UBports Community Update

August 5, 2017

 

 
 

We had our latest Community Update on August 5, 2017. This is a short event where we inform our community about the progress we've made in the past two weeks and answer questions. We hold them every two weeks and the next one will be on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 1600 UTC. You can find a countdown on the Youtube event page.

News

15.04 OTA-2 Progress

15.04 OTA-2 is shaping up to be a great release of the Ubuntu Touch platform. There have been a few bug fixes, such as the removal of the infamous language "C" in the setup menu.

We know that you're more interested in the new shiny things, though. We've taken some of the features that were originally built-in but hidden and put their switches into the interface.

Check out the OTA-1 Milestone to learn what we're targeting to fix for the release.

Torch Indicator

First, we have a Torch switch inside the Battery indicator. This makes it simple to swipe down from the top of the screen and use the torch (flashlight, for Americans like me). Unfortunately, it doesn't work on phones based on Mediatek chipsets or the Nexus 5 yet. Stay tuned!

Scope Backgrounds

Bjarne Roß helped us put a switch inside Background Settings that lets you change the background of your scopes. This lets you personalize your phone in a way that wasn't possible before, with your very own choice of picture on your homescreen. The background is dimmed behind scopes to prevent the text from being hard to read.

Release Channel Switcher

Finally, we have added a screen to System Settings that allows you to switch release channels from the comfort of your phone. This was a feature that was requested early after we took over the Operating System, it's great to be able to deliver on it.

If you need a reminder of our release channels, check out Release Channels on our Wiki.

Excellent Bug Fixes

There have been some bug fixes running through the devel channel as well. We've tweaked dual-SIM devices to only show a single radio indicator if there is only one SIM installed. We've also fixed an important bug that caused a phone to become stuck in the Emergency Call screen if a SIM lock was in place.

Even more fun, we've upgraded the system web browser to a new version, fixing some issues with websites complaining about it being unsupported. Other closed issues can be found here.

Here be Dragons

You can try all of these features out today by switching to the Devel channel on your Ubuntu Touch deveice. However, we don't recommend you do this on a device that you will be using every day. Instead, we recommend staying on Stable and waiting for the juicy release.

Documentation Revamp

Dalton has begun the process of reorganizing and refreshing our documentation as we roll into our new role (heh). This involves switching to Read The Docs (Unless we find a very good reason not to) and writing many new documents. You can see the current progress on the forum post.

uMatriks, a community Matrix app

Mikel Larrea, a member of our community, has written a Matrix app for Ubuntu Touch. We wanted to feature it here because we know that a lot of our audience likes Matrix. Most of us have been playing with the app and we find it amazing. Thank you to Mikel for writing a great piece of software.

Ubucon Europe 2017

From September 8-10th, we will be attending Ubucon Europe. This will be a great event full of open-source goodness for all to see! We might even be holding a session for fans and newcomers of Ubuntu Touch... tease tease

Remember to check your Patreon perks if you'll be there, Patrons. There might be some in-person-only deals for you.

Questions

Why is 16.04 getting more developer attention than 15.04?

The reasons for dedicating time to 16.04 are many:

  • Ubuntu security updates and bug fixes (15.04 is End-Of-Life)
  • A codebase that can be brought more in-line with our upstream projects like Qt
  • Halium integration

In the end, dedicating time to 16.04 means less work in the long run... and a much more responsible platform with security updates in system software from Canonical.

Also, we've been dedicating time to putting out OTA-2 in the past two weeks. All of the new features show that.

Is it a better approach to fix the bugs in 15.04 rather than upgrading to 16.04?

No, for the reasons listed in the previous question.

Will Halium be the Android driver compatibility layer in 16.04?

Yes.

Which Mir / Yunit version are you going to use in 16.04?

The newest one, if it works well. Currently the stack below the display server is in a broken state in 16.04, so we can't give a definite answer.

How does UBports work with Halium, Yunit, and the OpenStore?

Halium was a project founded by Marius Gripsgard of UBports and Bhushan Shah of Plasma Mobile. Projects like LuneOS, AsteroidOS, Nemomobile, and gnulinux_support are interested in helping. Halium remains its own separate project, controlled by an informal board consisting of members of all of the participating projects.

The OpenStore was a natural addition to Ubuntu Touch after Canonical announced that they'd be dropping the project. Without it, we would have no app store. Check out their GitHub issue tracker to see what help they need.

We are unable to test Yunit with Ubuntu Touch at this time because the current stack is broken, but we plan on helping to develop that project as soon as we can. It's likely that we will maintain our own set of patches over upstream for specific phone compatibility, but that is yet to be determined.

Isn't it better to focus on one device rather than a bunch of them?

No. While our developer time is certainly limited, it makes more sense for us to make the platform accessible to more possible contributors rather than spend all of our time on a single device. Having many devices also prompts us to ensure that our code is portable.

The issue with developer time going into devices is partially solved by Halium. Once Halium is integrated, ready, and the tests are bullet-proof, we can be sure that a tested port will reliably run Ubuntu Touch.

I want to run Ubuntu, but I only built Halium. When will Ubuntu be available for Halium-7.1?

Neither Halium 7.1 nor Ubuntu Touch 16.04 based on Halium are ready for use. If you'd like to try the daily test builds of Ubuntu Touch 16.04 on your device (and know how to install them), check out the xenial jobs on Jenkins. A lot of pieces need to be rebuilt to work on a device, watch the video for a few more details. In other words, it's not recommended to try this.


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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