Ubuntu Touch Q&A 42
Whole-Home Addiction


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Show Notes

News & Updates

Some content will have to go to the next show because this one is very crowded. OTA-6 is already out. OTA-7 is out on Tuesday. For the first time since we started, updates are coming out on a clear schedule.

We now have the latest version of libhybris so we are getting the upstream changes now. New devices will particularly benefit from that.

Moto G5 being worked on again by Dalton. That is the type of device that will gain from the new libhybris version.

Chris Clime has been making big advances with Morph browser. Multiple window support and stable video playing are just examples among loads of other improvements.

Our native keyboard has been upgraded for us by Kugi. Now there are nine themes. All look great but the dark theme is especially popular!

The theming was carried out using JSON files, so the changes can potentially be spread into other parts of the UI.

The Lithuanian keyboard has now been added and the French Swiss one now works correctly.

FOSDEM this year will have UBports representation. Marius and Dalton will be there.

Florian wants to chat with the maintainers of Linux Network Manager while he is there. That package is not well adapted for use on mobile platforms, so if they are prepared to look at our particular needs, we may start to benefit from some of the upstream of that project. Network Manager matters a lot when using public WiFi, enabling seamless logins where signup is required. That is really a key part of what a phone should be able to do and is a weak point of UT.

The new telegram app is now on the way. It is pretty stable but management functions, forwarding and reply are not yet implemented. It will be called TELEports. The first development hackathon will be followed up by another on January 26, in Stuttgart.

It may be possible to release a beta version after that, depending on progress. It is so much faster than before because it preloads and is multi-threaded.

Qt Quick may be part of the reason for the acceleration. Multimedia support is lacking but will be added slowly. Secret chats now function.

Jan was at the 35C3 (Chaos Communication Congress) recently and gave a talk. There were 16,000 attendees. He took a couple of UT phones to show around. Linphone worked fine with the temporary conference SIP network!

Ubucon Europe is looking very good this year.

The Chemnitz Linux Days will be in May. Jan hopes to be there again.

In this Q&A there was some fun reviewing the accuracy of their predictions for the year, in episode 19.

But first, thanks to all our sponsors.


Marius said that UT would be based on 16.04 early in 2018. It actually happened in Summer, so half a point.

Dalton predicted more Halium ports and multiboots in Halium. Zero points there then.

Florian claimed that we would be invited to chat with Linux press type magazines. It turned out that we were on online shows much more than in magazines. Late Night Linux, Living Linux, Softpedia all gave coverage. There was a big presence at conferences. So Florian gets one point. Much more we can do though.

FOSDEM is a great opportunity for coverage. Even now, we constantly have to remind people that UT is very much alive.

Jan said we would get better support for 'desktop' apps through the use of e.g. Qt Quick controls. Only half a point because Libertine is still not working at all well.

Marius' second prediction was that the UBports Foundation would be finalized. That was wrong unfortunately but we have re-submitted and are waiting again. It is a slow process always and our application is no exception.

We have to show that we are for public benefit and that the Foundation is not some sort of trick to avoid tax.


What is the deadline for moving everything to Gitlab?

The answer is that it is happening as it becomes possible. Core apps are there, so updates can go direct to the OpenStore now. Our Debian packaging process needs a lot of work before a move. Bash scripts work well but they are very slow. We need a faster build. With Aptly probably. The overall move will be a process, over quite a long period.

At a personal level, what were your coolest achievements and what are your hopes for 2019?

Jan replied that presenting at conferences has been great. Personal circumstances intervened in the second part of the year and meant that he was not able to do as much with UT. On the plus side, many people stepped in from the community and took on tasks. That was very encouraging. For 2019, hopefully more engaged again.

Dalton has graduated and now has a software development degree. He was interviewed on a range of podcasts. The 'Ask Noah' chat was particularly amazing and enjoyable. It was the 100th episode celebration. Dalton explained that he has started reading books a lot. Some of it on software team management. One standout book though was 'Irresistible' by Adam Alter. Dalton himself admitted that he had become hooked on online 'stuff', especially YouTube. That is the point of the book. That those online worlds are deliberately designed to be addictive. His hope for 2019 is that we can collectively wise up to that and develop strategies to resist.

Put simply, If UT is an OS that is eminently usable and technically advanced but does not lead to addictive behavior, that is a huge gift we can give.

Florian said the coolest UT thing was answering loads of questions and pointing users in the right direction for advice. Very stressful but the networking aspect was great. The people in the community are what makes it shine. That is a reward in itself. Getting rid of the maintenance of the old Telegram app was great. He now works for a new company, doing software only. Florian of course also became a father in 2018, so has had to scale back a bit The technology his son's generation will use will be very different than ours. Echoing Dalton, he hoped that together we can transform the phone environment, to throw a lifeline to his generation.

On a similar theme, Marius has started learning more about the psychology of technology use, especially its potential impact on mental health. Teenagers especially are suffering harm. Huge companies are in effect exerting mind control. Depression and anxiety are some of the more obvious consequences. In 2019 we should have opportunities to 'disconnect' more from those online monoliths. We need to take control of our phones, not be controlled by them. Marius has written more on his blog recently about these subjects.

Dalton returned to the introduction to Irresistible. There was an example given that Steve Jobs spent an afternoon promoting the idea that the iPad should become ubiquitous. Yet when he returned home, his children were not given them to use. People in his position understand the real significance of the tech. They don't want it in their own lives.

Google have applied for a patent for a whole home sensor system. Yes, every room. Atmospheric sensors will know that you are cooking. Maybe what you are cooking. Microphones will listen in. Assertion technology will kick in. reminding us about promises we have made. Managing the behavior of our kids. Of course, if they grow up with this all-pervading surveillance, they will likely think it is normal? Dalton suggested people read the Private Internet Access blog post on it [and yes, full disclosure, they help fund UBports].

People who understand at a technical level what technology is capable of also have the ability to understand how dangerous it can be. If you are reading this, that probably includes you. Collectively, that places a special responsibility on us. UBports will no doubt be talking about these themes much more than we have in the past.

There was a question about possible linking up with Asteroid OS (a watch OS) which has a similar approach to UBports. The answer is that the two technologies are entirely different, so not much technical crossover. But an app for communication between UT and those watches would be very helpful. It would be a good idea anyway to bring our users nearer.

On that subject, Jan has an Asteroid OS watch which he got with the idea of creating a link app but he has been too busy. If there is a serious developer with the skills to do it, they are welcome to have the watch. Discuss it with Jan if that is you.

How is Mir 1.X coming along?

Marius has been working with it . Wayland is working well although for some strange reason Qualcomm devices are not playing. It provides much faster app startup. The results will be in the Edge channel soon but that is still quite a long way off from integrating into everyday Ubuntu Touch. We will not be moving straight to Wayland in next stage of integration.

Ubuntu Touch OTA-7 Release