The first smartphones based on a mobile version of Canonical's Ubuntu Linux operating system will be launched this year, the company's CEO said Wednesday.

BQ and Meizu, both Chinese phone makers, will produce the phones that will launch "well within" 2014, said Mark Shuttleworth, in a conference call with reporters.

Shuttleworth didn't disclose any other details of the phones, but he hinted that the BQ phone would have dual-SIM slots and the Meizu phone would match Ubuntu with Android on a dual-boot system.

Samples of both phones will be shows at next week's Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona.

Ubuntu is best-known for its desktop and server Linux OS, which has a reputation for being easier to use and install than many other Linux operating systems.

Canonical, the company behind the OS, first announced plans for an Ubuntu mobile OS at the beginning of 2013.

In the middle of the year, the company launched a crowd-funding project for a high-end concept phone based on the operating system. While the campaign for the Ubuntu Edge phone received a strong launch -- over a million dollars were raised in the first few hours -- enthusiasm quickly tailed off and the campaign raised just under $13 million, which was well below the target of $32 million.

As it enters the mobile space, Shuttleworth said Ubuntu is looking to become the number-three platform in the industry.

That would put it ahead of Microsoft's Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS, which are the current third and fourth-ranked platforms behind Android and Apple's iOS.