June 7, 2013 By: jerdog
Here at XDA, we endeavor to work with OEMs and software companies to facilitate win-win situations, where the community at-large is the ultimate benefactor. Sometimes it works, other times it is met with resistance. A few months ago, Ubuntu released Ubuntu Touch to the world, and the response has been electric here on XDA. It seems every week brings someone willing to port a the OS to a new device, and Ubuntu couldn’t be happier.
Just prior to Ubuntu releasing Touch, they reached out to us in an effort to find out how we could work together to help the community. Naturally, we were ecstatic. The mobile world needs another player to keep Apple and Google honest, and Ubuntu Touch has a great opportunity to be that third player. After a lot of discussion and collaboration on a few things, it was decided that one way for Ubuntu to reach out to the community would be to run a Q&A thread here on XDA.
To participate, first visit XDA thread and see the list of questions people have submitted. You can also submit one yourself via the link in the thread. Roughly every week, an engineer from Ubuntu will be posting back the questions and the associated answers to the thread so that everyone can benefit. As time goes on, the list will grow into a great Q&A—something that no other company has done on XDA. So go get involved and show your support for what Ubuntu Touch can become!
March 1, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The Ubuntu Touch developers and the developers here are collaborating on porting Ubuntu Touch. That story and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. The special community bulletin talking about Ryan Scott is mentioned as well. Jordan then talks about TWRP 220.127.116.11 and its extras and the Swappa and XDA partnership.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK talks about making backups of Android software, XDA Senior Moderator jerdog released a highlights of the first XDA Roundtable event and XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an app review of Sidebar. Additionally, Jordan talks about the subscriber contest we are having here on XDA Developer TV. Pull up a chair and check out this video. Finally, be sure to check out all the other news from XDA-Developers.
February 25, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
There was more discussion about Ubuntu Touch this week, and XDA Developer TV Producer and News Corespondent Jordan reviews this and all the other important stories from this week on the XDA Portal. Jordan talks about the Ubuntu Touch Porting Guide from Canonical. Jordan mentions the article talking about porting Ubuntu Touch being similar to porting CyanogenMod.
In rooting news, Jordan talks about the root exploit for the Jelly Bean-laden Motorola Atrix HD. Jordan talks about the petition to stop the Sim Unlocking ban reaching the required 100,000 signatures. Pull up a chair and check out this video. And if you any news to report, feel free to contact any XDA News Writer.
February 23, 2013 By: jerdog
Since the dawn of Android tablets, and really ever since the HTC HD2, developers have been looking for ways to bring Ubuntu to the mobile space. It seems like every new device gets a thread devoted to showing users how to load Ubuntu. More often than not, that implementation requires you to boot Android and then utilize chroot in order to run a Ubuntu instance, but that doesn’t change the fact you’re still running Android.
So when news of Ubuntu Touch coming to the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 reached the interwebz, a collective shout of “Yippee!” erupted from the ranks. Then earlier this week Canonical, the creators of Ubuntu, teased us with a video showing Ubuntu Touch in all its glory on a tablet.
On Thursday, Canonical released instructions for installing the Developer Preview on the Nexus devices, and the XDA thread erupted with discussion around it. Then as people began to install the Developer Preview on their devices, one thing became very clear: While a lot of the data being shown in the video looked real, it all exists in the Developer Preview as dummy data. It’s not functional, and is not intended for the user as was displayed. No, this is very clearly an alpha and not intended for the normal user or as a daily-driver. It even is clear that Android is very much part of Ubuntu Touch, even down to a stripped down version of CM10.1 as the base, and chroot is still the process used to run Ubuntu, albeit in a much nicer (and cleaner) boot process.
On Friday they released the porting instructions and another suspicion was confirmed: If your device is in the CM10.1 device tree and can run CM10.1, you too can port Ubuntu Touch to your device relatively easily. And in Friday’s hangout that the Ubuntu Development team hosted they discussed the following key points (props to XDA Senior Member KMyers for not only joining the hangout, but also typing up the results):
Question : Is Ubuntu Touch stable enough for a Daily Driver?
Answer : No, most of the core “Applications” are non-functional . There is also no support for 3G Data
Question : What Devices can Ubuntu Touch Be Ported to?
Answer : As the Ubuntu Touch Preview is simply running in a Cyanogenmod10.1 chroot, theoretically you can port Ubuntu Touch to any device that Cyanogemod 10.1 Supports. Development happened on ICS and eventually moved to JB. Keep in mind that performance may vary. Instructions to port Ubuntu Touch can be found at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Porting
Question : Since this is running in a Cyanogenmod chroot, can it run Native Android Apps?
Answer : No – The Cyanogenmod Fork has been stripped of the Dalvik VM and all other components necessary to run Android Applications. There is a likely possibility that someone will develop a “bluestacks” like emulator to allow android applications to run, but this will most likely not come from the Ubuntu team.
Question : Is dual booting possible?
Answer : Yes, thanks to the effort of the people at XDA-Developers, Dual Booting is possible. With this said, this is not something that the Ubuntu Team has any intentions of officially supporting. While Ubuntu seems to encourage community efforts, they stress that they do not want this to become a feature that the end user will expect to see officially supported. (I bet you all wish you got the 32 GB Nexus 7 or Nexus 10 rather then the 16 GB)
Question : Is the Ubuntu Touch UI using X11 or Wayland?
Answer : None of the Above. Ubuntu Touch is using the same Display Manager that is in use by Android, Display Flinger.
Question : What Kernel is in Use?
Answer : A modified Android Kernel is in use
Question : What about CDMA support?
Answer : Fear Not Sprint and Verizon users, it is being worked on. The Ubuntu Team said that the GSM Radio is the global standard and this was simply where they focused most of their attention as all of the developers had GSM devices.
Question : Will Ubuntu be accepting merge requests for the Cyanogen10.1 sub system?
Answer : Yes, this is encouraged.
Question : Where is the Ubuntu chroot kept in relationship to Android?
Answer : The Ubuntu filesystem and all applications are kept in /data/ubuntu . If you use adb to browse this, you will see a familiar filesystem layout that most Linux users are used to
Question : What Works?
Answer : As this is a Developer Build, dont expect much to work. The items that have been confirmed to work are;
Question : What Does Not Work?
Answer : As this is a developer build, dont expect things to work properly, here are a few things that are not working
The issue with the release is that the focus in the video was that these features were working and is what would be deployed. What is painfully obvious instead is that the video highlighting those features was just PR and nothing else. Virtually none of the features displayed in the video even work, even on devices like the Nexus lineup that are generally the easiest to develop for, and already fully work on CM10.1. In fact, the calendar app is just a PNG placeholder and does not even function.
This doesn’t mean that we feel that there isn’t a future for this platform, but it does mean that there are definitely opportunities to improve. Here at XDA we publicly reach out and offer our services to the Ubuntu Touch project. We have more experience in the mobile development and mobile telephony space than most outfits, and have a lot to offer in what could be a tremendous collaboration. We look forward to seeing what such a collaboration would produce.
February 22, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The Ubuntu Touch developer preview is available for most current Nexus devices. That story and more are covered by Jordan when he reviews all the important stories from this week. Be sure to check out Jordan’s Video of Ubuntu Touch on the Nexus 7. Jordan talks about the Sony Xperia Z being rooted and the preliminary benchmarks of the new HTC One.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer azrienoch talks about the 5 myths of Android software, XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler released an XDA Unboxing of the JynxBox HD Network Streamer, and XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an app review of Contact Notification. Additionally, Jordan talks about the creation of new forums on XDA-Developers. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
The release of the Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview yesterday prompted a lot of activity on the Ubuntu Touch forum, and for good reason. The concept of Ubuntu on phones and tablets has been desired by many for a long time, and so it is great to see Canonical embrace the idea and set out on their own.
When Ubuntu posted the announcement about the Developer Preview, they mentioned that they would be releasing the instructions on how to port Ubuntu Touch to other devices other than the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Today they did so, and as we mentioned yesterday, they will be holding a “Ubuntu On-Air” at 15:00 GMT today (Friday, February 22) where they’ll have two of the lead developers in a Google Hangout to talk about the project as well. For those that miss it, they will surely have a replay available at that address as well.
The instructions for porting are pretty straightforward. Since Ubuntu Touch is just a CyanogenMod 10.1 base with the Ubuntu Touch interface running in a container and accessed via chroot, if your device currently runs CM10.1 then you’ll be able to port this. The instructions for porting are found on Ubuntu’s Wiki and are quite extensive, so make sure you follow them EXACTLY.
Recently we mentioned that Canonical would be releasing their mobile device operating system, Ubuntu Touch. Well, true to their word, and unlike some other releases from other companies, it is live today. If you have a Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, or Nexus 10 and an Ubuntu desktop you can experience Ubuntu’s mobile offering.
The steps are provided on the Ubuntu Wiki. Don’t expect to get the image from the Wiki, you need to retrieve the image from the Touch Developer Preview Tools PPA on your Ubuntu computer. The Wiki has steps that take you through setting up the PPA, unlocking your phone (but we are betting your phone is already unlocked) to accept the new software, setting up the device and installing the product. There are instructions on how to restore Android if you wish to return.
“The Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview is intended to be used for development and evaluation purposes only. It does not provide all of the features and services of a retail phone and cannot replace your current handset. This preview is the first release of a very new and unfinished version of Ubuntu and it will evolve quickly. If you want to install this release, please follow the guide provided, which details the available features and how to navigate the user experience. This process will delete all data from the device. Restoring Android will not restore this data.”
The wiki says you can expect GSM connections on the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4, and you can get phone calls and texts on these devices as well. Also, it is said to have a fully functional camera on all devices, something that even CyanogenMod can’t always provide in alphas. Of course this is a preview and should be considered an Alpha release, so be sure to read up on the known issues and device specific known issues. So head on over and check it out.
Finally, tomorrow, February 22 at 15:00 UTC on Ubuntu On-Air we’ll have two of the lead developers in a Hangout to talk about the project too, which might be interesting for the more technically interested.
February 19, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
At the beginning of this year, Canonical announced that it was making an alternative mobile device operating system, called Ubuntu for Phones. With its lack of need for hardware buttons and use of screen sides as hot zones to initiate gesture commands, the underlying UI concept was vastly different from Android.
On the 15th of February, Canonical announced that the Touch Developer Preview of Ubuntu for the Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 4 will become available on the 21st. This is intended for developers and enthusiasts to get used to Ubuntu’s smartphone version. This same day tools and instructions for flashing this to devices will be released on the Ubuntu Wiki.
It is interesting that Canonical chose to release Ubuntu Touch on two Nexus devices. The Nexus line is known to be “Google’s flagship” device group. Perhaps the developer openness of the Nexus line is what allows Ubuntu to be flashed to the device. Additionally, Canonical has announced that attendees at this year’s Mobile World Congress will be able to stop by their booth and have the release installed onto their smartphones.
Also, Canonical has announced that smartphones aren’t the only devices that Ubuntu’s touch-based smartphone operating system will appear on. Ubuntu announced today, “Ubuntu for Tablets.” This adds another layer to the unified ecosystem that Canonical is trying to create: one interface for all your connected devices. However, some people, like KDE’s Plasma Active team leader Aaron Seigo, claim that while the graphics may look the same, the code, is in fact completely different, which could prevent seamless application integration between devices. Only time will tell if this issue actually crops up.
While at CES this year XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan and I got to see an Ubuntu for Phones demonstration. It is very likely that with the unification effort in the Ubuntu ecosystem, that Ubuntu for tablets will be very much similar, if not the same.
Additionally, Jordan asked Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon some questions about Ubuntu for Phones. Some of the answers did not have a clear answer, let’s hope they have come up with clever solutions to some of these concerns.
January 4, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
When we covered the announcement of Ubuntu for Phones two days ago, many quickly demanded that we give the fledgling mobile OS a place in our forums. And with an impressive gesture-driven interface, as well as official support from Canonical, it was really only a matter of time. We’re just as excited as you are, and we can’t wait to see the development and porting that is sure to begin when the first builds are made publicly available.
In addition to the much requested forum for Canonical’s latest and greatest, we’ve created a forum for another, albeit somewhat more obscure, operating system known as Jolla Sailfish. Sailfish OS is based on the Mer project, which is the extant fork of the now-defunct open source MeeGo operating system. Promising compatibility with many unmodified Android apps thanks to the use of Myriad’s Alien Dalvik, Sailfish could indeed become an interesting prospect for some.
Finally, we have also given a home to all development on Android Stick Computers such as the popular Mk808 Mini PC. While not exactly a mobile device, these diminutive boxes carry many of the same internals as our mobile phones, and are powered by a mobile OS.
Those wishing to dive into the discussion can do so by visiting the newly created forums:
January 2, 2013 By: Haroon Q. Raja
If you visited the Ubuntu home page early this morning, you couldn’t have missed the countdown timer that promised something, “So close, you can almost touch it.” Most assumed it to be about a fully touch-optimized UI for the next version of the popular Linux distribution, but it turned out to be something even more significant. In an announcement earlier today, Canonical unveiled Ubuntu for phones, a fully working Ubuntu distribution meant for existing and future mobile handsets.
If you are thinking “Wait, wasn’t Ubuntu for Android already announced last year,” you aren’t alone. Upon first hearing the news, that was the first thing that came to my mind as well. However, this is a whole different project with a much more ambitious aim and broader scope. While Ubuntu for Android was built to run in tandem with Google’s mobile OS to offer a full Ubuntu desktop experience only when docked, Ubuntu for phones is a complete OS in and of itself, entirely independent of Android. Before we get into the details, check out a hands-on video courtesy of The Verge. You will notice significant amounts of lag, but don’t be alarmed because this could be due to this being a development build that is not yet ready for release.
Here’s another, much more detailed 22 minute video featuring the founder of Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth himself, presenting Ubuntu for phones:
An announcement like this one is bound to receive mixed reactions. The Linux and Ubuntu enthusiasts among you must be rejoicing at the idea of getting an official and fully native Ubuntu experience that’s tailored for the small screen, rather than being a mere port of the desktop OS. At the same time, the skeptics must be wondering why on earth Canonical decided to release yet another mobile OS. With Android and iOS dominating the mobile ecosystem, the chances of a new smartphone platform thriving don’t seem too bright. After all, we’ve seen the lack of commercial success in Windows Phone, which despite Microsoft’s efforts over the past couple of years, has yet to grab significant smartphone market share. Though before we jump to conclusions, let’s give Ubuntu for phone a fair chance to at least present itself. So enough talk, let’s take a look at what Canonical has to offer the smartphone world.
From the details provided by Canonical and what can be seen in The Verge’s hands-on video, the OS clearly derives significant inspiration from the excellent but ill-fated Nokia N9. There are no on-screen or on-device buttons (it is running on a Galaxy Nexus, after all); and the OS is entirely gesture-driven. Edge-initiated swipes can be a great way to launch and navigate between apps, as we have already seen in case of the N9, and Ubuntu for phone makes full use of these gestures. Here’s how the UI works:
Based on the above, the user experience offered by the UI itself seems outstandingly intuitive. It was a pity to see this excellent gesture-driven interface not make it to the masses in form of the N9 due to Nokia’s decision to ditch the platform, and we hope things fare better for Ubuntu.
Smartphones of today have become powerful enough to be useful as our daily use PCs, but their size and form factor makes them unsuitable for getting serious work done. We have previously seen several attempts to do this by the likes of ASUS and Motorola, some of which have been successful in their niche, while others have faded into obscurity. One issue that keeps manufacturers from converging several devices into one is obviously commercial interest. It doesn’t seem to be a smart business choice to sell a phone that does it all for most users, when you can sell the same user a phone, a tablet, and a laptop or desktop PC. Nevertheless, with ~2 GHz quad-core processors, multi-core GPUs, 720p & 1080p HD displays, 32/64GB internal storage, and 2 GB RAM becoming the norm, this convergence is bound to happen sooner or later. While the likes of hardcore gamers, graphic designers and video editors will still buy PCs, these powerful phones have already adequate power for the average user who primarily only needs to play casual games, edit some documents, watch videos, listen to music, and browse the Internet.
With Ubuntu for Android, Canonical had aimed to converge our devices into one, offering a full desktop computer experience right from our phones when docked with a display, keyboard, and mouse. The same docking support is also there in Ubuntu for phones. Canonical aims to offer the OS on both mid-range and high-end devices, and the latter will be able to offer a full PC experience, allowing you to use your phone as your primary computer that you can carry around wherever you go. Being optimistic, we can even start expecting laptop and tablet terminals that only offer the screen, I/O devices, a few extra ports, and high-capacity batteries. These will then use our phones for the computation work itself, just like the ASUS Padfone.
From what we have seen above, things definitely look great for Ubuntu. Though the UI or docking support alone can’t offer a great experience, which brings us to the ecosystem.
Ubuntu for phones will ship with all the core apps you would expect from any mobile OS such as phone dialler, SMS & MMS, web browser, email client, camera, photo gallery, music & video player, calculator, alarm clock, and so on. Furthermore, all popular HTML5-based web apps will be readily available for the platform, and will work side-by-side with native apps, complete with their own icons and access to the notification system.
Apart from the web apps, the platform will also enjoy fully native third-party apps. And unlike Android, there will be no Dalvik virtual machine, which will force these apps to be written in native code. If you are a developer, this will be your primary interest, so let’s take a look at what the platform has to offer the developer community.
We have seen on multiple occasions (webOS and BlackBerry) how developer interest can truly make or break a platform. With almost every modern smartphone out there offering the hardware specs and every smartphone OS offering all the core features required from such devices, the number and quality of apps available for the platform is truly the deciding factor for many users when purchasing their next phone or tablet. This may be a little too early to say right nowm but in case of Ubuntu for phone, the future doesn’t look dark in this regard—even if not too bright just yet.
Canonical made the excellent choice to make Ubuntu for phones not a separate OS from its desktop variant, but rather the very same OS, merely with a different UI. This means apps written for Ubuntu PCs will run on Ubuntu phones and vice versa, with only minimal changes required in the code to support the different form factor and instruction set. The already established Ubuntu Software Center will also cater to phones as the application discovery, distribution, and installation platform. Ubuntu One is also integrated into the OS as the cloud storage medium offering plenty of free space, with optional paid upgrades for those who need them.
While only time will tell whether Ubuntu for phones stands against its major competitors in an already saturated market, or ends up suffering the same fate as webOS or Meego, the concept as well as the product itself are both promising. What we do see right now is a well-built OS, a promising app ecosystem, and the much-needed convergence between platforms. Combined together, these are all ingredients for success in this industry. That said, how things actually turn out will also heavily depend upon manufacturer support, as well as the marketing strategy adopted by both Canonical and device manufacturers.
While you can’t try out the OS at the moment, Canonical has promised to make Ubuntu for phone available for several existing devices within this year, starting with the Galaxy Nexus. CES 2013 is just under a week away, and more details will be revealed at that time. Furthermore, you’ll be able to grab the binaries of the OS for your Galaxy Nexus within the next couple of weeks. However, devices with Ubuntu pre-installed aren’t expected to start shipping before 2014.
So what do you think of this newest combatant in the smartphone arena? Join the discussion and let us know in the comments below.