Ubuntu on a Chip: ARMv7 Devices to Get Full Ubuntu Desktops
Canonical has announced that because of increased demand from hardware manufacturers, it will begin supporting ARMv7 processors (used in many smaller and system-on-a-chip (SoC) devices) with an optimized, commercially supported, full version of the Ubuntu desktop.
The ARM version of Ubuntu is scheduled for release in April 2009, and though netbooks seem the most obvious target for this architecture, a proportionally small number of netbooks use these processors at the moment. Other types of mobile devices, embedded systems, and internet appliances use this architecture as well (the ARM Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 processors are mentioned specifically as supported chips), and it will be interesting to see how a traditionally "desktop-oriented" distribution works with them.
This step seems very much in keeping with Canonical's theory that people are leading "digital lives" and that effort needs to be made -- and shared -- between hardware and software developers to make these ubiquitous small devices functional and simple.
Ubuntu, of course, is not the first open source project to work with ARM -- the Linux kernel team, the Debian project, the GNOME project and the Mozilla community have released applications for, and continue to work with, ARM processors. Since so much of open source software's success depends on users from all walks of life and levels of experience testing software on devices in an almost limitless number of configurations and combinations, having an additional open source company (and community) putting their efforts into development might give open source software an even stronger hold in the embedded systems environment.