Ubuntu Touch Q&A 72

Foundation & Volla News
23 March 2020

 
 

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News and Update

This time the broadcast was presented by Marius, Dalton, Florian, Alfred and Jan.

Covid-19

First, an acknowledgement that the Covid-19 outbreak has meant loneliness, anxiety and depression for many. Everyone is experiencing the bad effects of it. Now more than ever, we all need to step back and remember that we are all human beings, with feelings. We have always had a policy of being respectful online but please bear this specially in mind right now. In an emergency everyone needs to take care of their own well-being and mental health. Useful CDC and WHO guidance can be found here:

How to Prepare on cdc.gov.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public on WHO.int.

Foundation News

Jan introduced  some very welcome information about the Foundation. We can at last receive direct contributions to our bank account via IBAN. There are some tax exempt arrangements available in Germany and other EU/EFTA countries but we are hoping to extend that facility to other jurisdictions if possible. There will be a new blog post soon and we will update the Donate page in the next few days. It is already live though, so you can pay in now. Stripe is available in Liberapay now. On a related subject, the Patreon awards problems have now been addressed. Please send us a message from there if there are still some issues. 

You can put your postal address in the information field of the IBAN if your want an acknowledgement. Up to €200 you don’t need a special receipt but above that there are some formalities. An email will be needed, to match you to a contribution, for that purpose. In Europe, fees are very low for IBAN so this would be the cheapest mechanism. For the USA and other places, the established ways of giving will often be more suitable.

Account Holder: UBports Foundation
Address: UBports Foundation, An der Kolonnade 11, 10117 Berlin, Germany
IBAN: DE27 7015 0000 1005 8360 42
BIC: SSKMDEMMXXX
Bank: Stadtsparkasse München

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=C86LHWK8M2XCC&source=url

OTA-12

OTA-12 has seen some progress, though slowed by the effects of the pandemic on our daily lives. Bluez has had some security updates, they broke functionality on the Nexus 5, then it was fixed. We have at last fixed Libertine in portrait mode. 

Volla partnership

We are very pleased to announce that we are now working together with German phone startup Volla. They are joining us as a sponsor and will have a place on our Advisory Board. We expect that UT will be available as a pre-installed option with the new Volla phone. You can find information on volla.online. A get together has been planned for 6-7 June but of course that is very provisional now.

Q&A63 introduced Volla and we encourage you to go back and watch that, if you haven’t already done so.

ISODrive app update

Alfred updated on his ISODrive app. It enables you to use your UT device just like a live USB, to carry any linux distro for your PC in your pocket. You can use it to boot up a PC. It now works fine with core devices and with community devices. 

uMPD app udpade

Stefan has produced uMPD client. It allows you to play music on other devices, using your phone as a controller.

MiniMaker apps update

Brian has updated his MiniMaker apps. These are play apps for children, with stickers, sounds and drawing etc. 

PinePhone development

Marius has had some of his time taken up with Covid-19 related stuff recently but in the last few days he has been able to pay some attention to the PinePhone. It now has functioning bluetooth. In addition, the accelerometer and gyroscope work. Vibration works, so does rotation. Finally, the notification led works and so does the proximity sensor.

Lomiri in Debian

Mike Gabriel has been packaging Lomiri in Debian. Testing of some components is already taking place on that platform. 

AppDevs audiocast

In other news, the AppDev audiocast is back for another episode. Details are in  our News channels and on the forum. 

The UbuconEurope YouTube account has several of the talks which took place there this year.


Sponsors were thanked.

A special shout out to all UT testers – thank you!

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.

Focus on stability

Fla said he needs a device that does basic things correctly. Why not make sure SMS and Dekko (and others) are working properly before offering new features?

Our work plan is to release OTA-12 first and then focus on stability. That might seem strange but there are two reasons. We don’t want to find that fixes we make before OTA-12 regress afterwards. We want to fix once only, rather than waste time repeating. That is why we let the evolution of the OS run first. The other point is that while OTA-12 may be viewed as ‘new features’ a lot of it is not visible in the UI but involves playing catch-up with upstream components. Once we are up to date with their cycles, we can get steady updates rather than chasing all the time. That is vital work but quite complicated to do. As explained previously, the pandemic is slowing things down a bit as ‘real life’ intrudes. So please be patient. Lists of complaints don’t really help but of course help with development is always warmly welcomed. 

Web apps

Danfro expressed some frustration that the OpenStore contains a lot of webapps, which detract from the ‘real’ apps. How about including Webber with UT so users can just create their own or maybe cleaning up OpenStore to separate out the mass of webapps from the core

This is a sensitive subject because we don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm of those who create and share webapps. It does seem to be something that many in the community are unhappy about though. It would be good to have a debate to see what users would like done.  

Ubuntu Touch on iPhone

Mike68 asked about the mainline android on iPhone project and whether UT could be put on an iPhone? Well it might be possible in theory but honestly that would be a massive distraction from our core tasks. In particular we need to focus on getting PinePhone fully operational – the Volla phone and devices like the Xperia X too. 

External displays

Aribk asked which core and community devices can handle external displays? In practice, this is a question about Libertine, so we would just like to note that Libertine is useless in devel and rc channels at the moment. There are also some Nexus 5 specific issues and we are working on updates to fix the problems.

Nexus 4, 5 and 7 have SlimPort output via USB Micro-B. Wireless cast works via the Microsoft Display Adapter with OnePlusOne, FP2 and Meizu Pro 5 (but not with MX4). The Microsoft device is around $50. Be warned though, there is a horrible lag. Playing videos will be okay but you can’t really type. Slower than wired. Finally, the BQ M10 tablets have micro HDMI output – as does the PineTab.

Firefox browser

Can we have Firefox browser on UT? This gets asked a lot and the answer is no, at least for now. The desktop linux version might run but scaling and behaviour make it rather useless for mobile use. The Android version is a different thing entirely, designed for Android OS. We would not be able to port that. As for Kai OS, it is a fork from Firefox OS and is well funded. Their ability to use Firefox does not read across to us. 

Regarding Firefox OS apps, it should be noted that there are HTML5 apps which run on UT already, in Click containers.

How-To contribute

Besides translating, what can non-developers do to help UBports?

Well one of the most useful is taking part in testing in the Telegram and Matrix QA (quality assurance) groups. For example, there is testing of Libertine build going on at the moment. Our ‘Get Involved’ page has lots of suggestions. 

PineTab versus BQ M10

How do the specs of the PineTab tablet compare with the BQ M10 tablets? There is an Allwinner A64 in the Pine device, Mediatek MT8163B (or MT8163A in the M10 FHD) in the BQ. The Allwinner is frankly old and slow but the Pine devices are very cheap and offer excellent value for money. The BQ tablets do perform better but at a price. Of course some Pine64 devices use the same processor so if you want an insight into the PineTab performance, the PinePhone and PineBook (original, not Pro) are good guides. 

Anbox

When will a proper functioning version of Anbox arrive? What we had was a development preview, intended as a taster to try and attract a team of developers to work on refining it. That was some time ago and nobody has come forward so maybe that is a good indication of the real world level of interest in the Anbox idea? 

Is there any news on Halium 9.1?

Alfred said it is progressing really well and it will not be long before the first new devices based on it appear. Notkit especially has been driving this work forward. There is talk of Xiaomi Redmi 7! XDA finally commented about UT in connection with the latest Halium. That is good news and we hope some of those who hang out on there will start showing even more interest. We will try to get more news updates onto XDA forums. 

PineTab desktop mode switch

PineTab comes with a keyboard that clicks into place using magnets. The practical effect of this is that you can toggle between mobile and desktop modes just by clicking and unclicking. This is fun party piece with ‘Wow’ factor, for when you aren't getting real work done with it. As Marius demonstrated – over and over :) 

Lomiri

Doniks in the supergroup asked about the name change from Unity8 to Lomiri. There is a blog post on that subject, on our website.

Supported Nexus 7, which one?

The 2012 Nexus 7 is not supported, only the 2013 version. Look out for the front camera placement, to spot the difference easily. The 2013 Nexus 7 has a front camera which is off-center. It also features a smooth rubbery back rather than a diamond pattern.

Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6P build is coming along very well indeed. Florian has got everything except camera, audio and calls working. Help is needed with that, as Florian’s time is limited by all the other things he has to do. On other news, the Halium 7.1 port for the Nexus 5 is also progressing nicely but also needs volunteers.


See you next time :-)