News and Update
Present this week were Florian, Alfred, Marius and Dalton.
In the past fortnight there have been updates to some notable apps. The new version of OpenStore asks if you want to contribute a donation to the developer of the app you are about to download, if the developer has added that prompt. We put this at the top of the bill purposely!
PureMaps was created originally for Sailfish but has now been ported to UT. It includes a whole range of features from Mapbox and soon it is expected that offline maps will be working. The developer, Jonatan Hatakeyama Zeidler who led on this doesn’t even have a UT device but very generously agreed to help port it, supported by others. The app works beautifully.
Apart from that, a reminder that Alfred has a Ghostcloud app for accessing Nextcloud. He made also a qShodan app for sourcing the internet for open IOT devices. You can see all the apps created by a particular developer by clicking on the link in OpenStore.
Building Wayland support has been a huge amount of work but it underlies the progress made with two new devices. Pinephone is starting to look decent running UT. That devkit and the one for Librem 5 were shown off on the Q&A. You may have heard the announcements that Librem 5 and Pinephone are both shipping soon.
It isn’t just those devices that will benefit from Wayland. It operates in Edge channel and also with Unity 8 on the desktop.
A shout-out went to Alan Griffiths and his colleagues for all the work they have been doing on Mir! All of the new devices shown are running UT using Mir.
Halium and oFono
Alfred was asked to attend to talk about Halium in particular. Two weeks ago there was a hackathon to work on the oFono module. Plasma, Lune and UBports were all present online to contribute. Our version of oFono is very old indeed. Replacement with the Yolla version seems to be the most attractive at the moment. We are still working on oFono and would welcome new developers to that. The separate module known as telepathy-ofono is used for re-routing and there is a branch of that under construction. Sony Xperia X and BQ Uplus are making use of the modifications to that module to provide working calls in test builds.
Work should speed up across the board now that summer is over. In practical terms, what is missing from Halium ports now is really just points of detail. Lots of things that were not working even a couple of weeks ago are now functioning. Upstream libhybris is being improved quite substantially. Camera and video via dstreamer on 7.1 seems also to be well on the way. Ratchanan has done a lot on that. Many thanks go to him for his efforts. On all fronts, things are running amazingly fast at the moment.
There has also been a Dekko2 hackathon, which was held last weekend. The old Oxide module has at last been replaced with qtwebengine. Much better rendering is on the way. Special character and dark theme support have received some love. The new version is now in testing but will be in the OpenStore in a couple of weeks.
Sponsors were thanked.
Packet.net donates all the infrastructure we use for ARM builds. Mir is built in an incredible 10 minutes.
We don’t generally thank Canonical but it is right to remind people that they make Ubuntu available for all of us, which is fundamental to the existence of UT. Our regular security updates of course come from there.
Rodney has removed the Ubuntu One login requirement for notifications so there is no need to sign up for that anymore. If an app still prompts you to sign up, please flag that up. At least that is true for rc channel and beyond, as rc already has the fix.
Questions are usually taken first from the forum, in the News section. YouTube live chat, Telegram and Matrix are other places to post a question.
What is Libertine for?
The answer is that it is an app managing system which allows the running of normally unconfined legacy apps within a confined environment. With Ubuntu, software commits are controlled by a tight group of trusted developers. With UT, anyone can develop. That is why confinement came about. It is a trust issue. We restrict the number of things an app can access, whereas on desktop, apps expect to have full access. Because of confinement, we use Libertine to create containers rather in the manner of chroot, so they can feed through to UT.
To answer the other points raised, yes we will need to keep a confined environment. This is something unique about UT. Nothing has access to anything unless you authorize it first. Under normal circumstances, Chromium for example doesn’t know or expect to not have broad access, so we have to limit where it can go.
With confinement there is also much less chance to mess up your phone with an install. Maybe we need to refine the detail of how confinement works, going forward.
We do have some examples of apps which must run unconfined. UT Tweak Tool is the obvious example. It must run unconfined in order to be able to tweak! Of course it follows that we need to have an exceptional level of trust in the developers who created that - and we do.
Webgl and Qt 5.13 update?
The first problem with doing that is that it does not natively support Mir. But with Wayland we should be able to make it work. Florian mentioned that we want to stay on LTS versions of Qt in practical use. 5.13 isn’t.
Alfred said that there is an internal compile error in 5.13. We are trying to apply some patches. What we want is selection by elements, using handles. Rendering on CPU instead of GPU may work? The speed of rendering is the main issue. If it is not accelerated because it runs on the CPU it will be rather slow.
What about Librem 5 and Pinephone (mainline builds) and whether the same approach might be able to be used for Raspberry Pi? Mainline here refers to the latest kernel and drivers [Those for Android are ancient]. Marius was of the view that it seems highly likely that it would run on the pi. We can start with someone else’s Ubuntu package and then add in UT and Unity 8. Marius was so confident about it that he said he would eat his socks if not...
There is a Raspberry Pi group for UT. Activity in that group could well pick up now! Vivanti and Lima are already doing a pretty good job, so we can follow.
Can be XMir reverted so as not to open a new window for every app? Actually it has been. Rodney has done a patch.
On a question about progressive Ubuntu builds, we have our own version of Unity called Unity 8. So we can re-base it for newer versions of Ubuntu.
Also Xwayland is better than Xmir in many ways, so when that becomes available we will see some big performance improvements.
Each of the team gave out some social media links. Marius put some images and videos up on his Twitter account last week showing devkits for Librem and Pinephone running UT. He is @mariogrips on various social media.
Dalton is @Universalsuperbox on Twitter and others.
Lionel, Joe and Nigel were thanked for their work getting the Q&A and related forum posts out there.