Friday, September 19, 2014

Mobile Stuff

Going to try and keep this short and sweet, typing it on my phone.  Google announced an Android runtime for Chromebooks.  My internal questions were, is this runtime open source (As part of Chromium OS perhaps)?  If so, could it be ported to any other flavors of desktop Linux?

Well it turns out that you can run Android apps in Chrome in Windows and Linux too.  This is very cool, and in my mind starts to explain why the browser and the OS are both called Chrome, if ultimately anything you can do with ChromeOS you can do in the browser on any platforms.

I don't like that the Play store hasn't been ported, hopefully that's coming.  Obviously Play Services would have to be ported, but it doesn't seem too lofty a goal if they wanted to do it, they've come this far already.  A half-merging of the Play and Chrome stores would certainly be interesting.  Not porting Play means I'd have to pay for apps twice and my data may not share as smoothly, and let's be honest, as it is the integration of Android apps in the Chrome web store is a bit of a kludge.

I've used a Chromebook as a daily driver (really running Ubuntu on it in a chroot).  I've had Windows 8 tablets and Android tablets. They're all found wanting for some reason or another.  But Ubuntu with the ability to run Android apps, that might take care of all my needs.  My big problem with Windows 8 was I preffered to stay in the desktop side, and it wasn't touch friendly.  The Windows 8 "apps" and the older Windows applications didn't seem to play well together, no split windows between them and they're in their own little gardens.  I didn't really care to constantly switch back and forth between them.  Also I had problems finding some apps as good as what I use on Android.  Also very few Windows 8 devices charge by microusb where nearly every Android device does.

Ubuntu for Android sounded brilliant, it would have solved all my issues.  Desktop Ubuntu and Android running side-by-side on one device, the best of both worlds.  Of course they shitcanned it.

Ubuntu Touch is ridiculous.  Do not want.  Don't call it Ubuntu, that's mistake one.  It's the Windows problem. Can I install this app on this Windows device?  Depends.  Do you have Windows 8, Windows RT or Windows Phone?  In the past seeing that a device could run Ubuntu gave me confidence, that means it could run all the tools and apps I know are available for Ubuntu.  What am I supposed to expect from Ubuntu Touch?  Can I run LibreOffice on it?  JEdit?  VLC?  SMplayer?  If the answer is no then congratulations, you've just wiped away every benefit I expected from an Ubuntu device.  A new app ecosystem started over from scratch?  As an end user why would I ever, ever pick it over Android, which doesn't have many desktop-caliber apps either but at least has a wider selection than Ubuntu Touch will?

The thing I'm still waiting for is productivity-mindedness with a touch interface on a nice tablet (like my 12.2" Note).  I'm talking IDEs, I'm talking mp3 converting, batch tag editing, bash scripts, actual professional editing apps---something I get even from ARM Ubuntu, which is pretty darn complete actually.  Windows could've done this but for some reason they split their interface in two, meaning I couldn't bring my old apps into their new touch environment.  Sorry engineers, but the solution to all my technical problems don't exist in the past two or three years' history of app development on your shiny new OS.  Some links in my workflow are a decade old.  Walling them off in old Ubuntu while you try to make Touch work feels like it would only serve to keep the serious users miles away, while offering only what every other mobile OS already has anyway.

Even a proper Ubuntu chroot in Android would be nice, none of this VPN junk.  Why no hardware accelerated xwindow?  Why no straight Ubuntu ports to Android tablets?  Remember when it seemed like you could install Linux on anything?  Android is based on Linux, isn't it?  So why can't I install ARM Linux on my darned Android tablet?

I just want one device for work and play, you know?  It's not even hard: slap a good touch interface, even a clone of Android's interface, on top of good old desktop Ubuntu and slap it on devices.  Is that so hard?

Is it?

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