A developer preview of Canonical’s mobile-friendly version of Ubuntu will be published this week, enabling developers to port the platform to Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 smartphones.

The Touch Developer Preview is intended for enthusiasts and developers to familiarise themselves with Ubuntu’s smartphone platform and develop applications on spare handsets.

Tools that manage the “flashing” of the phone will also be available from 21 February in the Ubuntu archives, making it easy to keep a device up to date with the latest version of the developer preview.

“Our platform supports a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions. Developers who have experience bringing up phone environments will find it relatively easy to port Ubuntu to current handsets” said Pat McGowan, who leads the integration effort that produced the images being released.

“We look forward to adding support for additional devices for everyday testing and experimentation.”

Attendees of Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona can have their phones flashed to Ubuntu by Canonical team members at the Ubuntu stand, (booth number 81D3).

Canonical has also released a preview SDK and App Design Guides to allow developers to create applications for the full range of Ubuntu platforms.

The toolkit provides a range of documented templates to enable native applications to be created quickly and easily. These use QML (Qt Meta Language) widgets, as well as HTML5 and OpenGL for quick interface development.  

Developers will not need to cross-compile or package applications differently for phone, tablet, PC and TV, as one platform serves all four.

“The release marks the start of a new era for Ubuntu, with true convergence between devices,” said Canonical in a statement. “When complete, the same Ubuntu code will deliver a mobile, tablet, desktop or TV experiences depending on the device it is installed on, or where it is docked.”

The install process and supported device list are available here and will be updated as new devices are added.