A vision of where to go after Ubuntu Touch's death

  • Hello, I'm new to here.

    To be honest I registered only to express my voice somewhere after yesterday's sad news. I've seen the post from Marius that he is going to move on with Ubuntu Phone anyway, so that's why I post here.

    I've been eagerly observing the Ubuntu Touch from the very beginning. I've never posted anywhere (apart from reporting one or two bugs), because most discussions were around the Launchpad mailing lists and Google+, which I don't use. I've also bought a Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu a few months ago and I am generally happy with it (apart from some irritating bugs that Canonical never managed to fix).

    From the observations I would like to share my idea on how I see the future for... well, let's call it Unity. Unity OS, Unity Desktop, Unity Phone, whatever. I don't think I can help with development - at least not now. But I hope that my voice expressed here will be able to get to the developers that want to stay and help them find the way for the project.

    Let's still fight for convergence!

    Yes. This is in my opinion the biggest selling point of Ubuntu Phones. It's something new - something that others don't have yet. Ubuntu and Linux in general has lots of great desktop aplications. The vision of having a PC in our pockets it far too exciting to give it up.

    Ubuntu Core can still be a base

    I believe that so-called Unity OS shouldn't part with Ubuntu. Canonical is still pursuing the Ubuntu Core and Snaps and after leaving the phone and tablet they will pursue that even faster. It's IoT what they chosen to start earn bigger money on and Canonical's IoT is all about Ubuntu Core and Snaps.

    The hardware

    This implies two things: there are and will be devices and chips OFFICIALLY supported by snaps. There is Raspberry Pi, there is Dragonboard (so it's a Qualcomm Snapdragon in fact - not too far away from phones!). This is why I believe the new devs should continue on what Canonical started and not finished - moving the Ubuntu Phone and Tablet to Ubuntu Core and Snaps.

    Ubuntu Personal

    Also I believe that Ubuntu Personal concept (snap based desktop) should still be on the list, so the "One OS to rule them all" still can be created. I believe that snaps have still the potential to make up a secure and reliable desktop with nice permission and dependency management that Snap introduces.

    Clicks and debs are not an option

    Why? Well, click was kind of beta for snaps. Canonical decied to move away from this because they decided to create something better. And snaps are what Canonical wants to give to the larger community, not only Ubuntu.

    Why not debs? To have the proper system images, OTA updates and a possibility to lock the system partition. Without that probably no OEM ever would consider the system reliable enough to put it on production device. And well, commercial app developers will not want to care about the dependencies in debs.

    The true Unity leads to Wayland

    And here is the - what the history has shown - the Canonical's biggest mistake: Mir. This is what put away the rest of the Linux community and what created the most conflicts and hatered. Moving Unity to Wayland can give you more traction and more developers willing to contribute to the true Unity on phone. And there is one more thing that community had the problem with and now you can ditch: Contributor License Agreement.

    Unity 8

    The concept of Unity 8 is pretty good for all the phones tablets and desktop. I really like many features of it and the general concept of phone navigation. Also the scopes are a good concept - but they need to start working much faster and better. Let's make them ALL freely installable, so that anyone could install only those he uses. That will generate some benefits:

    • The community will not hate us for forcing scopes on users
    • The OEM's could install their scopes of their choice by default - customization, ability to sell things with this - more likely to comercially back the Unity OS.
    • Well, the scopes developed to work well would be a wonderful way to interact with the content.

    And there is one more - Suru design. Ubuntu's font, paperlike themes and iconset. Please do not ditch that as Unity 8 looks really well and the theme, icons and design language is really nice!

    Not only Unity 8

    As snaps have actually gained some adoption, they can be used to get on Ubuntu Core not only Unity, but KDE and Plasma Active for example - and maybe other DE's as well. A Wayland on top of Ubuntu Core can create a wonderful base for both Unity and Plasma Active. Let's reach the hand to Plasma Active developers, offer them Snaps and Ubuntu Core as base. Maybe they will help in getting Core and Wayland on phones and it would lead us to the common goal - having both Unity and Plasma Active on the phones. And being able to replace one with another with just a snap swap!

    Ubuntu SDK

    Yet another thing to keep. There is a bunch of cool apps creating with it (Dekko, uNav and more) to be kept. It still may help to reach the convergene goal.

    To sum up

    So what do we have now? We have Ubuntu Core, we have Snaps and we have Wayland. We have the communities that will develop those and offload the Unity OS's dev team, so that they don't have to develop the entire OS alone. Maybe we have Mir (if Canonical still wants to push it to Ubuntu Core devices), but without Canonical it won't make sense.

    So let's take care of Unity 8 and Ubuntu SDK, move it further toward snappification and Ubuntu Core, make a switch to Wayland and pursue the convergence further.

    So this is how I see it. Let's create the true Unity - untiy of community with Wayland and the unity of platforms with Convergence. I still keep my fingers crossed for you, guys. And maybe someday I will be able to jump in as well?

  • Hi Mitu!

    This is all something we've been discussing heavily in Telegram over the past 24 hours. Thank you for your well though-out and organized post. It means a lot to us.

    We're trying to find a better way to give people the invite link for Telegram, but you can find it in the MOTD on IRC (#ubports on Freenode) at ubports.com/telegram if you want to come and chat.

    I'll have a better response to this later, but wanted to let you know that we're watching and reading.

  • I love your post, man. Some good ideas right there. We all could use some encouragement right now...

  • @UniSuperBox
    Thanks for answering! 🙂 Too bad I don't use Telegram and probably will not register now (maybe if I needed to because of more discussions on Ubuntu Phone I would). But I'm open for conversation here. I can join IRC from time to time, but too bad that I cannot read the chat history 😞

    Someone has already forked the Unity 8 here: https://unity8.org/ But I'm not sure if it is the right approach to have every single project in its own independent team. It may lead to chaos. In my opinion Ubports devs should take on organising the project and as quick as possible take these actions:

    1. Make a big, public anouncement that the team is forming to continue the project. Publish it everywhere possible so that everyone could see that there is the team, that the team is big and strong and is willing to help everyone jump in.
    2. Choose a name and set up the web pages, chats, mailing lists and overall platform, where the community can discuss. A kind of hub which would consolidate all the project from Unity 8 through snap phone images to Ubuntu SDK and applications.
    3. Contact as many Canonical developers and designers directly. Request them to share all the information, plans, designs and everything else what could speed up resuming development. Find out who of them would like to help. Have a chat with Ubuntu Core team to find out their attitude and how Ubuntu Core can power the phones.
    4. Create development infrastructure if possible.
    5. Make a long statement on where we are, what we want to achieve and what is the plan.

    And what I would suggest for the start of the development:

    1. Focus only on existing Ubuntu devices end maybe those for which a port already exists is stable. I know that the more phones the better, but main focus should now shift to the core.
    2. Set up a small team to find and fix the most irritating errors (crashes, network, battery) and release one or two bugfix OTA-s, so that Click based system is more stable and reliable.
    3. Simultaneously start efforts towards creating Ubuntu Core images for both desktop and phone. Take (in the beginning) the 64-bit officially supported by Ubuntu devices: bq M10 tablet, Meizu Pro 5 phone and 64-bit desktop. Try to snap kernel, drivers and whatever else is needed to create the first running images.
    4. Move the Unity8 from Mir to Wayland. Allow the KDE Plasma Active team to jump here to help and create their snap as an alternative to Unity desktop.
    5. We are there - focus on stabilizing those, Unity 8 development for convergence, maybe start integrating Ubuntu phones with Ubuntu desktop (even if they are on seperate devices), fasten the app development, create a proper app store.
    6. After the first official, stable snap image is relased, push further on porting to new devices and finding way to cooperate with hardware manufacturers.

    After showing off first snap sucesses the croudfunding campaign or even setting up a foundation might be a good option.

    And do not get angry with Canonical too easy, but cooperate closely with them, contribute to snap. Their business decision was to give up the convergence, but its development would be definitely be a profit for them (more snaps, etc.).

    That's my view, I am waiting to here your voice as well. 🙂

  • @Mitu said in A vision of where to go after Ubuntu Touch's death:

    Someone has already forked the Unity 8 here: https://unity8.org/

    The 'someone' is Marius Gripsgård...

    Move the Unity8 from Mir to Wayland

    Main question to me: really to get rid of Mir (very difficult) OR make MIR Wayland-compatible (still not easy)? See also: http://voices.canonical.com/alan.griffiths/2017/04/07/the-end-of-a-dream/

  • Thank you @Mitu for sharing your vision. I agree with all you have said, and I'm really proud how rapidly the community gave a response to these breaking news.

    If we want to keep Ubuntu Touch alive, we have to find soon an alternative to Ubuntu One services, including notifications and the app store. Then, that should be considered on a first step, because that would be the first thing to notice on Canonical's fading. Next step should be focus on Unity 8's evolution and snaps (and so on), because that only affects future plans and not so much on the current experience.

    I want to thank you all guys, let's demonstrate how a community-driven mobile OS rocks!

  • As for software center, I think that we may use Canonical's snap store. Many snaps for all form factors are landing there. But it would be nice to create an app that could support multiple snap stores. Whether we need our own store is not so obvious dor me.

    But yes, ubuntu push is to be moved somewhere else.

  • I agree with that. I know snaps would make things easier, but unluckly it's too soon to leave click apps. Users still depend on them.

    Let's see where (and when) Canonical is going to left us at our own way...

  • Clicks will not be easy to be left. Canonical began to do that, but hasn't finished. It is a long way to move phones to Ubuntu Core, but is should be in my opinion continued.

    In the meantime click-based Ubuntu Phone should be updated once or twice. But only to fix bugs - the most energe should be put to the snap transition.

  • Administrators

    Most of you have probably seen it, but here's the link to yesterdays UBports community Q&A:

  • Administrators

    @Mitu said in A vision of where to go after Ubuntu Touch's death:

    And what I would suggest for the start of the development

    You've made a very nice summary of ideas here, but for the start of development it may be important to distinguish much more clearly between what's genuinely needed versus what might be helpful at some point in the future.

    Probably the most valuable thing that can be done as a starting step is just to look at what are the minimum set of changes needed to complete Unity 8 on its own terms (and "complete" in this sense probably means finalizing a viable desktop). No major re-architecting or trying to replace important bits of the stack -- just try to follow through on the final touches of the project as it exists, the kind of stuff that Canonical's team would have been doing if the project had carried through.

    The reason to do that is because, by trying first to understand and complete the project on its own terms (i.e. the convergent OS where the same codebase can serve mobile, tablet and desktop), everyone involved will learn a good deal about the actual issues of the project, and about why its developers made the choices they did.

    From that vantage point, everyone will be much better placed to make informed decisions about what really needs to change in the long run -- whether it's what to do with Mir (it may not need to be replaced at all given Canonical's ongoing plans for it in IoT projects), whether a new app store is necessary (it may be possible to continue to use the existing snap store just fine), or any of the other considerations that might come up.

  • @UniSuperBox can u share how i can join chat on telegram for ubuntu touch

  • Administrators

    @Hsabun You might have to use the browser or webapp to join, the UT telegram client does not support supergroups (a telegram feature for groups with more than 200 people) and invite links yet. That's why we are currently maintaining two groups, the UBports Fan Club (supergroup) and the old UBports group, so that people on Ubuntu Touch can still chat. We're looking into fixing supergroups on Ubuntu Touch at the moment, but I can't make any promises...

  • Keeping it alive. Ubuntu touch could help a lot of open source graphic illustrators like the development of paint apps that uses stylus.

  • @Mitu

    3.Contact as many Canonical developers and designers directly. Request them to share all the information, plans, designs and everything else what could speed up resuming development. Find out who of them would like to help. Have a chat with Ubuntu Core team to find out their attitude and how Ubuntu Core can power the phones.

    Seems to be a very good advice. the abrupt end of the project may drive some individuals toward a personal commitment and support for the project .
    has anyone tried something in this direction?

  • Administrators

    @MrHoliday This is not very easy, because Canonical laid off more than 100 employees, that's most of the phone and Unity 8 team, so the responsible people are not very easy to reach and getting an official answer from canonical proves to be very challenging. However, we are in touch with some (former) Canonical developers and designers and some even joined our team (unpaid and in their free time of course, what we are really grateful for).

  • @NeoTheThird I agree on that one, it would have been much nicer of them to involve us since they knew about our project quite well. They could have get us some last minute contacts to organize the takeover. But we are more or less alone, and our network to former employees is not that huge.

  • Administrators

    @Flohack said in A vision of where to go after Ubuntu Touch's death:

    They could have get us some last minute contacts to organize the takeover. But we are more or less alone, and our network to former employees is not that huge.

    Bear in mind that it might not be legal for them to pass on (former or current) employees' contact details to you without those people's explicit permission. And since those people are probably quite busy sending out CVs and suchlike at the moment, they may not be very responsive in the short term even if they want to get involved with Yunit/UBPorts.

  • @WebDrake I know, this is a big part of the problem... Let´s see how we can continue with what we have.

  • Administrators

    @Flohack I would give it time. I don't know about other people, but personally I'm not placing any expectations on UBPorts or Yunit for quick results -- I'd much rather everyone just took some time to patiently explore the codebases that exist, than have anyone feel pressured to get things done straight away.