News and Update
Florian, Marius and Krille presented the Q&A
Many thanks to Brian!
Starting now OpenStore is able to handle arm64, armhf, and other formats, after a major upgrade.
Xperia X uses arm64 and that seems to provide much better performance with UT. The OpenStore will adapt automatically to the versions needed by your device. Developers can set up these versions manually or they can use the Gitlab CI, as we do for core apps.
arm64 is the future and there may be implementations which cannot be back-ported to older devices. Pinephone is natively 64 bit.
RasbPi 4 now has graphics.
Tiled buffers are still presenting problems. That means that the screen does not render properly. Pinephone currently uses linear instead of tiled buffering, as a workaround for the same problem. Tiled buffering will be fixed in due course though.
Hackathon in Germany
Last weekend there was a hackathon in Germany. Six developers wanted to implement user reviews for OpenStore. They didn’t quite finish but completed a functioning model system on the day of the Q&A. It uses an emoji system rather than stars. Text comments can be added too. You will be able to scroll horizontally between the reviews and you can write reviews if you have a user account. When launched, it will work in the app but as yet there is no website version. The new facility will launch soon.
FluffyChat is now available for arm64 and other formats. E2E encryption is coming soon.
Teleports under development now has sticker packs working. That feature will be in the next release and arm64 versions will appear at the same time.
Sony Xperia X
Sony Xperia X has been ported but Alfred cannot continue porting it. A volunteer or volunteers are needed, to take on maintenance of the device. Channel updates will happen automatically. All that is needed is addressing ongoing bugs and reversions. It is one of the few devices you can still buy as new, so it is particularly important that it is looked after.
OTA 12 update
OTA-12 is the new Mir and Unity 8 update. Led charge indicators have landed. These show low battery, charging and charged. In this update, rc bugs are being dealt with, lots of them being window issues. Our UI for desktop mode has been extensively tweaked. At the same time, Wayland support is moving into Edge channel. Pinephone and RasbPi will use that. Apps should run on Wayland natively in those, rather than using sandwiched Mir.
Camera Scanner is now in the OpenStore.
You can take a photo of a document and it converts to pdf. Jonathan has written it for us.
Is a music streaming client. It enables streaming of your own music collection.
Sweeper Madness is out now
Gregor has also made a Sudoku client.
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.
Megidont asked what UT does for visually impaired users.
Honestly, the answer is that we do not have much to help yet. There is no high contrast etc. Even if we implemented system wide, apps would not follow as things stand. System wide would certainly be best though. As non Qt apps come on stream it becomes even more complicated. Maybe we should address apps first, then the system? Mir shaders might enable some features, such as blue screen? Shaders is a small program that can flip colors. It is a nice thing to have and also offers font size change. There is nothing we can do immediately to switch on features like that but in the longer run it is possible to see how it might be done. As always, we could speed this up considerably if some new developers step in to do it.
New kernel in Pinephone
LionelB asked about the new kernel [5.4 incidentally] in Pinephone and its potential. Bluetooth does not rely much on the kernel so there would not be a big difference there. Disk encryption can be done on the old kernel, as Google have shown. The new kernel could make it much easier for us though. Image decoding and coding is particularly interesting and does open up new possibilities from upstream. As far as new UI features are concerned, what that means is implementing Wayland.
Alan asked about Mir 1.6 and Wayland?
Nested Mir has a system compositor and a user compositor. Root has access to everything, including wake up, timing and the power daemon. It can be used on Pinephone. It provides easier solutions and feels faster. 1.6 will not come to devel just yet. First, it will go into Edge channel.
PoVoq asked if there are any plans to integrate UT tweak tool into the system?
The app was introduced in Canonical days, aimed at providing some missing configuration and services. Deleting cache, changing resolution etc. We would not consider moving the app as a whole into the system. It is very powerful but it is unconfined and could potentially do a lot of damage. We aim to make the OS friendly and reliable for novice users, first and foremost. Updates could also be messed up by random hacks. The idea we have is to add features one by one, not the whole app in one go. These should be in the form of user settings not root settings. That is a safe way of doing it and we can build those changes into the update protocols.
PoVoq also asked if there are any plans for custom user profiles?
For example background suspension and charging etc. In desktop mode, it is true that all apps should run in parallel. This is a very broad subject and the issues are very complicated. When you turn on slim-port it switches on blue-tooth? Perhaps nice but we have no plans for that as it would by no means be a trivial modification of the system. An external app might work but that is still a very complicated thing to build. Even if it was available, it would be very challenging for ordinary users to understand. Our rule is that system features should be simple to grasp and to implement. So if we are to head in that direction, it should be with an optional non-system app.
Will suru style Qt Quick controls 2 become default?
Well, Teleports and Dekko2 use it a lot. At interfaces there are some problems though, for example with Content Hub. Right now and for some time, we will probably have to use a mix. Qt Quick Controls 2 is faster certainly and we want to move to that where we can.
WarumLinuxBesserIst asked when Anbox will be ready as a daily driver? As we have said before, we don’t know because it is a hugely complex piece of software and how fast we progress is always going to be a matter of speculation . It does a lots of things but in a very difficult way. It will honestly be at least six months before we can even begin to devote any time to it. Our hope all along has been that a specialist team would take it on for us. As an aside, there are going to be some kernel back ports for some devices. Those will assist us later on, when we work on Anbox for those devices.
4g and VoLTE
Eugenie83 asked whether UT supports 4g and VoLTE. It has supported 4g for a long time, yes. VolTE is not just carrier specific but it needs to be supported by the hardware. We have not needed to worry about it much, mostly because providers generally offer non-VoLTE services [perhaps India has exceptions to that?] and we have not had capable devices. OnePlus3 and XperiaX do support it though. It is not complex to port, so we will have to look at it now.
When will OTA-12 arrive?
We try to run to a schedule but there are always unknowns. Software development times are very unpredictable unless you have an expandable army of developers available. It depends on bugs, etc. We aim for 6 week intervals. For OTA-12, maybe soon after Christmas? Timing is affected by Edge progress too because that is part of the ‘waterfall’ of channels. If you can see that there are critical bugs in OTA-12 you know for sure that it is not ready yet. Simple.