Ubuntu Touch Q&A 75

PinePhone factory build
12 May 2020

 
 

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News and Update

Presenting this week were Dalton, Florian and Marius.

PinePhone

The factory build for PinePhone (the one it will ship with) is now done and it boots with a PinePhone splash. That doesn’t mean the end of improvements to the image of course, so a heap of updates will be waiting for you when your device arrives at your door.

We are looking into reports of an earphone bug but otherwise cellular calls are already working okay. We have gained improved performance by bumping to 500 Megahertz rather than the original 400 Megahertz. CRUST is the power management tool we are using, to get more out of the battery. That is critical to normal use so without making any promises, we are making the top priority for an update by the time the phone arrives in users’ hands. Location support is not working yet but that is also a high priority.

PinePhone will be releasing in versions for a number of different software communities. Ours will appear first but the hardware will not change for those later releases.

OTA-12

The OTA-12 release which was originally scheduled for last Wednesday has been put back to 13th May because we discovered a critical issue. Rachanan has fixed that for us so big thanks to him. A release on the rc channel was issued on Friday (normally it is every Wednesday) so that the fix could be subjected to more testing.

OTA-12 includes the very last version of Unity 8 (now Lomiri) that Canonical ever prepared. It has finally been brought out of mothballs. There are better contrasting colours across the whole OS, thanks to Cibersheep. The keyboard edit overlay now operates by swiping up, instead of the long press on the space bar. Double tap now works to control it.

With Morph improvements, apps can now utilise it to download files. Deleting cookies is now possible! Yes, that should have been in there before but everything takes time...

Devices equipped with multicolour LEDs now show charging status properly. [white/green = charging, green = charged, orange = battery low]. Also some translations have been tidied up and now appear correctly in system settings and elsewhere.

Survey

Florian’s survey results are back. The methodology was not very sophisticated but the response was good – 250 users answered! The first question was about which phone functions most matter to people?  Surprisingly the top place was taken by making calls by phone (not by messenger app, which was the answer expected) 2. browser – searching, reading, shopping 3. navigation 4. using email 5. photography; then things like music and messengers, with games, bug tracking and software development a very long way down on the scale of priorities.

For functions, WiFi was top, then incoming cellular calls, SMS, camera, sound, then GPS.

When asked whether they have a UT compatible device, most said yes. The most common was one of the devices from Canonical days. Interestingly PinePhone came second. Whichever device they had, 40% of respondents said that UT already works well enough for them to use it as a daily driver.

The demand for VOLTE support was only 5% (but that probably misses the fact that 100% of respondents in India need it).

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.

FAQ section

Christophe14 asked whether it might not be more useful to have a FAQ section on the forum rather than on the website. So questions e.g. on bug reporting, OTA-12, channels etc etc. The FAQ on the website is admittedly a bit out of date now. ‘Read the docs’ might be a good alternative solution because it is editable by multiple users, through the mechanism of pull requests. It also provides good mechanisms for version control. The only downside is that the process is designed for people who are used to using Gitlab and not everyone is. In practical terms, we can widen out access by allowing people to send in a form of words which they would like included, so that someone else can formulate the pull request for them.

OnePlus 5T port

Ebetonro asked whether Dalton can nudge Marius into finishing the OnePlus 5T port.  Answer was no – Marius has a huge amount in his In tray already.  He is not the only one with that device and there are many people with absolutely no previous experience of porting who are making big advances with their chosen device. So have a try...

There was a side discussion about the fact that all of us need to keep our use of messenger apps under control. Constantly clicking is a kind of addiction and if we allow it to distract, stuff doesn’t get done.

Next updates/upgrades

Christophe14 asked what the ‘next big things’ will be, after the Mir and Unity * upgrades in OTA-12?  Well, 64 bit support is done already for the PinePhone. Implementing location is going to be big and 20.04 is going to be huge! As we have said many times before, we need developers – in almost every language.

Canonical used a wide spread of languages, which makes the project very difficult to fork. In fairness to them, they never expected to drop the project and never expected that it would forked. Indicators are written in Vala, a language so obscure that many developers have never even heard of it. Aside from all that, there is work to be done for devices which launched with Android 8, 9 and 10.

Professional testing

Florian referred to our testing regime and our desire to improve it. He now has a Testing professional from the German group on board but more are needed!

On a side note to Martijn from postmarketOS, there is no PHP at all in UT. 

OTA-13

OTA-13 will be about ‘fix the things’. We made a lot of hacks to get to OTA-12. Now we need to tidy those with more elegant solutions.

How much more battery will CRUST give?

Marius has calculated if the PinePhone is sleeping most of the time and used for an hour in aggregate, with CRUST optimized for fast dormancy of the modem, 20-24 hours battery life would be expected. Right now he is getting 13 hours.

That applies to his test image, not the factory image. With that, you would only get about an hour of use. Just to repeat, we expect to have a bumper update from the factory image by the time you get your PinePhone ‘Community Edition’, in which case you will never experience that one hour horror...

Huge thanks!

Huge thanks were expressed to everyone who has helped us to get the PinePhone working. In particular, the postmarketOS and Qt projects have helped us immensely. PinePhone has brought us together into a close group of communities.

Lima

Finally, a mention from Alfred that Lima now benefits from some kernel improvements which will have a significant impact on power management issues.

See you next time :-)