We basically have a two-horse race in the mobile market but there was never a shortage of attempts to have a third contender. There’s Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows Mobile attempts, of course, as well as Nokia’s spiritual successor Jolla. And then there’s Ubuntu Touch, so far still the most successful attempt to bring a mainstream Linux OS to commercial phones. Canonical basically giving up on that effort ironically caused Ubuntu Touch to become available on even more devices and the Cosmo Communicator is probably one of the best examples of what an Ubuntu phone should have been.
The Cosmo Communicator is first and foremost a computer in your pocket, one that also happens to have telephony functionality built-in. Its core use case, especially given its design, is to be used for typing with a hardware keyboard and for interacting with the OS and apps in landscape orientation. Unfortunately, Android, the world’s biggest mobile operating system, is an ill-fit for both (I’m looking at you, Instagram).
Although it was indeed designed with phones in mind, Ubuntu Touch embraced a more flexible philosophy that allows it to run on phones, tablets, and even desktops. Being based on Linux and making available popular Linux applications, Ubuntu Touch checks a lot of boxes for Linux users and geeks alike. Making good on its promise to open up the Cosmo Communicator to more operating systems, Planet Computers has been working on getting Ubuntu Touch to run the Cosmo and so far it looks like a Linux user’s dream come true.
Ubuntu Touch is, of course, primarily designed to be usable without a keyboard but it also works just as well with it. The Linux-based mobile platform also works great in landscape orientation, turning the Cosmo Communicator into a phone laptop on the go. Best of all, Ubuntu Touch’s Convergence, which turns the mobile UI into a desktop, also works when connecting an external monitor to the Cosmo Communicator.
Planet Computers is working with the UBports community and the Linux community at large to bring not just Ubuntu Touch but other distributions to its pocket computers, including the upcoming Astro Slide 5G. The company is planning a formal release sometime later this year. In the meantime, the Astro Slide 5G is still up on Indiegogo for anyone who wants to grab the discounted price perks. You might not want to wait too long, though, as the opportunity will end once production begins.