Introducing Ubuntu Web Apps: setting the web free of the browser

These days, we spend more time online – working with docs, email, music and occasionally even accessing social media. But, our online and desktop experiences have been disjointed. We give applications the full run of our desktops, where they have their own icons and windows, but we trap the whole Internet inside one overworked application, the browser.

That’s why we’ve been working on a way to integrate the two worlds – something to make it just as easy to run a web application as a traditional app. And we’ve been working to give web applications access to the full range of desktop capabilities.

At OSCON today, Mark Shuttleworth revealed Ubuntu Web Apps, a new feature due to land in October’s Ubuntu 12.10 release. It will enable Ubuntu users to run online applications like Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, Ebay and GMail direct from the desktop. Making web applications behave like their desktop counterparts improves the user experience dramatically; it’s faster and it reduces the proliferation of browser tabs and windows that can quickly make a desktop unmanageable.

The apps can even take advantage of Ubuntu’s new HUD system, making it even easier to navigate. So Web properties leap to the forefront of modern UI design, making for amazingly productive, fast and fluid applications on the desktop.

That makes Ubuntu the best platform for the web – secure, fast and lightweight. This new feature is part of our drive to make the web a first class part of Ubuntu. We’ve already turned 40 popular web sites into Ubuntu Web Apps and there are plenty more on the way. It’s easy to integrate your favourite website or interface natively into the desktop, and share the result with all Ubuntu users. No other OS has come close to this level of integration between the web and desktop.

To see it in action check out this video:



Some examples of what users can do with Ubuntu WebApps:

  • Launch online music site Last.FM directly from the Dash and control the music from Ubuntu’s sound menu
  • Access and launch your social media accounts (Google+, Twitter, Facebook) from the Launcher, and get native desktop notifications
  • Quickly and seamlessly upload photos to Facebook from Shotwell
  • Pause and play the video you are watching on Youtube
  • See how many unread messages you have in your GMail account, in Ubuntu’s messaging indicator

Ubuntu Web Apps will be available as a preview for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS soon and will be available by default in Ubuntu 12.10. I think we’ve made something that’s about to radically change users’ expectations of the web!



  1. Daniele

    Great , that’s a really good feature but the integration must be improved and what about a single window browser running the web-app, can be aesthetically better isn’t it?

  2. Benjamin BERNARD

    Seems to be great, but you are only promoting centralised and proprietary solutions in your demo. It’s not good for an open and decentralised web, why not using openphoto instead of picasa ?
    Open Source also exist in web services I hope that you think about that.

  3. c3s

    Amazing staff! Congrats!

    Would it be possible to integrate nautilus with google docs!?

  4. Eric Eggert

    This sounds awesome!

    Do those functions like notification feature base on web standards like web notifications?

    I ask because there is no web notification support on Firefox currently…

  5. Fluxy

    Good going. If the apps don’t come to GNU/Linux, GNU/Linux will go to them 😛

    However first wanna know if possible to have all the webapps open as tabs instead of separate windows, and secondly which browsers will be supported *sigh*, the plus side being that we don’t have to worry about internet explorer 😀 *wink*

  6. f055

    Any link to an API docs so developers can prepare their webapps for this?

  7. ademar



  8. allenbeme

    What application renders the Web app? Looks like Firefox to me. JolieCloud did this years ago.

  9. allenbeme

    What is the application that renders the Web app? Looks like FireFox to me. This is not really new. JolieCloud has been doing it for years.

  10. Aaron Toponce

    So, basically, websites that have an API that you can build hooks into, you have built separate apps for. Yet, you can still access them in the browser. Remind me- how is this any different that what anyone else has been doing for years?

  11. Anonymous coward

    How does it work where’s the code ? Where is dev being done ?

  12. Peter Cossey

    I like it!

    I notice that the broswer being used in the video is Firefox, will the same integration be possible with Chromium?

  13. Edward Anderson

    Awesome. OSX has had this for a while with FluidApp, but it’s good to see it coming over to Ubuntu as well.

  14. Nebis

    Isn’t that a Google Chrome feature? –app=

  15. Niloy Mondal

    Cool, but when will Ubuntu support applications made with HTML5 to run natievly like Phonegap?

  16. valugi

    What do you mean by “we turned”? What kind of adaptation are required by the websites in order to become available as “native”?

  17. Peter

    I run most social networks in my Firefox browser, because I can hide/block the ads they bring. I don’t care about the ads. I will NEVER EVER buy something from those ads and therefor erase them from my view, so that I keep a clean and “neat” internet experience.

    With these webapps, I suppose these ads will return, as there’s no adblocking extensions available? Or will there be extensions available for these web apps? I don’t think walking this web app road is a safe thing to do for an end user…

    I’ll stick to my browser, even on mobile devices, to stay away from these stupid ads.

  18. Sufalam Technologies

    My ears. Some of the instruments in the music are out of tune. It reminded me how I used to compose music as a child, haha. The whole project is disappointing – they just open the browser.

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