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Debut Ubuntu phone's first flash sale announced, more to come

The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will be sold in limited-run flash sales, with several sales expected in the coming weeks.

Ubuntu's software for phones swaps apps for "scopes", which you find by hitting the orange Ubuntu logo. Rich Trenholm/CNET

The first Ubuntu phone goes on sale in a limited run Wednesday, but don't worry if you miss out: there'll be around three more "flash sales" before the end of the month.

The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu edition is the first phone that will let phone fans snap up an Ubuntu-running device for themselves. Best known as an open-source operating system for computers, Ubuntu is expanding to phones as part of a plan that will see the software power everything from TVs to drones. And to kick things off, the BQ phone will be up for grabs between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (CET) on Wednesday 11 February.

Ubuntu is developed by British company Canonical. Canonical is showing off both the BQ phone and the forthcoming Ubuntu version of the Meizu MX4 at the Mobile World Congress 2015 industry trade show, which opens on 2 March. Before that, Canonical is expecting to run three sales, with up to five possible depending on how they go.

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The sales will be announced on Ubuntu's Twitter, Google+ and Facebook pages and BQ's Twitter account, bqreaders.

The BQ flash sales follow the example of Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi, which have managed to carve out a foothold in a competitive market by building anticipation and releasing their phones in limited runs -- in turn feeding more word of mouth and more anticipation around the next sale. At this stage Ubuntu is aimed at early adopters, with plans to gradually expand its numbers.

Unfortunately for curious phone fans in the US, the phone is available only in Europe. Spanish manufacturer BQ doesn't offer support in the US, and this particular phone doesn't support US 3G. However, plans are afoot to launch devices in the US market, with Canonical hoping to make an announcement in the first half of this year.