"The exact same code will give you the same experience depending on the hardware you boot it on," Shuttleworth explained. "It responds to the hardware and presents the optimal user experience for that device."
Not only can the operating system itself scale smoothly across all form factors, in fact, but so too can the apps developers create for it. "Developers can then write a single app binary that can run on phone, tablet, PC, or TV," he added.
That convergence is expected to be complete by Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, due in April of next year, Shuttleworth said.
This video explains the concept in more detail.
A "Touch Developer Preview"
The Ubuntu tablet interface supports screen sizes from 6 to 20 inches and resolutions from 100 to 450 ppi.
This Thursday Canonical will release a "Touch Developer Preview" of Ubuntu, with installation instructions for the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets as well as smartphones including the Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus. Installable images and source code will be available from Ubuntu's developer site.
And when can we expect to be able to buy actual tablet hardware running this new Ubuntu? Likely the first quarter of 2014, but Canonical is not yet sure whether phones or tablets will appear first, Shuttleworth said.