Ubuntu Touch Q&A 46
Fresh-Cut Pine64 Scent


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Show Notes

News and Updates

There have been some advances in the core apps. Calendar has had a big update with a major tabs update. Christian did a lot on that. @cibersheep has done work on dark themes. Both Weather and OpenStore apps have had big translation updates.

Translation is still quite complicated and still not working perfectly, so can be a bit slow.

Sardinian users are struggling because core language packs from Canonical are not available. We have solutions in mind but those are still for the future. We will workaround meanwhile as best we can.

If someone wants to do some work on language packs that would be extremely useful. It is more of a library skill, not overly technical.

Jan has implemented a large number of javascript edits to the UBports installer. We are now down from 400 open issues to 70 but that understates progress because most of the 70 are new ones, which grew out of the changes. Everything now works way better on all platforms.

There are still some refinements needed to make the installer really first class. It is the area of UBports where javascript is most used, so if that is your skill, please get in touch!

Despite the installer being so much better now, we have also introduced manual install instructions, using just the terminal. Some people just naturally prefer that but for most users it will be the alternative where for some reason the installer has not worked for them.

Either approach is designed to be safe. In some situations your device may not boot but it will not brick.

Marius showed a Pinephone devkit. It works up to a point already after just a few days. It is version 1.1. of the kit.

This kit is very close to the final product. Sensors and cameras are now included. To remind you, this has no Halium. We can run natively, which is nice. It will have kill switches and a removable battery. No notch.

Display out will be included! So HDMI via usb.

The Alwinner chip limits to the 3.10 kernel but it is being mainstreamed quite fast.

The eventual device is expected to retail for around $150.

Librem 5 devkit is not available yet.

Sponsors announcement

A thread is posted every other Tuesday on the Forum, so that we can answer questions put there, in the following Q&A.


Tom asks about the milestones for UBports?

The 'Project' feature in Github shows them. The OTA 9 one is a bit barren. Mir Unity8 upgrade is going on and we will fill out that space later.

Trainailleur asks what is the UT market share?

There is no measure actually. We only have some server records to guess from. On Downloads we have had about 10 million requests but we don't really know what that means. We really ought to collect some non-sensitive info, which we don't collect now.

Devices could report what they are, their memory etc. We respect privacy but at the moment we don't have an understanding of the user base. Models and numbers would be great to know. That information would help us to prioritize and plan.

We need to understand how users are shifting between devices, We don't want users' personal data though, obviously.

Gathering data anonymously but releasing an overview is something we need to discuss and get back to you about.

We will only ever seek what we need. We have no need to know in which country users are located, for example.

We do know that there are currently 2300 people with the snap version of our installer on their computer. That sheds some light on the overall number of UT users.

Loops asks whether once Pine and Librem are released, those will become the flagships and crowd out other devices?

Overall, the answer is no. We will not be dropping supported phones because of that. What could happen though is that some features become exclusive to them or arrive faster for them because it is possible or easier. Kernel dependencies for example could lead to that. We don't know exactly.

Will E5 and E4.5 become unsupported?

Not at all. They will be supported still if they are working well (if people are still using them). When systemd comes out, there will be a technical block but that is pretty far off still.

How about unused sensors on devices. e.g NFC?

We have sensor drivers for Qt that go to libhybris. Sensorfw is the mechanism we want to use for the future. That will link to an upstream, which will help us a lot.

NFC is not technically a sensor. It is free standing so will need its own development project. Sailfish has something but it looks to be proprietary. We will take a closer look at their solution. Either way, do not expect progress on these things soon.

Where are we now on Unity 8 and Mir?

We are getting there. The buffer issue on Qualcomm has been fixed. Progress can be followed in a separate Github project. Edge channel uses the latest implementations and you can see what it looks like there. Our usual reminder there. Do not use Edge on a daily device!!

Having said that, although Edge will break, it will not brick your device.

Is getting those elements stable the basis for the future of the project? Yes, absolutely.

Martin asks how to debug his MX4, which refuses to boot.

Dalton asked to be pinged direct.

Does UBports need an email core app? How do we get it?

We understand the frustration behind this question. Dekko2 has some issues still but making it a core app will not magically improve progress. What we do need is more helping hands. Email clients tend towards bloat. They are naturally big, so we would not necessarily want to bake one into the image. Core status could actually result in the perception that there is less need for community involvement!

We don't want to start a new client either. The one we have is well progressed.

www.dekkoproject.org if you want to help.

It should be possible to port a completed Dekko2 quite easily to any Linux desktop, so it is extra deserving of some love and would be a standout from what is currently available there.

Georges asks why there is no completed Halium port for download?

Core developers are very busy with all sorts of other things. Compatibility is improving all the time though, behind the scenes. We are just not yet at the point where all of the pieces can be put together.

NotKit has done great work on Halium. We still need to build a proper recovery. The point is that you shouldn't notice Halium at all when you are using it.

Sansung S3 Neo was updated by Florian with the latest Halium in just 3 hours recently. So we are getting there.

There are 500 people in the Halium group on Telegram. It is a great place to mix with Plasma and sailfish people and share ideas. They have helped us a lot.

The people who contribute documentation to Halium are great at their job.

Trainailleur asked about our thoughts about the relationship between core developers and community?

The first problem with that question is the idea of us and them. We are all part of our community. Core developers do something particular but they are not 'special'. A great example of what we have done as a community are the hackathons in Germany and Austria. Teleports development came out of those.

First time contributors are great to work with. It is so rewarding to have new people involved. Work done on the Unity8 wizard is one example of stuff done by a newcomer. Of course one of the practical things we can do to make participation easier is to improve our documentation.

Chrome OS will be able to use Linux apps soon?

Yes, but UT already does that and has for a long time. You can say that about any app on UT but if you are speaking in a more traditional sense, you can use a Libertine container to run many 'mainstream' apps. As for Android apps, we are working on Anbox but we need to finish our important upgrading work before we flesh out that project.

It's official: the UBports Foundation is ready for launch
Our dream to operate as an official foundation becomes reality.