I was intrigued, I had to try it out. I made all the necessary backups of my Nexus 4 and the ubuntufication of it was next. All the tools to flash were easy to install (just add one PPA and apt-get update and install some of the software and you have everything needed to turn your Nexus into an ubuntu device). The only thing I needed to do on the Nexus was fastboot oem unlock.
The installer downloaded all of the image and update files, and it started flashing my phone. Soon, I hit my first bump. I had to run the installer with sudo, otherwise I my Nexus got stuck in fastboot, waiting for something to happen. I was happy I got past this first bump, but soon after the installer seemed to do nothing. I wiped /data and /cache partitions multiple times, with no success. I tried running the installer a few times, but when it was supposed to boot up the newly installed system, it just sat there with the display turned off. Creepy! It looked like I was not going to get to see ubuntu touch on my Nexus, but then I did a bold thing. I tried powering on the phone. I have no idea how, but it actually turned on and booted into ubuntu. Rejoice! I have successfully installed ubuntu on the Nexie.
I might have a lot more experience with flashing Android devices and it is usually not as spooky as was this one. You usually flash the recovery image and then install everything using .zip files. Simple. But this all-in-one “installer” was a bit mushy and I didn’t feel like I have control of what’s going on with my phone. There are also .zip files available, so you can manually flash them through recovery, but I was too lazy to match up all those files (one for system, boot image, recovery, yadi yadi yadi yada…).
The spooky part of the installation process was that when the installer was flashing something on the phone, the screen was black. Turned off black. That is why I love the update.zip methods from recovery, as they at least show an informative log of what’s going on.
So, Ubuntu Touch awaits my testing. So far, so good. Spooky, but ok. Now let’s see if Ubuntu Touch performs as promised…
(To be continued…)