*** OFFICIAL Ubuntu Touch FAQ ***

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Inactive Recognized Developer
Mar 14, 2013
Ubuntu Touch has seen lots of interest in the few weeks since the developer preview was announced, and many new folks are already contributing on a regular basis. As the project is quite new and moving at a quick pace, there surely are a lot of questions. The Touch team will take their time to answer whichever questions you might have, so let's hear them!

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Inactive Recognized Developer
Mar 14, 2013
Submit more questions here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1B2GzH5Zh8EVEXboe_5E2HuJgSmDpBqPXH59LM50376c/viewform


The following Ubuntu Touch managers, engineers and contributors have helped answering these questions.

- pat: Pat McGowan
- dholbach: Daniel Holbach
- sergiusens: Sergio Schvezov
- mhall119: Michael Hall
- lool: Loïc Minier
- rsalveti: Ricardo Salveti
- mzanetti: Michael Zanetti
- dpm: David Planella
- john.pugh: John Pugh
- tespy: Tony Espy

There are more answers to come.


Is there any plan to make a final version of ubuntu touch for nexus series?

The 13.10 release will be the first official release for the four targeted Nexus devices. (pat)

Are there plan to merge works from Meego/Harmattan community? since both are deb based?

Any works from Meego or Mer that can be leveraged would be welcome, we constantly look for existing solutions.For example the File Manager app is using a QML plugin from Mer/Nemo, which is descended from Meego. (pat)

When will a 1-click install be available?

Early versions of this will be available in the 13.10 timeframe in the SDK, but will not initially include full support in the software center. (pat)

When will this be a wide release for more than nexus phones?

The release will be tested on the 4 nexus devices. Other devices require community devs to support them. (pat)

(edited) There were many many questions of the form “Will <my device> be supported too?”

You can see a list of devices where ports are in the works at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Devices - click on any of the links to find out more about the state of the images in question.

If you should want to get involved in porting, this guide (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Porting) might be of interest. (dholbach)

(edited) Many asked if running Android apps on Ubuntu Touch will be supported too.

We are currently evaluating the effort and approaches to enable Android developers to move their apps to Ubuntu easily. The goal would not be to run Android apps unchanged, but to allow developers to adapt them for the Ubuntu Touch User Experience and to minimize the overall porting effort. (pat)

How it will be possible to access mobile devices features like gps, sensors, camera in user apps? Any API for eg. QML or native code?

This is already available from the Qt level and work is underway to expose through QML. (pat)

Will the final product allow me to us "sudo" and "apt-get" just like a desktop computer?

It would in developer mode, at least for images installed out of the final public builds. (sergiusens)

Hi guys! I think you people are doing a great job and many thanks for that! However, I do have one question that I hope you could answer. Is there going to be an app store for Ubuntu Touch where apps can be downloaded or purchased?

Yes. There are several teams working on it and a first iteration will be available in October. (dholbach)

With the glut in games coming to Ubuntu via HIB and Steam portals, is there any ways or plans to support the recompiling of games to Arm so that one could run a game on their computer, pick it up on their tablet, and finish on the phone?

It would be up to the game developer to make this possible, however Ubuntu provides them a single ARM target that support multiple devices, supports OpenGL, and provides a cloud syncing service (U1/U1DB) that would make this all possible. (mhall119)

Does Ubuntu Touch use BlueZ or Bluedroid as the bluetooth stack If it uses Bluedroid, does it support BlueZ?

Bluez. (lool)

1. Will ubuntu touch support existing android applications?
2. Will it be possible for every device to run ubuntu touch like the desktop os supporting most configurations?
3. Will my device supported for future versions of the OS or a device per OS policy?

1- Ubuntu Touch is a very different product than Android, there are common things in the plumbing but that is about it.
2- The desktop world and the device world are very different, so in practice no.
3- For minor updates I would say yes, for major updates it would probably work like in the industry (I'm not a subject matter expert to answer this one). That said, the community can take core of making sure it is. (sergiusens)

What kind of app support will you likely have on the platform upon launch? Obviously you don't want to have a paltry amount like Windows Phone, but have you been able to persuade many developers into making apps for Ubuntu Touch as well as iOS, Android, Blackberry OS, and Windows Phone?

Our app developer outreach has gathered a lot of interested from open source developers, who are happy to start writing apps for our SDK before it's even reached a beta release. We have seen a large number of these apps being written for a wide variety of uses, and they have been helping us shape the SDK itself in return. Once the SDK reaches a stable release, we are confident it will provide an attractive platform for commercial and indie developers, and we expect to see a large number of existing apps ported. (mhall119)

I would like to know if the applications would be different from android ones. I mean we will need that popular developers to make their apps to ubuntu system?

Please see http://developer.ubuntu.com for the latest SDK and information. (pat)

if I have quick bug reports and suggestions and radical ideas, where would I send them or who would I talk to? With me being not a developer.

- Irc channel :#ubuntu-touch on freenode.
- The [email protected] mailing list, and
- submit bugs on launchpad at https://launchpad.net/ubuntu-touch-preview

1. Can the Existing native linux apps run on Ubuntu touch when compiled for use on Ubuntu Touch devices?
2. Can existing android apps be installed/used over Ubuntu Touch?

Existing native apps using a supported toolkit (Qt for now) will run, but unless they are designed to work well in a touch interface they may not be very useful on devices. Part of the Ubuntu SDK's focus is on making apps that can transition between desktop and touch interfaces in a way that makes them useable in both. (mhall119)

Why aren't their tabs in the browser?
i definetly rely on tabs.

Tabbed browsing support will be added in June. (pat)

Once Ubuntu Touch does roll out, will it coincide with the regular Ubuntu release cycle? For example, Ubuntu 13.10 will not only release for desktops, but will coincide in releasing for mobiles and tablets as well.

Thats correct, 13.10 will include the first release of Ubuntu Touch for phones and tablets, specifically working on the 4 reference nexus designs.

When will be ready so I could flash it on my Nexus 4?

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/ReleaseNotes should give you a good idea of where things with the preview stand right now. Check out https://bugs.launchpad.net/touch-preview-images/+bugs for even more detail.

Will Ubuntu desktop and Ubuntu Touch merge as one in the upcoming 13.10 release?

This is the goal for 14.04, there should be a preview available of Ubuntu Touch on desktops in 13.10. (mhall119)

By far the thing that excites me the most about Ubuntu Touch is the prospect of Desktop mode, could you explain it in a bit more detail?

The desktop shell (Unity 7) will be re-implemented in the same codebase as Ubuntu Touch (Unity 8), so that there will be one "Unity" that can change the way it looks and behaves depending on the kind of device it is running on. For app developers, the platform will be the same, the APIs will be the same, they won't need to maintain separate versions of their app. (mhall119)

When it will be available? Can Ubuntu sync Gmail contacts?

There is already a manual way to sync Google contacts, it just needs a GUI built around it. http://sergiusens.github.io/posts/google-contacts-on-ubuntu-touch.html (mhall119)

Is there a list of supported devices?

Please refer to https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Devices. (sergiusens)

Can we develop and run our own native apps? Will a GUI framework be provided that will make our apps look the same as the Ubuntu Touch UI?

Yes, native apps can be written in C++/Qt, or QML/Javascript. We provide a UI Toolkit with native widgets that you can use in your apps. (mhall119)

What does Ubuntu for phone and tablets have that neither Apple and Android havent got?

One platform for phone, tablet, desktop/laptop, TV and server. You only need to write and maintain one version of your app, and it will work on every Ubuntu device. (mhall119)

Why Java is not part of Ubuntu Touch? Will Java developers can get a chance to innovate for Ubuntu Touch?

If the question is regarding dalvik, it's because Ubuntu Touch is not really based out of Android but uses some of its bits. If it's regarding java, openjdk is available in the repositories although for GUI there is still no support, once Mir lands, that could change. (sergiusens)

What will you guys be doing in regards to privacy in order to avoid controversy like in 12.10?

The new Smart Scopes that have arrivedin 13.10 provide fine-grained control over which scopes are active, giving the user the ability to decide what sources are used by the Dash. We are also improving the way we let the user know that their searches may be using external sources to find results. (mhall119)

The last time I tried Ubuntu Touch, I could not make and install my own apps. Has Ubuntu Touch become developable?

Yes, you can visit http://developer.ubuntu.com to get the Ubuntu SDK and learn how to write your own Ubuntu Touch apps. (mhall119)

Would it be possible to have Ubuntu Touch use cloud storage to store apps, repos etc so that we can automatically sync our data across mobile and PCs?

You will have both Ubuntu One Files and Ubuntu One Database to sync your app's data between a user's devices. (mhal119)

Can we have an Android Runtime (like BB10 has) in a near future?

We are currently evaluating the effort and approaches to enable Android developers to move their apps to Ubuntu easily. The goal would not be to run Android apps unchanged, but to allow developers to adapt them for the Ubuntu Touch User Experience and to minimize the overall porting effort. (pat)

About the project Ubuntu for Android, Ubuntu Touch will provide in the future a desktop interface if plugged via hdmi, like Ubuntu for Android?

Yes, if your phone is capable you will be able to run Ubuntu Touch on it's touch screen, but then dock it to an external screen, and be presented with the Desktop shell. (mhall119)

What program is used for viewing, editing and creating Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)? Is it possible to run Android apps on it? Can I use it as a daily software for my Nexus 7?

There is a Document Viewer being developed that can currently display plain text and image files. We are evaluating the available libraries for displaying office documents, and plan to incorporate that functionality into this app. (mhall119)

Will we be able to access the ubuntu APT repositories on ubuntu touch and be able to install any packages that have been ported to the arm architecture OUT-OF-THE-BOX?

Yes, although we are exploring an alternate package format and delivery architecture for apps. (mhall119)

What's the point of throwing an Undeveloped OS (blueprints?) to the public so that they finish its development then charge everyone hundreds of dollars for an official device running the same OS?

Our engineers have not slowed down their development since we made everything open. Quite the contrary, development efforts within Canonical have only intensified. What we have done is given the opportunity to those who want to be involved in it a chance to do so. Not just in implementing blueprints that already existed, but to be a part of the process of drafting those blueprints as well. We currently have regular meetings between Canonical engineers and designers with community engineers and designers, who are working together to define everything from the platform's foundation and APIs all the way up to the final look of apps. (mhall119)

Can you install the same packages from the Ubuntu Repository for your PC on your Ubuntu Touch Device (as long as they are available for ARM of course)? Can these Desktop apps be used on the touch device itself, or only through the Unity Desktop via some sort of dock with a mouse/keyboard?

If the application uses a supported toolkit (just Qt at the moment) that allows it to run on SurfaceFlinger and Mir, it will be able to run on Ubuntu Touch. Our goal is to provide a single platform for app developers, which will allow a single codebase to run on all Ubuntu devices. (mhall119)

What kind of apps is it gonna "Support"? like all the Android Market apps? Or a completely new Market? Thanks in advance, really looking forward to Ubuntu Touch.

A new market based on the existing Ubuntu repositories and applications. (mhall119)

Will I be able to run games like Nexiuz and OpenArena on my Nexus 10 tablet?

Generally it's possible to support any game that works with OpenGL ES 2.0, but some porting work might be needed to enable support for Mir (instead of depending on X11 libs, for example). (rsalveti)

Are you planning to make sure the visual experience of Ubuntu Touch has no perceivable lag for the end user? How do you expect to accomplish this with HTML5 technology?

Yes, we plan to make the Ubuntu Touch experience as smooth as possible. Knowing the limitations of HTML5 (which we intend to fully support nevertheless), we are using/providing Qt/QML to write native apps that can get the most out of the phone's hardware. (mzanetti)

I would like to know if the applications would be different from android ones. I mean we will need that popular developers to make their apps to ubuntu system?

Please see developer.ubuntu.com for the latest SDK and information. (pat)

So what is the minimum hardware requirement(processor, kernel version,LDPI support) the OS will need?

The requirements for the entry level Ubuntu smartphone: 1Ghz dual core Cortex A9 processor, 1GB RAM preferred, OpenGL/ES supported graphics, 4GB to 8GB storage. (pat)

I'd like to know if it would be do-able to make an Ubuntu Touch fork which includes the Dalvik VM and support for running APKs.
If it's not, can you please elaborate a little bit on the technical reasons behind this limitation. If it is possible, I'd like to know how hard it might be. Would the Ubuntu part require much modification to run on top of a "vanilla" CyanogenMod?

Aside from that, I wanted to ask what are your plans in term of kernel version support for Ubuntu Touch. Are you planning on contributing to port newer versions of the Linux kernel to Android or will Touch follow the mainstream Android kernel releases?

Thanks a lot for your time, and for your work on this promising OS, really looking forward to be more involved in this new mobile ecosystem.

See the response regarding support of Anroid apps. We plan to track the Android kernels in the near term. This could change over time and will be driven by the needs of manufacturers.

On your site when it talks of support from valve and unity game engine does it mean for mobile or in terms of the desktop OS?

Currently both Valve and Unity Technologies support Ubuntu Desktop. (john.pugh)

can ubuntu touch be ported to armv6 tablet device with 1gigs of ram and 4 gb rom because at official site it is mentioned for armv7 devices??

ARMv6 is not supported anymore by Ubuntu since Karmic. Ubuntu currently targets the ARMv7 and above Application Processor family (Cortex A8, A9 and above). (rsalveti)

When will ubuntu touch be stable on the nexus 4?

It should be stable by the time 13.10 is released. (sergiusens)

will we see the ubuntu for android feature in the final realese for ubuntu touch?

These two projects are not related, while Ubuntu for Android runs on top of Android; Ubuntu Touch is its own operating system in itself reusing some components from Android to the point it's not even Android anymore. (sergiusens)

Will I be able to run any native ubuntu desktop application on a x86 (Intel Atom) Smartphone/Tablet running Ubuntu Touch?

We have not yet produced an x86 build of Ubuntu Touch but this is certainly possible. Ubuntu Touch will not provide support for X in its first release, but compatiility will be provided later to support the converged device use case. (pat)

sooooo...ubuntu touch for armv6?

ARMv6 is not supported anymore by Ubuntu since Karmic. Ubuntu currently targets the ARMv7 and above Application Processor family (Cortex A8, A9 and above). (rsalveti)

Can we port .apk's to touch? And what file extension ubuntu touch will use on it's apps if not apk? Also to get ubuntu work example on Gt-i9300 do we need source from samsung?

See the response regarding porting android apps. We will not use the apk extension, there will be a new extension for the new click packages which are based on debian package format. (pat)

hello ubuntu, when will the galaxy s3 i747 get ubuntu touch?

For the list of supported devices (also for WIP), please check https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Devices. (rsalveti)

Hello! Would it be possible to use desktop applications (e.g LibreOffice, Firefox, Audacity, Transmission), while utilizing the phone interface? Would it be possible to use terminal applications, just as in Ubuntu (e.g mc – midnight commander)? Is Ubuntu going to be based on Android (meaning that Ubuntu is just a chroot running atop of Android) or is Ubuntu going to be stand-alone? (i.e not using the Android kernel, not running atop of Android, utilizing Upstart, using Ubuntu kernel etc.) Would it be possible to turn on root access (preferably – with a tick in the settings) easily? Ubuntu Phone does differ from Android – Android doesn't let you make your phone a fully-fledged PC – Ubuntu does. I guess lots of people are looking forward to seeing PC-like functionality (i.e desktop apps, terminal apps, etc.) in Ubuntu Phone. So am I. Really looking forward to Ubuntu taking off! I hope these questions (and answers) will be in the FAQ. Thank for your time!

In the future it will be possible to use desktop apps and phone interface, this is the converged device support we are moving toward. There is a terminal app available now. There is work nearly completed to "flip" the current design. Ubuntu TOuch will boot into Ubuntu using upstart and Android components will reside in an LXC container. Not sure how easy it will be to turn on root but developers will have this. (pat)

why on devices like Xperia 2011 daily builds are not booting but MWC image is booting

hybris is the component that bridges the two components, the Android container and Ubuntu. It lives on both sides and needs to be in sync. While this may not be the case for all the devices, it is most likely that the Android side hasn't been updated with these changes; nor the platform-api which is also dual lived. (sergiusens)

Will it be available on devices which have bad sources like Exynos-based Samsung Devices?

The Nexus 10 (manta) is Exynos based and officially supported. (sergiusens)

Can we install it as a daily driver OS in any phone? For example, i have a Galaxy Note and its was ported, but its buggy, i cant make calls, the fonts looks ugly and the UI its overscaled

You should be able to install Ubuntu on any device to use daily as long as the port is marked as complete. As can be seen on the wiki for the Note II (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Devices/n7100), the port is certainly not complete. (sergiusens)

Why CyanogenMod as base for Ubuntu Touch?

The choice on CyanogenMod was made based on how easy it was to use as a base when starting to work on a new device. (sergiusens)

When is the estimated release for a stable version of Ubuntu Touch with all the features working going to come out?

A functionally complete version will be available with 13.10. (pat)

Will you try to make a release for every phone or an driver package approach?

We will focus on a set of reference designs. (pat)

How will you incorporate software updates on the ubuntu platform? Currently Android goes through a seemingly tedious process( Source ---> OEM ---> Carrier---> Phone) where as IOS is significantly different ( Source ---> Phone). Will Ubuntu touch be closer to Androids method or Apples?

We hope to have an Ubuntu ecosystem that is not as fragmented as Android in terms of which updates are applied where and when. The model should be closer to Apple's, but this is not entirely within our control. (pat)

Will other GUI be avalaible (Gnome, KDE)?

None are planned, but the UI is customizable to some extent. (pat)

Ubuntu Touch will officially support Ubuntu Software Centre packages? Or a own software centre will be provided in the future?

Apps for Ubuntu Touch will be available from the software center. (pat)

When will CDMA/EvDO/LTE support be added for users in the US, China, India, Southeast Asia, and South America?

We do not have plans for CDMA support at this time, but would welcome this addition. THe Ofono stack does not currently provide for this. (tespy)

Will there be continued support for the Nexus lineup for the current crop and the future versions?

Yes. Future versions are tbd. (pat)

I would like to ask about the requirements for Ubuntu touch, it says on the Ubuntu QA section that the minimum is a 1ghz single core processor, I know it runs slow on all devices at the moment because it is still under development, however I also read in the ubuntu page that ubuntu touch will run faster than Android due to it taking advantage of everything possible. Android 4.2 jelly bean seems to run pretty slow and laggy, will Ubuntu touch (Which is build on top of an Android 4.2 kernel) run faster on such devices?

The current performance seems quite acceptable. The Qt stack we are using for the shell and apps is quite well optimized for these devices. We are continuing to enhance the app management, ui toolkit and core system stacks to improve performance. (pat)

How to develop a cell phone for my Ubuntu Touch?

Please take a look at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Porting, where we post instructions for people to add support for additional devices. (rsalveti)

Will you give any support to PySide project (Python bindings for Qt)? The project was started by Nokia but currently it is not developping further and only Qt 4.x is supported. Python makes developing applications much easier compared to C++ while still allowing to use C/C++ libraries for performance critical parts. I have some applications ready that I would like to port to Ubuntu Touch but rewriting them from Python to C++ would take me too much time.

There is actually an upgrade of PyQt to work with Qt5. The beta has been around since March, and the final Qt5 release was reelased just now:http://www.riverbankcomputing.co.uk/news/pyqt-50. While we don't officially support that at the time being, it should be relatively easy to make it run on Ubuntu Touch. (mzanetti)

Ubuntu touch ported to Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 almost perfect. Wiki says the last missing feature is being worked by Ubuntu devs, after last piece completed will we see daily updates along with Nexus devices?

We hope to incorporate more community-driven ports as we go, which then will be published daily together with our Nexus based images (but you might still need to copy the proprietary binaries for a fully working image). (rsalveti)

I've seen that the files on http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-touch/daily-preinstalled/ are with a "flipped container", which gives us the ability to run Ubuntu Touch directly and run Android after that. Unflipped ones obviously need run Android because they run Ubuntu using chroot. Where we can boot directly into Ubuntu, is there any specific reason for us to run Android?

Even with the flipped container model we still need to run Android specific services, such as RILD and SensorService. Work is in progress to reduce the amount of Android dependencies. (rsalveti)
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