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The Biggest Ubuntu News Stories of 2013 – Part Two

If I had to choose one word to describe 2013 for Ubuntu it would be “exhausting”.

The news has been non-stop these last 12 months. We started the year not knowing a jot about Canonical’s mobile plans to ending them on the (very exciting) news that a ‘household brand’ is to launch a high-end Ubuntu phone next year!

Slice that celebratory Canonical cake down the middle and there’s a heap of equally crazy stuff in the middle: from a ginormous crowdfunding attempt, to the decision to create a brand new display server.

I looked at the defining moments for Ubuntu in the first 6 months of 2013 yesterday (if you missed it click here). But what did the rest of the year hold for Ubuntu?

July: On The Edge Of Glory

edgeJuly was the month that saw Canonical’s mobile ambitions really make waves in the mainstream media. Canonical’s jaw-achingly ambitious $32 million crowd funding gamble went live on the 22nd, with the promise to deliver a “super phone” called Ubuntu Edge – part mobile, part pocket PC – to the masses.

Things started well, with records being smashed left, right & centre. A mammoth $2 million in the first 48 hours alone! But would it last? 

The day before the Ubuntu Edge graced the pages of the wider tech press, news of a huge hack on Ubuntu’s oft-neglected forums broke. Some 1.8 million usernames and passwords were stolen in the attack which, thankfully, was quickly redressed by Canonical. 

Other notable highlights:

  • Survey showed strong developer interest in Ubuntu Touch
  • Additional mobile companies, including China Unicom and Verizon, joined the CAG
  • Ubuntu SDK hit beta status

August: On The Edge of Nothing

edgeAs far as the internet’s more logically minded citizens were concerened, the Ubuntu Edge campaign was always going to end one way: in failure. On August 22nd that failure was confirmed. Canonical’s crowdfunding behemoth managed to just eke over the 40% mark but fell some $19.2 million short of the required goal.

The perception of the “failure” depended entirely on whether you were a glass half-full or half-empty kinda person. Either way the campaign has gone down in history as the most successful least-successful crowdfunding attempt ever.

Fantasy hardware aside, August gave us tangible good news in the shape of Mir. Development on the (then, still) controversial displayer server continued, with a number of key improvements to performance features, the latter in particular regards to multi-monitor support.

Other notable highlights:

  • Ubuntu Touch App Showdown launched
  • Yet more telecom companies become members of the CAG

September: Valve Time

tile-templateThe activities of gaming giant Valve dominated the newswires in September thanks to a series of well-hyped and well-timed product announcements. These revealed, in order, a Debian-based operating system called Steam OS; an array of third-party Steam Machines using the aforementioned OS; and the unveiling of a tactile ‘Steam Controller’ for better gaming input.

Mir continued to orbit controversy, with Intel rejecting a proposed commit that would add support for xMir (a compatibility layer for running traditional applications on top of Mir) to their xf86-video-intel driver. The reasoning for the dismissal was stern and resolute:

We do not condone or support Canonical in the course of action they have chosen, and will not carry XMir patches upstream. 

Other notable highlights:

  • GNOME 3.10 released 
  • 64-bit Ubuntu downloads promoted by default 
  • German city begins distribution of CDs

October: Bland Salamander

saucy-intyThere was a collective yawn on October 17th, the day that Ubuntu 13.10 was released. While the Saucy Salamander was far from being the most feature-packed update it did bring with it some fairly decent stability and performance improvements.

Bland was not an accusation that could be levelled against the first release of Ubuntu for Phones, also released on October 17th. Version 1.0, belatedly badged ‘for developers only,’ was best described as being equal parts promising and incomplete.

Other notable highlights:

  • Ubuntu 14.04 named ‘Trusty Tahr’ opens for development
  • Ubuntu Touch App Showdown winners revealed
  • Ringtones contributed to Ubuntu Touch by Mass Effect 2 composer Sam Hulick
  • Ubuntu celebrated 9th birthday — which we marked with a cool infographic

Notable lowlights:

  • Mark Shuttleworth likens Mir critics to ‘open-source tea party’
  • Ubuntu wins Austrian ‘Big Brother’ award for “spyware” shopping lens feature

November: Iconorific

Ubuntu's new icons on Ubuntu for TabletsAfter several long years and numerous assurances that it would happen one day, November gave us our first glimpse of a revamped icon set for the Ubuntu desktop. Tentatively scheduled to ship in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the theme is based heavily on the Ubuntu Touch iconography.

Other notable highlights:

  • A new Ubuntu Touch emulator sees initial release
  • Mark Shuttleworth hints that ‘Household Names’ are interested in Ubuntu Touch

December: Wait, Already?!

Untitled-22-350x200And here we are already – December! This month we learnt that Canonical have a hardware partner ready and waiting to ship the first Ubuntu Touch phone in 2014. We still don’t know the precise name of the company involved (and we don’t expect to hear it before January’s CES event) but, based on previous hints by Mark Shuttleworth, they are likely to be a well known brand…

Other notable highlights:

  • Canonical announce Weather.com Touch app in progress 
  • Ubuntu flavours will release first 14.04 alpha releases

What has been your standout moment of 2013? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.