Ubuntu Touch Q&A 64 | OTA 12 development progress


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News and Update

Development during two last weeks

Presenting were Marius, Florian, Jan and Dalton.

OTA12 has been developing very well during the last two weeks.

Kugii has made progress with the advanced text functions. Some of you will know that you can call up edit functions with a long press on the space key. Now that has been replaced with a swipe up from bottom action, which is more in keeping with our UI design guidelines.

Rajanathan has been spending some time improving the functioning of the Fairphone 2. You can now switch SIM slots properly, so you get 4g or 2g automatically. Before you had to switch manually, which made no sense. Another task taken on by Rajanathan was to rebuild Aethercast, which with the right hardware (probably the Microsoft display adapter) you can transmit video to a full screen.

Unity8 no longer has a tendency to crash on startup. That is thanks to Marius, who found a way to catch and ignore an exception.

Kris has added new missing feature to morph browser, you can now clear your cookies.

Matteo Salta has performed design tweaks, right colors and buttons organisation, across the system. There were a lot of hangovers still present from old designs.

Lionel Duboeuf has made the Messaging app a little more stable.

Indicator translations change is now showed

There has been a long standing issue with indicators not showing translations, even though we have been translating them for two years! The bug which led to the translations being ignored has now been identified, so those will now update as they should. Of course that means that if there are any translations missing for indicators, that will now become obvious. Just let us know if your spot any.

External display fixes

Marius posted on Twitter some of the fixes which he has made to UT when using an external display. As well as fixing the breaks caused by the last OTA, these changes implement some Mir handling which will speed the switches to and from external displays.

Unity8 on ARCH

Dalton showed a device with Unity8 running on Arch. This was built by Ivan. It is still a buggy first run but definitely there. It is actually an ISO image, so in principle it called be run from a usb stick, without being installed. What this development means is that we have extended the community of people who are now able to try out and work on Unity8 on the desktop. @unity8_arch is the place to head in Telegram, if you are interested.

Call for help DevWebs to help with website resilience

Jan spoke about something that has happened. Hacker News and Reddit have been picking up much more on news from our blogs in the past month, so we have seen much more traffic coming to our website. Unfortunately, our site has therefore sometimes been overloaded and has gone down. There are probably people in our community who have specialized knowledge of website resilience and can help us to manage the situation. If you are in that category, please contact Jan on Telegram or email to discuss.

Always news about UT Installer

Work is being done inside the installer to bring new stuff in the future, right now experimenting with Android tools module to include Heimdall to talk to the boot-loader on Samsung devices. That is another specialist subject and if anyone out there has that knowledge (and an Android device!), again please speak to Jan. A knowledge of javascript is basically what you need when helping with the installer.

PinePhone development progress

The Pinephone has been out on pre-order since 15 November. In the Brave Heart edition there is no installed OS, so you can also try out Plasma Mobile, PostmarketOS or Lune. Pine64.org is where to head. $150 + shipping + duty payable.

Marius has been busy multi-streaming Unity8 and working with MirAL to get UT running on the Pinephone.

Bhushan Shah from Plasma Mobile and Martjin Braam and other guys at PostmarketOS have done a lot of work on it so that we can add audio too.

Webber | Kaidan | ConverseJS | Memo | Flas

Webber app by Tim Süberkrüb allows users to instantly create webapps for any websites they rely on. Rather than use WebAppCreator, you can just give Webber a link and it will create an app and install it for you.

For any users of XMPP, we have Kaidan. It is a bit dated, simply because we are using and older and more limited version of Qt.

ConverseJS was added to the store this week. It is a javascript XMPP client that will run on UT.

Memo is similar to Google Keep in terms of what it does. It is colorful note taker that scrolls horizontally. It was brought back by Matteo Salta. Stefano created it originally. Memo does not currently sync.

Flas is an internet radio app which has been resurrected by Joan Cibersheep. Simon was the original creator. The radio continues playing when the device is asleep.

German community hackathon

Jan announced that the German community is going to organize another hackathon. It will take place on 7 December in Düsseldorf. They will be working on an ability to add reviews of apps in OpenStore. Details are on gettogether.community

Sponsors were thanked.


The News section of the Forum is the best place to pose questions for the Q&A. YouTube live chat, Telegram and Matrix are other places to post a question.

64bit builds progress

Gizmochicken asked about progress with 64bit builds of UT. That is required for PinePhone and others.

Marius explained that the builds are already usable and not showing any major problems. Of course apps have not yet been rebuilt to run on it. Qmake in Clickable is able to manage that adaptation though. There are some issues with PinePhone that are not about Arm64 at all and we need to get those working properly too.

Unity8 and Mir progress on Github

kalle.kruse says he often looks at the progress tracker on Github for Unity8 and Mir. There are no signs of progress there, so is it the wrong place to look and is progress being made?

At the moment, the devel to rc blocking points are being flagged. A few of the issues listed there are very big ones. There is continual progress within those but that won’t become visible until those large sub-projects are ‘complete’. At present, there are no weekly shifts from devel into rc. We have to fix some critical issues before we can return to that routine. New rc have not appeared since OTA-11. Also Marius explained that the multi-screen function in particular has required a lot of work and has to be got right.

Ubuntu Touch on PineTab

Thatoo asked about running UT on the PineTab. That is very similar to the PinePhone and is at about the same stage with UT. Both need work done and at the moment both have experimental rather than practical builds. Our focus is of course with the phone, as it suits our objectives better.

CheeseBacon wanted to know what is not working on the PinePhone?

Audio in calls is not there yet, either in send or receive. Work on that is ongoing. Marius showed a splash-screen on his PinePhone, then a menu and then indicators – scrolling very fast.

Mark has been doing some work on RasberryPi. The work on PinePhone has had the side effect of suddenly making Pi builds much more of a practical possibility. RaspberryPi 3 is currently working better than the very new 4. Since the latter has a touchscreen available for it, we see it as a strong contender for use as a test platform and we would like to accelerate development for it. @ubports_pi on Telegram is where this is being discussed, so if you would like to help out with building and testing, please head there.

Tor network for Ubuntu Touch?

Someone, as an end user, asked if we could secure more privacy by using an anonymised network? Can we have Tor network by OTA-13? He offered €100 towards that goal. First, on funding, if an objective is realistic and achievable, Ubports will act as peer-to-peer to put a sponsor in touch with someone who has the time and ability to work on an enhancement. Of course that can only work when the task is suitable for that treatment – in other words, when there is a clear path forward. We have tried multiple times to set up on BountySource but failed each time. [Of course this answer doesn’t mean we can do magic with Tor...]

Nexus 5 without non-android stack?

poVoq asked about the Nexus 5 and a memory that there is some kind of mainline kernel support for it. Does that mean it could in principle work with a non-Android stack, as the Pinephone does? A link on the PostmarketOS wiki seems to be the relevant one. Audio, Bluetooth and calls are among those features not working. Maybe there is some potential in what they are doing, for us.

Crash reporting tool

Fla wanted to know if he could help to build a crash reporting function for UT? Both for the OS and the apps that run on it. If available, a built in system would generate a lot more feedback about how things are working and thereby accelerate development. In the past we have looked at WhoopsyDaisy from Canonical and whether we could port that to UT. Well, crash reports have an important role to play but they are not the full picture. In beta, both Windows and MacOS have feedback hubs. Those gather logs, allow you to take screenshots and enable you to add feedback notes. That has led to discussions in Ubuntu about having something similar. So maybe this is an issue where we could link up with those looking at this function on the desktop?

Of course 20.04 is growing steadily nearer and that would be the place to implement something like that. And of course we will be basing eventually on 20.04…

Apport is the practical mechanism that could be used. That was removed from UT and the only way to return it would be with authorization from Canonical. It is likely that the only way that could happen is if we were to become an official flavor of Ubuntu. On top of that, there is the whole question of data handling. We are not sure that we even want that.

Florians challenge

Florian waved around the Samsung S3 Neo, which for a long time (but very slowly) has been his porting challenge with an unusual processor. With Halium 3 it now has a UI, joins a WiFi network. There is no sound at all nor any vibration. It will probably never get as far as being a usable ported phone but it is an interesting platform to play with and if anyone has that device Florian can supply an informal build for it. With the documentation that has been put together, along with the technical progress with Halium, it is basically now possible to port a device in a third or less of the time that it took in the ‘old days’. That is quite an achievement!

Alfred’s Xperia X port is being tried out by quite a lot of people and the feedback provided by them is speeding that project.

One last thing by Marius

The one hundred ‘developer’ batch of Pinephones are on their way, many of them to members of this community. If the installer can be modified to aid a UT install, that will be very useful. :-)

Jan: I can handle that pressure :-)


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