Ubuntu operating system released for smartphones

New operating system supports desktop apps, essentially turning the phone into a mini-PC.

Ubuntu - the most successful version of the Linux operating system - has been converted for smartphones.

One of the most interesting aspects of the new platform is that it lets users install desktop software onto their handset. That means that if you attach the phone to a monitor, you basically have a PC.

Ubuntu will launch first as a downloadable file the Google Nexus 4 smartphone, replacing Android. Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, claims he's in talks with manufactures to have the system pre-installed on some handsets this year.

Ubuntu is already a well-established presence in the PC market. The operating system is free, and the company behind it - Canonical - claims that more than 20 million PCs currently use it.

Even so, Linux operating systems like Ubuntu tend to be favoured by quite hardcore techie types - "enthusiasts and hobbyists" as Shuttleworth calls them - and that's almost certain to be the case on smartphones too.

However, getting Ubuntu to work on phones could mark an important step on the path forward for mobile devices.

Speaking to BBC News , Shuttleworth said: "It's quite incredible that we're at this point when the power of the phone is crossing over that with baseline processing power of basic laptops.

"We're taking advantage of that so for the first time in history you have the full consumer PC platform available on a phone.

"I'm very confident if we look ahead over the next three to five years that's a transition that Apple is going to have to make... and if it's not Windows 9 it will be Windows 10 that will see Microsoft bring its phone and laptop together into one device. It's really cracking to do that ahead of everyone else."

Would you like to see your smartphone double up as a PC? Or would you prefer to keep your phone a phone, and your computer a computer? Let us know in the comments.

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