Mark Shuttleworth

July 25, 2013

Hi, I'm Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu & Canonical. Currently in the midst of a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign to make Ubuntu Edge superphone a reality. Ask me anything.

We've already received over $5.8 million in funding for Ubuntu Edge in our ambitious Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. We’ve been blown away by the generosity of our community, so wanted to give you all a chance to ask questions about Ubuntu Edge, the Ubuntu phone OS and our convergence story.

Picture proof -

Hello Mark,

Will (parts of) the Ubuntu Edge be Open Hardware?

This first version of the Edge is to prove the concept of crowdsourcing ideas for innovation, backed by crowdfunding. If it gets greenlighted, then I think we'll have an annual process by which the previous generation backers get to vote on the spec for the next generation of Edge.

So in this first generation Edge, no, we didn't look for open hardware specifically. We can choose silicon with more open drivers as we finalise the spec, but again I think the priority for the CPU / GPU will be performance to hit the goal of convergence.

In future generations, it would be great to see if we can do an all-open device, for example.

And will you release the physical dimensions as soon as it goes to production so we can easily 3D print cases and accessories for it?

Yes, the specifications will be released as soon as they are final. Love the 3D printing movement, be great to get an accessory-printing meme flowing!

This, and smartphone accessories like mhl docks, backup batteries, etc. Both Edge buyers and owners of existing smartphones buy a lot of these anyways, so why not get one for a good cause!

We did consider specifying a range of accessories - gaming, PC form factor, ultra-mobility stations, but decided to focus on the core device and let others build ecosystems around it. The connection is standard MHL which means it should be straightforward for folks to support, and more interesting to crowdsource ieas than for us to try and do it all.

I do think that the Edge coud be the heart of a whole wave of innovation - once you have a real PC in your pocket, who knows what entrepreneurs will build around it? Or kids with ideas from high school to MIT?

That's a very good idea. I'm sure many of the existing backers are happy to add another $20-30 to get a t-shirt with the phone. At least I know I am!

Yeah, we could add some perks for folks showing support - good idea, thank you!

Hi Mark! My question: Heat seems to be a problem after long periods of time using my current smartphone. Will you try to choose a processor that can minimize this for long periods of time? As a convergent device, this and battery life is my biggest worry.

We've done thermal modelling of the device (recognising that the processor options are still only guidance from the vendors). I think for this generation we want to go all-out for performance to get over the convergence hump - i.e. deliver a device that gives a good enough desktop experience when you hook it up via HDMI and a bluetooth keyboard.

But we are doing a lot of work on cooling off while you are not actually using it docked, so it doesn't warm up your pocket when you're not using it as a desktop!

As far as I understood, the phone will support MHL which gives out 5V and hopefully has enough power to power the phone when used as a "desktop"

That's correct.

I'm curious about battery life of the Ubuntu Edge. How do you plan to make the battery last at least a full work day with such specifics? How long will the battery last when using the phone to drive a monitor?


Edit: typos, damn autocarrot!

We're hoping to blaze a trail with silicon anode batteries. Hopefully, that is the only blaze involved - a trail ;)

Do you think South African tech entrepreneurs have to eventually leave SA to make it really big?

Well, they certainly have to spend a lot of time on a plane :)

I was lucky with my first effort, Thawte, which was based in SA but didn't need much commercial infrastructure outside, it was all online. So the restirctive rules about global trading for South Africans didn't block that. But I couldn't do Ubuntu from SA, for example. Just recently half-won a constitutional case in SA to have some of those rules reconsidered, too early to know what the ultimate result of that will be.

Would you consider Ubuntu a "traditional" Linux OS, given the number of exclusive features that got implemented in Ubuntu during the last years or is it maybe time to make a hard cut between Linux and Ubuntu? (Just from a top-level, consumer perspective of course. You guys are doing very exiting things with Linux)

Keep the Updates coming, very exited for 13.10 and Mir!

No, I think every Linux has its reason for existing, which means it has its differences. And that's just fine. I think Ubuntu is every much Linux - all the parts we invest in are free software for other distros to try if they want, too.

More generally, I think this meme is a bit of sour grapes, and if we want Linux to evolve based on sour grapes, we'll all just have a bad taste in our mouths in the end :)

Hi Mark and thanks for doing this.

1) Can you talk about the licences that will be used for this project and how open they will be? Are we gonna see binary blobs or can we expect the firmware to be released as open source? I think this is a really important question for a lot of people.

2) Are you trying to make sure that production is as fair as possible? I think the success of the fairphone is a good indicator that this is an important "feature" for people.

3) What architecture will be used?

4) What about VAT when importing to a country in the EU. Do I have to pay that on top or is it already included?

5) I'd really like to see an IR sender in this device. There are still so many devices in peoples homes and I want my mobile to replace the various remote controls that are laying around the house.

6) Just to make sure, the edge will be able to do 2G and 3G as well, right? LTE coverage will still be scarce next year.

Thanks for doing this, I really hope this will become a success, we need more competition in the market and this could show the industry what is important to a lot of people.

Take care.

There may be blobs in the first generation device. The way to a blob-free future is to show demand from folks who care about that, not to be ideological about it.

On architecture - that's an open question and we're studying the proposals and raodmaps of the top silicon providers to see what part has the best chance of crossing the PC / phone gap.

IR sender is a very cool idea, will see if we can work it in, thank you!

Just to save Mark some time, here's a quote from the Indiegogo page:

This is an Open Device, so users can tinker with the software and use standard flashing tools to upload custom builds.

.... and I hope they do!


do you plan to use new wireless charging technologies in the edge, like for instance (which has been proven already 4 years ago).

We considered it and decided it would make the device too thick (because we are already pushing the limits on storage, RAM etc). In a future iteration I would like to do both wireless charging and wireless display for untethered convergence, but that's Not Ready Yet, even for the crazy people.

FYI, the non-upstream patches unity depends on are basically listed here; that list, however, includes even too many things to have a basic unity experience (i.e. there's not real dependency on lightdm or unity-web-apps; while some other patches are now upstream).

I talked also with some debian devs and there is some intrest in providing unity on it.

Yeah, it's total FUD that we make it hard for people to support Unity. It's a fast-moving project, sure, but it's always been hard to keep up with those, and the main reason for Unity not being on say Fedora or SUSE is imo political rather than technical.

We've taken patches from various folks to ease their efforts in bringing Unity to other distros and would gladly take more - many eyes etc.

Similarly for Mir, we think it's important to have at least two great efforts to bring next-gen display to the free ecosystem, we think Mir has real advantages over the alternatives, and would love to see it more widely adopted. Are starting to see projects support it and feedback is they love the APIs and we love the opportunity to get more feedback!

Hi and thanks for your time. Will the Edge be covered by any warranties outside of the return policy?

Also how long will the Edge be recieving software updates?

We want to support the edge with updates to 14.04 LTS and then through the life of 14.04 LTS, which would be a total of 6 years.

Why is the Ubuntu Edge not featured on the front page of It seems to me that you need to spread the word as far and wide as possible to hit that crazy high $32m target, so you ought to use all the channels that you have.

Dude, the traffic is all on, but it's a good point nonetheless and I'll suggest it, thanks!

How will the 32 millions USD be spent? Will it all go to the hardware (including research/design etc), or is some of it going into the development of the software too?

Software is covered by our existing efforts to bring Ubuntu to mobile, nothing more needed there. The crowdfunding is really what it costs to bring a device to market, it would be more if we were a major brand, $32m is pretty lean I'm told. Hope the actual cost doesn't exceed it or I'll be carrying that baby but hey it's worth the risk.

How will you address the privacy concerns on contemporary phones?

We're entering a really interesting phase where in a sense our very own tools spy on us.

We will certainly have an easier time providing transparency on the origin of the code in the platform than, say, your average android device, where it's all a big hacky mush. The core OS which will be updated regularly on the Ubuntu phones is all traceable directly back to standard Ubuntu source and binary packages.

There will be a core piece on each phone which handles the hardware, consisting of kernel and drivers and firmware and interfaces to things like the radio. That's where unhealthy things could creep in from manufacturers and carriers. We can offer... constructive guidance there.

Carrier interference/lockdown

How are you navigating the carrier & manufacturer interference waters with Ubuntu Phone? One of the most frustrating things as an Android user is that both the phone manufacturers and the cellular carriers lock down devices and install unwanted software.

Are you planning on allowing carriers to lock down certain features (like root) of Ubuntu phones? Do you forsee handsets with manufacturer-installed software (apps or even shells) that can't be removed or replaced by the user?

Edit for clarity: I'm asking more about the overall platform & the agreements Canonical is making with hardware manufacturers and carriers, not about the Edge specifically.

We've proposed to our carrier partners that:

In that world, I think we'll have less silly bloatware, and we can certainly keep the core OS part clean and up to date.

In what ways might alternate mobile OSes such as Ubuntu, Firefox OS and Tizen work together or share common technologies (in order to benefit consumers and each other)?

We do have areas of mutual interest and overlap. But... it's hard, through no fault of any one party, to discuss and agree on every detail. So I'd suggest you consider diversity a value in itself and let us work it out. And thank you for backing the Edge :)

Thank you for Ubuntu, and for doing this AMA! I started using Ubuntu at a young age, and it's what got me interested in open-source software. Canonical does great work! Some questions that come to mind:

The best place to get started in Ubuntu depends on your personal interests. If you're a writer and speaker, work on docs and materials. If y ou're a designer, pick a new mobile app and help on the design.

For developers, there's loads of open space in the new mobile core apps. That's brought a lot of new developers to the project, and to QML, which is a fantatic development environment, native performance with JS / CSS ease of design. I'd suggest starting there, with an app that can scale from phone, to tablet, to PC.

Are you worried that the long lead time (due May 2014 if all goes well) and pre-published spec will allow competitors to catch up / overtake and essentially gazump the Edge?

p.s. I've bought one already. Good luck!!

It's certainly possible that a particular feature might go into another phone, but the overall goal of a PC-class convergence devices is miles beyond anything the majors are looking to achieve, and I think the Edge will be the first by a long way to try.

If we get it greenlighted, then I hope we bring forward the commercial adoption of some of those tech by at least a year!

Mark, do you plan to do something similar in the notebook sector? I miss premium haswell laptops which are well built like Macbook Airs and run Ubuntu out of the box without any problems and great battery life.

I don't see US doing a notebook this way, but if we prove the mechanism of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing ideas and priorities for innovation, I bet someone else will.

Personally, I'm interested in convergence, the idea that I could be typing this on a keyboard + screen attached to my phone, with the brains being in the phone. So successive iterations of concept phones is where I'd like to keep our involvement.

Backers become part of a community that can share ideas and debate priorities. That's what we do on the Ubuntu software side every day, so I think it's a good fit.

Are there any other phone manufacturers preparing to launch phones with Ubuntu Mobile OS?

There are several brand name manufacturers that have independently brought Ubuntu mobile up on their next-gen devices and presented that to carriers. No word yet on who might be first to go the distance, but I think that's pretty encouraging given it's off their own bat.

The SDK has been available as daily builds since Ubuntu Touch was announced earlier this year, and it just recently reached a beta release stage:

^ that ;)

I wish you good luck with the campaign!

Phoneputer it is!

Thanks for the information! I sent them an email as soon as Ubuntu Edge indiegogo was announced, but I haven't got anything back yet.

Let's hope they aren't locked in to that decision.

That's good feedback. I would prefer a replaceable battery too so will take it up with the team and see if we can make that work.

Hello Mr.Shuttleworth,

Although I am unfamiliar with Ubuntu (and Linux in general), I am excited to see it's popularity rise, as this means more competition, which creates better products.

My question is: As someone who is an iOS user, why should I buy an Ubuntu phone?


If you're interested in convergence between phone and PC, we'll do that first and imo best. If y ou're interested in accelerating the movement of new tech into the mainstream, the Edge is a very interesting new way to signal to Appe what you consider cool in hardware (and software).

Hi Mark,

how do you see yourself and ubuntu in the context of the surveillance programs? Will there be some kind of full disk encryption?

Yes, we can to full disk encryption, thanks for the reminder and I'll suggest it to the team.

Hi Mark,

Hardware compatibility has always been a huge hurdle for Linux. Things like the Dell XPS 13 (Project Sputnik) and System76 are great for consumers to have the ability to purchase a machine and know that everything will work. Is Canonical actively working with manufacturers to get more machines approved for Ubuntu? I'd love to see other manufactures have an option to purchase a new machine with Ubuntu preinstalled.

P.S. Hopefully convergence will make this question moot in the future. :)


Well, within a short while every single machine from Dell or HP will be going through at least a baseline certification process with Ubuntu, so I hope there is always a way for you to get a version of Ubuntu working well on any of their devices.

I just wanted to say thanks for Ubuntu.

Appreciate that - glad it's helpful for you!

Hi Mark, so Ubuntu Edge has ben revealed, I'm kind of amazed about this project, just two simple questions:

I think when in PC mode you'll want a source of power, either a bigger battery in the screen / dock, or AC. But in mobile mode, we aim not to roast anything personal.

How is Ubuntu's attempt at convergence different from others' attempts (Microsoft for example)?

We'll be the first to have the FULL OS on all devices, not an embedded version of the OS. And what's cool for me is that same OS works on servers too (even ARM servers). So there's one flat platform everywhere for developers. Pretty cool.

Can you comment a bit about the screen you're looking to use? IE: Why aren't other companies using sapphire screens? Cost, manufacturing difficulties?

Thanks a lot, Ubuntu was my first experience with Linux.

Cost mainly. They are in use in very, very expensive fashion phones. But we think the cost will come down if we can get more mainstream volumes and processing approaches, hence the push. No screen protector would be fantastic!

Hello Mark!

How confident are you that the Indiegogo campaign will reach it's goal?

It's going to be really tough, we'll need the support of a very large community of enthusiasts. A great start, for sure, but that's like all the folks in tutus and bearsuits at the starting line of a marathon. The finish is a little, erm, sweatier :)

Any plans for wireless display WIDI?

In future I think wireless will make sense for convergence. But the delay on WIDI is still several hundred milliseconds (a noticeable fraction of a second) so it feels like your desktop is in treacle. We'll try to bring that into a future generation if we can find a way to get the delay down.

Why Sapphire Glass instead of Gorilla Glass 3? Also, what will be the maximum resolution when hooked up to a monitor?

Full HD is the baseline requirement for the external monitor, we may be able to do more depending on final silicon options.

Sapphire, is much harder and more scratch resistant than any glass. Much more expensive and hard to machine, too, but we think its worth pushing industry to develop mainstream processing and volume for it.

Good morning/afternoon Mark:

Great campaign, I hope it blows through the $32m mark by a mile.

That said, is Canonical leveraging any of its own in-house sales talent to bring existing relationships on board to support this campaign?

As you may know, Google unveiled the Nexus 7 yesterday which will be available as an "unlocked" LTE device, able to operate on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the US. Will the Ubuntu Edge also be unlocked in the this fashion?

Have participating carriers in the CAG advised at all as to whether you will pursue VoLTE functionality for voice or will you use traditional methods.

Has a decision been made as to which direction will be pursued to accommodate the LTE radios? Qualcomm RF360 front end?

While the final product will vary, as the Edge idea was being hatched, what kind of CPU was part of that vision?

How satisfied are you with the media coverage of this campaign?

My questions are hardware centric because this hardware will be unique and the grand scheme of things and I am not worried about the operating system environment at all, the proof of concept work done to date has already sold me.

All the best and looking forward to getting my Ubuntu Edge!!

Yes, the Edge will be unlocked LTE. We've briefed existing phone, PC and carrier partners, and I think they are watching with real interest and support. They would like to have a very strong signal from the enthusiast community as to what is really worth investing in.

Mr Shuttleworth,

Has Canonical been approached by the NSA regarding access to Ubuntu One?

No. I do have concerns that we have data in AWS and other US clouds which might be subject to PRISM. We're looking at a range of options to provide both security and also plausible deniability to users of Ubuntu who are surveilled.

Idea for another donation tier: Mark Shuttleworth records you a custom voicemail. Would you do it?

Sure, but I'm no Liam Neeson :)

If this campaign becomes successful in achieving it's target and the phone's delivered in 2014, will you consider the same model for other handsets going forward?


What would be interesting is to invite the backers of this generation not only to help finalise the spec of this generation, but also to help select the most interesting combinations of technologies for a future generation, on say an annual basis.

For this generation, we had to go find ideas. If we're greenlighted, I think we could invite companies with hot and cool tech for phones to present their ideas to the community, and have a crowdsourcing approach to the design of say, the Edge 2015.


OK. If you sit quietly for a while that feeling may pass :)

Hi Mark,

I live in México, when could I expect Ubuntu phones to arrive here?

Also, what are your plans carrier-wise. Are the phones going to be sold locked to a carrier?

Well, I'm pretty excited that a large retailer is now stocking Ubuntu on HP PCs in Mexico, which is a good start. These phones will not be locked to a carrier, but other Ubuntu mobiles that are subsidised by carriers may.

Hi, Mark. Will the Ubuntu Edge have all LTE bands or diferent bands in each antenna?, will it work with any LTE carrier in any country?

No, it will be unusual in supporting TWO bands of LTE so it can work with LTE in both the US and EU, but it can't support every possible LTE carrier worldwide, the spectrum is just too fragmented at the moment. That's a real swamp we would like to help drain!

By your best guess, about how much do you expect each edge to actually cost to produce?

Our best guess is $32m for 40,000 devices, not counting the money spent to date on design validation. If we did more devices we could lower the price, but that would just make the campaign goals harder. And really, we want to focus on cutting edge tech, so setting too high a production requirement might limit us to stuff that's more conventional. Hopefully we found a good balance, you be the judge!

There were some concerns raised about the specs saying the Edge would have (at least) 4GB of RAM, although currently 2GB is the maximum amount of RAM a device is able to use with an ARM processor.

What are your thoughts about this? Has this been carefully planned ahead, or is it more a find-and-solve-problems-along-the-way kind of project?

I've been told by the CTO of a very big mobile silicon manufacturer they could do it.

Hello, Thanks for empowering millions of people from developing countries like India(I'm from India) to have an alternative to Pirated Windows XP. We can't afford OS like Windows and the simplistic nature of ubuntu (native graphic and audio support with indic language support) really helps many people in the villages to learn computers. I don't know if i will again get the chance to talk with the founder in the future so Thank you.

Thank you - appreciate your saying hi!

Hello Mark. Thanks for doing this AMA.

What happens if the campaign gets fairly close to it's goal but is just a few million short? Will an "anonymous donor" (hint hint) buy out the rest that are required to get the project funded?

What processor are you expecting to choose for the Edge? Is it going to be a Haswell/Broadwell ULT or ULX chip?

Also, this isn't really a question, but more of a request... Please include a LARGE BATTERY in the device. I'd say that 4000 mAh should be the minimum design choice and hopefully more than that if possible. As a phone connoisseur, I really dislike that the standard flagship Android devices only have enough battery for a few hours of heavy usage (games, streaming video, etc.) I can easily kill my Galaxy S3 in less than 4 hours and I think that is unacceptable for a device that is supposed to be connected 24/7.

Lots of folks have speculated I might close the gap if it's close. But I think that would not be in the spirit of the project; rather I would hope someone smarter than me will come up with a better concept that DOES get greenlighted, because I really believe in the idea of crowdsourcing the signal to innovation.

If successfully funded, will the Ubuntu Edge be available for people who didn't participate in the Indiegogo. The renders and the information i've seen make it the most attractive phone I've seen in a long time and I'd love to have one. But I don't have $700 to spare for now or until a long time after the funding period ends.

Thanks for the compliments on the design, the team really worked hard on that. The devices are only available through the campaign, sorry, but maybe you can convince someone to buy-on-give-one?

first off, wow, that edge looks amazing. question though: with the way this convergence is going, do you think eventually in the future, we will just have our superphones that replace our desktops and laptops?

That's what we want to try!

Hi Mark,

Since the Ubuntu Edge will be dual booting Ubuntu and Android, can you say roughly how much of the 128GB storage on the phone will be available for user files?

I think at least 120GB will be available for files.

Hello Mark, first of all I want to thank you, for a starting this project. Now questions and suggestions.

Will we have a laptop dock?

I don’t see scenarios of usage phone plugged to a bigger screen. At home I have laptop plugged to a 27 inch dell screen, at college we have computers if we need. However it is totally different story with small laptop dock. It can be used for taking notes on the study. Making sketches to explain something. Showing photos on a bigger screen. Better browsing experience. No need for a second sim for tablet/laptop internet. I made a sketch of how I see it. Some answers about concept.

Phone call answering options while phone is docked.

  1. Talk via speaker phone as usual on laptops.

  2. Plug earphones with microphone.

  3. Reject a call, unplug phone and recall.

Why not using phone as a touchpad?

The screen will heat up and become uncomfortable to use, also it eats buttery life.

Dream specifications.

11.6 inch IGZO touch display, as it is best energy efficient displays.

360 degrees hinges like in lenova yoga for use as a tablet. (some hardware or software options to switch off keyboard wile it in tablet mode)

Carbon material as it lightest material for a laptop

2 USB 3.0

Sd card slot


Keyboard layout as on Lenovo helix

Weight 800 grams (without phone) or less for comfortable function as a tablet.

Optional Wacom Pen

I think such dock could be a selling point by itself.

Thank you for reading and sorry for my broken English.

P.S. Move damn on/off button from top to the right side of a phone.

Well, we've been user-testing U4A for a while, and the interesting thing I learned was that a light cable (or better, wireless, but it's Not Ready Yet) is better than a dock. The reason is, you sometimes want to use the phone AS A PHONE (ie use a hpone app, or make a call with the phone next to your head) while still keeping the PC display visible and usable. Docks make that hard to do.

What audio chip are you planning on using. Wolfson would be great for best sound quality (they made an excellent premium chip recently) so Edge can be used as an audiophile-quality music player.

We are looking for audiophile silicon, but the harder thing I'm sweating about is speakers. We haven't found anything that looks like a potential breakthrough, any suggestions?

"A phone for human beings" should "source raw materials that don’t fund armed forces or violent conflicts, from mines that treat people like the human beings they are". Do you have any plan to adhere to the principles of Fairphone? The minimum that I expect from an ubuntu phone is that it respects Africa. I know this could be difficult for the high specs of the phone, but please try it :)

Yes, that's an admirable goal, I will see what impact that has on the phone plan and at the very least, if greenlighted, can work that into the plan for a next-gen iteration.

Hey Mark. Question about UI and stability of Ubuntu:

I've been a long time Ubuntu user. I believe Ubuntu is the best OS but I just feel like design coherence and stability is all over the place. I understand you're iterating fast but it seems like stability should be improving over the years, not the other way around. Also, it just doesn't seem like anyone is paying attention to the UI details like on a Mac (or even Windows now). Unity looks great but the new Nautilus is a mess, for example. Where's the UI coherence? What's going on with stability?

Hmm... yes, Nautilus is tricky of course because of the source.

I do wish we could maintain full focus on both desktop and mobile, but I've asked the team instead to concentrate on touch, so more stuff is slipping through raw from upstream without going through the same level of integration/smoothing that we normally do. Crashes etc are still being addressed, but I agree there's more divergence in core apps than normal in 13.04.

If we're successful with the phone, then that platform becomes our core for desktop too, and it's really gorgeous, take a look.

So Mark, much is a shuttle worth exactly?

Life's too short to hit refresh on that number too often :)


Sapphire crystal is very hard but also, as far as I understand it, very brittle and more prone to shattering. Isn't it better to go with a material that is more flexible, even if it's not as scratch resistant? A shattered screen is worse than a scratched screen.

While I'm at it, I hope there's going to be a strap hole for phone straps/lanyards. Water resistance would also be fantastic.

*Edit strap hole, not eyelet.

Its an interesting question. We've done drop-test simulations and we have tried to shape the internal structure to manage this, and think it's going to be OK, but that's the point of pushing the limits, right?

Hi Mark, I am one of the first 5000 to purchase the phone! How will dual booting work? Like will both Android and the Ubuntu OS be running at the same time with the option to switch between the two without rebooting or no? Can we have an estimate of the clock speed of the CPU? Will the phone have the dock shown in the video included?

You will be able to toggle what you boot - Ubuntu or Android. If you boot Android, then when you plug in a large screen, you'll have the option to launch ubuntu alongside it, as U4A.

How freakin awesome was space? Was it worth the preparation and money? Would you do it again?

It was a real privilege. I do hope to fly again, but am waiting till it's feasible to get a bit deeper into the unknown than LEO.

What is your favorite feature of the Ubuntu Edge?

Convergence, and the sapphire screen.

Oh hi Mark,

A few questions:

One common concern that has kept people from pledging is whether or not this phone will still be at the bleeding edge of technology in a year, when it is released. If this campaign is successful, how do we know other larger companies won't adopt these technologies in that time, and at a lower price-point (especially factoring in the potential earnings lost from tying up hundreds of dollars for a year)? Also, at what point before the release date will you nail down the product specifications?

One of the selling points of the Edge is that it will revolutionize mobile computing. A big advantage of mobile computing for many is that it can be done while commuting, where one would not have access to a docking station, or any sort of peripherals. Here, laptops and tablets are quite useful. In what situations would one see a significant benefit in using the Edge for computing?

Canada is notably absent from the list of regions in which you will "conduct interoperability testing" for the Edge. Especially because Canadian telecom is so notoriously monopolistic, do I need to worry about whether or not the Edge will work in Canada, especially if I'm not in a metropolitan region?

I think the majority of people who ruin their phone screens do so by dropping and cracking them rather than scratching them. Crystals tend not to be ductile - especially thin sheets. A sapphire screen may be more scratch-resistant than gorilla glass, but won't it fracture easily?

We have some visibility on what different companies will try in the coming year, and as a package, our best sources suggest that the Edge is waaaay more ambitious than anything else.

Does the Ubuntu Edge has a graphics technology for video games in the pc-mode? PS: Already bought one!

We're working with a few different games publishers on both PC and mobile, so yes, I think gaming on the edge will be pretty radical. It should certainly raise the bar on mobile gaming because we'll have a LOT of RAM and first-class GPU.

Mark, do you see the Edge as Ubuntu Phone's "Nexus" device? And would this device theoretically have an advantage over other Ubuntu Phones in regards to support/updates?

In a sense, perhaps, yes. But the real idea we're trying to express is that a community can make better decisions than a single person. So in making the Edge, we're also forming an extension to the Ubuntu community that can help with designing next generation Edges.

Mainstream volume PC and phone manufacturer is really best served by the existing players, I don't want to compete with them, we'd lose! But we're better setup to be a mediator between enthusiasts and those manufacturers, which is at the heart of this campaign.

Hi Mark, I wanted to ask, was there any specific reason to choose indiegogo over kickstarter ?

Since given the statistics, indiegogo's current funding record is $1,665,380 which was raised by Scandu Scout , where as Kickstarter's record is $10,266,845 for the Pebble smart watch , which is 10 times more that the former. Kickstarted has proved to be more successfull for large budget projects.

The Indiegogo team has been absolutely fantastic to work with.

Setting out to raise such a huge amount required working through a lot of legal and contractual complexities, between us and them and Paypal and a variety of other institutions. The indiegogo guys were creative and thoughtful throughout, and willing to go the extra mile to make it work.

They are also very globally focused, and this really has to be a global campaign.

So I'm delighted we have raised their record from $1.6 to $5.something (in 4 days!) and they deserve all the publicity and support they get a a result.

Can you tell us if Indiegogo will be taking their usual cut from your drive? That would add up to something like $2 million wouldn't it?

Yup, and IMO they will have earned it. There has been a great deal of work to make it possible to shoot for such a record, the Indiegogo team invested a great deal of thought into how it could work.

Is there going to be an international version of the phone or will the US version work in South America?

Not sure on South America but assume it will work if standards are the same as US or EU. Certainly not locked to a carrier.

First I want to say that I absolutely love that you guys are doing this. I'm so excited for this phone. I love Ubuntu and have been using the LXDE variant for several years now.

As one of the backers for this project, I just want to know what the risks are if you do manage to reach the $32 million goal. How do you intend to handle a situation where it somehow doesn't work out?

I will be on the hook. So I'm glad the team who put this together is made up of some of the best folks at Canonical, whove put a ton of their personal time into making it possible. I am happy to out on that limb for them, and the backers.

Bought in at the Founder Sale level and am really excited. Can you talk about the new battery technology, what makes it exciting and how long a phone should last on a charge with use?

Heh, I can tell you what the LAB results are but not yet what real-world results will be. This is one of the areas where we are hoping to accelerate technology into mainstream production that will benefit all classes of device, not just phones.

The two areas of interest are first, the use of silicon rather than carbon in the structure of the battery, and second, the choice of electrolyte.

Is the main purpose of this to show off Ubuntu, or do you expect to stay in the hardware business if this is a success?

If this gets greenlighted then I would like to expand the Ubuntu community to include hardware - crowdsourcing ideas for future iterations. But we'll stick to the concept-car side of things leaving mainstream production to our partners in the industry who do it very well.

So, our strength is communities, their stremgth is production and distribution, that's how we'll keep it.

Why use crowd funding, is it due to a lack of interest from the large mobile operators?

The dynamics of product planning inside large manufacturers drive for risk aversion - if a phone fails, it could take out the company or the team who planned it and took the risk.

Crowdfunding is interesting, because enthusiasts are INTERESTED in the next generation, they have an appetite for experimentation which large institutions lose. So the goal of this project is to reintroduce risk and innovation into mobile design, via crowdsourcing of both ideas and commitment.

As for interest in ubuntu - check out the list of carriers that have expressed interest, it's very convincing.

Have you ever been approached by the NSA/ CIA / FBI regarding access to Ubuntu systems and what are your opinions for safe and secure OS'?

PS much respect for all you've done for Linux via Ubuntu & your new phone project

No, we've never been asked to support a surveillance campaign. We've been asked to provide data in support of specific criminal investigations (child abuse) would do so again. We would not comply with a mass surveillance or extra-judicial request, and we would challenge requests that we think are unwarranted.

Mark, what are you expecting the battery life to be for the edge? And how about the weight?

The goal is a full day of high-end use. If we can get more juice in, we'll use it for performance rather than multi-day battery life.

Hey Mark, i'm a poor CS student so I can't afford the Edge right now and I don't have any questions right now. I just wanted to say I hope you get funded. I love what you have done with Ubuntu and I think Mir is giving a good kick in the pants to the X problem.

Thank you and good luck with your CS!

What are the plans for this project if the funding goal isn't met?

There is a filing cabinet somewhere... life goes on, and hopefully someone smarter than us will come up with a better concept that DOES get funded!

So do you...

sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

Or does Amazon get your search results also?

When I want to search everything, I use the Super key. When I want to search just my local apps, I use Super-A. Duh.

What do you think about the accusations that Ubuntu/Canonical don't listen to the community?

It seems you have a very specific vision of what ubuntu should be, and despite tremendous amounts of outrage from the users, you hold very firm on some very controversial decisions. (Unity, forced advertisements, etc)

Do you not think this goes contrary to the very philosophy of open source software?

This is a really good question.

I think breaking new ground requires a certain stubborn willingness to pursue an idea that is unpopular. Sometimes, that means stubbornly being wrong, and if one is afraid of being wrong, one will likely not break new ground.

I also think that there is an interesting evolution as one moves from the fringe to the centre. When we started Ubuntu we took a LOT of difficult decisions. One CD (the game at the time was to have, like 13), one app for each thing (instead of 5 browsers preinstalled). All of those were tough choices that would have pissed people off, only NOBODY WAS LOOKING because we were unknown.

Yet those very decisions made Ubuntu so popular.

We have to retain a willingness to think carefully about the future and act on it before it's obvious, or we lose our ability to help create that future.

Now, this argument could be used to justify all sorts of abuse of our position of trust. I'm well aware of that. It's part of the calculus - are we doing this because I want to and Im out of touch with reality, or because I (or another leader of part of the project) thinks thats what the future demands.

At the end of the day, I think what matters is that every part of Ubuntu has leaders who are trusted to make such hard decisions. They will piss people off. But if they were leaders who could not make choices that pissed people off then they could not make choices at all, and that's no leadership.

Seriously, Mark, do you use Unity?

Every day. Yeah, it has warts. But it's the best around for me, and for lots of other people, so use whatever suits you ;)

Hi Mark, firstly, love ubuntu. Secondly, the hardware is pretty hardcore, will you use a shrinking ray to fit it all in to the phone, or miniature atoms to construct miniature chips?

My money's on the shrinking ray. It worked for my hairline, right?

So far, the Edge (and the Ubuntu convergence strategy in general) seems to focus on the two ends of the convergence spectrum: The mobile phone and the full-blown desktop station (i.e. phone connected to screen & keyboard).

What are your ideas for the use cases in between, where more mobility is wanted but the phone itself doesn’t provide enough comfort? I’m thinking about the cases where you’d traditionally use a laptop or a tablet. Do you already have a clear vision of how a single device can be used for all those situation, i.e. is this already part of your convergence vision or something you’d expect to figure out later?

Yes, the phone will definitely be able to drive a touch screen in tablet mode, too!

I'm wondering about a split in the market you're targeting. You say the Ubuntu Edge is supposed to be the F1 of phones and you're targeting the geeks and hacker types of the world who want that kind of high-end. Alright, awesome. There is a serious gap in the market for us.

Problem is you're putting the Unity desktop on it, something most geeks/high-end users I know have abandoned for KDE4, Gnome3, etc. In a similar vien you're making this device for "desktop convergence" when most of the high-end types have separate ultrabooks or similar. We don't have HDMI terminals everywhere because we have laptops. So where the market for this seems to be someone who uses their phone as their prime source of internet (non-tech people) who would get a netbook in the deal, the people you're targeting don't need a netbook.

Can you comment on this?

Yes, I think you've been listening to all the wrong people if you think high-end users are not using Unity. There is an audience for everything, and for some, controversy is the food of life. On balance I think most people do use Unity, they just get on with it. Check out which makes the good point that you mostly see Unity on Linux laptops at conferences.

I'm sorry we pissed people off in moving towards convergent design. I'm very glad Gnome 3 got redesigned to look more like Unity than the train wreck it was originally. I think diversity is wonderful and you should run whatever suits you. But my main advice would be to read between the lines of the vocal advocacy to understand what motivates people and then choose carefully what to believe.

And you'll be able to run other desktops on the Edge, too, it's an open device, and we're working hard to make things like the graphics layer Just Work for everyone.

While I don't think the Edge will be a practicle desktop replacement, for the sort of tech enthusiasts who would buy this device and still use a desktop, I see no reason why this couldn't displace lowend laptops and even many ultrabooks. I'm so convinced that high end phone or tablet running Ubuntu can replace a dedicated laptop that I fully intend to replace my laptop with the Edge! On that note do you intend to do any additional crowdfunding campaigns for accessories for the Edge?

In your videos thus far, you have said there will be HDMI on the phone and I have seen users of Ubuntu on nexus phones connecting their phone to their screen using an MHL to HDMI adapter from a port which to my knowedge is basically both usb and hdmi but can only function as one or the other at a time. Do you intend to do something different with the Edge so that I can have both a monitor and a usb device connected to the phone at the same time?

How do you guys at Canonical make decisions about the design of the Ubuntu Edge? Is it just you dictating everything do you have an internal commity, etc? What has been the most interesting thing about designing the Ubuntu edge so far?

One last thing, can you make the African drum beat login theme from back in the Ubuntu 8 and 9 days one of the ring tones. Having that randomly get reset to maximum volume would be really nostalgic.

Good idea on the ringtone ;)

The edge has been a team effort, my role has been sort of editorial. There are a few key folks who have really put a ton of effort into it out of a passion for what's possible - I really hope we see it come to fruition for them, they deserve to see it happen!

The phone you want to build looks amazing, why not privately funding and then selling it? Even if is only limited quantities on I'm sure a pretty big number of people would have been interested (just like they've been now, but the prospect of receiving on March or not at all if the goal isn't met is hardly an incentive).

You're not a small entrepreneur, and it feels like you lack a bit of faith on your own product if you're not willing to risk capital on it. That's a little bit discouraging. Of course, you've done a lot for the open source software community, but still.

However I still pledged. Fingers crossed and I hope the goal is met.

I see your point. My perspective on this is that we have to choose if we want to partner with the phone industry, we can't both partner and compete. So since I think its best for us to focus on the platform, I'm happy to support the Edge becuase it's a very focused innovation-seeking project that doesn't threaten our partnerships with mainstream industry (it enhances them).

Hi Mark!

In the video on the Indiegogo site, it is mentioned that this project isn't necessarily about mobile phones, but about the innovation of convergence between mobile and desktop. My question is, with other mobile devices such as tablets and wearable tech, why did your team decide to go with mobile phone development?

What better way to prototype wearables than with a mobile PC to power them?

One of the big unanswered questions about this device is the architecture being used. Intel's new bay trail looks really great in performance and power saving as well as allowing easy compatibility with Ubuntu software center purchases. Arm processors might be easier/cheaper to come by as well as friendlier to the mobile side of this device. Arm, though, will require lots of work on canonical's side to make the full desktop side software supported by third parties. I personally think Intel's processor should be the one used, but if architecture isn't decided yet, what items are making the decision process difficult?

We are waiting for two things - final specs and benchmarks, and a community of backers to help make that decision.

Hi Mark,

I ordered the edge and as excited as I am for Ubuntu OS, I am deeply invested in the android ecosystem and the dual boot feature is what pushed me over the edge for the phone. Will the phone be officially updated to new versions of android by canonical? I don't have the time and skills to root my phone and flash roms.

Yes, I am fairly sure there will be updated ROMs over time, we are working to make it both a very capable device (which will tend to attract a good community) and very open (which eases the path).

Mark, Some people are suggesting that the Edge Indiegogo campaign was launched because the Carrier Advisory Group wouldn't fund the project. Please comment on the reasons for choosing the crowdfunding model.

We certainly didn't ask the CAG to fund it.

The POINT of crowdsourcing is to shift processes away from industry into the hands of enthusiasts and independent decision makers. We are able to propose a device which would never make it through the risk-averse selection process at a carrier or manufacturer - not because they are dumb, but because the consequences of failure are bad for them personally and institutionally. Crowdsourcing is a new way to approach hard choices, innovation, and risk capital, and I thought it would be a good way to accelerate tech.

We're doing it because we are setup to host a community, which is what the Edge backers become, that can help finalise the Edge spec and then work on next-gen specs too. We're already doing that every day, while the major carriers / manufacturers are not setup to do that.

I threw a few $$ your way because I think this is a great idea, but I can't afford the device itself at the moment. If you get the funding is there a chance that you will make more for retail availability at a later date? I'd love to buy one in a couple of months when my finances are a bit better.

I really appreciate your backing - that's very generous. What might be a nice idea is to create a forum for backers who didn't go all the way to a device, to give them first shot at second-hand devices?

Hello Mark, I still can't believe I threw down hundreds on a mobile device. You are an amazing salesperson.

Here's my question:

Have you considered using Pixel Qi or Mirasol color full-motion E-ink display technology? They're both sunlight readable and have tremendously low drain, good durability and are superior to LCD screens in toughness - perfect for mobile needs.

You mentioned that you were trying technologies that mainstream manufacturers have avoided - color eink displays are perfectly representative of this. It's a technology that no one apparently wants to put into a device, despite its potential and advantages over LCD screens.

Another question - how rugged will the Ubuntu Edge be?

Take a look yourself.

Here's a write up on Mirasol

Yeah, I'm very interested in Mirasol. Not for this device but I'm told the next-gen display is pretty fantastic. So, perhaps Edge II 2015?

Hello Mark,

Have you consider offering 1 year (or 2) free of Ubuntu One Service with some of the perks to help you reach your goals? Since phone will be out next year(if it reaches the goal) it would also be a good idea to offer 2 years for those who buy the phone and 1 year for founder perk (if it's over $40 for example) to give some extra motive for the rest who can't afford to buy one at the moment.

I am also interested to know whether there will be open hardware and open specifications for the Ubuntu Edge and future products. I personally believe that with open source hardware and software true innovation can happen at a large scale, and this is an opportunity to start large open hardware projects!

Good ideas, thank you!

Who is your inspiration?

Mahatma Gandhi, Jan Smuts, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela. All flawed if you look closely enough, but that just makes me admire them more for what they did.

Hello Mark, one question about software and one question about hardware:

1) What happens to "phone" functions while using it "as a desktop"? Will we be able to make/answer calls and send/receive texts?

2) Is there any chance to have at least one of this features in the final product: hardware encryption, fingerprint unlock, dual sim, AC wifi, waterproofing...?

Yes you can use the phone as a phone while it provides a desktop on a separate screen. Hardware encryption is a possibility, yes.

[No question]

Thanks all for your questions, thanks to backers of the Edge and here's to an excellent tech year in 2013. This really is a time when everything is getting reinvented, it's a great time to be part of the game!

[No question]

And in closing - Reddit is a pretty fantastic resource for discourse and discovery, thanks for keeping it that way. Takes lots of work to preserve what's great about a society while not stagnating, keep it up.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Mark Shuttleworth conducted on Reddit on 2013-07-25. The Reddit AMA can be found here.