Open source operating system Ubuntu has moved closer to entering the mobile space after Canonical, the organisation behind it, invited its members to provide their thoughts on the development of an Ubuntu mobile operating system.

Canonical, which is also looking to develop Ubuntu for smart TVs and tablets by 2014, has launched three new discussion threads to enable “discussion” amongst its community to shape the new projects that will take Ubuntu beyond the desktop computing space.

Initial feedback has been as mixed as it was when the organisation announced its intention to explore mobile last month. In response to a comment suggesting that Ubuntu should avoid mobile altogether, Mika Meskanen, Canonical’s interaction design lead for Ubuntu Phone at, posted an interesting comment explaining the focus on mobile, which he says will not affect its desktop system:

Ubuntu is not a stagnant concept. Computing is irreversibly shifting towards mobile platforms and so are the users. Ubuntu must be where the human beings are.

Also, the Ubuntu Desktop is not going anywhere, it’s getting a lot of love from both designers and developers at the moment.

As for the future – a refined, stable and lively desktop OS is in our full interest. With Unity we can deliver Ubuntu phones that possess the full productive capabilities of an desktop environment when connected to the right set of peripherals (e.g. display, keyboard).

Speaking last month on the decision to explore the possibilities of a mobile OS, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth explained that Ubuntu could help OEMs by providing an alternative to Apple, Android and other established players in the mobile industry.

OEMs have tough choices. They can build their own operating system, such as what HP did for a while with webOS or work in a consortium. Consortiums can’t win. They can’t take a forceful, direct view with their products. The smartest OEM strategy is to play people off against each other. Thus, some OEMs want to have Ubuntu as a disruptive element. A strong Ubuntu can be both more co-operative with OEMs than a larger company and give them leverage with Google and Microsoft.

As for consumers, writing on his blog, Shuttleworth is optimistic that the development of Ubuntu will “bring more free software to more people in more delightful ways than ever before”.

It will be interesting to see how the Ubuntu community responds to the chance to discuss the move into mobile.