previewing Ubuntu Savvy

One of the key design goals we had in mind when we set out to create Ubuntu for phones and tablets (henceforth abbreviated here as Ubuntu Devices (vs Ubuntu Desktop)) was how to balance continuing our rich heritage of downstreams, be they community remixes or commercial products, against the idea of preventing platform API and UI fragmentation, which is the Android antipattern.

A while back, my boss Victor wrote a blog entry titled Differentiation without fragmentation which gives a key insight as to why fragmentation occurs:

Fragmentation occurs when the software platform fails to provide a supported mechanism to differentiate.

Victor then goes on to describe our Scopes framework which is a core design concept that spans implementation, functional, and visual layers to enable our downstreams to differentiate.

Part of my job is making what Victor says actually come true, and as we started thinking through the actual mechanics of how our downstreams would start with a default Ubuntu Device image and end up with a customized version of it, we realized that the nuts and bolts of what an OEM engineer or enthusiastic community member would have to learn and understand about our platform to actually make a working device image were too complex.

So we roughed out some ideas and after several months of iterating in private, I’m pleased to announce the preview of the Ubuntu Savvy phone customization suite. It consists of several parts: