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UDS-L Key takeaways

ARM, the cloud and Google Chrome OS

After getting the great news that Canonical would sponsor me for the Lucid Lynx developer summit in Dallas, I wanted to let people know about our book and the good reviews we are getting and find out what we could look forward to in the mobile world for this next LTS release.

After an uneventful trip up to Dallas from Manaus the first thing I did was check out the skyline

Dallas Skyline

photo courtesy of Timo Jyrinki


from the top of the hotel and then sit down to plan the highlights of the week ahead.

No UDS would be complete without the customary 'Future of the LPIA port' session which kicked off the week. It would have been killed off there and then I think but I raised the issue of some interesting results I got when writing the testing chapter for our book. There was a 30% improvement when running a 2GB file encryption test on the LPIA kernel when compared to the generic one which I think warrants more investigation. My action point is to re-run all the tests and put the Ubuntu QA team in the loop

Another perennial mobile track favourite @ UDS is the state of ARM soft bootloaders. The problem to be solved is that the current solutions areĀ  limited and mostly incompatible with each other. For the Lucid cycle a new small (<2MB) ARM bootloader will be written which will be easy for device manufacturers to install and which will be placed as the main bootloader option for Ubuntu ARM

Next up was a session to choose the default lightweight browser for ARM. Any potential solution needed to have the following qualities in order of priority

  • Quick on ARM
  • Touch screen scrolling
  • Fast javascript
  • Support for Flash
  • Good extension support
  • Java

as well as a small memory footprint and a responsive upstream. After much discussion of the options (Firefox - good but no ARM optimisation yet, Midori - frustrating to use at times, Epiphany - works but a bit limited, MicroB - great but closed source UI and WebKit - multipleupstream sources) the team decided that it will package Chromium and upload it to the archives. The thinking being that Google for sure will want their browser working well on ARM and judging by the number of people running it @ UDS (80%-90%) it is starting to gain significant traction at least amongst developers. This decision was reinforced later in the week with the news of extensions support in Chrome and the news that Canonical are working with Google on Chrome OS

Midweek saw a session on Ubuntu Liquid. The principal objective of this community based mobile release is to support devices which do not have hardware accelerated graphics and to bring to these devices the latest updates available in the Ubuntu world. It will be built using the Ubuntu infrastructure and so will drop the 'Remix' namespace for the Lucid cycle. There was some considerable interest in the session about creating a common framework for running Android and WebOS applications on Ubuntu and also using QT libraries for this. I am involved in this project in my free time along with some other guys from INdT so we expect to have some long weekends hacking in the coming months.

A definite highlight of the week was the 2D netbook launcher for ARM. This is an EFL based application launcher (soon to be released on Launchpad) which runs well on platforms that do not have accelerated OpenGL drivers for X. It was written in a collaboration between the Canonical OEM team and Profusion. For the Lucid cycle the guys will work on building some intelligence into the launcher to probe X and install either the 3D or 2D launcher at install time depending on device capabilities. It was great to see such innovation @ UDS and to know that Brazilian guys were involved.

Speaking of innovation Friday saw a fascinating demonstration of Ubuntu Server and Cloud on ARM. There was a quad core Ubuntu ARM server running away in the room which created some considerable excitement . The ultimate goal for this project in the Lucid cycle is a build system, bootloader, and installer that supports ARM v7 architectures such as Cortex A8/A9. A question was asked during the session about the benefits of Ubuntu server on ARM and the answer was astounding.

I ran the quad core processor at 90% server load for some hours

said Martin, the project lead

and I could comfortably leave my finger on the processor.

Do not try that at home with an Intel chip folks!

Also Friday saw some lightening talks during the plenary sessions where I got up the courage to give a short talk. As far as I am aware our book is the first technology book *ever* written by authors living in the Amazon and for sure it is the first book on Ubuntu Mobile. I got up, said all that and invited everyone to come and visit us and to see our work in Manaus. The recent news then that Bossa 10 conference next year will be

Bossa in the Jungle!

capped off an unforgettable week. There was just time for a group photo UDS-L

and it was off to catch the plane home. For me this is when the real adventure started but that will have to be the subject of another post.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 in Life  | Permalink |  Comments (0)
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