Ubuntu on a phone, anyone? UBports reaches 18th stable update, but it’s still based on 16.04 • The Register
UBports, which took over the maintenance of the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system after Canonical abandoned it, has released OTA-18 with many improvements, but it’s still based on the old Ubuntu 16.04.
According to the team, one of the big changes in this release is a rewritten media hub service that is responsible for media playback and control. “The new media hub was created 20,526 lines of code later – with better tests, a more user-friendly structure and some fixed bugs for booting,” says the article on the introduction of the publication.
The operating system update also improves efficiency. “We still have a lot of people using devices with as little as 1 GB of RAM,” the team explained. “OTA-18 almost always feels faster than OTA-17 on the same device.”
Fairphone with Ubuntu Touch
Other fixes include the on-screen keyboard auto-showing in new browser tabs, a degree icon on the on-screen keyboard, stickers added to the messaging app, snooze now works as expected in alarms, and “call audio has been fixed on Google Pixel 2.”
That doesn’t sound like much, but the team said, “There are a lot of fixes that cost little code but will have a big impact in practice.”
There are a couple of catches. Only 54 devices support Ubuntu Touch and only 28 of them support OTA-18. This includes Fairphone 2, but not PinePhone. According to a post in the PinePhone support forum: “Unfortunately, setting up UT and switching on Pinephone / Pinetab is on the way until after the 20.04 upgrade.”
Then what about Ubuntu Touch based on Ubuntu 20.04? It appears that progress is underway, and in fact, the limited number of new features in OTA-18 is in part because “the small team of people who know the internals of Ubuntu Touch have been doing other things than OTA-18”. it depends on April 20th.
This includes working on Lomiri, the “convergence desktop” that was originally called Unity until Canonical abandoned it. However, there will again be an OTA-19 based on 04/16 before we get a 04/20 release. For more information on development progress, see these questions and answers.
On the plus side, Ubuntu Touch users on the stable channel get OTA-18 on compatible devices by simply “using the” Updates “screen of the System Preferences”.
However, it sounds like an uphill battle. Ubuntu Touch by UBports is one of several ways to run a free operating system on a smartphone, but all of them have catches. One approach is to build a phone on top of AOSP (Android Open Source Project). In this case, there is an issue with Google’s proprietary Play Services not being available – see how the / e / Foundation works around this problem here. Another approach (as with Ubuntu Touch) is to base the operating system on Linux and rely on the Linux application ecosystem.
There is a lot of interest in the idea of a phone free from Google or Apple and the different ways they restrict, track and control smartphones, but translating that interest into a viable alternative is problematic. ®