Ubuntu Touch can run on dozens of smartphones that originally shipped with Android thanks to the Halium tool that allows the Linux distribution to communicate with the hardware in those phones using Android drivers.
But if you’re running Ubuntu Touch on a PinePhone, you don’t need Halium since the phone supports mainline Linux kernels or modified kernels like Megi’s kernel, which is usually way ahead of the pack when it comes to adding features to support the phone’s hardware.
Up until recently Ubuntu Touch for the Pinephone had been using a version of Linux kernel 5.6, but recently the developers have started to move to Megi’s 5.10 and 5.11 kernels which brings improved hardware stability and reliability.
According to an update posted to the Pine64 blog, so far the new kernel enables:
- Improved mobile network reliability
- Hardware-accelerated camera viewfinder (for quicker video updates while framing your shot)
- Better reliability for phone call audio
That said, there are still some bugs to squash, so the stable branch of Ubuntu Touch for the PinePhone is still using the older kernel. But users who want to try out the latest kernel can go into the Ubuntu Touch Settings menu, choose Updates, and then select Update Settings to change to the Development, Release Candidate, or kernelupgrade channels.
That last option will give you the most bleeding edge features, but it’s also the least stable channel, so proceed with caution.
I took the latest build on the kernelupgrade channel for a spin this morning and while I couldn’t get the camera to work at all, the user interface, web browser, and other applications all seem to run smoothly.
You can see a recent built in action in this short video from Pine64:
And in other recent Ubuntu Touch/PinePhone news, the Teleports app is now working on the PinePhone.
Teleports is an Ubuntu Touch app that works as a client for the Telegram chat & messaging platform. While it’s been compatible with other devices running Ubuntu Touch for some time, it was broken on the PinePhone until recently.
Now the developers at UBPorts say a bug that had caused the app to freeze has been fixed and shouldn’t be a problem anymore.