Tag Archives: Ubuntu Touch


Install Webogram, a client for Telegram in Ubuntu 14.04

Telegram is a messaging application similar to WhatsApp and uses the internet to send and receive messages between its clients. We, Linux users, love open source products and Telegram founders claim that they will eventually open source the code. More on this can be read from “Why not open source everything? . Apart from the open source affinity, a few more reasons to use Telegram are :

  • secure messaging
  • cross platform compatibility
  • cloud based
  • free of subscription charges

The Telegram API is open for all developers to create apps for connecting to Telegram servers. Hence, there are many apps – a web app, a chrome app, and even Ubuntu Touch app are available. One such cross platform app for Telegram is Webogram or Telegram Unofficial. It’s a Google Chrome app, and can be used in Linux, Mac and Windows.  To install, go to Google Chrome web store and search for Telegram or Webogram and install it. The app is a wrapped web client for Telegram, however, it can be run without launching Google Chrome. It also provides a nice Unity launcher icon for the app.

Similar to WhatsApp, Telegram uses your phone number to register and so, you must have Telegram installed on your phone (assuming you have Android, iPhone or WP). For Webogram, you will need to enter your phone number when you first launch the app. The 5 digit key will be sent to your phone and you will be required to enter the key in the app to register it.  Once registered, your device will start synchronising, and chats sent from any of your registered devices will be synchronized across all devices within seconds.


Webogram(Telegram Unofficial) is a nifty app, allowing access to a secure messaging application across multiple platforms and devices making connectivity truly cross platform . These features make Telegram a true alternative to WhatsApp!


Early Ubuntu Touch images show dual SIM and conference call support

Canonical has announced the release of a set of Ubuntu Touch images. While they have yet not been promoted to stable, they bring along a host of new and interesting additions.

The developers have been working hard towards bringing the pace back but there are still some hiccups they are facing. Didier Roche, Ubuntu developer told Softpedia, “Some courageous people worked bravely over the week-end to get it back into shape, but only non click app were then passing tests. Thus, we don’t have any full test results on the recent images and backup on running all the tests ourselves (we are still at 100% test passing from a local run).”

Coming to the most interesting changes that have been added, there are a few desktop bug fixes, backend support for conference call, with dual SIM support (the initial phase), greeter splitting with regard to ringtone and text messages (initial work), flaky autopilot test on messaging-app fix. Other noteworthy improvements ares 80% faster click application startup in upstart-app-launch by moving to libclick, python transition work, multiple gallery-app bug fixes, and much more.

You could call this a peek view into the features that will come along with Ubuntu Touch as many more are in the process that also includes awesome visual updates for Unity8 and Scopes.

Source: Softpedia

Ubuntu Phone OS

How open will be Ubuntu Phone?

Canonical announced at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) conference in February that they signed agreements with telcos in Spain and China to deliver Ubuntu Phone by the end of 2014. In their press release of the announcement, the company said: “Ubuntu is a free, open-source platform for client, server and cloud computing”, and “Ubuntu Phone code is always open, so it’s visible”.

When Ubuntu announced its entry into phone market, many people expected that would be the new Ubuntu phone which will walk on the open source path. But sadly it’s not to be. Privacy International says, “…despite hopes of a totally open mobile handset platform, Privacy International has learned from Canonical that their new phone will suffer from the same problems as their competitors by leaving the baseband closed.”

According to Dr. Richard Tynan, technologist with Privacy International, “…without the ability of the security community to examine the baseband software of the new Ubuntu Phone, the open-source nature of the remaining element may provide no more assurances than other open-source phone operating systems such as Android.”

Baseband Processor, also known as baseband radio processor, BP, or BBP is a device/chip in a network interface that manages all the radio functions, in short, all functions that require an antenna. A baseband processor typically uses its own RAM and firmware. Since the software which runs on closed baseband processors is usually proprietary, it is impossible to perform an independent code audit. By reverse engineering some of the baseband chips, researchers have found security vulnerabilities which could be used to access and modify data on the phone remotely.

In March 2014, Replicant–makers of the free Android derivative–announced they have found a backdoor in the baseband software of Samsung Galaxy phones which allows remote access to user data stored on the phone.

We know that cell phone location data contains some of the most intrusive information about people in the digital age, leaving a kaleidoscopic footprint of a person’s life. Phones transmit location data whenever a phone is turned on, irrespective of whether they are being used to make calls or send text messages and emails.

According to documents supplied by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) is reportedly collecting almost 5 billion cell phone records a day under a program that monitors and analyses highly personal data about the precise whereabouts of individuals, wherever they travel in the world.

Canonical, the maker of Ubuntu, has been touting the open-source nature of the operating system, but until now it has been rather vague about other details.

Now Canonical is claiming that they are at the mercy of third-party manufacturers when it comes to the Ubuntu Phone. Michael Hall, a Canonical developer, says, “There is no Ubuntu baseband OS. None. Just like there is no Ubuntu BIOS. Phones that ship with Ubuntu will have a baseband OS, but it isn’t developed by Canonical or the Ubuntu community. Ideally yes, we would love to have open source baseband code, just like we’d love to have open source BIOS (there are some). But we don’t make them, we don’t ship them, that’s just not in the scope of what we’re building.”

Dr. Richard fears, “A phone’s baseband can be exploited in a number of ways by malicious external devices that force it to surrender information about the user that can sometimes lead to suppression of protests or even death. A closed baseband does not allow for the examination of one of the most critical components of the phone, which goes against the open-source philosophy many Ubuntu users have come to embrace. The choice of Canonical to use a binary only baseband is even more disappointing when Osmocom have already produced a functional open-source GSM baseband for the Calypso chipset. One must wonder why was this not adopted or improved upon by the talented individuals at Canonical, especially given the previous enthusiasm for open-source philosophy.”

We have seen this behavior of Ubuntu at the time of Ubuntu 12.10. Does Ubuntu believe in open source philosophy at all? EFF and FSF have been critical of Canonical’s ambition to track users’ activities. Richard M Stallman, the founder of FSF says,”Ubuntu uses the information about searches to show the user ads to buy various things from Amazon. Amazon commits many wrongs; by promoting Amazon, Canonical contributes to them. However, the ads are not the core of the problem. The main issue is the spying. Canonical says it does not tell Amazon who searched for what. However, it is just as bad for Canonical to collect your personal information as it would have been for Amazon to collect it.”

I agree that it is beyond Canonical’s control to dictate open baseband, but since any major player is either way not picking Ubuntu, they could have chosen a hardware player which was using open baseband. At the same time ‘online dash search’ is something that’s under total control of Canonical, but still they chose to refuse the requests from organizations and kept it enabled by default. In case of baseband, it was easy for Canonical to put the blame on OEM; though there are alternatives if they really want, but the case of online search does leave one to wonder if Canonical truly cares about user’s privacy. Or it’s just another company like which happens to use Linux and Open Source to do what Apple, Google or Facebook want to do.

In the wake of the Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA collaborating with service providers to collect phone metadata, there has been tremendous interest among privacy advocates and consumers alike in a truly open source mobile phone. One that will allow code to be examined to prevent back-door access and protect user privacy.

To be Open or Not? That is the question.

The dilemma of Hamlet is a subtle and profound examining of what is more crudely expressed in the phrase out of the frying pan into the fire. In essence ‘Life is bad, but Death might be worse’.

Source: Bytegeist.com


KDE community refutes Canonical developer’s claim ‘the display server doesn’t matter’

Robert Ancell, a Canonical software engineer, wrote a blog titled ‘Why the display server doesn’t matter‘. He argued that “Display servers are the component in the display stack that seems to hog a lot of the limelight. I think this is a bit of a mistake, as it’s actually probably the least important component, at least to a user.”

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu and Canonical said, “Robert explains why the display server is a piece that matters most in its quality for the platform provider, and least to application developers. It was amazing to me that competitors would take potshots at the fantastic free software work of the Mir team, knowing it really doesn’t affect users at all.”

There has been a lot of discussion going on around the future display server for Linux. It was meant to be Wayland which was being developed as the successor of X, developed by the same experience team. However, despite initial commitment Canonical secretly worked on their own server for over 9 months and then announced it as MIR, which created quite a stir in the community as most community members felt betrayed. There was a heated discussion as Canonical developers posted a lot of wrong information about Wayland when announcing Mir, which further distanced them from the larger open source community which was putting its weight behind Wayland.

The blog post by Robert triggered another set of discussions as KDE developers, who do have long experience with Qt (something Canonical is moving towards for it’s mobile ambitions), have refuted Bob’s claims and said that display server does matter.

Martin Gräßlin, a leading KDE developer who maintains KWin, picks this quote from Robert:

The result of this is the display server doesn’t matter much to applications because we have pretty good toolkits that already hide all this information from us.

Martin says, “Now I don’t know how to put it, the best description is that I’m shocked that Canonical is still not seeing the problems they created by having multiple display servers. I do not know how much experience Robert has with making applications work with multiple display servers, but I at least have this experience as shown in my blog post on making KF5 not crash on Wayland. Granted in this blog post I write that “basically if your application compiles on frameworks it will run on Wayland out of the box”. But that is a strong simplification of the issues which can be present.

Martin wrote a long blog to show why he thinks Robert is wrong about Display server which you can read here.

Another lead KDE developer who leads the development of Plasma Desktop, Aaron Seigo, also refuted Robert’s claims and pointed out how it matters to almost every stock holder — from a user to a developer.

Aaron also raised the problem which the larger Free Software community is trying to fix – reduce duplication of work. He says, “We have been working to resolve unnecessary duplication in the Linux stack for years, and we have had great success in that direction. Sometimes it meant sacrificing things we had developed (anyone still remember aRts? :) but usually it just meant finding common ground and making sensible decisions together from there. The Linux desktop is more consistent and coherent today than it ever has been as a result, from icon themes to clipboards to compatibility between window managers to IPC to application notifications to application launching to multimedia to … we’ve been fixing divergence one piece at a time for over a decade, and every time we’ve done that we have benefited as users and freed up developer resources.”

Canonical showed wisdom recently by dropping its own Upstart and chose systemd which it initially criticized as NIH, invasive and ‘hardly justified’. The Free Software community is expecting that Canonical will show prudence and drop their MIR and adopt Wayland. Canonical has great ambitions with Ubuntu, their struggle is much bigger so it may be wise for them to use limited engineering talent to tackle the issues Ubuntu is facing in desktop and mobile space by using the technologies being develop by the larger Free Software community.


Video of Unity 8 showcasing Mir’s capabilities released

A video was released showcasing Unity 8’s capabilities with Mir’s Display compositor. The developer shows how applications and multi tasking might be handled on Unity 8 with Mir. Check out the video by Ubuntu developer Daniel d’Andrada

The demo showcases, Mir’s capabilities as display protocol. Qt Meta-Object Language (QML) applications are used in the demo. QML is mainly used for mobile applications where touch input, fluid animations and user experience are crucial. Qt scene graph renderer is used the display compositor for Mir in the demo.

Daniel explains how these elements interact, “This demo uses Mir to abstract away the underlying hardware specifics, set up the display and GL context for Qt to do the rendering. Mir delivers all input events to Qt’s event handling system, and manages client connections and surfaces. Those Mir surfaces are represented in the QML scene as a MirSurface item which can be manipulated by QML like any other native item: positioning, transformations and animations all just work. Qt decides the destination for input events does the right transformation and hands them back to Mir to deliver to the client.

Mir is capable of identifying and relaying user input across two applications simultaneously. However this feature is enabled by the developer just for this demo. On production builds unfocused applications will be suspended.


Canonical prepping up to release the first stable Ubuntu Touch Qt 5.2.1-based images

It is a known fact that Canonical is prepping up to get the Ubuntu Touch Qt 5.2.1-based images off the ground. As expected, there were a number of roadblocks in getting it in the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Ubuntu Touch. Anyhow, it is noteworthy to add that the developers are working at an impressive speed in bringing the first promotable image for users.

Canonical’s Didier Roche says, “Multiple images have been issued since yesterday. However, an infra change and unavailable devices made that we didn’t get all test results (and the test results are delayed). As well, the live preview of running tests are under another url right now. This is getting fixed by the CI team (it seems to be a result of the system-image server path reshape).”

The developers have issued a host of fixes and added some impressive features in the new images built by the developers. Some of them may not even get a promotable status. Here are a few that Roche mentioned: got the unity8 locking screen/hud removal revert fix in, fixes for making packages available on powerpc, ppc64el and armel64, datetime changes inherited from the desktop, some changes to the icon theme (new icons for system settings).

The mail also highlighted some of the critical issues that the team faced. Linux enthusiasts are eagerly waiting for the QT 5.2.1-based images to reach the stable repository.

Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth calls Ubuntu Touch apps better than Windows

During the keynote for the Ubuntu Developer Summit, Canonical founder, Mark Shuttleworth spoke extensively about the company’s convergence plans and how it will change the way people work on devices today.

Starting his presentation with an introduction to the fifth LTS release, 14.04 LTS, Shuttleworth proudly announced that statistics suggest that enterprises using Linux are fast moving towards Ubuntu and LTS releases. Moreover, some of the largest desktop deployments are also running on LTS releases.

Talking about his ambitious convergence plans, Shuttleworth said, “We have created a mission of convergence layered on top of all the goodness of Ubuntu. We have created something very special by creating it. In the last 2 years, we have created this convergence platform uniting all computing -phone, tablet, PC, TV. We have made tremendous progress in allowing people to hop on to any screen and start working.”

Shuttleworth claimed that Ubuntu will be able to provide a better experience than what Microsoft is trying, and better yet, it will be free. He added, “We are not alone in doing this. If you look at Windows 8 for example, there’s a lot of work happening on the proprietary side, to make convergence possible, but I think that what we’ve got is pretty special. These apps seem to me better than what I see happening on the Windows front and that’s something that we should be really proud of.”

Shuttleworth also displayed his Nexus 4 device running the new version of the kernel and said that “this phone is feeling super tight, super fantastic.” He recently went to South Africa and in the process of getting a local SIM, handed over his phone to a local dealer who easily paved through it and handed him the phone back saying ‘the SIM is working’. “While I know there is a lot of scope for improvement but seeing Ubuntu in the wild is important. A local man could easily work on it without knowing the difference and that’s an achievement for us.”

Ubuntu Software Cente

Ubuntu Developers set Roadmap for New Software Store

The Ubuntu developers have set out a roadmap for the new Ubuntu Software Store during a session at the Ubuntu Developer Summit. The current Software Centre in Ubuntu is pretty good and has come a long way since its creation in 2009. It gives users a way to search for new software, read and write reviews, and rate the programs they download. However the Developers seem to doing a significant overhaul of the current system for its inclusion in Ubuntu Touch. The reason for this is to make it more focused on Mobile, have better user experience and to incorporate their mobile packaging format ‘Click’.

in the road map they are working towards adding a few key features:

  • Automatic inspections and reviews.
  • Automatic rejection of non ‘Click’ based packages.
  • Ratings and Comments
  • Malicious software reporting
  • Profiling device capabilities
  • Scope support
  • Web interface to select and install software

There is significant overlap between these features and the current Software Centre, which makes us wonder why they are overhauling the system. There could be a few reasons for this, but what I would suspect is that as they move from Debian package to the ‘Click packages’ system for the packaging of software on Ubuntu Touch it is less effort to write a the new system.

What will be interesting to watch is if they decide to adopt Click packages in the desktop version of Ubuntu and move the new Software Store with them. As they focus more and more on Mobile, such a move may seem only right. Ubuntu has always been a user of Debian packages (.deb), however the new Click packages are touted to have a few benefits over Debian packages. These include: Simplified packaging for the developer, tighter integration with the Ubuntu SDK and the ability to run under confinement. These features seem to be aimed toward reducing barriers of entry for developers, in what one would assume is an attempt to increase the number of apps on Ubuntu touch and increase its adoption. If they catch on it may be an obvious choice for Ubuntu to switch the desktop version to them also. However their move away from Gnome to Unity generated considerable controversy, so a move from Debian packages to their own packaging system would do much the same, as well as entail a considerable amount of work. So they may just stick with Debian packages, we shall see.

Source: Ubuntu Developer Summit


Canonical to show off Mir enabled Ubuntu Touch at MWC

The latest development of Ubuntu for phones and tablets is on show at this year’s Mobile World Congress – including the visually stunning “scopes”, a new mobile UI paradigm” reads a statement from Canonical.

With just a few days left for the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event at Barcelona, Canonical is pulling out all stops to show off Ubuntu Touch to the world.  MWC takes place every year in February and is the world’s largest exhibition and conference congregation for the mobile industry.

Canonical was able to make a good first impression last year when it showed off the Ubuntu Touch concept OS. The Ubuntu maker will be hoping make a similar impression with the device manufacturers and carriers this year. This will be a make or break event for Canonical.

All is not bad for Canonical though, as earlier this week, Canonical announced deals with two mobile device manufacturers who will be shipping Ubuntu Touch in their phones. The partners are Meizu of China and bq of Spain. Looking at the manufacturers, who are midsize players in their respective regions, Ubuntu Touch phones are expected first ship to these regions before it reaches the rest of the world. Starting with the Chinese market may be a good thing as Ubuntu is quite popular in China. With the convergence plan to kick in from October this year, users will easily be able to assiciate with the OS.

Ubuntu Touch has been under heavy development for the past year. Yet, the mobile OS is still unstable and not fit for regular consumption. There is time however, as the stable release is not out until third week of April when Ubuntu 14.04 is released. Ubuntu Touch will feature the much controversial Mir display server and Unity 8 which is specifically designed for the mobile and tablet interface. Canonical is promoting Ubuntu Touch for tablets as well and has gone on record saying that there are big improvements made to the tablet experience especially for the 7″ and 10″ form factors.

There is a hackathon session on writing and integrating HTML5 apps for Ubuntu during the MWC and a Nexus 7 (2013) will be up for grabs for the lucky ones. If you are vising MWC, you can find Ubuntu in the App Planet Hall 8.1, stand 8.1E49.

Source: Ubuntu

Ubuntu Touch

Ubuntu Touch x86 emulator improves security, OpenGL

Some amazing news came down the pipeline today, from Ricardo Salveti of Canonical Ltd., for Ubuntu touch users and developers. Updates to the X86 emulator surfaced, which include increased TLS (Transport Layer Security) measures, and use of Qt packages that will be compatible with OpenGL 2.0. The combination of Qt packages and OpenGL ES 2.0 should produce sleeker rendering and font. Use of Open GL 2.0 brings programmable rendering pipelines, similar in fashion to OpenGL 3.0

The advances in the x86 emulator for Ubuntu touch will greatly help the Ubuntu team test applications and ongoing work. The advancements will also assist in improving the testing automation for Ubuntu.

To install the updated emulator image, download the archive package over at Canonical’s site.  When the download is finished, open up a Terminal window and perform the following in the download directory you saved the file in step 1 to:

tar -jxvf emulator-x86.tar.bz2
cd emulator-x86

The build script will download the Ubuntu rootfs and create the sdcard image for you.

Please keep in mind, the emulator was testing only on Ubuntu Trusty. The emulator will access 512 MB of memory by default, but can be changed by altering the “-memory” argument in the “run-emulator.sh” file. Be sure to visit Ubuntu wiki entry for relevant information concerning the emulator itself. If you are not accustomed to using adb commands for your device, be sure to refer to the relevant Ubuntu Forums post here

There are a few known issues thus far, including issues in the unity-system-compositor, where in nested mode will crash Unity 8. The source of this is believed to reside in the latest Mir release from lp:mir/devel. Also due to the Gallery-App still making use of the libGL.so library, the application does not work properly. Both issues are being looked into by Salveti. For those who are actively troubleshooting current issues, be sure to review the boot log  before suggesting any patches or bugs.

For full installation instructions on how to get started with emulator, see the Emulator entry on the Ubuntu wiki page.

Jono on G+
Ricardo Salveti on G+