Ubuntu Touch Q&A 76
Scopes went and Drawer introduced


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News and Update

Dalton, Alfred and Flo presented this time around.


OTA-12 was finally released and was well received by the community. Scopes went and the drawer was introduced. There are different opinions on that but with any change of UI there will be some who are happy and others who wish it had stayed the same.  Most people seem pleased this time round.


The PinePhone  UBports "Community Edition" starts shipping on Monday. We are very pleased to announce that between 4,000 to 4,500 will be shipped! CE labelling has been fixed now so hopefully Customs services in Germany will be fine with it. There will likely be a big OS update for you as soon as you get it. Some prominent YouTubers and commentators will be getting theirs, so we await their opinions with interest.

Call for testing

Braveheart owners meanwhile are especially urged to report any issues they find with current builds. The more feedback they provide, the quicker we can progress with remedying any problems. There have been a few reports of call failures, which we are struggling to reproduce. Any more information about that will be especially valuable. Report as much as possible now, so that we can adapt the factory image ready for the arrival update. We want to make PinePhone your everyday phone. That will not be achieved immediately you receive it - battery use is a major obstacle that we are working on – but it will get there.  It runs Mainline kernel, so our support for it should last a very long time. We expect that over a period of time, all manner of different projects outside of UBports will develop interesting things that you can run on it. By offering a standard, universal hardware platform it should be able to support a wide range of software platforms, just as desktop hardware does now.


PineTab is also available to order. The production model has 2GB of RAM. Note that at present you cannot order both to arrive in the same parcel. The tablet is $99. There is only an English keyboard at the moment. Pine64 is a small company and has to keep costs down. Variants would be nice but they are not practical at present.


OpenStore has just been completely redesigned. Joan {Cibersheep) has done a huge amount of work to update it and it now looks great. You can now leave reviews on apps, by signing in with an OpenStore account. That will assist developers by highlighting things that users like or dislike. It is also nice to have compliments – very motivating! When signed in, the view will show your favourite apps at the top.


Seabass code editor has been completely re-written and is now in the store as 2.0. It offers syntax highlighting for 120 different programming languages, among other things. It is convergent but will act as a complete editor on mobile. It has a dark theme option, which will appeal to many users. It is brand new so test it out now and let the author know what you think. The original Seabass was written in Cordova but this new version is in native QML.

Finger print

Alfred reported that Erfan has implemented the finger print reader function into Halium. It is available for all devices using a Halium 9 layer. Key versions 3 and 4 both work. Alfred has tried it out on his Pixel 3a and it works great.

GSI testing

GSI is a thing from Android world which contains resources capable of working across a wide range of different devices. The rootfs is bundled in a SIP file. Alfred has also tested that on his Pixel 3a and it works well. It does need a compatible vendor image though and of course that is not shipped with it. Erfan ships just the open source part. The proprietary part you will have to hunt down yourself. The GSI will definitely work for Android 9 devices and it will probably also work for most Android 8 devices.
Sponsors were thanked. Digital Ocean renewed their support for us this week so special thanks and a shout out to them.


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.

Qt updates

Notnicofi wanted to know what we are going to do, now that Qt 5.9 is going out of time. There is no ongoing work on moving to a newer version at the moment but we are very mindful of the need to do so. We have to have priorities and for now the big tidying up exercise that is OTA-13 is our priority. Of course, Qt updates to certain components are happening here and there. qtwebengine is an important example of where that is happening.

Klbik asked if we can make calling easier and have a favorite-contacts function.

There are too many steps. In Contacts app in Android the call can be started immediately. There is an obvious mechanism whereby that could be implemented but it needs someone to do it and that would be a natural project for a community member, rather than the core team. In principle, the argument could be handled in the Dialer, for immediate opening?

Also, is there any way to use a "favorites function" in Contacts, to make those calls with fewer stages in between? There is an issue open on that. Cibersheep is working on a Favourites band in the Dialer, which should speed things up. Users in Devel will see the fruits of that first.

PhoenixLandPirate wanted to know what will likely be missing from the PinePhone build on day one?

The best way to get updates on that is to follow the issues on Gitlab. As mentioned above, testing on Braveheart testing will have a huge impact on how fast we can move with those. GPS and assisted GPS using Ubuntu location service are big items which we are hoping to have fully operational by delivery time or soon after.

Mirclient API

Gizmochicken  understood that PinePhone no longer relies on mirclient API? If so, what are the biggest obstacles to removing the need for it also in Halium/Hybris builds? It is an old way of making the compositor work with the display manager. The shell and compositor for it are still present but are being gradually whittled away. The biggest challenge is that the Mir Android platform does not support Wayland buffers. There is a lot of work that needs doing if we are to overcome that.

Gizmochicken also asked about how the builds differ between PinePhone and PineTab.

They are actually very close indeed, based on the same Allwinner architecture. For all practical purposes interchangeable. An interesting future difference is that there will be a range of different adaptor boards for the PineTab and we will have to wait and see how UT interacts with those. They may or may not work out of the box.

Qtwebengine updates

sap asked whether the upgrade of qtwebengine effectively to chromium 7 will bring with it progressive webapps? The answer is sadly no. It is way more complicated than that. It will not deliver a ‘Chromium 7 experience’. Back-grounding would incidentally have a severe impact on battery use and that is certainly something we would have to resolve.

Loops noted that there has been a lot more interest from developers recently and wondered if that is translating into practical commitment?

Well the broadening involvement in core app development is there for all to see, so yes. The sensible division of labour is generally for the core team to focus on project work which spans months and years, while contributors focus on fixes are enhancements which can be put together in a weekend or a week. That is not a hard and fast rule of course.

Aury88 asked a long question about the plan to replace old packages in Lomiri, to get closer to the behavior of Unity 7.

Just how difficult is it to add and remove modules? Actually, it is way easier than that implies because they are in Lomiri already. The issue is that they are not all activated yet. All the things mentioned are there in the code but they need things to plug into them. So patches will be needed.

Aury88 also asked how we will you avoid features present in the desktop implementation appearing inappropriately on the mobile side.

Well, convergence doesn’t mean doing everything identically. What there should be is a suitable equivalent for each side. These should be similar enough that users understand intuitively that the same sort of action is being performed.

Finally, he asked what skills and knowledge are needed to modify Lomiri?

It is a Qt and QML project. QtMir makes all the desktop environment functions appear to work natively in QML on mobile. Objects can be moved and animated in a way you will be familiar with if you know QML well. It is a very interesting and cool stack to work with. Of course if you want to delve into the inner workings you will need C++ but for most purposes you will be fine with QML. The goal of feature parity with Unity 7 is primarily about sorting out stability issues.

From the live chat it was asked whether we will re-base to 18.04 this year?

Well no, the next move will be direct to 20.04. That is a huge task but the good news is that it is steadily becoming easier. A lots of work currently being done on Debian and Qt 5.15 will have the side effect of making the transition much easier for us.  There is no timeline for the transition but at least the complexity of the task is shrinking somewhat.

See you next time :-)

Ubuntu Touch Q&A 77
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