December 13, 2011, 10:33 AM — Canonical is showcasing a new effort to reach out and touch hardware manufacturers… an effort that coincides well not only with its ongoing desktop PC push, but perhaps also Canonical's latest drive to target the mobile device market.
The new Ubuntu Hardware Debugging site was announced in an understated way last Friday on the Canonical blog, which described the new portal as
"The odm.ubuntu.com portal content is a selection of the best articles in the Ubuntu community sites that are relevant to device manufacturers (OEM and ODMs) engineers."
Essentially, then, the new portal will link to existing content on sites like the Ubuntu Wiki; the Ubuntu Documentation sites, both the Official and Community versions; and the Ubuntu Certification site. There's even a little 23-page "booklet" of original content.
The basic idea here is to give ODMs (original device manufacturers, if anyone asks) a clear set of guidelines and procedures to implement Ubuntu in a testing environment so, ostensibly those ODMs can prep their devices to run Ubuntu.
Curiously, the focus of the content on the portal seems to be aimed at the client and server markets, not handhelds. In fact, the intro to the booklet provided by Jon Melamut, VP, Professional & Engineering Services, explicitly says so:
"We believe that by selecting Ubuntu as your Linux platform of choice and Canonical as your full service system integrator, will allow your suppliers, partners, and internal technical teams to focus on achieving the full potential of Linux in client and server computing."
I'll admit to a bit of mind reading here: I don't see it as too far of a leap to see this portal expanded to include information and content geared for mobile manufacturers, too. This would certainly fit with Canonical's stated goals to shift to that market.
In the meantime, the new portal will be useful in providing documentation to desktop PC ODMs and OEMs, should they wish to configure their products for sale to consumers. I have to question the usefulness on the server side, simply because it's not that hard to configure an Ubuntu server, when compared to the myriad of driver and hardware issues that can confront a desktop installation. Not to mention the commoditized Ubuntu servers that can be fired up from scratch on cloud services, or with the help of services like Bitnami.
This is why I have a feeling that this effort is laying the groundwork for a new kind of ODM: those manufacturers of mobile devices. Android, for instance, has a similar portal, and Canonical may have (rightly) concluded that it needed a similar portal to move forward.
I think we will see more such steps from Canonical in the weeks to come, as the company pivots to take on this new mobile challenge.
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