Ubuntu Touch Q&A 74

OTA-12 and Halium 9 news
30 April 2020

 
 

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News and Update

This week the hosts were Dalton and Alfred.

OTA-12

The OTA-12 release is happening soon and the testing for it is happening now. Just switch to rc channel and you can try out what will become OTA-12. May 6 is the official release date. Everything under the hood is different and one of the obvious changes is that scopes have gone. Ratchanan fixed a bug where the screen would not respond to touch when music was playing...

Go to the forum and look at the blog about OTA-12 to get all the detailed information

Halium 9, Pixel 3a, Sony Xperia X Performance

Halium 9 has started to develop quite fast. Erfan has developed a new GSI. That has added vibration support, amongst others. Alfred’s Pixel 3a now has audio playback through MediaHub. Video thumbnails in Gallery now render correctly and the camera on the device now works (at the moment for photos only) using the gstreamer droid package modified by Ratchanan. Amazingly, NFC now works.  Jolla has made that work. There are actually two different types of package, one for newer and one for older phones. Debian packaging and system settings are a work in progress for the new Halium build.Alfred was able to announce that the Sony Xperia X Performance is the latest UBports community device. It is a different phone from the Xperia X. You can find it by the code name ‘dora’.  Liáng Shuǎng and Andreas Pokorny have done the work on it. It is supported by the installer now but like most of the newly added devices it needs some tweaking before you can use the installer. Check the

 forum post for more specific details about that. If there are owners of other Sony devices with an Ubuntu Touch port in progress, be sure to contact Alfred or the others in the porting group on Telegram, as they are building a library of Sony fixes which can be shared and should speed up the process. 

Dalton announced that Community Channels are now working properly. What that means is that community devices can get their updates from System Settings, just like any supported device. Now that the feature with its infrastructure is working,we can add even more devices to automated upgrade.

Sponsors were thanked. 

Questions

The News section of our 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.

If you didn’t know, the Forum questions get priority.

New Wayland and New Mir

Rogier asked about Alan Griffiths’ earlier comments about new Wayland and new Mir etc. A newer version of Mir is out now so where are we with that? Mir 1.2 is the version we have moved to. On PinePhone the Mir client doesn’t work though so that and the Raspberry Pi had to go the Wayland route, of necessity! That build now has a stack of Wayland clients speaking to a stack of Wayland servers. Protocol support is still missing from that, so for example prompts (i.e. "do you want to allow location support") or the protocols for online accounts, which rely on the same mechanism. Wayland buffer support will need to be added before we can transfer that architecture to the Android devices.

Ubuntu Touch and Internet of Things

Stanwood asks about connected electronics and UT support. Smartphones are fast becoming a universal remote, in effect. For the so-called Internet of Things. How will UT do this and will it need Anbox or be native? Well actually we are there already. The Nymea app made by the folks at Nymea is our UT platform for that. In practice though most users who have set up home automation rely on a fixed server (perhaps on a Pi) that the UT client then connects to. HomeAssist and or OpenHab are examples of open source server software that will carry out that function.

OTA-13

User 'ImmyChan' asked about OTA-13 and what it will contain? Well, essentially anything that is left over from OTA-12, plus any bugs that only become evident after release. There are currently 130 issues outstanding so there is plenty to do. Just to give a flavour of that – version 5.14 of qtwebengine needs to be added, to open up new functionality in Morph browser and elsewhere.

PinePhone Kernel Updates

Libremax asked what kernel is used in the PinePhone? It is mainline and currently 5.6.

Will it be updated more than for those devices with Android kernels? For now, the PinePhone is so different that it has its own release cycle but eventually we want to have the same cycle for all devices. Having said that, of course the PinePhone kernel will get many more kernel updates – simply because it can.

Ubuntu Touch with Write and Read Access, apt-get,...

Swizzla asked whether UT devices ever be like real Linux devices, with read and write access, apt-get, GCC etc? Libertine as it is doesn’t deliver what it promises as far as that is concerned.  Will it be different with the PinePhone?

Well to be honest we do not see things such as GCC as ‘essential’ in phone use. We are not aiming to provide a pocket version of ArchLinux. If there are limitations to using Libertine (which we recognize there are) the solution to that is to improve Libertine not to redesign  Ubuntu Touch. We do see a use case for being able to compile apps on the phone, so that is an example of where Libertine could be improved.

Will we Upgrade to 20.04?

Yannesc said that we are now based on 16.04. Will we move to 20.04? Yes, that is the plan. Doing that is likely to mean that we will have to drop some older devices but we will give as much advance notice of that as possible.

Where to Report Particular Issues

Wdehoog  asked about where best to add a particular issue. Should it go under Mediahub or under Ubuntu Touch? The answer was not to worry about it too much. If the heading isn’t obvious, we can always move it if it belongs elsewhere.

Volla phone

GT asked about Volla phone. Can you tell us more – they seem keen on Anbox?

Their contributions to software will benefit not just the build for their phone but will make all of our devices better. We influence them in terms of direction, although we have no authority over them. What we can say is that they are awesome people to work with and very different from other vendors.

Where to get New UT devices?

Pi1024 asked where can we get a new UT phone or tablet these days? 

PinePhone and Volla are the answer. Those are brand new.  The Pine64 PineTab with UT will come along a little later. It is necessarily on the back burner while all the focus is on getting the PinePhone working optimally.

Manual Updates

Suoko asked if we can do manual updates using zip files via TWRP in the normal way?

Ubuntu Touch needs special facilities in the recovery, which UBports recovery has. In theory, those mechanisms could be ported to TWRP. If the concern is about how community devices will get their updates, they will be on a community channel and their operating system will be hosted along with all the supported devices.

Series of Device Support

Will you ever support a whole series of phones from cheap to premium (as in the Samsung or Redmi model) ?  On a side note, dual boot is not supported.

The problem with the cheapest phones is not just that they have a low specification, they are also of low quality. It is unlikely that they will have an unlocked bootloaders and probably will not have a Lineage port, which you need to get you going with Halium. They are not built to last, so there is no incentive. Get a used device instead or choose PinePhone or Volla. Really cheap is bad news. Sony is something of an exception to these comments as there seem to be common elements that make them more of a ‘family’. 

docs.halium.org is the place for those interested in porting a device.

What about Android App Emulation?

Anbox is the current solution, using proxies in each direction. That has a detrimental impact on performance and uses a lot of battery in the process. If people want to make it better they will likely succeed but for now rendering is slow. Even with improvements it is very unlikely we will see Google Apps and SafetyNet work. To be honest, if you desperately need that one special banking app, maybe it is best to get a very low end Android phone and boot that up, when you need to.

PinePhone Camera

When is camera support coming for PinePhone? Like all other features, it will be done when it is done. It is difficult to map out something that has never been done before. Support for OTA updates is our current top priority, so that PinePhone users can update from Settings, rather than having to start from scratch every time.

Qt Update

Nicholas asked how the Qt update is going? All we can really say on that is that some of the newer components from Qt are being added to the OS all the time, though in a piecemeal fashion. There is still no timetable for the full upgrade.

Wireguard Support

Will Wireguard be included on PinePhone, given that the kernel will allow that or will we block any changes like that, on the grounds that other devices do not have that capability? If apps can be built for PinePhone, which cannot be adapted for other UT devices, then that is what will happen. We are not going to take a lowest common denominator approach. Pinephone will not be held back.

Can I install emacs

See if it will run in a Libertine container

Community channels

Tygerpro asked about community channels. We are now able to create them again.

It is possible to port a Pure OS App to UT?

In principle it is but you may have to include some dependencies in your Click build. Later on, we hope to be able to offer support for things such as Snaps or Flatpak, which will make doing that much easier.

Is Canonical Doing Anything for UBports?

Well Mir development is still being carried out by a Canonical team and let us not forget that Canonical created Ubuntu Touch in the first place! 

See you next time :-)