We’ve spent the last fortnight, amongst other things, doing our best to tidy up and improve our online documentation, forum processes and support. You’ll see many of these changes noted in Damien’s Repository Roundup below, but it’s worth briefly going through and explaining some of the motivation behind these changes.
Our overall aim is to improve the accessibility of the information that we make available. A lot of this information is out there, but not always in the most obvious place or easy to find, especially for new users who are unfamiliar with the platform.
At the same time, we want to make it as easy as possible for both Sailors and community members to propose changes to the documentation, in order to keep it up-to-date. That was one of the most important factors in moving the documentation over to use just-the-docs and an open git-based editing process.
However, currently the new documentation and forum have been quite heavily focussed on developers. We’re very keen to make it more useful and attractive for general users too. We also want to get a better balance between transient and persistent information. The forum is great for the former, but the documentation is better for the latter.
We’ll also be doing our best to answer more questions on the forum rather than privately through customer support. This won’t affect support which will still be available just as before, but we’re hoping it’ll help get important and useful information out to a wider audience.
And as always, you’re very welcome to help us with this process. We have quite a few wiki pages on the forum, such as those relating to non 64-bit software, non Sailjailed apps, Sailfish x86 and Bluetooth device, to name just a few. These only examples, but if you feel it would make more sense to have any of the forum wikis as part of the general documentation, then please propose a PR.
If you’re in the vicinity of Bremen, Germany on Monday 16th May, we strongly encourage you to join the SUG Bremen meeting taking place in the evening at the Renaissance restaurant. The venue is less than 15 minutes walk from Bremen Hauptbahnhof, so easy to get to, and the event will take place at 7:30 in the evening.
See the latest forum post about it from hanswf for more information. Sadly I’ll be too far away to attend, but I look forward to sharing more information about what happened at the event in a future newsletter. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really great to see local meetups starting up again. There’s no better way to share experiences with your fellow Sailfish community members, experience different hardware and learn new tricks.
The latest community meeting was another lively affair, as can be seen from the minutes, with several big questions and the new regular bug-roundup from the Community Bug Coordination Team. As already mentioned in the previous newsletter, we added an upgrade poll to the last release notes. There’s always a delay between questions being asked and the meeting being held. This is intentional, to give us Sailors a chance to pull together the material we need to give the most useful reply we can. In this case it allowed for the poll suggested by direc85 to be created, filled out and announced in the newsletter before the meeting. This gave us the opportunity to have some interesting discussion about how other distros do similar polls.
We had a question from remote about the Sailfish OS keyboard design, which allowed us to get a nice overview of some of the keyboard patches that are out there in the wild. Apart from the additional numeric row in the question, a wider space-bar still seems to be of interest.
We also took another look at the Sailfish OS VoLTE roadmap, which gave us the opportunity to consider progress of VoLTE development and the existing information that’s already been released on the topic.
Finally, the bug roundup seemed to run smoothly. The process is still being refined, but the excellent work of pherjung, thigg and nephros means that the bugs on the forum are now in a better and cleaner state than they were, and we were able to review twelve specific bugs during the meeting. The bug coordination process continues, of course, but now also with Nico (deepbluev7) joining the team, we can look forward to the process generating even more improvements in future.
Thanks go to Damien Caliste (dcaliste) for another nice and pithy roundup for all the action that’s been happening in the Sailfish OS repositories this fortnight. Once again, this is the best way to get an idea about what you’re likely to see in upcoming Sailfish OS releases.
sailfish-browser, the browser application itself, previous opened pull requests (the overlay is not shown if the view has already a URL set and fake Google pages with a Firefox user-agent string instead of one advertising SailfishBrowser) were accepted.
ofono, the telephony framework, slava pushed three commits related to telephony over IP. They consist of adding DBus access for the IP multimedia system (IMS).
mobile-broadband-provider-info, the database of access point configurations, atlochowski added the configuration for Swedish Fello provider and also for Polish UPC and OTVARTA. ric9k corrected the MMS access point for French SFR users.
sailfish-utilities, the setting page to restart failing services, flypig added a section to allow the fingerprint daemon to be restarted. As discussed in the forum, this sometimes helps to get back the fingerprint reader to recognise the owner again. The pull request from nephros adding a function to restart the Bluetooth stack has received a lot of discussions and improvements. The pull request from nephros cleaning up bashisms has also been reviewed and modified.
amber-mpris, QML bindings for remote control of music players, ilpianista is proposing to fix an issue in the controller, not emitting the
mkcal, storage backend using SQLite for calendar entries, dcaliste and pvuorela discussed the pull request removing the internal usage of
Notebook::Ptrinside mKCal and proposing to also deprecate it completely from the public API.
libglibutil, some extension to the GLib library, slava added two methods to detect prefix and suffix in series of bytes.
sailjail-permissions, the configuration files for system-wide sandbox permissions, attah is proposing to remove access to some PDF tools from the
Compatibilitypermission. These were initially included for the SeaPrint application to allow conversions, but a recent rework of SeaPrint made it so that these tools aren’t required anymore. Furthermore attah is proposing to discuss the possibility of dropping access to
calligraconverterby trying to contribute to a “share as PDF” option in Sailfish Office. Discussions are welcome.
qtbase, the Qt library, rainemak moved the bearer message from warning to debug in case the technology is not recognised.
fingerterm, the console application, pvuorela has opened a pull request to correct the fixed keyboard behaviour so full screen console programs like top are not moved up anymore.
docs.sailfishos.org, website sources, various changes to the documentation were accepted or proposed:
HTTPS://links for SDK, instead of
- use the forum for bug reports from rainemak, removing the suggestion to use the Github bug trackers when available.
- a new release page by rainemak, with an extensive list of public releases, code names, stop release tag…
- rainemak added a step by step help for Fedora users to build the documentation web-site. It existed already for Ubuntu.
- rainemak also added a step by step description on how to install a local RPM package inside the emulator.
- rainemak updated the tutorial page on building packages in the SDK for the latest 184.108.40.206 target.
- sledges mentioned two current issues with the Xperia 10 III hardware adaptation (no echo cancellation on call and green led indicator intensity) while removing the auto brightness adjustment one.
- oerdnj is proposing not to clone all of the BIND9 repository branches.
- pherjung opened a discussion on the possibility to have a page detailing how to run testing for a new release.
droidmedia, a link to access hardware encoders/decoders from Android, d-grigorev continued his work on multi-threading the media source, so some fetching inputs will not slow down the output (like the camera).
sailfish-browser, the browser application itself, kende fixed a crash in a test linked to cleanup object deletion being called at the wrong time.
binder-utils, tools to use when talking to the Android modem, mkosola fixed the packaging to properly install the license file.
We’ve also seen yet another bumper crop of apps sailing into Harbour this fortnight, both new apps and updates to existing apps. Here’s a quick survey of the latest releases.
In the last newsletter we took a look at several apps maintained by Adel Noureddine (orangecat): Simple Tip Calculator, France Météo and Weight Tracker. However, Adel correctly pulled me up in the comments for misattributing France Météo which, like Weight Tracker, was originally developed by his students. Simple BMI Calculator on the other hand is one of Adel’s own creations (at least, I believe it is, and I hope Adel will correct me otherwise!). Simple BMI ask you to enter your height and weight, and from that calculates your Body Mass Index (or BMI). Helpfully the app will then let you know whether you are underweight, “normal”, overweight or obese, based on World Health Organisation categorisations. It even includes `a detailed explanation of what the different categories mean. Simple BMI works nicely, with the latest version adding Sailjail support and a neat weather-based icon to indicate the. If you’re willing to subject yourself to its judgements, it’s available from the Jolla Store and OpenRepos.
We last looked at Thakir Prayer Times when it was updated just over a year ago. The latest release bumps the version above 4 for the first time. The app provides daily prayer times, as well as using the compass for providing the direction of the Qibla in Mecca. The latest version also provides Quran text and readings. A nicely feature-packed app that’s available from the Jolla Store and Open Repos.
Matrix has become incredibly popular as probably the most successful open and federated communications platform. What’s more, it also provides best-in-class end-to-end encryption using the same double ratchet algorithm as Signal. While great from the perspective of security, this has also provides a challenge on Sailfish OS, given that most of the native clients don’t support this end-to-end encryption. We looked at Hydrogen back in December as one that does provide this support. As an Electon app, thigg has been able to use a WebView to make Hydrogen available as a standalone app on Sailfish OS. It’s an excellent client, with the latest release being an update for Sailfish OS 4.4.0, with updated Hydrogen install and now also with logging fixed. It’s available from the Jolla Store.
The original Quake 2 first-person shooter was released for PC a quarter of a century ago, and since the engine was released under the GPL in 2001, it’s been made available for pretty much every platform that can support it. That includes Sailfish OS of course, and we looked at sashikknox’s port — which builds on the Thenesis and Yamagi clients — all the way back in February last year. Since then I’ve taken the opportunity to perform very thorough tests on it, and can tell you that for such an old game, it plays remarkably well on mobile. The dual-stick controls (left side for movement, right side for view) feel quite natural, and it largely avoids the feeling that you’re continuously at a disadvantage due to the lack of physical buttons. It’s a shame the menus aren’t touch-screen aware, but that’s a minor issue as long as you’re spending most of your time actually in-game. The latest version updates the game for the most recent Sailfish OS versions, and is available from both the Jolla Store and OpenRepos. Note however that you will need to provide your own game files, which you can buy from various places, including Steam and GOG.
Picross 2 is another great game, of a more cerebral variety. We last looked at it in our Games Issue in March. Created by Matti Viljanen (direc85), Picross 2 provides a compedium of nonogram (sometimes refered to as Hanjie) puzzles, where you have to complete a pixelised picture using only the numbers written along the top and left hand edges of the enclosing grid. It’s addictive, and beatifully implemented. It’s another game that’s consumed many hours of my spare time, and comes highly recommended. The latest version provides support for My Backup, fixes the translations and adds Sailjail support Picross 2 is available from the Jolla Store and OpenRepos.
It’s always nice to try something new, even if it involves multiplication. And while Math Teacher isn’t a new app, it’s the first time it’s appeared in the community newsletter. Math teacher by Riu Lahtinen (rikujolla) manages to successfully add an equine flavour to arithmetic training. You answer a series of increasingly challenging mental arithmetic questions, jabbing at the multiple-choice answer buttons on the screen. As your skills progress you get to level-up, acquiring horse-coins as you go. Not a new form of crypto-currency, but instead an in-game currency that you can spend on upgrades for your horse. A rather nice feature is the ability to make use of the Sailfish Sharing mechanism to share your horse with others. There’s a timer to add pressure to the arithmetic quiz, and it provides practice for numbers between zero and twelve (inclusive). If you have kids of the right age to be learning their tables, and especially if they’re into horses, then you should try them out with Math teacher. The latest version updates the app for Sailjail and recent Share plugin changes. It’s available from the Jolla Store and OpenRepos.
Another app that we last covered in our Games Issue. Patience Deck offers 72 different single-player card games for you to fill your idle moments. Created by Jolla’s very-own Tomi Leppänen (tomi), it’s a great implementation, lightly based on the Gnome AisleRiot engine. The latest version adds a Contributors page, Polish translations courtesy of PiotrD, and improved card styles. It’s available from both the Jolla Store and OpenRepos.
In case you find singing on the bus isn’t sufficiently annoying for your fellow travellers, Octava from Rustem Abzalov (arustg) provides a whole extra layer to your potential for musical disruption. Fire it up and you get a single-octave piano keyboard spread across your phone screen, ready for you to play your heart out. The fact it’s only one octave, and doesn’t extend to chords, means it’s rather limited for playing real music in practice, but the sampled notes are actually surprisingly melodic and it feels responsive. It’s always great to see new apps arrive in Harbour, so we’re happy to see Octava added. Even in the last week it’s been updated again to add animations and a new icon, so we look forward to future developments, including hopefully the prospect of additional octaves! It’s available from both the Jolla Store and OpenRepos.
We hope you enjoy this community news, which we’ll continue to refine over the coming months. This is your news, and frankly we can’t always keep up with all the exciting stuff happening in the Sailfish community, so please help us out by replying to this post in the forum if you’d like to see something included.
And do also join us at our community meetings on IRC, Matrix and Telegram. It’s a great place to discuss any of the content you see here, ask questions and share your ideas. The next meeting will be on the 12th May.