For about the past year now, we’ve been following Canonical’s work towards delivering Ubuntu Touch for smartphones and tablets. While we’re still not quite to the point where anyone’s ready to release a commercial Ubuntu-running phone, progress has been ongoing, and we saw official Ubuntu Touch images released with this fall’s distribution of Ubunutu 13.10. So far, the platform has felt more like something for developers or early adopters – at least until all the kinks get worked out. That’s meant a lot of ROM flashing for users interested in checking out Ubuntu every now and then while also enjoying the stability of Android as a daily driver – or at least it used to. Today Canonical announces the debut of a dual-boot release that can feature both Android and Ubuntu on the same handset, all at once.
Cards on the table: this is still pretty hacky and will take a little effort to get working right – but if you’re interested, it’s still doable. You’ll need a Nexus device (the Nexus 4 definitely works, while the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 haven’t been fully tested) that’s currently running Android (even a custom ROM like CyanogenMod) to get started, as well as a PC equipped with ADB.
Then it’s a matter of following Canonical’s installation guide while being very careful – the process replaces the phone’s recovery partition, so you’ll want to proceed with kid gloves. Once complete, you’ll be able to switch between platforms with the help of dual boot apps on each.
Even if this is far from a mainstream feature, it still sounds really great, and dual-booting may end up going a long way towards convincing hesitant Android users to try dipping their toes in the Ubuntu pool.