Ubuntu Touch Q&A 66
Marius playing around with Focal


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News and Update

The show was hosted by Marius, Flo and Dalton.

CCC event

Various memebers of the community have gone to the CCC event. Jan gave a talk there today. The sessions on Linux on mobile were all oversubscribed. That bodes well, as those attending are serious players. Aaron gave a talk on Axolotl, our Signal client. Hopefully we will get a report back from them soon.

OTA-12 is still progressing well

Unity8 has been broken a little bit but there have been some fixes at the same time. A bug which caused apps to crash in landscape has been fixed. Google signing in has been fixed. Florian has been sorting out vibration on the OnePlus One. There is an odd daemon called usesensord for that. It actually has nothing to do with sensors and is about actions, so the naming is strange. OnePlus 3 also has the issue. The other unusual thing about the daemon is that it is written in Go.

UBports have been discussed by the Late Night Linux podcast (episode 79) and by Linux Unplugged (episode 333)

New Zoom for Morph browser 

Jezek has brought zoom and fit to Morph. It is a selectable feature and helps fit pages to the browser view port when there is no mobile version available.

Playing with Focal

Marius wanted to have some fun over the holidays so he played around with Focal – what will become 20.04 of Ubuntu. He wanted to see what had been added and removed. Lots has gone, so will need to be put back before we can use it. We will be basing on 20.04, so although fun it is part of our preparation for the future. At this stage we are just scoping out what will need doing. 

Where are the porting guides

Alan Pope asked about any guides for porting. There is an outline guide at https://docs.ubports.com

Flo has been looking through our porting documentation. He noticed a few areas that still need to be properly set out. For things which don’t have clear answers in the documentation, head to the Halium and UBports groups for specific advice.They are linked in their respective documentation.

Flo showed a Nexus 5 running Halium 7.1! That is of course a core device. Some things are not fixed yet but it is well under way. It will mean better drivers and APIs for the camera etc so some big improvements can be expected. Ratchanan is doing something similar for FP2.

It may even be that with this new build, video playback will start working on Nexus 5. OnePlus One has not yet had the same level of attention but we expect a build for that is possible.


Alan Pope asked when the new PinePhone will arrive. There is a new video which shows four different operating systems running on it (https://www.youtube.com). Developer editions are arriving with individuals now. That will speed development of course.

Each of the OS projects helps build the others.

There is a Telegram group for Pinephone, linked to irc and to Matrix.

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.

Doniks asked about any FOSDEM plans

There will be some people there but not with the critical mass needed to have a stand there. We may be hanging around other stands of course, including Pine64 and KDE.

Domubpkm and Magdesign asked about the browser and the fact that it is very outdated.

It does indeed need work. In particular, it needs GCC5 support and we don't have that yet. The issue can be seen at Morph browser issue 223 .

Are there any plans for a GNOME flavor?

Basically no, ours is not a desktop system. Aside from that, UT is very Qt centric. Others could make a GNOME mobile version themselves eventually and they will do that way better than we could. We are moving away from GTK as far as possible because we don’t have the necessary skills. We also like C++ ...

UBports development infrastructure

“Nogoogle” asks, do you see capacity problems with Ubports’ support or network infrastructure developing because the PinePhone is coming on stream?

Actually, no. The number of contributors is steadily expanding as the project grows. The system updater uses static files which are cached. Overall, we can cope with progress.

The number of PinePhone users will increase over weeks and months, not suddenly. Anyway, the number of users will not be huge.

Fuseteam asked if all core devices can be re-based on 7.1?

Unfortunately not. It simply isn’t possible to do that with the devices that were brought to market by Canonical.

Gizmochicken, PhoenixLandPirate and others asked a series of inter-related questions – for example, what will you focus after OTA-12? Is there a road-map? What about Nextcloud? Maybe we could create a few project areas and call for contributors around them? For example around the work needed to upgrade from 16.04 to 20.04?

Here is a time-coded link for this answer.

Dalton replied at length about the general thrust of those suggestions. First he acknowledged the great debt of thanks owed to all who help, in whatever way they choose or are able to.

Whatever progress we make it is always slower than we would like. That is a fact of life. Everyone has their own favorite solutions for making that fact go away but none of them really work. How can you substantially boost the productivity of a very small group of people, working with unpredictable factors? A plan of any kind based on promises of progress is unfortunately not a way to get actual progress.

Anbox is a classic example. Location service progress illustrates the same point. Promising or estimating likely progress don’t actually deliver. Only greater (human) resources can do that. We can plan within the current release cycle but we cannot know any further out than that. The reality is that to have an effective road map you need a big team! Even then people will be disappointed.

People who work(ed) at Canonical have helped us enormously over the past few years. We are immensely grateful for their insights, but they are very busy people. Anyone new who appears might accept some guidance from us but ultimately they will choose their area of involvement, based on their skills and main interests. That is great. We have to understand that it is not appropriate to issue orders to them about what they should undertake.

The charging LED fix and the keyboard tweaks were not on any road-map but we have all obtained the benefit of the work of individuals who took their own initiative. Volunteers cannot be ordered around. They do a great deal and do it very dependably but we have no entitlement to their time.

In this cycle, we have doubled the number of non-translation commits, compared with OTA-8! That hasn’t happened because of road-maps or deadlines. It is a simple reflection of the fact that we have many more people involved in doing the work now.

There are project management meetings every Wednesday. People are very welcome to drop by those if they want to discuss priorities with us. Contact Dalton if you want to know more.

2020 will be a great year because for the first time we will have new purpose-made hardware, without any Android-y blobs. In addition to that, there are now vibrant communities involved in the development of many of the major elements we rely on for what we do. Without everything that Ubuntu and Debian have done, there would simply be no Ubuntu Touch. In addition to that, none of the projects building an operating system for the Pinephone - KDE, Postmarket, Plasma and ourselves - could have done so alone. We only succeeded because we worked together.

The new decade will be a very exciting one!

A Happy New Year to all.

Ubuntu Touch photography
Camera output in Ubuntu Touch