News and Update
Presenting this time were Alfred, Marius and Dalton.
Dalton reminded everyone about his new podcast at www.linuxafterdark.net . Episodes are released on Fridays and it can be accessed by any podcast app.
The CA certificate for LetsEncrypt expired recently and caused all kinds of chaos. Anyone using OTA-19 to connect to LetsEncrypt services is having trouble. It isn’t a problem in browser but it is for things like Calendar sync, emails etc. Switching to rc channel will find the fix.
A regression involving loss of microphone has been remedied in the browser and we now have a custom messaging sound option for SMS receipt.
As always, for all changes it is important to have test feedback before they pass into Stable channel.
Marius has also been working to mesh together Halium 9 and the Mir tree. We have a lot of flavors of Android adaptation and he has been working to tie those together as far as possible, ready for Focal.
In addition, Marius has been working on a secret project. It is so secret that you definitely won’t be able to guess anything about it by looking at his recent Twitter feed. Definitely not…
UBports installer update
FOCAL news and development
SystemImageClient is in for tests and we appear to be building systemimage compatible images.
We are looking at how to move MediaHub over. That may take some time. What we do now have is ofonoubports and an upstream of ofono which has been modified to play nice with UT. That is a huge win because we will no longer have an ongoing fight with package incompatibility.
Please remember that OpenStore has a built-in option to donate to app creators and we urge you to use that button, so that more great apps keep arriving.
Alfred also added exFat disk protocol support in a kernel patch. What that does in practice is to increase the maximum allowed capacity of the SD card you put in your phone. The changes are in for Xperia X and Pixel 3a and have been proposed for the Volla phone repository. As well as bigger overall capacity it also brings an increased maximum file size. Again, feedback please.
Third in line is V4L2 loop-back. This is a protocol which allows the camera to be used inside V4L2 capable apps. Foremost among those is Morph browser. This is about capturing what appears in the camera viewfinder directly, rather than uploading from Gallery. Obviously that is [one!] step towards a functioning video-chat functionality. Alfred has built a bridge which provides some functionality. It isn’t yet at al level where it can be shown as a demo but that should come soon. It needs some kernel side changes in order to respect apparmor. Once done, they will either be spawned out to other porters or if we feel it is safe to do so, the changes can be added to the upstream so that all or most devices benefit.
Lastly, the big one. EVDI and UDL support may not be very familiar but they are driver functionality necessary for Displaylink (in various versions). On their own, those are not sufficient and they will rely on tweaks to Mir. Displaylink will enable you to connect your phone to a compatible external display [in other words, similar to HDMI]. To get that whole package up and running will need a variety of updates brought together. That is likely to happen fairly soon but no date can be given for that.
The News section of our Forum is the best place to post 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.
Look out for an announcement from Pine64 on 15 October :-)
Today Ubuntu Touch in hands of founder developers
Had the Ubuntu Edge project secured enough funding, the concept which developed would have been ‘Ubuntu on your Android device’. What we now know as UT (and convergence) would probably never have happened.
There are certainly former employees of Canonical who worked on the project there and use UT today.
A not of caution: it is a great and fun idea but well made videos are a lot of work and some expense. To take it forward we would also need contacts who count Mark or Jonno as part of their circle, who can raise the idea.
Sony Xperia X
Rogier asked about the absence of Firefox from UT and especially misses its ad-blocking capability. Postmarketos has taken a different approach and have Firefox as their browser. Povoq asked about requests for wired headphone button support and how that is going? MessiSOS wondered what the situation is with voice calls on UT. Ari asked a more generic question about what happens if ‘X’ developer gets hit by a bus? We have a Foundation for financial and legal matters but it can’t guarantee continuity of personnel.
All of the principal contributors to the project have gone missing in action for at least a month in the last couple of years. Dalton himself recently wound down his involvement with everything internet related for a couple of weeks and then added another week in complete cold turkey.
Wherever we look in our community we can see things not done. There is no malice in that or saying that. Students have to go back to college and are submerged in course work. The gaps stem from unavoidable things in the real world but the only real solution is to have other people step up and do the work needed to write and apply fixes etc. This is not at all a ‘UBports problem’. It is a problem which confronts all volunteer organizations. One of the drivers is a mindset that those ‘at the top’ have sole responsibility for everything that happens or doesn’t.
This is a difficult thing to discuss. Placing responsibility on new people to step up and contribute can sound like an attack on those who are already contributing what they can. That isn’t at all the intention. All of the inputs big or small are valued. It doesn’t need anyone to authorize or instruct involvement. This is a completely open project and if there is something you want to run with there is nothing standing in your way.
We are active on Telegram, there is the Q&A… We are very accessible if you want pointers or advice. If there is an expectation that in order to help, you have to be supervised at every step of the way that is a misconception and anyway it would sink things because that would tie up key players in mentoring responsibilities. For almost any task, you can mostly make your own way, asking along the way for help from a broad range of community members.
We have recently taken someone on to take a detailed look at ofono. He has never done any Debian packaging and has never tackled ofono before. He will have to tidy up the three ofono stacks which are absolutely vital for the 20.04 transition. Dalton got him started on the way but many of the things he is doing are completely outside the scope of knowledge that Dalton has so he wouldn’t be capable of mentoring those even if he wanted to or had time. It hasn’t been a disaster. The necessary elements have been learned (and for good measure will be documented for future use).
We didn’t have documentation for this project when we started it. We had to learn as we progressed. New people have an advantage that there is quite a lot of documentation but still a lot will have to be created from the basics.
A complaint that really does chime is when people say that they struggle to get any response from people who might be able to help them because those people are too busy to respond. Well part of the answer to that is for others to remove part of the burden at one end, using their capabilities, in order to free up capacity at the other end. Something as simple as being friendly and helpful in Telegram groups and showing new people around can achieve that. Every small contribution matters and big scale involvement helps even more.
Alfred suggested that it is not altogether a good thing that new members of the community who have some developer skills typically start off with the idea “I must make an app”. Apps are important for sure but that constantly diverts resources away from fixing issues with our core software. Rather than starting with “this is a functionality that I would like” perhaps instead look at gaps in what the system itself can do and put some effort into addressing that gap at system level? We have a house and lots of people are interested in designing new cushions for the sofa. What we need is some builders to pay some attention to the floor the sofa sits on, to make sure it doesn’t collapse under the weight of the sofa, occupants and cushions…
[If you don’t get to see the Q&A, it was quite emotional at this point.]
As Marius said, we need to find a way to grow and develop, to the point where the project can shrug off the loss of one, two or five key people. Right now, we are not in that situation.
[There was no desperation or misery here. Just an attention to the facts of the matter.]
See you next time :-)