Ubuntu Touch OTA-6 Release

Learn about what's new and how to get it
7 December 2018

Ubuntu Touch is the privacy and freedom respecting mobile operating system by UBports. Our newest update, OTA-6, is rolling out over the next five days (completing on Wednesday, December 12). You can skip to "How to get OTA-6" to get it now if you're impatient, or read on to learn more about this release.

What's new?

OTA-6 brings a number of fixes and improvements to Ubuntu Touch. In this release, we primarily focused on bug fixes and stability improvements.

Morph Browser

Half of the confirmed closed tickets for OTA-6 affected the Morph browser. This got to be so high, in fact, it swayed the decision to start the release process!

A number of high-visibility issues were fixed:

We'd like to thank Chris Clime and Mateo Salta for their huge contributions to the browser during this cycle.

Oneplus One improvements

Florian made some changes which improve the experience for users of the Oneplus One:

Hacktoberfest helpers

We gave a few good first issue tickets the Hacktoberfest label in celebration of Digital Ocean's Hacktoberfest! A couple of these were picked up and fixed by helpful community members:

Infrastructure changes

We've made some exciting infrastructure changes during this cycle:

In the background...

Parallel to all this, we have brought up our Edge channel to test an upgrade to the newest upstream version of Libhybris on all of our devices. This is an essential step prior to upgrading to the latest upstream version of Mir, which should fix a number of the issues we are currently experiencing. A new version of Libhybris will also make porting to devices with Android 7.1 much easier.

Thank you

We'd like to extend our appreciation to everyone who made this release possible. Many authors made commits to fix the 24 confirmed solved tickets in this release. We'd like especially to thank those who made their first code contribution to Ubuntu Touch during this cycle:

We'd also like to thank those involved in the release process, especially those who helped us confirm that these issues had indeed been solved, after our call for testing. There wasn't nearly enough room in this post to thank all of you by name.

How can I help with the development of Ubuntu Touch?

Ubuntu Touch is a community project driven mainly by volunteers. You and all others in the community will benefit from your contribution. Everyone is able to do something to help! If you're not sure where to start, here are a few examples:

Development

We mark issues which probably have simple fixes with a good first issue tag. We also try to add hints which will help you fix the issue. These reports are kept waiting for a contributor so newcomers have a great place to learn the ropes. You may search on GitHub for issues with this tag using this search query.

We have documentation available to aid getting started with system software development. We're also building our app development documentation.

To get help and support when getting started with Ubuntu Touch development, you can join our Matrix room #ut_bootcamp:matrix.org. Developers gather there specifically to help newcomers get started with our development workflows. It is a friendly space, with the motto "There is no such thing as a stupid question!"

Writers

Great (blush...) posts like this don't come out of nowhere. It takes many hours to write, edit and publish the excellent content our community has come to expect. The Writers' Team is responsible for this process. If you're interested in writing user tutorials, op-eds, or other long-form content, you can ask about joining this group in any of our messaging channels, or via e-mail at contribute [at] ubports [dot] com.

Design and Graphics

Every aspect of the Ubuntu Touch user experience is evaluated and implemented by the Design and Graphics team. Sometimes they will also help with graphic design for this blog, such as the banner image for this post created by Tim Koppers. The Design and Graphics team primarily coordinates at @UBports_UX on Telegram.

Something else?

If none of the above ideas sound promising to you (or you have no time to contribute - a common problem), we appreciate financial contributions as well. Our corporate and individual sponsors help us keep the lights on and offer compensation for other contributors. Check out our donation page to find all the ways you can donate.

You can also e-mail us at contribute [at] ubports [dot] com and let us know what you're good at and how you want to use UBports to improve. We'll see if we can find a project for you.

How to get OTA-6

What you should know first

There are a few issues which we expect many users to still run into, even with this release.

  • The viewfinder on the Nexus 5 freezes when taking pictures in succession. Similar issues have been reported on the Oneplus One and Nexus 4.
    • Workaround: Pictures can still be taken while the viewfinder is frozen. Switching apps and then going back to Camera restores the viewfinder.
  • On larger screens (such as the BQ M10 and Nexus 7), the browser will close after opening a selection box while in landscape mode.
    • Workaround: Either move the browser to a side stage (press with three fingers and drag to the right) or hold the device in portrait mode.
  • When switching between text boxes in the browser, the input type of the keyboard is not updated (for example, when going from a numbers-only text field to a URL field).
    • Workaround: Dismiss the keyboard before changing text fields. This can be done by swiping the keyboard downward or tapping on the page in an area that is not a text field.
  • In the browser, selection boxes open in a new window. This is expected to continue until a newer version of Mir is used, which will allow for drawing tooltips within the surface that created them.
  • In some apps, dialog boxes will fly off the screen when the keyboard appears. A fix has been proposed but it can't be merged until a test harness bug is fixed.

Existing Ubuntu Touch users

Existing users of Ubuntu Touch in the stable channel (which is selected by default in the UBports Installer) will receive the OTA-6 upgrade through the Updates screen of System Settings. Devices will randomly receive the update starting today through December 12th. This spread is to give us time to interrupt a bad update in the future (should that ever become necessary), not to accommodate any bandwidth restrictions.

If you would like to receive the update immediately, turn on ADB access and issue the following command over adb shell:

sudo system-image-cli -v -p 0

Your device should then download the update and install it. This process may take a while, depending on your download speed.

New Ubuntu Touch users

You will find instructions for installing Ubuntu Touch on your device at devices.ubuntu-touch.io

How do I know if I have OTA-6?

The About page of System Settings has an "OS" field. It will say "Ubuntu 16.04 (OTA-6)" if you have the update and are using the Stable channel.

"I found an issue!"

Have you found a bug? We want to know!

You can follow our Bug Reporting document to learn how to present the information we'll need to confirm and fix your issue. Every bit helps. The best way to improve Ubuntu Touch is to use it and then tell us about the experience.

You should always check to see whether your bug has already been reported on ubports/ubuntu-touch on Github. Browsing open bugs is worth doing, even if you have nothing to report.

What's next?

We're working to make every release of Ubuntu Touch better than the last. We also hope to decrease the time between releases (while still maintaining our confidence by means of early user testing). This follows user feedback - see "Gotta release fast" in our forum. OTA-6 is the first Ubuntu Touch release which has kept to the stated goal of releasing every six to eight weeks [including a 2-week testing period]. This is a huge milestone for our project and we couldn't have done it without all of our volunteer developers, testers and especially our users.

Depending on the outcome of the Edge testing, OTA-7 may see the release of an updated libhybris which has the potential to bring small but worthwhile performance improvements to all devices and which should make using Ubuntu Touch a much easier prospect for Halium porters. However, if Edge testing reveals more problems than can be solved in four to six weeks [followed by two weeks after the OTA-7 call for testing], OTA-7 will be released with the other fixes and improvements gathered during its cycle but without an upgraded libhybris.

As always, you can watch right here at the UBports blog for the most important information about the next releases of Ubuntu Touch. You can also find us on our forum, @ubports on Telegram, or #ubports:matrix.org on Matrix if you want to chat with us.