First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

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Moem
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First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Moem »

This topic was prompted by this one: viewtopic.php?f=60&t=319418

Well, the Oneplus One with the slightly cracked screen, that I bought for this purpose, is now running Ubuntu Touch.

I started off by downloading and installing the installer on my Mint laptop. That was easy enough. It's a .deb.

The installation experience was not as smooth as it could have been; I had some trouble getting the installer (on my laptop) to see the phone that was connected with a USB cable. It turned out that I needed to boot the phone to recovery mode, not fastboot mode as indicated; the installer then took over and booted it into fastboot mode. I also had to add the udev rules to my laptop, as indicated here: https://docs.ubports.com/en/latest/user ... leshooting

It took a couple of tries and I restarted the installer several times, then I worried that I had bricked the thing because it seemed to have been partially installed, and then all of a sudden the installer ran all the way through, very quickly and smoothly. And then it rebooted the phone into Ubuntu Touch!

First run was... interesting. They've managed to make the phone (same device as my normal phone) into a different thing. There are no buttons on the background, the familiar three buttons at the bottom (settings, home and back) are gone; you access things by swiping from the edge. Some things are accessed by swiping fast or slow! It's an entirely new interface. It looks cool and quite polished.

Playing around with it, I found that the options are limited but for some of us, they are plenty. You cannot, for example, change the font or size of the letters; there are no themes. But it does look nice as it is.
There is a good set of apps preloaded. There are some apps available in the OpenStore. It comes with a browser that feels solid; there is one alternative on offer. None of the ones you have heard of before. But it works. If you want a more traditional looking home screen with a clock and icons to start apps, there is an app that gives you that!
There is an actual terminal, because this is an actual Linux. It seems you can even run (some) proper Ubuntu applications but I have not tried that.

The whole thing feels fresh and community-made. It feels like something that's being very actively and lovingly developed, and may not have reached maturity, but is already quite usable. It's also fun. Or possibly I'm just a total geek.

If you want a smartphone that can be used for
- calls
- text messages
- taking pictures
- surfing
- navigation (there are several apps to choose from)
- playing some games
- playing music
- reading ebooks
- using some (not all) social media through (mostly unofficial) apps
... and little more than that, this may in fact be a very good option. And for those of us who like that: it's delightfully Googlefree.

It seems that for now, the Oneplus One is one of the best suitable devices you can get for this OS. If you can find one, there are certainly worse things you could do with your money and time.
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gittiest personITW
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by gittiest personITW »

Thanks Moem.
Thats great. Would you be ok to answer a few questions if anyone has any?
I've been looking forward to your experiment!
Great to hear its going well.

Could you keep us updated with the progress - whether there are glitches or whether all is smooth etc.
Cheers

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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Moem »

gittiest personITW wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 5:16 am
Would you be ok to answer a few questions if anyone has any?
Of course not!
Wait, that came out wrong... let me try again.
Of course! :)
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by cliffcoggin »

Thank you Moem.

The OS seems to be unready from what you wrote to be installed by a non-geek like me. It would not have occurred to me to change boot mode for example. Did you work that out for yourself, or were there hints from UB Ports?

I initially dismissed the OnePlusOne from my research because it is significantly bigger than rivals Nexus 5 and the Fairphone 2, but I'd reconsider it if you tell me the GPS and mapping work. Have you tested that aspect yet?
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Moem »

cliffcoggin wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 5:49 am
It would not have occurred to me to change boot mode for example. Did you work that out for yourself, or were there hints from UB Ports?
It was in the instructions, including how to do that on the specific device. I don't think you need to be THAT much of a geek. It's about as complicated as installing Mint, minus any partitioning.
cliffcoggin wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 5:49 am
I initially dismissed the OnePlusOne from my research because it is significantly bigger than rivals Nexus 5 and the Fairphone 2, but I'd reconsider it if you tell me the GPS and mapping work. Have you tested that aspect yet?
Not 'out and about', no, but from a brief test run at home things look good to me.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by gittiest personITW »

I read the first part of your post and my whole world turned upside down. :lol:

Do you play around with 'timelapse' photography? Clouds/plants etc.
Over a few hours during the day with some plants you see them moving around like triffids - gives a whole new perspective on things. Makes me feel guilty pulling up the bindweed. You should see how they move over a couple of hours.
Anyway, has it got a relatively ok piece of software for that?

The keypad - does it have long-press for symbols?
Also - with the Oneplus itself - is the 'torch' 'ok'?
And, unfortunately, Whatsapp. I looked on their apps and they had Whatsapp web.

Thanks Moem - obviously not expecting you to install loads of apps.

It does sound like normal jailbreaking to install it. I don't understand how or why, just follow the clever peoples' instructions.

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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Portreve »

Way back when, I used to follow Canonical's development of UT, and I continued to read up on things after it became a strictly community-maintained thing. The issues I have with it would be the exact same ones I have with the Librem 5: I need certain specific app-level functionality.

Apart from that, it sounds really cool. I'm so glad you are sharing your experience with it because you're the first person I've been in contact with who's actually touched it.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by cliffcoggin »

Portreve wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:57 pm

I'm so glad you are sharing your experience with it because you're the first person I've been in contact with who's actually touched it.
Likewise. The UB Ports forum is incomprehensible to me because I have zero experience of any smart phone, so all the discussion is way above my head. My phone is still the old Nokia 2720 Fold.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Moem »

gittiest personITW wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 7:13 am
Do you play around with 'timelapse' photography? Clouds/plants etc.
Nope, sorry. And I haven't found anything in the OpenStore that sounds like it might do that. See for yourself: https://open-store.io/
But wouldn't one normally make a video first, and then turn it into a timelapse afterwards? Do any smartphones make timelapses?
The keypad - does it have long-press for symbols?
For some. Most of them are accessed by switching to number/symbol mode.
Also - with the Oneplus itself - is the 'torch' 'ok'?
Yup, it's fine.
And, unfortunately, Whatsapp. I looked on their apps and they had Whatsapp web.
What's the question here?
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Moem »

Portreve wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:57 pm
I need certain specific app-level functionality.
Sorry, what does that mean?
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Portreve »

Moem wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 3:30 pm
Portreve wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:57 pm
I need certain specific app-level functionality.
Sorry, what does that mean?
Functionality that has nothing to do with the operating system itself.

Full Outlook compatibility (thank you, employer!)

Full navigation capability of the level provided by Google Navigation

Full integration between calendering and said navigation

WhatsApp (thank you, foreign friends)

Etc.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Moem »

Portreve wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 4:00 pm
Functionality that has nothing to do with the operating system itself.

Full Outlook compatibility (thank you, employer!)

Full navigation capability of the level provided by Google Navigation

Full integration between calendering and said navigation

WhatsApp (thank you, foreign friends)

Etc.
To be honest, there seems to be an element of 'want' in some of your 'needs'. In other words, you could probably find alternatives if it had a higher priority for you. We all make choices... and it's so often a trade off.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Portreve »

It depends on how extreme you want to be in interpreting what I said.

I don't need Outlook; my employer could correspond with its employees via snail mail.

I don't need navigation; I could use printed maps and hand-draw single sheet diagrams for last-mile complications.

I don't need calendering; I could write down everything on wall or planner calendars and take the latter with me wherever I go.

I don't need WhatsApp; I could communicate with my various German friends solely via snail mail.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Moem »

There are other email clients and calendaring options, there are other navigation devices, and there's even a web app for WhatsApp on Ubuntu Touch. I don't blame you for making the choices you make, though. It's all up to you.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by gittiest personITW »

Thanks Moem,
I'll see if I can get hold of a cheapie Oneplus One.

There are some apps that do timelapse - the one I use at the moment (the only one I could find that didn't have ads and was free to try and works easily was Framelapse from Googleplay). There weren't any suitable with F-Droid and unfortunately don't seem to be any at the moment with Ubuntu Touch.

Re-Whatsapp - just rambling - not a question, more of a disappointment with myself for having to use it.
Have resisted Zoom so far and the lowest common denominator is Whatsapp.

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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Portreve »

gittiest personITW wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 4:32 pm
Thanks Moem,
I'll see if I can get hold of a cheapie Oneplus One.
A quick Google-ing (oh, the irony!) turned up this search result.

They've got it listed for $189.99 (€174.26) plus tax, presumably. How does that compare with what you paid, Moem? I mean, to me, that's probably at the high end of what I'd be willing to pay for a purely screw-around-with device.

Re-Whatsapp - just rambling - not a question, more of a disappointment with myself for having to use it.
Have resisted Zoom so far and the lowest common denominator is Whatsapp.
If I didn't have any European friends, odds are I would have only ever heard the name because it was mentioned on LMF or one of a couple YouTube channels I follow. It's not like Americans use it very much.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by gittiest personITW »

I was thinking of pure experimental and willing to brick it.
So have gone looking on fleabay and expecting to pay, hopefully, 25% of that for 2nd hand. It is over 6 years old so not paying too much for a unit.

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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by SpongebobFan1994 »

I'm glad I suggested this OS to you in that other post, and I'm glad you like it so far. I was just reading on Wikipedia that the PinePhone Community Edition runs it pre-installed. What's nice about the PinePhone in general is even the hardware is libre, and Pine64 (the organization that manufactures the PinePhone) does whatever they can to protect the user's freedom. I'm not sure if Ubuntu Touch has any apps involving encryption (particularly in terms of texting and calling), but let me know if they do. I'll look into getting a PinePhone when I want to discard my current flip phone.

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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Moem »

Portreve wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 5:36 pm
They've got it listed for $189.99 (€174.26) plus tax, presumably. How does that compare with what you paid, Moem?
I paid €30 plus shipping inside the country, for one that's working but with cracks in the glass.
SpongebobFan1994 wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:05 pm
I'm glad I suggested this OS to you in that other post
As am I! Your remark came at the exact right time. So, thank you.
SpongebobFan1994 wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:05 pm
I'm not sure if Ubuntu Touch has any apps involving encryption (particularly in terms of texting and calling),
Check the OpenStore: https://open-store.io I've not found anything like that, but I may have missed something. Wait, there is this: https://open-store.io/app/textsecure.nanuc That seems to be an unofficial Signal client, so that should at least take care of texting with those who use Signal.
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Re: First impressions of Ubuntu Touch

Post by Portreve »

Moem wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 3:10 am
I paid €30 plus shipping inside the country, for one that's working but with cracks in the glass.
Oh wow! I would have forked over €30. Heck, I'd have paid €50.
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