UBports Community Update 11

September 2, 2017

Dalton Durst

Some people say that nothing happened on September 2, 2017. Those people are absolutely wrong. We had our latest Community Update, a livestreamed event where we talk about UBports news and answer community questions!

You can watch the video version of this event here. We hold it every two weeks, so watch our events page for the next one!

News

We like to begin each Update with the large news stories that have collected in the community since our previous one. This time, we had a couple of stories that will be sure to delight.

OTA-2 is moving into QA

Ubuntu Touch 15.04 Update 2 (OTA-2) from UBports has been in the works for quite a while. We've talked about it on almost every Update since OTA-1 was released. Finally, after almost three months of work, it is time to start a round of rigorous Quality Assurance testing on OTA-2 and ensure it's ready for release.

OTA-2 will add a myriad of new features, including:

  • Oxide web-engine upgraded to Chromium 58
  • A handy interface to switch between stable, rc, and devel release channels
  • Custom scope backgrounds

There are more bug fixes and enhancements coming out with the new update. You can find them here.

If you'd like to help test OTA-2, check out the Release Channels page on our wiki to get instructions for switching your phone to the rc channel. Simply check for updates on that channel daily and use your phone to ensure that there are no bugs within your workflow. Please report any bugs that you find in the ubports-touch repository. We'll also have a checklist prepared so you can ensure that all functionality is working, if you so wish.

Changing our release channel policy

We've received a lot of feedback on how we've been releasing updates since the original release of OTA-1. Because of this, we're going to change how our release channels work (again).

Our initial plan is to make one automatic release to rc per week. Our CI server will build a devel image for each device on Friday (Saturday depending on your time zone :) ). 48 hours after this build, each image will be pushed to the rc channel, unless there is a bug tagged as critical and for the device.

We will also introduce a new experimental channel. For devices that have a stable build, this will be the grounds where we aren't afraid to break things when testing out new features. Devices that are still in development (and therefore have no stable build) will also be placed in experimental. This channel won't normally appear in the UBports installer or other "simple" installation tools. This ensures that people really know what they're doing before they install a non-functional or dangerous build.

Ubucon Paris

As we've mentioned in previous sessions, we're going to Ubucon Paris! We have a booth and a slot for a talk in the morning on the 8th, so you should definitely come and see us in person!

There are also some other developers coming that have been bringing a lot of life to the community: Stefano, a developer on the OpenStore; Mimecar, writer of the wonderful Ubuntu Touch Programming Course; and Costales, developer of uNav. They'll be at Ubucon and talking about their work.

Check out the schedule to learn more about the talks and speakers that will be there.

Questions

Now it's time to take questions from the community.

What's the status of notifications this week?

We take this question almost every time, but that's okay.

We are still using Canonical's notification service for apps that support it. This infrastructure will be taken offline at an unspecified time.

Currently there are a lot of ideas to make notifications work without Canonical's infrastructure, but we haven't selected one. There is a system that allows apps to wake up and check for notifications in the background in our images already, some apps can take advantage of that (Dekko for example). Other than that, we have no more news.

How stable is devel?

The devel release channel is not recommended for everyday use of your device. The stable channel is the best one for your daily driver. If you'd like a mix of new features without horrible breakage (but don't expect perfection), rc is a good choice.

Librem 5 questions

The Librem 5 crowdfunding campaign from Purism has been on the mind of the UBports community for the past week, it seems. We had three questions about it today.

Have you been talking with Purism about the Librem 5?

No. Purism has not contacted us and we have not contacted them.

Will you try to communicate with Purism?

That hinges on the success of the crowdfuding campaign. If it is successful and Purism expresses interest in having our operating system on their phone, then we would be excited to have a new platform to run on. Otherwise, we (as the UBports core development team, not as the UBports community) will treat it as we do any other phone: if someone wants to make Ubuntu Touch run on it, we aren't going to complain.

We're being very cautious about approaching this device for two reasons.

  1. The hardware isn't set in stone and doesn't exist yet
  2. The software isn't set in stone and doesn't exist yet

We don't know what drivers will be required, if it will use standard Linux APIs (like Video4Linux as a camera API), or even what the device's CPU will be. Anything we say on the Librem 5 right now is pure speculation.

What does this non-Android phone mean for Halium?

Halium's purpose is to be an Android compatibility layer for GNU/Linux operating systems. If Android hardware compatibility is not required, Halium is not required on the device. The Librem 5 is out of the scope of Halium.

Will the Meizu Pro 5 have Xenial?

We weren't aware that this device had hardware compatibility with Canonical's 16.04 images. Now that we know that it did, we'll try to make it work with ours. No promises, and we can't guarantee that it will come very quickly.

Any updates on new device ports?

There have been some community porters playing with the Halium source code, many of them have been having a lot of success. Much of this work can be found in our porting subforum/

We've also had some interesting success with Halium as a (nearly) drop-in replacement for our old Android hardware compatibility layer. There are major issues with Mir and the display, but almost every other major function of the phone works... and we don't know why. This work is not available on anything but developer desktops for obvious reasons.

Any foundation news?

We are continuing to raise the UBports Foundation, but legal work is slow work. We want to make sure that we will have no issues when we finally submit all of our paperwork, so we're taking it all slowly and carefully. We have both an accountant and a lawyer to help assure that this process goes smoothly.

The foundation's financial year begins on January 1st, and our target is to have it ready by that date.

Are scopes gasp dying?

If users and (more importantly) developers do not have enough interest in the future of scopes, then they are dying. As a consensus-based community, this is how decisions are made.

We have some ideas for the replacement of scopes that would cause less development overhead, such as a Today indicator where apps would hook in and show bits of information that are relevant to you. Nothing has been decided yet.

Is BQ going to open-source their phones?

We'll try to contact them, but we don't have any promises. It's likely that BQ can't release their phone source code because their upstream vendors have copyright code that can't be released.

Calls for help

If you want to help out with projects surrounding UBports, then here are a few ideas for you.

Dekko and the OpenStore are using our translation service

We've added Dekko and the OpenStore to Weblate, our self-hosted translation service. If you'd like to help translate some of of Ubuntu Touch's finest applications, then head on over and get started! We also have some documentation to help you get started if you would like that.

Developers who know C, Go, Vala, C++, or QML

These are the languages that comprise most of the Ubuntu Touch system. If you know any of these language and want to help us out, head over to our GitHub organization and search by language to find something that may be relevant to your interests.

We also have some issues that we've tagged with help wanted, meaning we don't know how to fix them yet and we'd love to hear from you if you do. Click here to see a full list.

If you have any questions, then please join our Telegram supergroup or #ubports on Freenode, which is bridged to the aforementioned group.

The UBports audiocast is pretty great

If you haven't listened to the UBports Audiocast in a while, or if you've left it to simmer for a bit, we'd highly recommend you listen in. The show has gotten better with every iteration.

(author's opinion past this point)

I think that the latest episode is the best one yet. The titular "lost generation" story is interesting, Wayne and Joe's opinions and discussion are interesting, and hearing their take on the project's actions is truly informative to me as a developer. Good job, guys.


That'll be all for this one! Be sure to catch us live next time or get your questions in via the forum early! You can also subscribe to our news mailing lists or check out one of our many social networks.

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