Inside Ubuntu Touch | LAS | s25e09

Inside Ubuntu Touch | LAS | s25e09

Much more than just a touch of Ubuntu, we take a deep dive into the Ubuntu Touch Preview and how they’ve pulled it off, the surprising components of Android that are being used, and why it means Ubuntu Touch will be on hundreds of popular devices soon.

Plus we’ve got an explanation of Linus’ recent blow up, the big news for Btrfs, some Steam secrets revealed…


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— Show Notes: —

Ubuntu Touch First Look


Brought to you by: System76

First Impressions

  • A PPA and installs the tools, USB Debugging must be turned on the device.

  • Most of the process is automatic with appropriate images for the device being downloaded from Canonical’s servers and pushed to the devices over USB.

  • Definitely a demo product at this point, with the majority of the apps just being a place holder.

  • October feels very close in comparison to the amount of work needed to be done.

  • That said, we are seeing a product at the early stages that most companies would never show. I think many products shown at trade shows, demoed in keynotes, etc, are very often in this stage. The consumer just never learns that. In this case, we vail has been removed and we’re seeing something that’s still in that stage.

  • Many of the demo apps are powered by common sense underlying structures. For example, the Gallery app is limited in actual functions beyond looking at the pre-supplied photos. However, one can sftp new photos to the /home/phablet/photos directory and the gallery app will display them. It’s relatively trivial to hook up the UI to some code to populate those folders with photos.

  • Because it’s based on CM 10.1 many people are calling it just a re-themed Android. But that’s not accurate.

  • Ubuntu Touch Preview is simply running in a Cyanogenmod10.1 chroot

  • The Cyanogenmod Fork has been stripped of the Dalvik VM and all other components necessary to run Android Applications.

  • The Ubuntu filesystem and all applications are kept in /data/ubuntu in the Android subsystem.

  • Because of this: theoretically you can port Ubuntu Touch to any device that Cyanogemod 10.1 Supports.

  • It’s based on Ubuntu 12.10 (right now)

  • Uses the Android compositor, Surface Flinger. This is big, as applications that rely on X11 might be out.

  • This makes sense when you consider the need to work with binary blob video drivers.

  • Speaking of drivers, Ubuntu Touch Preview uses libhybris, a way to load Android libraries while overriding some Bionic symbols with those symbols from glibc.

Android Kernels are found on the majority of new mobile devices, Linux ones aren’t. Rather than reinvent the world and write new drivers, using LibHybris, you can use the existing Android drivers to make the job of porting linux userspaces onto these devices much easier.


Reviews/Write Ups

– Picks –

Runs Linux:

Android Pick:

Not sure if it’s been mentioned before but there is a nice chat client called Xabber. It supports all the big protocols and even supports Off-The-Record encryption. Free app and they recently went open source too! One thing it lacks is voice and video. Perhaps, with a few supporters we could make a push for that. 🙂 I’d love to get rid of Skype and keep my dear mom happily conferencing with my son.

Sent in by Kalon

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