Post I wrote on XDA-Developers

I am reporting back in on my experience using Cyanogenmod (specifically a recent Cyanogenmod 10.2 Nightly).
I love it.
I’m actually using it as a hotspot to write this post. Cyanogenmod-ified Android is an absolute joy to use. This is remarkable considering that I’m running the most current version of Android on a device that came out in 2011.
Sometimes CM crashes and reboots itself, but its no big deal. It recovers quickly enough.
What has been frustrating is GPS lock.
I used Maps on the way to work today and yesterday, and was pleased that it maintained lock during the ~30 min commutes. This is the exception rather than the rule.
Actually, this has been my main motivator to want to get a new phone (Nexus 5 is just around the corner). The whole experience has been great, everything has been working as it should.. except for GPS (until just recently, if it is indeed fixed). Its been like a thorn in my side.. that one feature not working as it should.. and an important one at that. Fortunately for me, it has worked well enough (plus I’m a halfway decent orienteer), that I manage fairly well with its hopefully previously imprecise tracking. If anyone has any feedback about GPS performance in CM on the i777 I’d be curious to hear it.
So, all in all, I’ve been very pleased with how Cyanogenmod has integrated into my life. So much so, that I got my best bud to get it on his Galaxy S4 (he used to have an old droid that he had put CM on a long time ago, but had put it back to stock. Got the S4, I hassled him about putting CM on it, and has been happy as a clam ever since), the afore-mentioned girlfriends Galaxy Note 2, and even my cousins Kindle Fire.
I wasn’t sure where the i777 was in its lifespan with regard to support by CM, but I’m happy to see that development is continuing to truck along. I’m proud to be part of the CM fold, and when my girlfriend tells me that she updated to the latest nightly using CyanDelta.. I get this big stupid grin on my face.
Thank you to everyone who has made this experience possible! If you’re in Dallas area I’ll buy you a beer!
Sent from my Nexus 7 using xda app-developers app

Ubuntu Browser Performance

Firefox > Chrome

I’ll come up with some numbers to support whether or not that’s the case, but subjectively, Firefox doesn’t seem to get bogged down as quickly.  I rather enjoy the sync-iness of Chrome, but those little app icons for Facebook and Gmail are pretty slick..

Ubuntu on touch friendliness

UI & Handling

Can we change the UI to make it more touch friendly?

The main purpose of this project is to get the core of Ubuntu ready for mobile devices. This means using RAM and power more efficiently, etc. As of now, we can not change the UI to make it more touch friendly. We will however, happily accept patches.

Ubuntu 13.04 on my Nexus 7 (2012), CM 10.2 on Note 2, et. al.

Last night I installed Ubuntu 3.0 on my Nexus 7 using this guide.

Order the Thai Breaker, its really good.

The Ubuntu Desktop Installer did not work for me so had to do it manually from the command line.  I can confirm those commands do work.  If you’ve ever re-installed Android onto your Nexus 7, its a virtually identical process.  Once all of the files were pushed to the device, it rebooted, and presented me with the usual Ubuntu setup wizard, and an on-screen keyboard!  After completing the wizard, it rebooted again, and I was at the usual Ubuntu desktop that we all know and love.

The experience of interacting with a real Ubuntu desktop on my Nexus 7 blew my mind.

In the flesh

Even right now its still awesome.  Touch interaction still has a ways to go before I’d recommend this for prime time (I’ll probably be switching back to Android when I get home from typing this).  If you planned on only using this with a keyboard and mouse, I’d say no problem, but chances are, you’ll want to pick it up and poke at it to get it to do things.  If you are planning on using this at all as a “tablet” don’t do it just yet, Android is still a better option for that.  Once the interface becomes more touch friendly (and I don’t think they have too far to go), they’ll be golden.

Fit and finish is a little lacking, as you can see in the picture below:
Glitchy text
Text in window chrome is glitchy.  This is a super new use of Ubuntu, and its not really meant to be used by the masses yet, so I’m willing to forgive things like that.
I’m just amazed that it works at all!  Sound works.  WiFi works.  No flash, but I had the brilliant idea of getting a user agent switcher for Chrome that tells websites that I’m on a mobile browser instead of a desktop browser, so that helps a bit.  Bluetooth almost works.  It says that it doesn’t work in the “Known Issues” but I was able to see (but not successfully pair with) my Motorola Xoom Bluetooth keyboard.  Just confirmed that GPS works!  Navigated to Google Maps, Chrome asked me if I would allow the website to access my current location, said ‘yes’, and it went right to where I am!

Have you ever had a netbook?  Its little better than that.

Interesting that the text glitches showed up in the screen capture
Its not as fluid as Android on the same device, but that’s to be expected.  It’s also not as fast as Ubuntu on a real desktop.  It strains easily..  Good at unitasking, not so great at multitasking.. quick.  If I just needed to do one thing at a time, this wouldn’t be a bad option.  Although it does make me curious how well Ubuntu would run on more potent hardware, like the new Nexus 7 that just came out.  Tried some video playback.. Still better off in Android.
You’re also going to encounter issues with architecture.  This isn’t the same Ubuntu that you run on your desktop (assuming you’re running an i386- or AMD64-based desktop).  This is Ubuntu for the ARM architecture.  So even though there is Flash, Dropbox, and Skype for Ubuntu, there’s not Flash, Dropbox, and Skype for Ubuntu on ARM.  However, you DO have all of those for Android.. except maybe Flash.  I think adobe axed that, which is fine with me (C’mon HTML5!).  Ubuntu on my Nexus 7 does a LOT of what I want my tablet to do, but not everything.  Touch interaction has some work to do.. animation and interface bugs need to be ironed out..  The whole thing needs to be optimized so that its lean and fast.  It would be nice if it could approach the responsiveness of Android, but I’m not holding my breath.

Overall, I love it, in spite of the fact that I’ll be reinstalling Android very shortly.

If Ubuntu for ARM contained both interfaces that would be ideal.  If the OS had the ability to switch between the conventional desktop interface and the touch interface they’re developing for mobile, that would be perfect.  Although, I think they should also make the desktop interface more finger-friendly.

The flipside of that would be to make a desktop for Android.  I feel like it would be easier for Android to make a desktop, than what Ubuntu is having to go through to make a touch interface.  You can already use a keyboard and mouse with Android, but applications take up the whole screen, and I’m still waiting on a LibreOffice APK.  Android already has a massive library of applications, it’s already optimized for ARM..

As I’ve mentioned before, the PC revolution as we know it is over.  We’re in uncharted territory now.  Microsoft seems to be the biggest player that’s actually pumping out products that are trying to address this.  Ubuntu is hard at work too..  Apple, ironically enough, seems content having a desktop OS and a mobile OS that, while sometimes sharing similar UI elements, are entirely different operating systems.

Also I installed CM 10.2 on Yong’s Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (i317) this morning.  Everything works!  Even GPS..  a feature that still eludes me on my Galaxy S2 (i777) running CM 10.2 as well..  If my GPS worked..  I would have zero desire to replace my handset…

Recent price cut on Nexus 4 = sold out 4GB mdoels.

Next Android OS (4.4) to be called Kit-Kat.  New (?) Nexus accidentally leaked in video from Google advertising new operating system code name, so that’s kinda exciting.  Might actually get this one if it’s priced right.

Time to go home and swim.  I typed this entire post on my Nexus 7 running Ubuntu 13.04.  Exciting times ahead!

Mobile/Desktop Experience

This is something that Ubuntu is already working on, and something you can partially get away with in Android.

Right now, Ubuntu is working on a mobile version of their operating system, Ubuntu Touch.  While it can be installed on a variety of devices right now, much of the functionality is missing.  Lots of dummy content.  Think of a phone that’s on display in a retail outlet.  You can get Ubuntu Touch today, but its not ready to be your daily mobile OS…  yet.

Ubuntu isn’t just making an OS for mobile, they’re doing something more.

Ubuntu Touch (from my understanding) IS the full version of Ubuntu, just with a more touch-friendly interface.  Applications that you run on your phone are the same versions that you would run on the desktop, again, with a more touch friendly interface.

The reason for this is because Ubuntu Touch wants to be your desktop.  When you plug a display into your Ubuntu Touch-running phone, you’re at the Ubuntu Desktop.  Attach a keyboard and mouse (or pair wirelessly via Bluetooth) and you have a full desktop experience served up by your phone.

To my knowledge, Ubuntu is the only project out there like this.  The key to this whole setup is video out.  And currently, many handsets do have video out (MHL).

So video out is an output but your would-be desktop needs inputs:  Keyboard and mouse.

Recently, I got a Motorola Xoom Bluetooth keyboard.  It’s compact, made for Android, and fairly cheap ($30 w/ shipping on eBay).  I especially like it because the Android-specific shortcut keys work.  I can press home and it takes me back to the home screen, the gmail button opens gmail, etc.  Its pretty neat.

What i’m discovering though, is that it is very possible to navigate around the UI with just a keyboard.  Additionally, some apps are nicer about this than others.  Of course, a Bluetooth mouse would make this issue disappear.  But as it stand’s right now, I don’t, and for my purposes I’m not sure I need it.  Using a mouse requires extra desktop real estate, plus I’m an HID snob and don’t like how Bluetooth mice are weighted (wired mice are lighter).  Also, it’s one more thing to carry.

Right now, I’m typing this on my Nexus 7 (currently offline because this room is walled with lead…  or it might as well be) with my Bluetooth keyboard in the Blogger app.  I’m sitting comfortably away from the screen and the text is readable to me, although it may be harder to read for someone with less than perfect vision.  I don’t think its significantly smaller than text on a laptop or a desktop screen.

How is this different than a laptop?

It is more limited, for sure, because I can’t go and get any program or application off the internet and install it, it needs to be made for Android.  But, so long as it provides the same needed functionality, then what difference does it make?  I can write papers, listen to music, write emails, surf the web, chat, get on Facebook, and watch movies.  I’m still feeling it out, but so far, this is a pretty neat solution.


Figure out how to open, edit, save files on the phone.  And not just “files” that reside inside of apps (documents in Google Drive, posts in Blogger), files that I can see when I plug my phone into my computer, files that I can send as attachments.  You know, file files.  Living in the cloud is fine, but I would like have the ability to be really capable.

Printing is another thing.  I know that it’s possible.  Waaaaay back when, when my good buddy Patrick had his G1, he was able to print to an HP LaserJet that was connected to the network.  Printing could be an interesting problem because of drivers.  However, if the printer is shared over the network, depending on how its advertised, it might be driver agnostic.  I’ll need to look into the printing problem further, because that is a very fundamental function of a desktop computer.