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Nexus 4, Galaxy Nexus enjoy exclusive Ubuntu Phone preview

Lucky Nexus owners will be able to download the Ubuntu Phone preview later this week, giving their phone a brand new open-source look.

Is your Android phone too easy to use? Worry not! Canonical, the company behind the mildly popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, has promised an exclusive preview version of its Ubuntu Phone software will be available to download from 21 February -- this Thursday.

It won't be open to every Android user though, with only two lucky Nexus devices able to install the preview -- the ageing Galaxy Nexus and the magnificent Nexus 4.

Ubuntu Phone brings a whole host of new crashes features to your Android phone, as well as an admittedly good-looking design. You'll be able to turn your phone into a full Ubuntu desktop PC by using a Motorola Atrix-style dock to connect to a keyboard and monitor. This could be the only device you need to carry around with you, as long as you do pretty much everything online.

Canonical hopes this release will help developers port Ubuntu to other Android phones in the near future, and has stressed that the software is not yet fully ready -- with this release aimed squarely at developers and enthusiasts.

The company has increasingly moved towards combining one experience across a variety of devices, with TV, mobile and PC all in its sights. It's not the only open-source company stepping up its presence on a wider range of devices. The Mozilla Foundation is due to release Firefox OS later this year too, which will be also be installable on Android devices.

Google has also stepped up its assault, with its free Chrome OS and Google TV OSes doing their darnedest to make the Internet -- and therefore Google -- the centre of our lives, wherever we happen to be.

The popular Linux distribution is also expected to be launched on tablets, with a new countdown timer on Ubuntu's website saying, "Tick, tock, tablet time!"

Interestingly, the clock is due to end at the same time as HTC's own countdown, which has sparked rumours that there may be an HTC-built Ubuntu tablet announced alongside the well-leaked HTC One at this afternoon's event. Fuel was added to those flames when a recent teaser by HTC's social media team revealed a tablet-like device hidden under a grey sheet.

Device manufacturers have yet to announce any hardware running Ubuntu Phone, but there may be some revealed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week. If you're going to MWC, you'll be able to pop into Canonical's booth and have Ubuntu Phone popped on your Nexus there and then.

If you're not lucky enough to join us in Barcelona, you'll have to head on over to the Ubuntu website from Thursday and flash it yourself, using the instructions provided. You do so at your own risk, however, as the company has warned this is pre-release software not ready for general consumption.

Are you going to take the plunge or are you content with stock Android? Let me know in the comments or head on over to our Facebook page.