Ubuntu SSO on Touch

Hey folks, it’s time to cross another app off the list of applications to be created for Ubuntu Touch. If you’re still relying on Google Authenticator to log in to your Ubuntu SSO account, you’ll be happy to hear that you can use your Ubuntu phone for that now. Ubuntu Authenticator can be used for the two factor authentication for Ubuntu SSO and other OATH-TOTP compliant two factor auth sites. It also features easy configuration by scanning QR-Codes using the camera.

Only event based (counter) authentication tokens are supported at present. Mainly because I only use two factor authentication with Ubuntu SSO and didn’t spend the time to search for a timer based authentication. But hey, as usual the app is free and open source software; If you are interested in contributing support for the timer based auth method, let me know.

The app is submitted to the Ubuntu Store and pending review. It should be available for you to download soon.

Source code at: https://code.launchpad.net/~mzanetti/+junk/ubuntu-authenticator

Posted in Ubuntu | 3 Comments

car2go meets Ubuntu Touch

Back in the days when Nokia (RIP) shipped their first phone with Qt support, the good old N900, I created my first phone app. After having used this app for quite some years, having ported it to Symbian and later MeeGo, it finally reached its next platform, which is, of course, Ubuntu.

Apparently this is the first app in the Ubuntu Store which ships its own binary executable instead of being launched by qmlscene, so some hickups were to be expected. But Jamie did an awesome job fixing them all immediately and giving me some additional hints on how to improve packaging, so we managed to publish it today. Here it is, GetMeWheels for Ubuntu Touch. A car finder application for world’s most awesome car rental service, car2go.

Display a map with cars Show details for a car
Vie a list of all cars, sorted by distance Select your location

It’s also quite impressive for me to watch how the car2go service grew. I remember the first prototypes for it driving around here in Ulm. Later, at it’s launch, it was only Ulm and Austin where those little white-and-blue Smarts were to be seen. Now, 4 years later, you can just hop on a car and drop it off wherever you want in those cities: Wien, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, München, Ulm, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Köln, Stuttgart, Birmingham, London, Milano, Amsterdam, Denver, Minneapolis, Austin, San Diego, Washington DC, Portland, Miami and Seattle.

More information and source code here.

Posted in Ubuntu | 4 Comments

On manually creating click packages

After my last post, praising how easy it is to manually create click packages even if QtCreator doesn’t support that for compiled apps yet, I got requests from various people asking me to share the knowledge. So here is how I did it:

* Build your application for the arm architecture. You can either use a pbuilder environment to create a armhf.deb package and extract it again afterwards or just compile your stuff on the phone (or in an arm chroot). I won’t go into much details on this as I assume everyone writing a C++ app knows how to compile it. Compiling it directly on the phone might be the easiest way to get some binaries for now. Just copy the whole source tree to the phone and just use qmake/cmake and make as used from the desktop.

* Create a new directory and copy all the reqired binaries into that. Also copy QML files, .desktop file and application icon into that directory. In the end, everything required by your application should be in there. Don’t put any stuff in there that shouldn’t end up in the package (e.g. .cpp files, .moc files etc)

* Test running your application from within this directory. Your application should be able to start up from there, not requiring anything to be installed to /usr or similar. In case your C++ code loads QML files, it needs to find them relative to the binary’s location.

* Make sure the .desktop file’s Exec entry starts up the application from the local directory, e.g. calling it as “./myapp” instead of just “myapp”. Also make sure the icon filename is relative to the location of the .desktop file.

* now create a manifest.json. Here’s an example (from uFit) of what it should look like:

"description": "Ubuntu FitBit app",
"framework": "ubuntu-sdk-13.10",
"hooks": {
"ubuntu-fitbit-app": {
"apparmor": "ubuntu-fitbit-app.json",
"desktop": "ubuntu-fitbit-app.desktop"
"maintainer": "Michael Zanetti ",
"name": "com.ubuntu.developer.mzanetti.ubuntu-fitbit-app",
"title": "uFit",
"version": "0.1"

* Create <appname>.json file. This one is responsible to request permissions for certain capabilities at AppArmor. This step is the equivalent to the one described here: http://developer.ubuntu.com/publish/packaging-click-apps/
Here’s the example of uFit:
"policy_groups": [
"policy_version": 1

Add any additionally required policy_groups as a comma separated list. Check out the above link for a list of possible values.

* We’re almost done. It’s time to create the package:
# click build <directory>

This should produce the click package ready to be uploaded in the current directory. But wait, you probably want to test it on your phone before actually uploading it, right? So here’s how you do that:

# sudo click install com.ubuntu.developer.<yourID>_<packagename>_<version>.click
# sudo click register --user=phablet com.ubuntu.developer.<yourID>_<packagename> <version>

Now you should be able to find the app by searching the Application lens and you should be able to run it from there. If it doesn’t start, get to a commandline and do this:

# tail -f /home/phablet/.cache/upstart/unity8.log

Watch the output that happens when you try launching the app. It should tell you what’s wrong with it.

Hope this helps!

Very useful tip from Colin in the comments:
You can install and register in one step by passing –user=phablet to click install, but it’s better to just use “pkcon install-local foo.click”.

Posted in Ubuntu | 7 Comments

uFit clicked!

A couple of months back, roughly the same time when the Ubuntu SDK alpha was announced I bought myself a fitbit to get back in shape after being hit by the lack of activity that can come along with a home office job. As I already wiped Android back then and started dogfooding Ubuntu Touch I quickly hacked together an app to track the status with Ubuntu Touch. The outcome of this is uFit, the Ubuntu fitbit app.


With the announcement that click packages for Ubuntu Touch can be uploaded and distributed through the application lens since the beginning of this week, I decided to get my hands on it. The first problem I faced was the fact that the Ubuntu SDK so far only supports packaging up pure QML/JS applications and the documentation for click packages so far only deals with it’s architecture and development rather than its usage. However, all my applications are mostly written in C++ with only a thin UI layer in QML. Still, I decided to give it a shot. uFit seemed simple enough for a start with only one QML plugin. It didn’t take long to find out that click packaging is one of the easiest packaging formats I came across so far. I love how simple it is to create a package. After uploading the package yesterday, I already received a notification today that the app has been published.

Long story short, as of today uFit can be downloaded to your Ubuntu Touch device directly from the application lens.

For those more curious, the source code can be found at


Posted in Ubuntu | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

GetMeWheels 1.3

I didn’t really expect to release another version of GetMeWheels for the N9, but a recent chain of circumstances led to this new feature release. Admittedly, it doesn’t add much, but as car2go once again broke all the existing installtions, here’s an update that makes GetMeWheels work again. Additionally, it implements a in-process OAuth mechanism. Instead of firing up the webbrowser and asking you to type the PIN number into GetMeWheels afterwards, the settings dialog now opens the page itself. Once you’re logged in, it grabs the PIN on its own and bringing you back to the app.

Download link here (Nokia N9):

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The bleeding edge of smartphone hardware

Despite working on Ubuntu and being quite deeply involved with things happening around it, this week I was surprised by what I think is one of the most exciting things in mobile devices. In case you missed it, Ubuntu launched a crowdsourcing campain to create the most powerful phone hardware we could think of, the Ubuntu Edge. Of course it’ll run Ubuntu (besides being able to dual boot to Android) but it will also ship with the full converged device experience we’re all working hard on at Ubuntu. With 128GB of storage and at least 4GB of RAM (the CPU is not exactly specified yet, but is said to be the most powerful one you can get at the time the device is manufactured) this will be the Formula 1 car among mobile devices.

Does this sound awesome? I think it certainly does! There’s one caveat though: This will only happen if enough people are interested in it. Of course I already backed the project and am watching the progress closely. The goal to raise 32 million Dollars is ambitious, some say its even crazy, but hey, we’re not talking about some crappy el cheapo phone here so it requires to take bold steps.

If you think this is exciting too, don’t miss out on supporting the campain and make sure to preorder your device now! If you don’t want to spend that amount of money yet but still think this is a great project and want to see it happen, back it with any amount you can and want afford.

Check out the Indiegogo project page here and spread the word about it!

Posted in Ubuntu | Leave a comment

Xbmcremote 1.3.1

Xbmcremote 1.3.1 released.

This is a bugfix and translation update for the existing platforms. While it does not bring any new features, it contains lots of new translations and also some bugfixes that make it worth upgrading:

* udate translations
* split loading of songs into chunks to speedup loading large collections on slow hosts (e.g. Raspberry Pi)
* fix image cache with special chars
* fix download files feature
* fix network connection breakdown with high load

But this is not all. This release also introduces a new member in the family of supported platforms: KDE
For a start there are only Ubuntu packages available. See the xbmcremote page for installation instructions. I would be very happy to see packages for other platforms popping up.

Here are some screenshots:

Connect to your Xbmc box All your library
Browse some artist Now Playing

Still not enough? Check out the preview package for Ubuntu Touch. This one is not finished yet, mainly because not all required features are supported on the platform yet. But there is progress, and its looking good!

Connect to your Xbmc box All your library
Posted in KDE, MeeGo, Ubuntu | 3 Comments

fahrplan for Ubuntu Touch

One app I’ve been using quite often on Maemo and MeeGo is fahrplan by smurfy. For those who havent heard of it before, its an app that lets you plan journeys or view time tables of public transportation. Currently it supports countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Australia and a few more.

Now that its time to start dogfooding the Ubuntu phone I was pulling together the apps that I need on my phone. Unfortunately my work on PlayMee, GetMeWheels and Xbmcremote is a bit blocked by some still missing pieces on the phone so I went on to the next app on my must-have list. This one does not have any special needs and the Ubuntu SDK already provides everything needed for such an app. Well, I did the DatePicker and the TimePicker myself as they weren’t there already, but with a bit of luck I can polish those and maybe upstream them to the SDK. Long story short, here’s fahrplan2 ready for you to install on your Ubuntu phone and plan your next journey.

Download the package: http://notyetthere.org/data/fahrplan2_2.0.13_armhf.deb

The source code can be found athttps://github.com/mzanetti/fahrplan (It might disappear once the ubuntu port is merged upstream into the main fahrplan repository, which is hosted at https://github.com/smurfy/fahrplan).

Posted in Ubuntu | 2 Comments

Syncing Ubuntu touch with owncloud (or any CardDAV server)

After Sergio posted how to sync google contacts with ubuntu touch I gave it a shot with my owncloud server. After some fiddling around and fixing the syncevolution-libs package I eventually suceeded. For now you need to replace syncevolution-libs with a fixed package I have build. Here’s how you do it:

Create a backup of your owncloud address book!!!

Installing syncevolution:

UPDATE: This step is not needed any more. A fixed version of syncevolution is now preinstalled on Ubuntu Phones. So jump straight to the configure step.

Download the fixed syncevolution-libs package: syncevolution-libs_1.2.99.4-0ubuntu1_armhf.deb
Now install syncevolution and the downloaded libs package on the device:

# adb root
# adb push syncevolution-libs_1.2.99.4-0ubuntu1_armhf.deb /data/ubuntu/tmp/
# adb shell
# ubuntu_chroot shell
# apt-get install syncevolution
# dpkg -i /tmp/syncevolution-libs_1.2.99.4-0ubuntu1_armhf.deb


Replace username, password and addressbookname with the appropriate values. Also replace http://example.org/owncloud/ with the url and path of your owncloud instance. (Do not supply any username or password in step 3.)

Note: If you’re using a self-signed certificate on your owncloud server, after step 2, open ~/.config/syncevolution/owncloud/peers/target-config/config.ini and change SSLVerifyServer to 0. Note the implied reduction in security. If you need/want higher security, you better get a signed certificate instead of disabling the check.

# su - phablet
# syncevolution --configure --template WebDAV username=username password=password syncURL=https://example.org/owncloud/remote.php/ keyring=no target-config@owncloud
# syncevolution --configure database=https://example.org/owncloud/remote.php/carddav/addressbooks/username/addressbookname/ backend=carddav target-config@owncloud myaddressbook
# syncevolution --configure --template SyncEvolution_Client sync=none syncURL=local://@owncloud username= password= owncloud
# syncevolution --configure sync=two-way backend=addressbook database= owncloud myaddressbook
# syncevolution --sync slow owncloud myaddressbook

Now your owncloud server and ubuntu phone should be synced. To sync again, just do

# syncevolution owncloud myaddressbook

Posted in Ubuntu | 20 Comments

Xbmcremote 1.3

With the 1.3 release, Xbmcremote brings support for the upcoming Xbmc Frodo release. But also lots of other things have changed. Besides supporting the new Frodo features like Live TV, long awaited older features like subtitle and audio track selection has been added. The keypad has seen yet another rework, this time I’m confident that it really improves things though. Thanks to the work of contributing community members, the connection handling has been made a bit smarter and we have a bunch of new supported languages. One invisible, but equally important change was splitting up the codebase into a library and multiple frontend apps. This makes it easier to adapt Xbmcremote for different platforms. The first results of this are already visible in form of a Ubuntu phone version and some initial proof of concept code for a KDE Plasma applet.

See the Xbmcremote page for downloads and more infos.

Posted in MeeGo | Leave a comment