A 360-Degree View of Ubuntu TV
By on January 10th, 2012

Ubuntu has unveiled its next technology, which aims at enriching our TV viewing experience. This product competes with the likes of Google TV and Samsung Smart TV, and it is called the Ubuntu TV. If Canonical manages a partnership with the right OEMs, A TV with this application can hit the shelves by the end of this year. You can read about the Ubuntu TV release at this page.

Interesting Features

Ubuntu TV has some interesting features that impressed me.

Cable and Satellite support, online entertainment and program guides

Ubuntu TV will let you integrate your cable or satellite service. There will be an electronic program guide with support for both HD and SD content. Not only this, Ubuntu TV will let online content providers to provide a list of movies, music and TV shows from the Internet.

Enhanced screen support

Enhanced screens allow for an enriched viewing experience. Imagine how amazing it will be to watch the latest episode of your favorite series or event with a live feed from twitter, giving various reactions on the matter.

Suggestions and indexing

Perhaps, the single most important reason for going with Ubuntu TV is the amount of digital data it will have. This will allow for better recommendations and searching.

To simplify and streamline the experience we can prioritise what channels and shows have previously enjoyed, and even make suggestions on what else they might like. Ubuntu TV puts the world’s content at your fingertips in a simple interface.

Moreover, Ubuntu TV will also allow different users. So, your dad is not suggested channels based on your TV viewing habits, because your user account is different from his.

Sharing across devices

Ubuntu TV will allow streaming of content across your devices. With the Ubuntu TV app for Android, iOS and Ubuntu, you can also share media content between your TV and portable devices using Ubuntu One as the syncing platform.

Ubuntu TV for Developers

If you are a developer, this is your chance to get involved in the development of the next-gen TV solution. Ubuntu TV is an open-source project and it is open to contribution from developers.

If you’d like to get involved with the ongoing development of Ubuntu TV, you’ll find yourself welcome and among friends who share a passion for classy entertainment experiences. For more general information on contributing to Ubuntu projects, visit the Ubuntu Wiki.

Code contributions to Ubuntu TV follow the same process as the Unity project.

Ubuntu TV uses the GPL v3 license and relies heavily on Unity 2D for the UX design. The architecture of Ubuntu TV is explained in this diagram. As you can see, the underlying technology is still the same old Ubuntu core, and everything else is built on top of the Ubuntu core. The Ubuntu Core interacts directly with the hardware, directing all developer-focus to application and UX development.

As promised, the code Ubuntu TV is available at the Ubuntu TV Launchpad page. You will need Ubuntu 11.10 for compiling Ubuntu TV.


If you are involved in MythTV or XBMC, Ubuntu TV needs your expertise.

Myth TV and XBMC are popular open-source TV projects, particularly in the Ubuntu community. We’re very pleased to collaborate with members of both communities, enhancing the quality of back-end code that is shared between projects.

What will make Ubuntu TV Tick?

Ubuntu TV is not just another smart TV application developed behind closed doors. It is an open source project encouraging involvement from developers across the world. It offloads the responsibility of creating a smart TV application from OEM manufacturers and puts it in the hand of Canonical. Canonical has a well-defined process for Open Source development, which follows the Ubuntu code of conduct, and this will help streamline operations across the development stages.

The open source nature of this project will attract a huge number of developers, creating a rich technical expertise pool. Moreover, Canonical will handle all hassles of global content agreements. If you are an OEM, with Ubuntu TV, you can enter the Smart TV market with a minimal initial cost. This will not only add value to your business, it will gear you up for the next generation of TV.

Will you buy a Ubuntu TV?

Are you impressed yet? Ubuntu TV also has a rating system placed properly all throughout the UI. This will give them a considerable amount of data on their user choices. This data can be used for recommendations, for organizing content based on viewing habits and content providers can use it to determine the analyze the popularity of various programs.

A centralized viewing system like this integrates many features that are available ad-hoc without any proper providers. Moreover, developers can always add new features, as Ubuntu TV will support applications as well.

You can find all about Ubuntu TV at this page. You can also watch this YouTube video to see how it works.

Author: Chinmoy Kanjilal Google Profile for Chinmoy Kanjilal
Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. He rants occasionally at Techarraz.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.

Chinmoy Kanjilal has written and can be contacted at chinmoy@techie-buzz.com.

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