News and Update
Florian reported on discussions about VOLTE with Jolla, which took place at the beginning of the year. In some countries 2g networks have not been maintained alongside newer networks, so VOLTE technology is relatively more important to users. PinePhone can support it in principle but we are not there yet with implementation. Jolla had a guy from Sony at the meeting. The position at the moment is that all of the alternative mobile operating systems lack it. That is mainly because it is highly proprietary. Jolla are part of the Sony open device programme so there is potentially a way forward for Sony devices, in the first instance. We already have a few Sony devices that run Ubuntu Touch, so they might provide an option for those in our community who are struggling. In addition, we need to think about the necessary middleware for the PinePhone. There is no timeline for this but we have not forgotten about the issue. We are listening and there are some promising strands emerging.
Ubuntu Touch OTA-13 has no week number yet but we are getting very close. Version 5.14 of qtwebengine has been merged and now features in both devel and rc channels. This brings a much newer chromium version with better security and speed. GL renderer now works on PinePhone and is much faster than software acceleration. With the new browser version comes text hooks which enable you to freely select text elements or whole pages. This makes the UI more consistent, with documents and browser text having the same tool set. We have now closed merges for features in the system build. Unless you have a bug fix for something critical in rc or devel, you should not be merging now.
Dalton has completed the initial factory image for the PineTab. It boots, it has a UI and it operates in tablet mode. Some touch stuff still does not work. The backlit keyboard is around $35. Around $90 for the tablet itself. At those prices, Dalton considered it a very nice device.
PinePhone has a working camera now It is still very limited. The frame rate is about one per three seconds. Portrait is right side up but landscape is upside down At the moment is shoots only in 2.1 megapixel mode.
Rachanan has done a lot of work on it but he is waiting on Qt 5.12 which has some very useful control elements.
Jepperson has helped fix the Bluetooth toggle on the PinePhone.
Sponsors were thanked.
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Qt 5.12 update
Gizmochicken asked how is upgrade to Qt 5.12 is going. Thanks to a lot of help, the build is going very well. Tests are being gone through, for each module. The Contacts app was crashing and that has been fixed by modifying the UI toolkit. The project is now moving very quickly. It is great how much can be achieved when there is a clear focus on one task. It was originally thought that it would be out with OTA-15 but if progress continues as quickly, OTA-14 cannot be ruled out. No promises though.
Lomiri and Manjaro
Gizmochicken also asked whether there is any news about Lomiri for Manjaro? To date it can still only be installed on the Unstable branch. It does not launch from a desktop manager yet, so not really at the ‘take a look’ stage. More work is being done for the PinePhone specifically. The keyboard has been a major problem. Progress is however again surprisingly fast.
Current devices and Halium
Luna has a Fairphone 2 and is worried because it cannot get a Halium 9 build because it never shipped with Android 8 or 9. Florian explained that this is not a matter for concern. It will be moving to the 7.1 base, with other legacy devices such as the Nexus 5 or OnePlus One.. There is only a point in going to a higher build if it delivers something significant, such as hardware bug fixes. If it runs fine with 7.1, we are not very interested in upgrading just for the sake of it. Actually systemd for 20.04 is much more of an issue. We are looking to try out systemd implementations within 16.04 first, to find our way.
There are various different ways in which we could achieve a fusion between Ubuntu Touch and systemd and we have an open mind about which path to take. We are though absolutely clear that systemd is the component we will use when we take the step to 20.04.
We are not going to fork upstart, as an alternative to doing that. Going our own way and not having the benefit of an upstream would just not be sustainable with our resources.
Of course that could lead us to deprecate one or more of the old devices but if we do that will not happen overnight. We will give a lot of notice beforehand, to help you make the transition.
Orwellio asked whether the shop on the website is incompatible with the charitable status of UBports? What we are ruled out of doing is to launch the large scale sale of devices or enter into major commercial operations with vendors to do that. What we certainly can do is to sell things like stickers and t-shirts as a way of promoting our aims and getting some income in the process. We have to stay below an earnings threshold or become liable for tax, so there is a limitation there.
It is a charitable foundation under German law. Does that mean you must publish reports on your finances? The answer to that is yes and in fact the 2019 report will be published soon. It will be filed first then posted on the website. We expect it to arrive either in August or in September. The 2020 report will be much more complicated because there will be so many more transactions.
Egor asked about Telegram now having video calls and whether Teleports will get that? There are a few obstacles. Teleports uses the Tdlib API, supplied by Telegram. So the first requirement for implementation of a new feature is that it is added by Telegram to the Tdlib upstream. They are always a bit behind where they are with their official clients so on past form those updates are probably one or two months away. For us, video implementations are done with a QML/Qt combination. The outline of how that would be done is fairly clear but it would be a very big task. As always, the question is who will do that work? Remember that we have not yet implemented audio calls, so all of that work would have to be done too. Call handling functions are not part of the upstream library. That architecture is something that we will have to write ourselves.
Fuseteam asked if our plan to drop the beta modifier is linked to achieving feature parity with the official releases? Well, we now have a lot of things such as private chats, reply functions, message deletion etc. which we didn’t have before. At the same time, we lack major things like group management capability. As for the timing of dropping the ‘beta’ tag, maybe the best time to do that is when we have cracked the two big absences – contacts and group management. We will always be a couple of steps behind the official clients but that alone does not make us beta.
Can we get encrypted push notifications in Teleports? Our push server moves the data irrespective. It doesn’t distinguish between encrypted and encrypted. We would have to discuss with Telegram whether they can encrypt on their server before routing via our push server. It is https/TLS between servers at present so it is ‘encrypted’ in a sense but not in the sense the question implies. The basic fact is the the content of the message could be seen in clear text at the push notifications server. Proper encryption would be end-to-end, from the telegram server to the device. Then our push server would have no ability to view the content. We acknowledge that we have a weak implementation at present. The missing element is the combination of public and private keys for encryption and decryption between Teleports on the device and the telegram servers.
On a question about the quality of translations, Florian explained that all of this work is done by the community, so we rely on other members of the community to step in and help if a translation is not of adequate quality. Go to translate.ubports.com and create an account there if you would like to help us with translations. You can fix issues directly from there. Just offer your changes and they can be approved and applied.
MV asked if we can have Firefox sync integration? Florian said that simply, that would be rather difficult without Firefox, which we don’t have. Dalton however commented that the sync mechanism is separate from the browser itself, so the issue would be how we might implement that? Of course that doesn’t mean it is any more likely. It would be a huge project and as with many other things, we don’t have the resources for something like that. If a group of people want to volunteer themselves to work on it, we would of course welcome their efforts.
WLBI? Asked about the progress on Anbox. Since the last time this was raised there have been no commits at all, so the answer is none. We are still waiting on developers with the necessary skill set to step forward. Unusually, we are even able to offer payment for core work on Anbox. Just get in touch with Florian.
See you next time :-)