Canonical Voices


Earlier today Mark Shuttleworth blogged about the evolution of Mir, the powerful display server we are building as one component in the Ubuntu convergence story across desktops, phones, tablets, and more, but also as a general purpose display server that other distributions, desktops, and other upstreams can use too.

Mir will be landing by default in Ubuntu 13.10 with the XMir compatability layer to ensure we can continue to ship our existing Unity codebase and to ensure that any and all other distributions can ship their desktops too. This will be the first major distribution to ship a next-generation display server, not only on a desktop, but also on phones and tablets too.

I recommend you read Mark’s post in full, but I want to highlight this piece in particular:

On Ubuntu, we’re committed that every desktop environment perform well with Mir, either under X or directly. We didn’t press the ‘GO’ button on Mir until we were satisfied that the whole Ubuntu community, and other distributions, could easily benefit from the advantages of a leaner, cleaner graphics stack. We’re busy optimising performance for X now so that every app and every desktop environment will work really well in 13.10 under Mir, without having to make any changes. And we’re taking patches from people who want Mir to support capabilities they need for native, super-fast Mir access. Distributions should be able to provide Mir as an option for their users to experiment with very easily – the patch to X is very small (less than 500 lines). For now, if you want to try it, the easiest way to do so is via the Ubuntu PPA. It will land in 13.10 just as soon as our QA and release teams are happy that its ready for very widespread testing.

In a nutshell, we are passionate about encouraging not only Ubuntu flavors, but all distributions (either Ubuntu-derived or not) to be able to harness Mir as a powerful next-generation display server for either shipping their X desktop with XMir or harnessing Mir directly. From 13.10 onwards we will have a production-stable, fully supported Mir ready for everyone to use.

To put it clearly: while Mir will serve the needs of Unity well across a range of devices, it is not only intended for Unity, it is intended to serve other environments across a range of devices too.

Last week I reached out to most of our flavors to discuss this work (and discuss many related topics with the Mir engineers), and these discussions are continuing this week. I have also been in touch with some other distributions to discuss Mir support. Obviously we will be working closely with Debian to help get Mir in the Debian archives too.

Mir is Free Software (get the code or test from a PPA), discussed openly on mir-devel (see the archive), and we provide weekly updates from Kevin Gunn, Mir Engineering Manager every Tuesday at 5pm UTC on Ubuntu On Air. We are also refining our documentation to help folks write clients (see the API, the sample client, and other documentation). If you have any other questions about adding Mir support, feel free to get in touch with the Mir team on mir-devel.

tl;dr: the Mir team are very open to discussing the needs of upstreams and distributions. Get in touch on mir-devel or feel free to send me an email and I will put you in touch with the right person.

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Today is a sad day for Free Software.

We discovered today that Seth Vidal was killed in a bike accident. Seth was very active in Fedora. He was the lead developer of Yum, a Fedora Project Board Member, active in CentOS, among many other contributions.

I didn’t know Seth well personally, but professionally he was a fantastic example of the passion and commitment that drives Free Software and collaborative community and he will be missed.

My condolences go out to Seth’s family, friends, colleagues, and our friends in the Fedora community and at Red Hat who knew Seth so well. I think it is important that we respect Seth’s family’s privacy at this time.

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A few weeks ago we announced the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group (CAG). The CAG is designed to provide a place where carriers can help influence the development and requirements of Ubuntu for smartphones.

The founding members of the CAG were Deutsche Telekom, Everything Everywhere, Korea Telecom, Telecom Italia, LG UPlus, Portugal Telecom, SK Telecom and the leading Spanish international carrier.

I just wanted to follow up with a few CAG-related updates.

New Carriers

Firstly, we are pleased to announce two new carriers that have joined the CAG.

Last week we announced PT Smartfren Telecom, the largest mobile internet provider in Indonesia, an important market for the Ubuntu smartphone.

Richard Tan, Deputy CEO at Smartfren, commented:

“Ubuntu is an important option for Indonesia because it offers an attractive, flexible and differentiating solution for smartphones”.

Today we followed up with another carrier in the form of China Unicom; one of the world’s largest mobile operators, with nearly 300 million mobile subscribers.

Li Xingxin at China Unicom’s terminal research and support center commented:

“Ubuntu can be an exciting new platform for the Chinese market, offering a brand new user experience that balances user simplicity with operator requirements”.

We are delighted to welcome both PT Smartfren Telecom and China Unicom to the CAG! We also have some other carriers to announce, including a large US carrier; more details on that soon.

Differentiation and Scopes

When it comes to mobile devices, there’s a thin line between differentiation and fragmentation. Differentiation is enabling phone manufacturers and carriers to put their own stamp not just on the outside of the phone but also on the inside. To stand out against the competition in today’s market, manufacturers and carriers must go beyond the phone hardware itself and provide value-added services such as music and video content to the user.

Victor Palau, VP, Phone & Hyperscale Delivery at Canonical wrote an excellent piece on this topic called Differentiation Without Fragmentation and talks about the areas in which Ubuntu Phone can be given a unique brand and identity via theming, default applications and content, pre-defined launcher applications, and connecting backend content to default Ubuntu front-end applications.

A core method of differentiating is at the content level with music, video, applications, services, and other material. This is where our powerful scopes technology comes in, providing a way of delivering content to users, front and center, with a consistent experience…all while avoiding fragmentation.

For those of you who are interested in writing a scope to expose content and services to Ubuntu devices, see an overview of the technology, our tutorial for writing a scope, our growing cookbook with common scopes-related questions.

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Over the course of the year we have been seeing fantastic progress with Ubuntu and our convergence story. This includes eight carriers in the Carrier Advisory Group, strong interest from hardware manufacturers, significant coverage from press and at shows such as CES/MWC, and an explosion of participation in people writing apps for Ubuntu Touch.

The engineerings team has also been making steady and significant progress on the road to October to have a first cut of the platform available for phones, and a core piece of this work is our Core Apps project.

The Core Apps project is where our community are working on the core applications that we hope to ship as part of the phone. This includes a Calendar, Music Player, Clock, Calculator, Weather App, Sudoku, RSS Reader, File Manager, Document Viewer, Terminal, Dropping Letters game, and a Stock Ticker.

With each of these projects we have been working with our community developers to ensure they have as much support and help to build these apps, and ensuring that our design team are hooked in to provide beautiful designs to help make each of these apps look crisp, consistent, and sleek. Many, many thanks to all of our wonderful contributors who have been driving these apps forward.

Delicious, Delicious, Dogfood

Back in May we had an effort to get Ubuntu for phones to a point where we could use it as a daily driver, to eat our own dogfood if you will. Although we don’t expect the first iteration of the phone to be ready until October, getting it ready as a daily driver helped to expose the system to more people and therefore find more bugs and edge cases that needed resolving. This project was successful and many of us are using the phone as our main handset now; I certainly am. :-)

We would now like to do this for our core apps, to set a goal to have them ready as a daily driver by the end of July. We reached out to the development teams earlier this week and raised this goal as part of the team meetings for each app and the wider teams are supportive of this effort.

Now, many of these applications are pretty much already there, but some others need more work. As usual, I have asked my team to provide as much help and guidance to our contributors for us to achieve this goal, and based on an assessment of the applications as they stand today, this goal is very achievable.

How It Will Work

To get started we created this page to track the Core Apps dogfooding work. The page lists the core features that we think most people will need to use the apps on the daily basis for basic requirements. For those features that are already there we have specified this next to each feature.

We are going to be working with the developers as part of these projects to help achieve this goal, and if you have experience of working with QML, we would love you to participate too. Just drop me an email and I will get you connected to the team.

Anybody can participate in dogfooding the Core Apps though, all you have to do is use them. You don’t need to be a developer, you don’t need to know anything about porting or compiling or packaging. Just fire up one of the apps, on a supported device or on your desktop, and start using it for your daily activities.

The most important thing you can do while dogfooding is to find and report any bugs you find. It’s important to provide as much detail as possible in your bug report, including screenshots and device information, and describing the steps to reproduce the bug. You can find guidance for how to report this bugs by reading this page.

Once again, thankyou to everyone helping to make our core apps a success and we are excited to see the progress made throughout the month. Thanks, everyone!

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Beginning last week, we started our Ubuntu Weekly Update videocast that provides a range of weekly updates to keep our community, press, upstreams, and partners in the loop and up to date with recent progress.

Today’s show was a special two-hour show with two parts:

  1. The first part (beginning at the start of the video) includes status updates from the engineering mangers and project leads of Mir, Unity, Juju (Core and Ecosystem), Click Packages/App Upload Process, Ubuntu Touch, Unity APIs, and Community. We also fielded questions from the community who were viewing the show.
  2. The second part (beginning at 59.54) includes an hour-long interview with Chris Halse-Rogers (Mir Engineer), Kevin Gunn (Mir and Unity Engineering Manager), Oliver Ries (Director of Display Server and Unity Engineering), Robert Ancell (Mir Technical Lead), Steve Langasek (Ubuntu Foundations Engineering Manager), and Thomas Voss (Technical Architect). Again, viewers of the show asked a number of questions that were answered by the team.

You can view it below:

Can’t see the video? See it here!

As ever, questions are welcome in the comments, and Mir-specific questions are welcome on #ubuntu-mir on Freenode and on the Mir mailing list.

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Later this year Erica and I are having our five year anniversary. I can’t quite believe that five years have passed since we said I do, and we couldn’t be happier. Consequently, we are going to renew our vows and have a bit of a gathering.

The gathering is in late September and as such I want to ensure that Erica is renewing her vows with the same approximately-shaped guy. As such, I have spent the last three weeks or so focusing on losing some pounds. Now, I don’t really consider myself particularly overweight, but I have definitely put on some pounds since we got married, and my goal is to lose the 15lb or so.

Interestingly, we have discussed weight and health at a few previous Ubuntu Developer Summits, and I know that unfortunately a lot of folks in our community suffer from weight issues and challenges, so I thought it might be useful to share some tips I have learned about getting fitter. This might provide some food for thought for getting in shape too.

Now, to be clear, I hate exercise. I don’t like working out, I can’t stand gyms, and I also don’t want to live a monastic life in which I don’t get to enjoy my hobbies of smoking large chunks of meat for hours on end and having a few drinks with friends at the weekend. So, I wanted to put a plan in place to lose the weight while also maintaining a sense of normality with these aspects of my life.

I keep things pretty simple. I work out for 45 minutes a day on an elliptical trainer at home and I watch my calories during the week. I try to make sure I am eating at least 500 fewer calories than I need to maintain my current weight – this gets me onto a 1lb/week drop. At weekends I don’t go crazy, but I eat and drink pretty much what I want, and exercise at least once at the weekend.

To track this I have found the Fitbit One fitness tracker invaluable for showing how many steps I have travelled each day, how many calories I have burned, and helping to keep on track with my goals (at least 40mins of active exercise a day). I also use the Fitbit Area scale that automatically sends my weight to the Fitbit website, so I can see any progress that I am making. Unfortunately there is no Ubuntu or other Linux client for the Fitbit products, so I need to use the iPad to sync the data (some Android devices are supported too, but very few).

So here are some tips I have learned:

  • Pick a good time to work out. I used to do this in the evenings, but by the time I finish work at 7pm, get Jack to bed, eat dinner, and finish digesting dinner, it was often too late. I switched this to 4pm and I have been able to maintain my daily exercise routine without running out of time.
  • Find a calorie calculator (such as this) and figure out how many calories you need to eat to lose the pounds. As an example, I need 3000 cals to maintain current weight, so I shoot for 2500 a day to lose weight. Count up your food and try to keep it under your target. Some people track their food in Fitbit, but I can’t be bothered with that, so I just count it in my head.
  • Exercise is not about the time you spend doing it, but (a) making sure you sweat, and (b) making sure you get breathless at different times in your workout. I like variable resistant workouts such as on the elliptical where it simulates running up and down hills. It feel like I get much more out of my 45mins. Do whatever exercise you want, but I do the elliptical as it is (a) conveniently located in my house, (b) doesn’t involve going out and getting cancelled by weather, (c) lets me watch TV, and (d) doesn’t involve too much pressure on my ankles, like running does.
  • As I say, I hate exercise, so I watch Netflix and Amazon Prime on my tablet. I find this essential; anything to take my mind of working out and staring at the clock helps. This keeps me entertained, gives me a chance to watch the movies and shows I enjoy, and makes the time pass.
  • Learn to mentally set goals when working out. As an example, the other day I was tired after 20mins into my work out. I then mentally pushed myself to 30mins without stopping. I made it. Then I mentally pushed myself to 40mins. This is not only something you feel proud of in that workout session, but it gives you a renewed sense of determination.
  • Bear in mind that when you weight yourself your weight fluctuates, so don’t get disheartened. Always weigh yourself in the morning and then compare weights every Sunday. You should start seeing it drop off.

I hope this helps, and I am happy to answer any questions in the comments. :-)

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Many of you will have seen the recent news about Mir coming to Ubuntu 13.10 in October 2013. For those of you who are unaware of Mir, it is an Open Source display server we are building that we will use across desktops, phones, tablets, and TV. It currently works with Open Source drivers and we are currently in discussions with the major GPU manufacturers to discuss Mir support in their proprietary drivers.

From the announcement yesterday:

For 13.10 we plan on delivering Mir by default in Ubuntu Desktop with XMir (an implementation of X running on Mir) and our current Unity 7 codebase (the same Unity codebase that is currently in the Saucy development release).

This will be enabled for graphics hardware with Open Source drivers supported by Mir (primarily intel, nouveau and radeon). For binary graphics drivers (e.g. many NVidia and ATI cards) that don’t support Mir yet, we will fallback to the normal X server that we usually ship. This will mean that all users are well served in Ubuntu 13.10 and everyone will get the standard Unity 7 experience with feature parity with X (e.g. multi-monitor support). This fallback will be removed for Ubuntu 14.04. We are working with GPU vendors and partners to provide the required driver support and are confident to have this in place for 14.04.

We discussed this before the announcement with the Ubuntu Community Council and all councils and flavor leaders from each of our official flavors this week. Many thanks to those folks for the feedback they provided.

For those concerned about flavors being able to ship their desktops in Ubuntu 13.10, each of the desktops showcased in our flavors (GNOME 3, KDE, XFCE, LXDE) work with XMir running on Mir (see the video of them running). Please note, this is running on XMir, not Mir directly. Now, whether the flavors choose to use XMir on Mir or ship X directly is of course up them. Fortunately, they have a few options at their disposal for 13.10.

Testing, Reporting Bugs, and Benchmarks

If you would like to try Mir, Oliver Ries, Director of Display Server and Unity at Canonical, posted instructions for how to get started. Likewise, Nicholas Skaggs on my team has announced that Mir is part of our regular cadence testing, so we encourage you to test Mir, report your results, and feel free to discuss Mir on the mir-devel mailing list.

Most recently, we reached out to Phoronix to ask if Michael could perform some benchmarking tests on Mir to see where things stand today with applications running on XMir on Mir. Now, bear in mind that Mir has not yet been through a round of performance optimizations (this will happen a little later in the cycle), and the results naturally have a performance impact because of this, but the impact was not too great. These performance regressions should be largely resolved before Ubuntu 13.10. Oliver Ries blogged reviewing the results and discussed plans to resolve these issues.

Staying Up To Date

Next week we will provide two opportunities to ensure you have as much information about Mir as possible. On Tues 2nd July at 5pm UTC we will be doing our normal Ubuntu Weekly Update with updates from a range of teams of progress over the last week (see the last one here).

Immediately after that session at 6pm UTC I will then be doing a a full interview with a number of members of the core Mir team and inviting your questions too.

Watch both sessions on Ubuntu On Air.

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Today we had our first Ubuntu Weekly Update with summaries from engineering managers and leads for Mir, Unity, Juju (Core and Ecosystem), Click, Smart Scopes, Ubuntu Touch, Community, and other areas. After the summaries we opened up the session to questions from viewers.

This weekly videocast will provide a regular in-depth, open, and transparent update of week-to-week engineering and community work going on.

See it below:

Can’t see the video? See it here!

Remember, you can always catch my regular weekly Q&A where you can bring any of your questions. Watch it live at Ubuntu On Air every Wednesday at 6pm UTC.

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We have been working hard to ensure that the various engineering teams working on different parts of Ubuntu are being as open and transparent as possible. This has included many of these teams (e.g. Unity, Mir, App Development etc) sending regular weekly updates of progress being made. Well, we want to amp that up to the next level, so I am proud to announce the Ubuntu Weekly Update Videocast!

The idea is simple: we are pulling together a number of engineering managers from a range of different teams and they will provide a weekly summary of what their team has been working on, and their plans for the coming week. These summaries will form the beginning of the videocast and then we will open up for questions throughout the rest of the hour. This will provide a recorded summary of progress that our community, members of the press, and others can use to keep up to date, and a regular opportunity to ask questions to the team.

Our first Ubuntu Weekly Update Videocast is happening tomorrow, Tuesday 24th June 2013 at 5pm UTC live on Ubuntu On Air. Be sure to join us there!


As many of you will know, every week I do a regular Q&A videocast where I invite the community and anyone else to come and ask me anything. This show happens every Wednesday at 6pm UTC live on Ubuntu On Air and has been well received by the community to ask anything on their minds about our goals, strategy, and areas of focus.

For some time now I have been wanting to conduct a series of interviews with various Ubuntu teams and communities about their work, and I did my first one last week with Jamie Strandboge and Martin Albisetti who are working on the future app upload process designed for app developers who want to deliver their apps on the Ubuntu convergent platform. See the interview here, which includes a lot of questions asked from viewers too.

I will be conducting more and more of these interviews, so let me know what topics and teams you want to see in the comments.

Mir Interview

The next interview I am doing is with the Mir team and this will take place on Tuesday 2nd July 2013 at 6pm UTC live on Ubuntu On Air. Be sure to join and bring your questions too!

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This week I am pleased to announce two Q&A sessions to get all your juicy Ubuntu-related questions answered:

  • Wed 19th June – taking place an hour earlier this week at 6pm UTC will be my usual weekly Q&A session where you are welcome to bring any and all questions! Be sure to join me, it is always a lot of fun. :-)
  • Thu 20th June – taking place at 7pm UTC and kicking off the first in a series of 1-on-1 interviews that I am going to do, I will be interviewing Martin Albisetti who is a member of the team making application submissions for Ubuntu on desktops, phones, tablets, and TVs easier than ever. Martin’s team is building the server that will recieve submissions as click packages and review them before they go out to users. Martin is also an active member of the community and a member of the Community Council. I will be asking Martin some questions about his work and then we will open it up for you folks to ask questions too.

You can access both of these sessions on Ubuntu On Air.

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We are working on a powerful vision with Ubuntu; to build a convergent Operating System that runs on phones, tablets, desktops, and TVs. A core part of this vision is that this is a platform and ecosystem that you can influence, improve, and be a part of, significantly more-so than our competitors.

One consistent piece of feedback we have seen from carriers and handset manufacturers is a a greater desire for platform competition and participation on helping to shape and define the ecosystem. A key goal for Ubuntu is to satisfy these needs.

Today we launched the the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group (CAG) which includes Deutsche Telekom, Everything Everywhere, Telecom Italia, Korea Telecom, LG UPlus, Portugal Telecom, and SK Telecom as founding members. Wide industry participation in the group will help us to prioritize the delivery of new Ubuntu features, and grow an ecosystem of software, services and devices that meets that need.

The CAG provides regular meetings that take place regularly and typically include a briefing by Canonical or a partner company, followed by feedback from carriers. Members can bring domain specialists to calls for each relevant topic covered. Topics planned for discussion in the CAG forum include:

  • Differentiation for OEMs and operators.
  • Developer ecosystems and application portability.
  • HTML5 standards, performance and compatibility.
  • Marketplaces for apps, content and services.
  • Revenue share models for publishers, operators, and OEMs.
  • Payment mechanisms and standards.
  • Platform fragmentation.
  • Consumer and enterprise market segments and positioning.

CAG members can also launch Ubuntu devices before non-members in local markets. The first two launch partners will be selected from within the group, with the next wave following six months later; non-members will face a substantial wait to gain access to the platform. Members will have early knowledge of silicon, as well as OEM and ODM partners involved in the Ubuntu mobile initiative.

The Carrier Advisory Group is chaired independently of Canonical by David Wood, who has 25 years’ experience in the mobile industry, including leadership roles at Psion, Symbian and Accenture. He has wide experience with collaborative advisory groups, and twice served on the board of directors of the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).

David has this to say about the CAG:

“The mobile industry still needs an independent platform that enables innovation and differentiation. That platform is Ubuntu. The Carrier Advisory Group will have the opportunity to influence the Ubuntu roadmap, and take full advantage of the potential this emerging platform.”

If you are a carrier interested in helping shape Ubuntu’s mobile strategy and being part of the CAG, click here.

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Last week I had a neat idea. Well, at least I think it is a neat idea. Let me share it with you folks to get your take.

We have been spending a lot of time refining every aspect of the application development process for writing Ubuntu phone/tablet/desktop applications. This has included:

  • Building a simple, and powerful Ubuntu SDK.
  • Building a comprehensive knowledge base on for getting started writing your first app, and performing common programming tasks.
  • Integrating source control, bug tracking, and more from Launchpad into the SDK.
  • Providing a safe and secure, sand-boxed environment to run apps in, and an automated process for reviewing how these apps come into Ubuntu and are exposed to Ubuntu users.

This is all part of an end-to-end process to make writing apps for Ubuntu fun, simple, and intuitive from the minute you load the SDK to the minute your app appears on a users phone, tablet, or desktop.

Project Websites

One piece we haven’t looked into is how app developers can set up a website for their app.

App websites vary tremendously in size and complexity. Some people just want a single static web page with details of the app and how to get it. Some want a more complex site with integrated forums, bug tracking, and more.

As part of what we can offer with Ubuntu, we should be able to bundle all aspects of your infrastructure too. Need a website? Check. Need a forum? Check. Need a bug tracker? Check.

Fortunately we have a powerful cloud orchestration tool in Juju that can not only simplify the deployment, management, and scaling of the service, but could potentially take virtually all of the pain out of getting the site set up in the first place, and then scale up where needed.

The Idea

Let’s assume I have just published my first version of my app in Ubuntu. I now need a simple website to get my app on the web and known to users. While I want to start simple, there is a possibility though that my project may become hugely popular making me a king among men and require a larger, more expansive web presence.

Let’s start simple though. Ideally, I want to be able to specify some configuration detail like this in a file:

   app-name: Read All About It
   download-archive-name: readallaboutit
   launchpad-project: readallaboutit
   website-strapline: All the headlines in your hand.
   screenshots: ['',
   page-about: True
   page-developers: True
   page-screenshots: True
   page-contact: False

…and then do this:

juju deploy --config myconfig.yaml ubuntu-app-website

The charm would read in the configuration file and generate a set of static web pages based on that configuration.

As an example, it would pre-populate chunks of the page, and generate developer information on the Developer page with details of the main branch, bug tracking, a form to submit a bug, and more (we can pull this from the Launchpad project).

It could look simple like this:

This would mean an app developer could spin-up a super light-weight app website with just a configuration file and Juju on whichever cloud service they prefer. This would be light-weight both in terms of getting up and running and resource usage; you could set this up on a tiny cloud instance. As ever, if my project was to get slashdotted I could scale up the service, as with any other Juju charm.

Now let’s assume I want to add more functionality to my website. This is where the real power of Juju could come in. Let’s assume I want a forum. I should be able to run:

juju deploy ubuntu-app-website-forum
juju relate ubuntu-app-website ubuntu-app-website-forum

This would then spin up a forum (or Discourse site) but the charm would integrate it into the existing website with a navigation link and shared theming. It could then look like this:

We could then conceivably have any number of supported additions (e.g. mailing lists, video streams, event organization, tutorial content, API docs etc) for the website that app maintainers can use to easily expand their service as they see fit.

Next Steps

I shared this idea with Jorge who thought it was a neat idea. He then talked with Marco who has been putting together a first cut that we can experiment with. If anyone is interested in helping to build this, please let me know in the comments.

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Ever since we first announced Ubuntu for phones on January 2nd this year, a fantastic relationship with our friends in the XDA community has formed. For quite some time now we have been releasing daily images of Ubuntu for phones/tablets and our friends in the XDA community have been working to enable these images for a wide range of devices.

Much of this work has been happening on the Ubuntu Touch XDA forums which have seen 4600+ posts from this enthusiastic community.

I wanted to follow up on a few different XDA-related things that are going on.

Participating in and Sponsoring xda:devcon

From 8-11 August in Miami, Florida will be xda:devcon, the very first XDA developer conference. We are sponsoring the event and will be exhibiting there. We are delighted to be supporting such an awesome event. :-)

I will also be speaking at the event and delivering a new presentation called Building a Convergent Future With Ubuntu that will cover the vision and goals of Ubuntu on devices, how our community is right at the core of what we are doing (and accessible to everyone), and how far along we are in this vision.

Michael Hall will be running an app development workshop and showing attendees how to build an application from scratch that runs across Ubuntu phones, tablets, and desktops. More details on Michael’s workshop will be announced soon. Given that we are releasing the beta of our Ubuntu SDK in July, this workshop will be a great opportunity to come and learn how to get started!

We will also be joining the main conference and happy to answer questions, demo Ubuntu on these different devices, and anything else. If you want to set up a meeting, please drop me an email.

Weekly XDA Q&A

We want to ensure our friends in the XDA community have as much information at their fingertips about Ubuntu Touch. As such, Daniel Holbach is collating questions from the community (you can ask your question here) and then posting a weekly summary of questions on this XDA forum thread.

As ever, if anyone has any other questions, be sure to join my weekly live Ubuntu Q&A videocast. This week it will be happening at 6pm UTC on Wednesday 19th June on Ubuntu On Air. Be sure to join me then!

Making Porting Easier

One of the reasons I am so delighted to see the close relationship between Ubuntu and XDA continuing to form is that I feel making Ubuntu available on a range of different devices is a key part of what will help us to be successful.

Although we at Canonical a are currently targetting a very specific set of handsets for our first release of Ubuntu Touch (Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4), the wider XDA community has been working to enable the image on other devices that Canonical is not directly focused on. This is an awesome contribution.

One of the technical challenges here is how we handle firmware and binary blobs to make various hardware components work. Unfortunately, some of this firmware cannot be legally re-distributed by us (although the user can typically download it directly).

I have asked Daniel Holbach to work with the phonedations team to ease this process as much as possible and some work is going into phablet-flash to make it easier to handle these firmware pieces. We should have more on this in the coming weeks.

Onwards and Upwards!

There is lots of fantastic work going on and I am looking forward to continuing to work with the always excellent and approachable XDA community. We look forward to seeing you in Miami in August!

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The Ubuntu community is a core part of what makes us what we are, and right at the center of that are our Ubuntu Members. Ubuntu Members provide significant and sustained contributions over a wide range of areas such as packaging, documentation, programming, translations, advocacy, support, and more. We always want to do our best to recognize and appreciate our many members in the Ubuntu family, across these many different teams and our flavors.

We are pleased to announce a new benefit for new Ubuntu Members. When you become approved as an official Ubuntu Member, you will be mailed a printed certificate signed by Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu project to recognize your membership. We hope you put it up on your wall where you contribute to Ubuntu and bring freedom and openness to technology.

To find out more, and find out how to get yoru certificate, see this post on the fridge.

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In recent months we have been seeing tremendous growth and interest in the Ubuntu SDK that is at the heart of building applications for Ubuntu for phones, tablets, desktops, and TVs. The SDK provides the ability to build rich native applications in QML/Qt that hook right into the system, platform services, messaging, social media and more. We will also be providing support for HTML5 apps soon (with deep platform integration), and for OpenGL apps too.

Today you can download the SDK and follow a getting started tutorial to write your app. If you have Ubuntu running on a phone/tablet (find out how to install the daily images here), you can test and run the application the device with just a click. The entire experience is all encased within our SDK IDE. We are still refining and improving many aspects of the SDK, and our Beta release will be in July.

When most developers are learning a new platform or technology, you have lots of questions. How do I do X? How do I do Y? While we can get our new developers up and running quickly with the SDK and tutorial, we also want to help provide as many answers to these common questions too. This is where the new cookbook comes in.

The App Developer Cookbook

Today we are introducing the Ubuntu App Developers Cookbook on The cookbook provides a number of different pages (e.g Device Sensors, Files and Storage, Games, General App Development, Multimedia, Networking etc) with a list of common questions and their associated answers.

Instead of building an entirely new piece of infrastructure, we wanted to work with the place where our developers naturally ask their questions; AskUbuntu, the Ubuntu themed StackExchange site we use for all our Q+A needs across the Ubuntu community.

Here’s how it works: when you have a question, simply browse the cookbook to find an answer for your query. If you don’t, simply ask that question on AskUbuntu, and when a question has received two up-votes and an accepted answer, it will be added to the cookbook. This will ensure the very best content appears on the cookbook for current and new Ubuntu developers to enjoy.

What you see today is a first iteration of the cookbook. In the next few weeks we will be making some additional improvements:

  • Refining the questions listed in the cookbook.
  • Enhancing the navigation of the cookbook pages.
  • Adding sub-sections to make content easier to navigate.
  • Having a different cookbooks for Native (QML/Qt apps), HTML5, OpenGL, and Scopes.

If you have any questions or queries about the cookbook, feel free to share in the comments!

How To Help

One of the core foundational strengths of Ubuntu is our community, and we are looking for help in ensuring our cookbook is as capable and comprehensive as possible. As such, we would like to encourage our community to do the following:

  • Be sure to ask questions on AskUbuntu for topics not covered by the cookbook.
  • When you ask a question, be sure to accept the answer when it answers the question otherwise it won’t be accepted into the cookbook.
  • Be sure to upvote questions that you find useful.

Thanks for continuing to help make the Ubuntu App Dev community a fun, dynamic, and innovative place to be!

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Today I recorded a video demo of Ubuntu running on the Galaxy Nexus and showcasing much of the progress in May to turn the phone into a usable daily phone for early testers. The demo shows recieving a call and text, web browser, social networking integration, multitasting, a number of the apps, messaging menu, and more.

Here it is:

Can’t see it? Watch it here.

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Smart Scopes Update

One feature that didn’t land in Ubuntu 13.04 was the new Smart Scopes functionality in the Ubuntu dash. This feature greatly widens the scope (pun intended) of the dash returning results for a wide range of online services as well as local results. The whole system was re-architected to be more efficient, and designed to scale across our multi-device strategy.

Although the feature didn’t land in 13.04, the team assured us that it would land in the 13.10 cycle early yet it hasn’t appeared yet. I reached out to the team to get some clarity on why this hasn’t arrived yet, and Thomas Strehl, engineering manager for the feature has provided an update:

When we tried to complete scopes for 13.04 back in March we also introduced some issues which needed quite some time during April to resolve. Especially, resolving the result update flickering and completing all reviews with design (mostly related to previews) took us until the second week of May; that was after our sprint in Oakland. During a review session with Mark Shuttleworth at the sprint it became also apparent that the current way we do scopes isn’t exactly the right one, so we started investigating the right approach also in preparation for a scopes sprint end of May. That preparation work in combination with some more fixing and a lot of merging (around 10 branches), bumping versions etc and having mhr3 leaving for vacation slowed down the progress until 17th of May.

Trying to get everything landed was then suddenly blocked by too many autopilot failures which then turned out to not be the scopes fault but rather a regression when upgrading autopilot 1.3 (as well as problems in jenkins for a few days). Good news is that all those issues had been resolved last week, meaning that after autopilot was fixed the reported autopilot issues of scopes went below the required threshold.

However, it still hasn’t landed as of today, as everything has been prepared for making the switch from raring to saucy so a big chunk is waiting for landing, including the scopes (as discussed at vUDS, everything needs to be moved at the same time as autopilot 1.3, hud touch are backward incompatible). To land all this all dependencies (libhybris, ofono, …) of the entire stack have to be resolved first and tests need to continue to pass. We will get there soon…didrocks, sil2100, rsalveti, and cyphermox are heavily working on it as we speak.

So, in a nutshell, things have been delayed due to an intricate web of dependencies, the switch to saucy, and some infrastructure gremlins. Fortunately though, we should see this land soon. Thanks to the team for all their efforts, and to Thomas for providing a thorough update!

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For some time now we have wanted to improve the community pages on While the pages there provided an overview of the community they really didn’t serve us or our new community members very well.

At UDS in Copenhagen back in November we agreed to work on a project to build a new set of community pages, but in a more scalable and accessible way, and in a way that is easier to maintain and improve. We worked together as a community to coordinate a docs jam, to identify what content was needed, start building some of the core material, put together a WordPress instance, get it themed and prettified, and then review the content and get it trimmed, concise, and accessible. The final result is fantastic, detailed, and provides a wonderful springboard for contributing. I plan on having a regular session at every forthcoming UDS to discuss improvements and refinements to the pages to ensure they serve our community well.

Many people contributed their time to this project, and I want to offer my thanks to everyone who helped drive it forward. I want to highlight one person in particular though, Daniel Holbach on my team, who I gave a very explicit goal of pulling together these many threads into a completed product by the end of May. Daniel deftly delivered this coordination with our community contributors, while also balancing the many other projects he is coordinating too. As ever, fantastic work, Daniel!

You can visit the site by simply going to and clicking the Community link at the top. ;-)

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A while back I blogged about dogfooding Ubuntu Phone; that is, eating our own dogfood by using it on a daily basis. I have been tracking this here.

The phone team were setting the end of May as a goal for getting the phone into this daily driver state, and they have delivered most of what is needed.

In summary:

  • The phone OS is reliable and doesn’t crash.
  • Making and receiving calls works great. The phone now switches the screen on and off when you get a call/SMS, it switches to the phone app when you get a call, and switches the screen on and off when on a call based upon the proximity of your ear to the screen.
  • Sending and receiving text messages works great.
  • The messaging menu works great. Missed calls and texts appear there and I can reply or call back directly from messaging menu. I can also view my SMSes in the conversations list in the phone app.
  • Connecting to wireless networks works well.
  • Mobile data has landed but currently needs manual configuration to be used. I am waiting on the phone team to publish how to test this. UPDATE: Read how to test this here. They will be working on automating this next.
  • Power management is much better; when the phone is not used for 30 secs the screen is automatically shut off.
  • The camera works great (with flash) and photos appear as expected in the gallery. There is a shortcut from the camera app to the gallery.
  • The browser works well, now has a progress bar and overlayed history based upon the URL entered.
  • Orientation support has been added to a number of apps (phone, gallery, notepad, browser etc) so when you turn the phone the UI adjusts.
  • You can now easily add an unknown number as a contact.
  • Most of the fake apps and contact data have been removed.

All in all great progress is being made and I am continuing to use my Galaxy Nexus full time and now most of the bugs that made it a little difficult are fixed. As soon as mobile data arrives that will make life much easier, and the missing link for me is GPS, but the team are working on a location service to serve GPS needs.

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My parents came out to visit this week and I took a week off work to spend with them. We had not seen them for 18 months in person (pregnancy and babies make travel to England rather challenging), but we Skype video-chat pretty regularly. It was the first time they were meeting Jack and they absolutely fell in love with him. The feeling was definitely mutual on the baby side of the bargain.

It was a fantastic week. We took a weekend trip to Tahoe, had an evening with Erica’s dad and her brother and his girlfriend, another evening with Erica’s mum and step-dad, and of course, plenty of time with them with Erica, Jack and I.

They left to go back home today.

This afternoon I have felt rather empty; I miss them both.

I am tremendously thankful for my life, and thankful every day for my beautiful wife and baby, and my wonderful British, American, and Italian families. I knew I would feel this way when they left, but an awesome week with my family was well worth it for a shitty few days missing them.

Sometimes the empty moments just make you realize how full your life really is.

Mum and dad, I love you both, and can’t wait to see you in September. :-)

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