Ubuntu Extends Cloud Service to Smartphones

The latest release of the free Ubuntu Linux operating system scheduled for this Sunday includes an expansion of its personal cloud service to iPhone (s aapl) and Android (s goog) devices, as well as a new netbook edition made for smaller screens.

Ubuntu 10.10 takes the Ubuntu One service that allowed users to access files and data in a personal cloud and brings it to the iPhone and Android devices via mobile apps for $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year. Ubuntu One Mobile users will be able to stream music and sync contacts from the cloud. Windows PC users can also access Ubuntu One data for the first time.

Ubuntu One Basic is available for free and offers 2 GB of storage for PCs. Users can also buy 20 GB of additional storage for $2.99 a month or $29.99 annually.

The Ubuntu netbook edition features a new “Unity” interface designed specifically for the smaller screens of netbooks. The interface can also support touch gestures for touch-enabled devices. Steve George, VP of business development for Canonical, which leads Ubuntu, said the company has no plans to build a tablet version of Ubuntu, saying it has enough on its plate.

George said the improvements tap into key trends in the computing space like mobility and cloud computing and he hopes it will expand the number of users who rely on Ubuntu beyond the current base of 12 million people. That, in turn, will help Canonical strive for profitability, a challenge for a company leading a free open-source project. Canonical currently relies on revenue from providing support and selling premium services like Ubuntu One and its music store.

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