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Ubuntu Phone, Tablet Developer Preview Released

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  • Ubuntu Phone, Tablet Developer Preview Released

    Phoronix: Ubuntu Phone, Tablet Developer Preview Released

    The initial Ubuntu Phone/Tablet Developer Preview images for the Google Nexus 4, 7, and 10 devices are now available for those wanting to try out this touch-optimized version of Ubuntu Linux...

  • #2
    I'm really curious about the display server. What is it afterall? How do they achieve driver suport?

    According to Ubuntu Wiki, it seems they use an "andoid layer", which is pretty much the low level stuff from CyanogenMod 10.1 (who said canonical doesn't use upstream). This "android layer" is what must be adapted to run on other devices, so it seems ubuntu should fairly easely support pretty much every device supported by CyanogenMod.

    So, if this understanding is correct, "ubuntu touch" or "ubuntu phablet" as it is being called and "ubuntu desktop" are still pretty different beasts, since the desktop still runs on X and the touch uses whatever android uses... I wonder how this is all going to come together?
    Last edited by Figueiredo; 02-21-2013, 12:18 PM.


    • #3
      Does any consumer give a crap about this yet? Or is this just for nerds? It's definitely not for Freedom fans, since Ubuntu is hardly a full Free OS even on the desktop.

      It's even later to the party than Windows, which ain't doin' too well, and Apple+Google already killed all the other competitors. The only device to even threaten Apple is Android, and as a software developer, iOS is still way more lucrative. Many of those Android tablets/phones are just cheap "smartphones" that people disinterested in smartphone features buy because they want Facebook; most people actually interested in interesting apps on their phone buy iOS devices, hence there being a much larger rate of purchase on iOS than Android despite there being way more Android phones than iPhones. The best this phone can do is cut into that value-less Android market, and only very barely.


      • #4
        I'm very much interested in this. IMHO, the mobile market right now still have a reasonably large niche to be filled:

        -iOS cripples devices by being too locked down to be usefull to those who actually want to use their devices to the fullest;

        -android is open enough to enable more use cases, but devices are usually crippled by buggy ROMs or old versions due to being quickly abandoned by the ODMs. the community is somehow able to mitigate some of this, but still you never know how many updates your device will se before it is EOL'd;

        -WP mixes the fails of iOS with a very tiny marketplace.

        There is a very clear space for a OS which does what android does, but better. I've said in this forum before: Google should require that ODM's mainline their code in a google branch and maintain the code themselves.

        Since google does not care, the community has taken it to themselves through CM and similar efforts, bu there is so much the community is able to do without specs.

        In order to be marginally successfull all that canonical has to do is to do android right. If they maintain the code and update the devices themselves, advanced android users and corporations will be all over these. Obviously mom and pop will still by whatever salesmen put in front of them, but already CM boasts a pretty impressive user base. If someone is kind enough to get the numbers, I wouldn't be surprised if CM itself has a larger user base than WP.


        • #5
          Been playing around with this for an hour on my Nexus 7, and it is quite underwhelming. A lot of the features don't work correctly on the Nexus 7. I think more stuff will work on the Nexus 10, but even then, there is still a lot missing. The voice control doesn't work, landscape mode doesn't work, sidestage doesn't work, the music app does nothing, the available for download apps don't do anything, etc.


          • #6
            Interesting...they're using a fork ( of libhybris (, which allows running drivers compiled for bionic on glibc systems.


            • #7
              Since they use CM 10.1 for the low level Android stuff it might be easy to port this to other CM enabled phones.
              They'll release a guide for that tomorrow.

              Last edited by blackout23; 02-21-2013, 03:05 PM.


              • #8
                Looks like they're not deviating too much from desktop Linux. The're using NetworkManager for wireless.

                Btw, root images are available here:

                The file names correspond to the device codenames found here:


                • #9
                  Please read this. It may have some useful information or answers to some questions

                  Some other stuff I found:

                  - XDG specifications are followed (at least some). Eg. home screen launchers are .desktop files in /usr/share/applications/
                  - Demo user accounts, pictures, videos, music, etc. are in the demo-assets package
                  - Fonts render with standard freetype
                  - Apps communicate with each other via DBus
                  - Daemon processes are mostly written in Python
                  - The "hud" package is newer than the Ubuntu 13.04 version. It contains a new file, "hud-julius-listen", which handles the voice recognition
                  - Repository is at: (none of the source code for the unity stack is available here)
                  - PulseAudio is used for sound (and the HUD uses it too)
                  - There's a new indicator-battery package. This may appear in desktop Ubuntu when they update to GNOME 3.8 (dropped support for classic session in gnome-settings-daemon)
                  - Messaging indicator, while patched, is the same as the desktop version
                  - There's a new indicator-time package. I'm guessing this will be in desktop Ubuntu for the same reason as above
                  - The client for the indicators is in the indicators-client package. It's written in QML and the QML files are stored in a directory called "ChewieUI" (does somebody like Star Wars )
                  - Their language decoding software is the IRSTLM tookit
                  - Their voice recognition software is Julius As far as I can see, all voice recognition is done offline, unlike Siri and Google Now, which is great when there's no internet connection available. Currently, the voice recognition is English only
                  - Libraries not present in desktop Ubuntu 13.04: libdee-qt5, libfriends0 (part of the friends social networking app), libhud-qt (Qt bindings for the HUD), libhybris (running bionic drivers under glibc), Qt5 (in process of being merged into Ubuntu 13.04 though)
                  - Plymouth boot splash is used (or at least installed)
                  - Many X11 libraries are installed
                  - Ubuntu is introducing a new directory /usr/tests for storing...well...tests
                  - The on-screen keyboard is the one from the Mer Project: and
                  - The telephony stack is Ofono:
                  - There's a new powerd package for "[monitoring] power button events", but I'm not sure what that's used for
                  - The Phablet shell is in the qml-phone-shell package It is written in QML
                  - The web browser is new (called ubuntu-browser) is uses the V8 javascript engine and (probably, but don't know for sure) QtWebkit
                  - The icon theme is ubuntu-mobile
                  - X11 is NOT used. They set the QT_QPA_PLATFORM environment variable to "ubuntu", which causes Qt5 to load /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qt5/plugins/platforms/ That particular library is linked against from libhybris. So, with that said:

                  * Only Qt5 apps will run (or anything else patched to use libhybris)
                  * This allows them to use Android graphics drivers without modification
                  * Desktop Ubuntu will never use this

                  I personally wished they used wayland, but then they would have to convince the chip manufacturers to write new drivers. Let's hope Google will switch to wayland one day, so Ubuntu Phablet/Touch will too

                  Btw, to play around in the chroot, you can use Qemu.

                  On Ubuntu:

                  sudo apt-get install qemu-user-static
                  sudo cp /usr/bin/qemu-arm-static /path/to/Downloads/binary/casper/filesystem.dir/usr/bin
                  sudo chroot /path/to/Downloads/binary/casper/filesystem.dir/ /bin/bash
                  On all other distros without a statically compiled qemu for ARM:

                  # Compile glib statically
                  cd /tmp/
                  wget ''
                  tar Jxvf glib-2.34.3.tar.xz
                  cd glib-2.34.3/
                  ./configure --disable-shared --enable-static --disable-dtrace --prefix=/opt/qemu
                  sudo make install
                  # Compile qemu statically
                  cd /tmp/
                  wget ''
                  tar jxvf qemu-1.4.0.tar.bz2
                  cd qemu-1.4.0/
                  ./configure --target-list="arm-linux-user" --static --extra-cflags="-L/opt/qemu/lib" --prefix=/opt/qemu
                  sudo make install
                  sudo cp /opt/qemu/bin/qemu-arm /path/to/Downloads/binary/casper/filesystem.dir/
                  # Set up binfmt (must be run after every reboot)
                  sudo modprobe binfmt_misc
                  sudo sh -c "echo ':qemu-arm:M:0:\x7fELF\x01\x01\x01\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x02\x00\x28\x00:\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\x00\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xfe\xff\xff\xff:/qemu-arm:' > /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc/register"
                  sudo chroot /path/to/Downloads/binary/casper/filesystem.dir/ /bin/bash


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Figueiredo View Post
                    [...] (who said canonical doesn't use upstream). [...]
                    People don't complain about Ubuntu not *using* upstream, but not commiting to it how we would expect it from a big project like this, especially considering kernel-commits.