Ubuntu 13.04 debuted in April. And Ubuntu 13.10 (code-named Saucy Salamander) is expected in October 2013. Canonical's long-term vision (starting with Ubuntu 14.04) is a single code base for smart phones, tablets and PCs. The big question mark: When will Ubuntu PC makers like System76 and ZaReason jump into the Linux tablet market? The question has multiple answers.

Both System76 and ZaReason are well-known within Ubuntu PC circles. And they seem to have tablets on their minds, too.

ZaReason ZaTab -- Version 2.0?

ZaReason in 2012 also offered a tablet call the ZaTab, and it ran Google Android. The tablet is currently out of stock; it's safe to say ZaReason is rethinking its tablet strategy -- perhaps in anticipation of Ubuntu 14.04.

According to a statement on ZaReason's web site, dated April 10, 2013: "Our first rooted open-bootloader tablet was popular, but it was a limited run. On a manufacturing level, it is easy to do a poor build and exceptionally hard to do a great build. We are opting for the "great build" route and it takes time. No eta on the next tablet, but we are hammering it."

The VAR Guy wonders; Will ZaReason stick with Android for its tablets -- or will the company wait for Canonical to deliver a more polished Ubuntu 14.04 or 14.10 release for tablets? Hmmm...

System76 Tablet -- In 2014?

Meanwhile, System76 CEO Carl Richell earlier this year posted a blog about Canonical's Ubuntu software release strategy. Several times in the blog, Richell expressed interest in a single Ubuntu code base for tablets, PCs and smart phones. 

Richell did not promise to launch an Ubuntu tablet. But he tossed in this gem, stating: "We already have somebody taking pre-orders for a non-existent Ubuntu tablet." 

Was Richell:

  • referring to System76's secretive Ubuntu tablet plans?
  • Or was he making a sweeping, generic statement about potential rivals that may offer Ubuntu tablets?

Hmmm... The VAR Guy will need to ping Richell for answers. 

Partnering Up?

In the meantime it seems clear that Canonical should spend more time working more closely with System76 and ZaReason. Both companies have been extremely loyal to the Ubuntu cause. Perhaps Canonical can help those PC makers with potential tablet designs...

As Richell stated about System76's bet on Ubuntu: "Together we’re either going to the moon or the bottom of the sea. I’m pretty damn sure we’re going to the moon."

Whether you call it one small step or one giant leap, Ubuntu PC makers need to figure out their tablet strategies ahead of Ubuntu 14.04's arrival.