UBPORTS COMMUNITY UPDATE AND Q&A

JULY 9TH, 2017

 

 
 
TIMESTAMPS AND DESCRIPTION

Wayne "17 cups of Coffee" T from our Marketing team joins us for another Community Update!

00:00:00 Intro
00:01:20 Ubuntu Touch 16.04 kick-off meeting and demonstration
00:03:13 Marius shows his Nexus 5 running 16.04
00:06:45 Localization / Translation News
00:08:15 Marketing Update
00:13:40 Thank the sponsors!
00:15:50 Dalton spills a small amount of beans on Canonical IP
00:17:00 Questions begin!
00:17:15 Why can't you upgrade everything to 16.04?
00:22:10 How are you upgrading the Nexus 5 to 16.04? Kernel 3.4!
00:25:04 Why isn't 15.04 OTA-2 out yet?
00:27:25 Wayne's answer: How will you maintain clicks?
00:28:47 The real answer: How will you maintain clicks?
00:32:19 Stickers!
00:34:30 OTA release schedule?
00:36:00 Convergence and Confinenment in Libertine
00:41:30 Chinese background?
00:42:37 Release Names?
00:43:57 Updates on Core Apps and other important apps
00:46:12 Features to add to Ubuntu Touch
00:48:48 Station Dock Circuit Board
00:54:00 What is the Station Dock?
00:54:38 Foundation News
00:56:10 Oneplus 5 News / Cats
00:58:10 UBports sticker
00:59:54 Yunit Update
01:03:10 Wrapping Up

THE NOTES

Just when you thought momentum couldn't possibly continue so strong - boom.  We're back with another community update full of exciting changes and progress!

THE NEWS

16.04 Development Kick-off Meeting

We want to be in a place where we can release highly experimental images to the community for testing. On July 7, we held a meeting to help ensure that we are able to meet this goal quickly.

Most of the work we've been doing so far on 16.04 is under the hood so that we can get the car out of the garage. This includes work on QtMir, Halium, and lots of other technologies that we devs find really neat but the average grandma and hipster probably doesn't understand enough about to care about. 

All of this work has lead to a point where Marius is able to show off a Nexus 5 running a mix of Canonical builds of 16.04. It boots up and lets you see the dock, but trying to run an app crashes Unity. Lots of work to be done, but it feels good to have everything at this point.

Experiments in l10n

We are working on making localization of our apps and platform easier. To this end, we have set up Weblate at [translate.ubports.com](https://translate.ubports.com). There are a couple of apps that you can create and review translations for if you are so inclined. The OpenStore has also joined the party with the website and app.

Translations are a great choice if you want to contribute to UBports but don't know where to start. If you'd like to get started, visit weblate and jump right in!

MARKETING UPDATE

Our marketing team has been working on updating the text and navigation of our new website. Website focus will be on onboarding members for contribution, and communicating project updates.

THANKING OUR SPONSORS

A change in order this week means we are thanking our sponsors after a few news items.

To all of our monthly donors on [Patreon](https://patreon.com/ubports), [Smoose](https://smoose.nl), [Private Internet Access](https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/), and [Digital Ocean](https://digitalocean.com) for sponsoring our work. We're here because you make it possible.

CANONICAL IP AND THE UBPORTS PROJECT 

Unfortunately we can't say much about this point yet, but we are talking with Canonical about IP rights, including packages and trademarks. That's about all we can divulge until the details are finalized.

STOP! IT'S QUESTION TIME! 

Q: Why won't all Canonical official devices get an upgrade to 16.04?

A:This is a question we get a lot. So much so, in fact, that we're going to put this in our [FAQ](https://ubports.com/page/vo-faq).

The simple answer is that we cannot upgrade these devices because their Android source tree is closed and there is no *official* Lineage OS port available. This can be broken down into *more* explanation!

Q:Why do you need Android at all? Aren't you making a GNU/Linux distribution?

A1: This is the unfortunate reality of Android hardware. There is no BIOS or UEFI to start up all the bits and pieces of a device. There aren't standard ways to access hardware. To be perfectly honest, it's a complete mess. It's the mess that we live in, though.

Android drivers are written for Android and nothing else. A regular GNU/Linux distro has no way to use these drivers as they speak completely different languages. Because of this, we need to run a small copy of Android to translate between Android drivers and the language that GNU/Linux speaks. This is provided by Halium.

In order to build Halium for a single device, we need to have all of the source and configuration that goes into that device. This brings up our next problem.

A2: Closed Android Source Tree

Most of Android is licensed under the Apache license, so there is no need for a device manufacturer to provide this code and configuration to the world. BQ and Meizu chose not to provide this source code except to their partners. This choice is within their rights. 

"But wait," we hear you say. "Here's a GitHub link to the kernel source of *device X*. Now, **port to it**!

A device kernel must always be open source due to the copyleft nature of the GPL. That's not all of Android, though. There's another ~20GB of source code that gets compiled into our hardware compatibility layer.

Sometimes, though, the Lineage OS community is able to put everything together and release their OS to a closed source device. This can lead to our third problem.

A3: Official Lineage OS Ports

For now, official ports of Halium are based on official ports of Lineage OS. This is because we want to provide the most reliable experience for developers. An unofficial port of Lineage OS (or Resurrection Remix, or one of the other hundreds of Android ROMs) can have issues in drivers that cripple development before it even begins. We don't have the time or manpower to deal with these issues. Porting to devices is difficult enough as it is.

Of course, we will always accept community help getting more devices ported. The Nexus 4 port is community-maintained, for example. We simply will not take that work on ourselves.

We hope this better explains our position on the official Canonical devices. 

Q: How are you upgrading the Nexus 5 to 16.04?

A: This question comes because we said in our previous Q&A that Linux kernel 3.10 is a bare minumum for running 16.04. The Nexus 5 only has 3.4.

Luckily, the Linux community pulled through on this one. Lots of backports of needed 3.10 features have been made to the Nexus 5's kernel. It's just on us to put those pieces together, which our developers are willing to do.

Almost everyone in our development community owns a Nexus 5, so it gets the most eyes.

Q:  Why isn't 15.04 OTA-2 out yet?

A: We're focusing on Xenial and Halium. We'll see if we can get some more developers working on 15.04 again, but for now the project is heavily based on what developers *want* to do.

We may also set up a regular release schedule for 15.04, but we want to focus more on a new, supported base.

Q: How will you maintain clicks?

A: Click is just another piece of software with bugs and features. It will be maintained with this in mind.

If the question was about the app packaging format and framework as it stands in 15.04, we aren't sure until we test.

Some other packaging questions

We get the same questions about Snaps and Flatpaks every Q&A. Again, we haven't been able to test any of this yet so any answer would be theoretical and useless.

Q: How is app development going to work in the future?

A: Excellent question. Since we aren't able to test anything yet, we have no idea.

Q: Will there be a release schedule for future OTAs?

To be discussed at the next meeting. We will try to make it every other month for each OTA, but there are no current things set yet.

Q: How will you "fix" the Libertine confinement difficulties?

A: X-apps are not made with libhybris in mind, and not made for phones. We are planning to relax the confinement of Libertine.

UPDATES ON CORE APPS AND OTHER IMPORTANT APPS

Dan Chapman (Dekko) and Costales (uNav) have been encouraged to continue development on their apps. We are in contact with them often. Any core apps on [our GitHub Organization](https://github.com/ubports) with a "does not have a maintainer" bug, need maintainers.


THE STATIONDOCK MAKES A TRIUMPHANT RETURN

Lots of community members remember the StationDock, a product that we teased a few months ago but never fully followed up on. Marius showed off the real, manufactured PCB for the device in this Update. 

The StationDock is a piece of hardware that allows any Ubuntu Touch device to give a wired Convergence experience. After some soldering and installing, the Raspberry Pi-based device should be ready for showing off. The PCB and software will be open-sourced when they're ready for release.

We'd like to sell the device, but we're still in a bit of a pickle as we have no legal entity to sell products through. This will be remedied by the UBports Foundation once it is set up.

FOUNDATION NEWS 

We are still setting up the foundation and translating all of our documents into German. UBports will continue to move forward with the goals of the foundation even if the foundation is not setup yet.

UPCOMING DEVICE NEWS

We are already feeling the effects of Halium, as we are able to say that we will have support for all sorts of devices. The Oneplus 5 and Oneplus 3 are already being tested on officially. Community porters are playing with all sorts of Motorola, Sony, and Samsung devices. 

Halium is still being developed and the 7.1 verison is not fully functional with our Ubuntu Touch testing yet. We're getting there.

YUNIT UPDATE 

[The Yunit Project](https://yunit.io) has successfully backported Yunit to Ubuntu 16.04. This is excellent news as it means we have a working upstream! 

That being said, our first testing image will probably debut with a very specific version of Canonical's Unity 8 as a reference point for all improvements and regressions.

Another great Community Update is in the bag! We love answering your questions, so be sure to message us on one of our many social networks or chats.

Social Websites:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UBports
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+UBports
Mastodon: https://mastodon.rocks/@UBports
Diaspora: UBports@diasp.ca
Mailing List: http://www.bit.ly/ubports T
T-T-T-Telegram Supergroup: https://ubports.com/telegram


We'll see you next time, July 22, at 1800 UTC, for another update!

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.