#53: Ubuntu Touch Q&A Bout of OTA-10


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News and Updates

Dalton, Jan, Marius and Flo appeared this week.

Google scare

Google has sent out notices that Ubuntu apps will lose some Google account access in July if the apps do not comply with Google's new standard. That could affect calendar synchronization and things like email, where we are still using some old Canonical implementations. We decided we would do some updating of those, so that the keys become our own. We expect to get the necessary changes sorted by 15 July.

There is a lot of misinformation going around about this, which makes it worse. The process they are going through seems very strange but it looks for now as if we will have no difficulty complying.

Camera upgrade upgrade (upgrade)

We are pleased to announce that we at last have a fix for a long standing FP2 bug. Images taken with the front-facing camera of the new camera module will no longer be flipped upside down. Thanks to Ratchanan for identifying and fixing that issue!

Audio/Video synchronization when recording on the FP2 and OPO was failing and that is another bug which we have been able to resolve. Another thanks to Ratchanan!

These changes are in devel channel now and we expect them to be in the next OTA.

Oneplus One Oops

Unfortunately we had an accident with the Oneplus One, involving both devel and rc channels. Devices which installed devel images 2019-06-21 through 2019-07-01 or RC image 2019-W26 may not be able to update to a newer version of Ubuntu Touch. If this is the case on your device, it will reboot to the UBports Recovery main menu when you select "Reboot and Install" on your next system update. To resolve this issue, either run the UBports Installer with the "Wipe" option unchecked to reinstall Ubuntu Touch on your device or select "Android Actions -> Apply Update" in the recovery menu.

Bluetooth "fun"

Florian has a new piece of hardware: A pair of Bluetooth headphones. Marius has prepared a branch to the latest version of Bluez, so we now have an update. We will try to get that into the next Stable channel update (OTA-11). It is interesting because that upstream is post 16.04, so we are backporting it. We are actually moving to the Bluez version from Disco. The upgrade still needs some implementation work to make it seamless though. The problems which Florain is experiencing with his headphones also occur when they are linked to his desktop, so this is not a specific UT problem. They are cheap, unsophisticated headphones, so the theory is that if they work well with Bluez, more refined equipment is highly likely to work too. Google have switched back to using Blueman, so that might accelerate some fixes there which can be used to improve Bluez too.

Given the complicated mess that is Bluetooth, the Bluez implementation does remarkably well, so we certainly shouldn’t be critical of the Bluez development team. One of the problems they are up against is a lack of consistency across Linux.

Back to basics

A long time ago Marius was talking about switching provider remote back-ends to locationd from GeoClue back-end. That work is still in progress but Rodney has meanwhile been working on taking down our location services to their component parts, removing some of the buggier back-ends in the process. Hopefully with OTA 10 – we are not sure about the timing yet – we will operate a hardware only implementation of GPS. That might seem like a step backward but it should have the effect of making GPS much more reliable than it is now. After that is done, we can build back in a more sophisticated location service implementation. Thanks to Rodney for doing that.

Although OTA 10 has always been intended as a maintenance release, it will actually be quite awesome because it will include the things we have been talking about here.

Joan is our lead designer and he has been going through the Settings app. There were a lot of contraventions of our human interface guidelines in there and his work tidying things up makes it look a great deal better. Warm thanks to Joan.

Edge updates

Now to Mir 1.1, where Marius has been busy untrashing Edge allotments. As you probably know, Marius has been using Edge channel as a daily driver for a while. He has now recommended that users who want to be a bit more adventurous also now try it out as a daily driver. It is beginning to function quite well. After memory leak fixes, it doesn’t crash as much as the ‘now’ version.

Dalton has obtained an OPO and he is going to try Edge as daily driver on that for a while. It is possible that we will see what is now Edge merged into the mainstream for OTA11 or OTA12. It is getting that close now.

Obviously we need to do some work to improve the documentation on how to get Edge channel onto your device. That will likely also mean making some modifications to the installer, to include an Advanced mode.

Jan has tweaked the manual install instructions for Windows users and you should find them easier to follow now. AnotherElk helped a lot with tidying that up on Github, so many thanks.

Our sponsors were thanked.

A reminder that the best place to put questions to the Q&A is the forum link which you will find in the News channel alongside the Q&A link.


When will Mir 1.x be available in Ubuntu Touch?

Well, 1.2 is already in the Edge channel! As indicated above, that translates into availability in Stable after one update or two. If you want to try it out now, go to ‘Living on the Edge’ in the forum.

How should people get official answers from the UBports Foundation Board of Directors?

Johannes asked about the Foundation e.g. publishing some artwork for a user. Jan explained that where an ‘official’ response for anything is needed, always use email to obtain that. If you just message a post holder in the Foundation, they will respond as an individual, not in their ‘official capacity’. Having said that, there are lots of things that don’t really need any official approval at all. With most things, you can just get on and do them.

Johannes also asked a bit more about transparency. Even if a discussion does not take place in public, the way in which it is handled should be a matter of public record, in the way that Debian does things? With the Upstart versus SystemD debate, they published the irc log of the debate they had. What does UBports think about that approach? Jan said it really depends on the context and the significance of the decision. Illustrating that by the choice of orange for the Teleports icon, which was a day-to-day decision taken by the team doing that work and not something at a level which needs a community decision.

Voting can indeed take place on some issues, where views are polarized and where outcomes matter quite a lot – conditional on the issue being one which most members of the community can understand and have an informed view about. Something highly technical and obscure will only be properly understood by a few people and the debate will have to be left to them. Once the Foundation is fully operational, we will of course publish minutes of meetings at various levels.

Check out the Foundation Statutes for more information.

Jan added that the statutes are not so prescriptive. We could have online polls on some issues, rather than formal votes.

The final question from Johannes was about the Foundation application form online and whether it now works? The form is still live but as we have previously explained there are some finishing touches to be done before we start accepting members. You can of course enter your data on the form now and it will be used once we are fully operational.


Okkie asked about Lukasz’s statement that Pine is waiting for a Ubuntu Touch build for the Pinephone. You can read about it on the pine64.org blog. The answer is that we have been working hard on the Mir upgrade for all our devices (it is now in Edge) and that development was an absolute requirement for running Ubports on the Pinephone. There is work going on in the background on the Pinephone devkit but there is no build as yet that users can download.

Marius added that getting Unity8 to run on the Pinephone is not an issue. It already does. We need to make adaptations though, just as we do for any device. We also need to make arrangements for nested Mir to operate on the Pinephone (like it does on existing devices), so the preparation for that is running in parallel with the work we are doing in the Edge channel. Marius has been unable to do a lot of work in the past couple of months, owing to his personal situation. Now he is forging ahead again, as can be seen with the Edge progress.

Sardinian Language Support

Adria asked about localisation of the Sardinian language in UT. Some time ago there was a discussion about Unicode not being in a position to allow us to make that happen but since then, they have altered the status of Sardinian. Canonical though have not made an equivalent change. One test they have is that 70% of all strings have been translated into a language, before it is added. There also has to be a formal translation group, peer review of that etc. Florian’s view is that the best way forward is to try to get what we want in the upstream, rather than inventing our own solutions. For those translation areas which are solely under our control, we can of course operate our own rules and make things as simple as possible. But the more flexible we are, the more disappointing the practical outcome might be for users. We could water down the 70% threshold but users might be upset to find only 30% translated and the rest in English.

To get around the lack of official support in the language packs issued by Canonical, we will have to create fake language packs for languages particular to UT. Technically, we could give up language packs altogether but then we lose a great deal. Plus, we are pressed for resources so custom building anything is an issue for us. There are still some delays with translations going through Weblate and we are trying to sort those out with them. In short, we have no immediate remedy that would lead to blanket support for Sardinian.

32-bit meme

Chzbacon asked how to get hold of some UBports stickers. The obvious way is to select the appropriate Patreon tier, when you will get some automatically.

Chzbacon asks whether UT will support 32bit for Steam gaming? Marius responded that since ARM is 64bit, we use 64bit libraries by default in UT. To be honest, we are not going to build a Steam compatibility layer on top of everything else we are doing. A phone that did that would be a really quite different thing, with a different processor.

If the question is about Unity8 on desktop, we just follow what Canonical provide, so anything like that would be down to them.

Finally, just a reminder that mailing lists exist now, as promised last time. You can click on the Home page to join them.


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