To a jaded hack at a trade show, quirky oddities are like air to a drowning man, and Ubuntu for Android is certainly off the wall. Best known as a Linux alternative to desktop Windows and MacOS, Ubuntu is being re-packaged for the smart phone era by software company Canonical.
The early version I was shown at Mobile World Congress runs on a high-spec Motorola Android phone with USB and HDMI. The Android side of things worked as normal, but as soon as you plug the phone into a dock, the monitor it's connected to displays a version of Ubuntu. It's reminiscent of the Motorola Atrix, which in laptop mode used its own Linux-based OS called 'Webtop', but couldn't do much more than run Firefox.
Here you can run all kinds of programs, type using a keyboard and move the pointer using a mouse. If you have Office installed on the right kind of server, you can even run Word, PowerPoint and so on. It basically behaves like an Ubuntu laptop, but it's all running on the phone.
Files are shared between the two OSes, so contacts and pictures that exist on the Android side can be accessed on the Ubuntu side. It's intended for businesses rather than consumers, and Canonical is at the stage where it's trying to flog the software to phone manufacturers. But it is a cool demo of the technology, and could point to the sort of thing we'll all have in offices one day.
Watch the video to see it in action and let us know in the box below if you're impressed, or over on our Facebook page.