Developers will have from 18 June until 9 July 2012 - a total of three weeks - to create an app using Canonical's Quickly development tool, which combines Python and GTK into a single Ubuntu-centric package.
The resulting apps will be judged by a five-member panel, with the developers of the top three receiving new Nokia N9 smartphones. In addition, second place will get a System76 Lemur Ultra laptop, and the overall winner will get a System76 Gazelle Professional laptop. Moreover, the top three vote-getters in a community poll will also qualify for an N9.
At the contest's start, Canonical will run several workshops focused on giving developers a basic rundown of how to use Quickly, and the company encouraged interested parties to seek assistance on its AskUbuntu service.
Entries will be judged on innovation, appearance, stability, platform integration and overall utility, and Canonical has set up a subreddit - r/UbuntuAppShowdown - to allow users to swap ideas and brainstorm more effectively. Current entries include a virtual programming environment for children and a simulation of grilling food on a charcoal fire. (It must be noted that most of these entries appear to come from Canonical employees, however.)
The contest bears some similarity to the popular game jam format, in which computer game developers crank out ad hoc offerings in sleepless marathon sessions and compete for prizes. The three-week time frame, however, makes for a slightly more relaxed atmosphere.
Canonical hopes that the competition helps to raise awareness of Quickly, and popularize the toolkit among developers.