Ubuntu Touch Q&A 49


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Show Notes

News and Updates


OTA-9 is almost ready. It does not have the new Unity8 yet but Window Manager has been redesigned and we need to work to accommodate the changes needed. The new version of Mir is also missing. Hopefully OTA-10 will contain them but we want to keep to our release schedule and not delay all the other new features and bug fixes. That means not waiting around for those big architecture changes.

Morph gets a proper permissions dialog and other pop ups. There is a new icon set from Michele, incorporating some from the last stages of Canonical development. Nexus 5 camera is mostly fixed but there are still some detailed issues with it. Video recording is possible now. Great thanks to Ruben for those fixes. The blog post Call for Testing lists all the features of OTA-9 and says what needs testing.

The release will begin on Wednesday 8 May and continue through to Sunday, if there are no problems. Marius almost completely sidestepped any involvement in this release. This was good as it means that he could work on other (highly complicated) stuff. It is great that we have matured to the point where we can self-organize this stuff now.


Alfred was interviewed recently on the Q&A. He has just released ISOdrive app. In effect, it turns your phone into a liveUSB for any ISO distro! He has also made available GhostCloud, which is a Nextcloud, Owncloud and Wedab instance client.

DJturntable is a new QtQuick app by Lionel Duboeuf. It does scratching and drums! He has also done a couple of videos for the cookbook section of our app development page. QMLcreator app can prototype and edit QML apps on the go. Great if you want to try out an app design.

All of these are available in the OpenStore. Incidentally, QMLcreator also runs on desktop. It is convergent!


Florian has completed a Python project. He has made an update for our Weblate server. It uses Python. From versions 3.1 to 3.6 took a couple of days to do. Now, some actions can run in the background. He got the Gitlab hooks fixed at the same time. That will for example generate emails to translators. Things should speed up considerably. Celery is not just a salad vegetable but a distributed task manager, used by Weblate.

Thanks to Sponsors and Community

The monster ARM server which packet.net make available to us has 96 cores. Great hardware and would be super expensive if we had to pay for it. Special mention also for certain levels of payment on Patreon and Liberapay.

Dalton made a shoutout to Nigel(@Lakotaubp), who uses the web page for Youtube etc to get out the News casts with the Q&A session details. It helps hugely by lifting some of the admin from Dalton’s shoulders. Lots of people are giving their free time similarly, without demanding anything in return. Credits such as this are given in recognition. They are not asked for. We have a lot of people tweaking apps to improve them. One simple example is the addition of a character account for the texting app, to show when you have reached 160 characters. For some people, that could mean money saved.


Could it be made possible to create a hidden and encrypted folder in Ubuntu Touch?

Ecryptfs does still exist, so that might be one way. Tarballs could be used in theory but implementing that would be a pain.

Do you plan to be able to read SD cards in different formats?

Fat32 is the only format available now. ext4 can only be read on desktop Linux systems, except under special circumstances on Android but then as a disk extension, not as removable storage. exFAT is patented so cannot be distributed. So the answer is basically no.

Could an expand and compress facility for folders be created?

That is actually a fairly practical possibility. Suggested to go to Gitlab and open an issue under Filemanager.

Should we evangelize the UBports name rather than Ubuntu Touch, when Unity8 is eventually built for distros that are not ‘Ubuntu’?

The answer is that it will probably be called Unity8. In fact the entire stack will be called Unity8.

What is the target market is for Ubuntu Touch?

Basically, those who are fed up with the duopoly of Apple and Google. Those who care about their privacy. It is not just for IT enthusiasts. There are ‘casual’ users already. It is true though that UT lacks some polish and requires some thought in use. So it is best for those with some curiosity and who want an element of control.

Dalton mentioned in passing that he was curious about the number of open TCP connections going through his router. An Android phone generated 140+ when in the same period his UT phone generated one! …

How about changing the basis of our location service?

Geoglue 2 has moved to a new hardware base and Geoglue1 hasn’t been touched since 2015. The potential good news though is that Canonical developed a thing called locationD before they left UT development. It represents a major improvement on what we use now. It is very fast, in fact faster than Geoclue running on Android. It uses three methods to get location - Wifi, cell towers and GPS. So, using LocationD could bring a big improvement on what we have now. (Sailfish still uses the old GeoGlue.)

Will Librem apps will be in the OpenStore?

Purism announced this week that there will be Librem branded already existing apps for their notebook and phone. Not much is happening between us to be honest . There have been no devkits for us. Ubuntu Touch of course already has apps for email, Matrix, Mastodon etc anyway.

Which absent app makes it more difficult for the panel to use UT?

Marius said he misses his bank app and Snapchat. Flo misses a Slack app, which would enable him to take part in day job discussions. Support for the Vienna car-sharing system would be great. It used to work but the map has been removed from their Web page and now does not allow booking of cars. For some people, a cheap old Android phone can fill a gap by providing a particular app.

Generally, if one app is the sticking point for someone, it probably means they are not really ready to switch.

Dalton said he doesn’t miss any app. The only exception to that is when he is traveling. Then he does take an Android phone, for things like Customs Control.

Is any work planned for keyboard and auto-correct?

Marius mentioned that backspace on Android accepts what you wrote without correcting. Ubuntu Touch doesn’t offer that and can be frustrating. There is no concrete work being done but there are people looking at it. Malit2 is still being developed. Potentially, that could be used in UT.

With the arrival of open phones such as Pinephone, there will be UT without Halium?

Will there be documentation of the process of building for that? Yes there certainly will but please be patient a while longer.

If UT was installable on Raspberry Pi that could expand our user base considerably. What progress on that?

There is a group to look at that, in Telegram and Matrix. It is a great idea but it is not yet a thing. Trying to use Mali driver on ARM is a nightmare. X11 is fine but anything else is dreadful Graphic drivers in general are a complete pain. Sorting something out is not a priority at the moment because Unity8 and Mir upgrades are our top task. Our Pinephone work is of course bound to produce some helpful clues along the way. Pinephone can give us detailed answers about aspects of their hardware. It is difficult to get any hardware advice about Raspberry Pi. Since we don’t use X11 we have no easy way to solve the problem.

What is the status of Anbox?

We are waiting for new Unity8 and Mir to be in place. Then we can begin the process of matching Anbox to them. All we can say is that Anbox will be included eventually.

Ubuntu Touch OTA-9 Release