Checking Out The Ubuntu TV Prototype
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 10 January 2012 at 04:16 PM EST. 10 Comments
Today in Las Vegas I had the chance to checkout the Ubuntu TV prototype and briefly talk about Canonical with their ambitions on the television front.

First of all, after seeing the working Ubuntu TV prototype at Canonical's CES booth, I was impressed considering that it all came together in just about three months -- since the Orlando 12.04 summit where Mark Shuttleworth shared his vision of bringing Ubuntu to TVs and smart-phones. Canonical isn't ready with any Ubuntu smart-phone yet, which they hope to have ready by Ubuntu 14.04 in two years, but the TV work by them and the community is coming along quickly.

Canonical was showing off their Ubuntu TV prototype on a Samsung TV. However, Samsung is not an Ubuntu TV partner. Right now there aren't any vendors that are ready to announce plans to ship Ubuntu-powered TVs, but Canonical is still talking to the various key players.

Ubuntu TV is Ubuntu Linux with a Unity-2D-based interface and various multimedia components. Ubuntu TV can be installed from an Ubuntu PPA right now by the public (the PPA will also be available for Ubuntu 12.04, but they don't expect to have the TV packages in the main repository that would mean LTS coverage).

Besides using Unity 2D, Ubuntu TV also relies heavily on Canonical's other innovation they like, Ubuntu One. With Ubuntu One integrated into Ubuntu TV it's easy to share movies, music, etc between devices.

As far as what's happening internally with Ubuntu TV, GStreamer is being used for handling video playback since it works well with ARM and supports various methods of hardware acceleration. XBMC is also being used by Ubuntu TV for some of the meta-data parsing and other information, which is dumped via XML and then taken advantage of by Ubuntu TV. I am told though that they will be looking to strip this code out of XBMC and/or re-write the code themselves, since they don't want to carry the dependencies needed by XBMC, etc.

It was also mentioned that a TV version of the Ubuntu Software Center may be coming, Canonical is working to publish some TV user-interface guidelines, and that this interface is designed for 1080p displays. The Unity 2D interface was also designed with touch-screens in mind.

Overall it looks to be a nice first-shot at Ubuntu TV. It will be interesting to see how it develops in the coming months. For those wanting to try out Ubuntu TV packages right now or learn more information, visit

Besides showing off "TV for human beings", Canonical also had around a few notebooks/netbooks running Ubuntu (ThinkPads, etc). They also had one Motorola ARM device running Ubuntu. Well, it was actually running Android but with an Ubuntu chroot and VNC.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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