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Plasma Active, Sailfish, and Ubuntu Phone Developers Discussing Common APIs

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the by-your-powers-combined dept.

GUI 63

Jolla's Sailfish, Canonical's recently announced Ubuntu Phone, and KDE's Plasma Active environments are all using Qt5's QML for interface design. Unfortunately, the set of UI components provided by each, although similar, are incompatible with the others. After a chat on IRC between developers of all three platforms, they've decided to discuss the reasons behind each implementation, in the hopes that they can work toward a common architecture. "There are also discussions underway regarding other aspects of the bigger puzzle such as common package formats and delivery strategies. We are poised, should we keep our heads straight and our feet moving, to evolve that holiest of grails in the mobile space: an open and vendor neutral application development strategy built around the commonality of QtQuick and Linux. This is our Rome, which will not be built in a day, but which can become something significant in the world if we keep our heads and follow through."

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63 comments

wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42546687)

This is what I've been waiting for. The fragmentation of Linux with a GUI has been its downfall all along.

Re:wow (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year ago | (#42546767)

I don't think I want to be locked into just one UI. For me, XFCE is my flavor, if I'm going to be forced into one UI and less choice; I might as well use Windows. To be quite frank, I'd rather not be forced back into Microsoft's "Use this because you have no choice!" land.

Re:wow (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42547029)

umm...

I can only guess at this, but your comment seems to be lacking vast amounts of FACT... being that I have used Windows for ages and have used MANY different UI's... so saying using Windows is being forced into one UI is a very incorrect statement, and sadly shows great amounts of ignorance on your part (using an alternative UI at the moment on Windows 8 even)

If you where looking for an options limited OS, Mac and iOS are where you need to look. IIRC there where a few for an older version of Mac, but I know of none that fit the definition for iOS

Re:wow (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42547503)

being that I have used Windows for ages and have used MANY different UI's... so saying using Windows is being forced into one UI is a very incorrect statement

This is why Windows will never be ready for the desktop, with its fragmented UI. Until all the developers working on different UIs for Windows standardize on a single UI it'll just never take off.

Re:wow (1)

ocularsinister (774024) | about a year ago | (#42555941)

You may jest, but in my opinion part of the reason the early Windows versions were popular among users was because the application UI was much more consistent than the alternatives. X apps at the time were a complete hochpotch of different toolkits. Ironically, as time passed the situation has reversed: X apps are now very consistent in their look & feel and Windows apps seem to have gone down the customised toolkit route, leaving the user wondering whether the OK button is bottom right or top left!

Re:wow (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42547035)

I'd prefer to have multiple UIs because... depending on what I'm doing, I may want a different UI.

I have XFCE set up in a VNC box for a lot of things, and KDE3 set up for normal at-console use. Why be stuck with one, when you yourself aren't using the system with just one use case?

Re:wow (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42547309)

You realize it's possible for two different pieces of software to have quite different UIs, even if they use the same base set of widgets to build that UI, right?

Oh, you're bitching about whether or not the window chrome suits your preferred aesthetics? Then we can safely disregard your bitching in its entirety.

Re:wow (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#42548369)

I might as well use Windows.

So you'll go to the OS where the are more than a dozen alternate desktop shells to choose from?

Re:wow (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42546927)

Honestly, having the different options is nice, and I've not had much issue except for one thing...

Selecting fonts/colors/sizes. I wish there were one store location where I could set all of them, and QT, GTK, whatever... would read that.

And don't pull a Microsoft. If you read the font color from a source, read the background color from there as well. I'm sick of different MS applications and libs honoring your font color and completely discarding your background color.

Re:wow (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#42547037)

This is what I've been waiting for. The fragmentation of Linux with a GUI has been its downfall all along.

Yeah, really, where's my Project Athena phone?

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42547941)

gnome/gtk has been the reason for poor adoption. If it wasn't so aggressively pushed, and if redhat and novell had adopted Qt....maybe flamebait but I have heard all the usual lame excuses and lies.

Re:wow (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42549637)

While we're at it, can we ensure that GUI functions have an equivalent CLI function? In other words, if you're going to support mulitple GUI environments, include support for a null GUI as well.

Great news (2)

Noughmad (1044096) | about a year ago | (#42546701)

I was pleasantly surprised to see Ubuntu pushing QML/QtQuick on its phone, it's really a great platform.

A great advantage of using pure QML for apps is that it requires no linking, just source compatibility. So Ubuntu's GUI elements could look very different from KDE's, but using the same property names a single app would work and look native on both. If only they agreed on this, it's probably the only way anyone except free software enthusiasts would write software for any of these platforms.

It is time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42546717)

Year of Linux on mobiles.

Phone manufacturers won't like it (1)

Racerdude (1006357) | about a year ago | (#42546735)

Now this would be great! But I think there are very strong economic interests against this. A common architecture would mean the phone manufactures couldn't keep their users locked to the platform where they have all their apps.

Re: Phone manufacturers won't like it (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#42546997)

A common architecture would mean the phone manufactures couldn't keep their users locked to the platform where they have all their apps.

Which is why Android has been such a market failure.

Re: Phone manufacturers won't like it (1)

dannys42 (61725) | about a year ago | (#42548141)

My belief is that the problem with Android is the reverse. It really is open... to it's customers. However, the customers of Android are not the end-users, it's the carriers. Carriers have always wanted locked platforms that they can leverage and brand. And so one of the big failings of Android was that they allowed the carriers to close the architecture to the end-user.

One of the iPhone's greatest achievements was locking the carriers out. If you notice... there's very little in the way of carrier branding on the device. This wasn't true with any phone before the iPhone.

Re: Phone manufacturers won't like it (1)

kwark (512736) | about a year ago | (#42549077)

B.S. you just had to buy a non branded phone. I never had a branded/locked GSM. Sure branded/locked phones might be cheaper, so you get what you pay for.

Re: Phone manufacturers won't like it (1)

Microlith (54737) | about a year ago | (#42550165)

It's exceedingly hard in the US, where few if any handset vendors sell into the retail channel. I suspect this is under threat from the carriers.

Re: Phone manufacturers won't like it (1)

kwark (512736) | about a year ago | (#42551945)

Strangely enough I had to import my first android device from the USA.

Re: Phone manufacturers won't like it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42599449)

Google sells them straight to the end users in the U.S. Contrary to your claim, I can't see it getting any easier.

Re: Phone manufacturers won't like it (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#42548961)

Android is not a common FREE architecture (unless all phones have gotten root and updated alternative flavors and the completely free SDK while I was looking the other side), so can't be used as an example.

Re: Phone manufacturers won't like it (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#42548813)

I think phone manufacturers are also a lot concerned with the fact that an open architecture makes their hardware more useful. They prefer selling no-root toys with updates controlled by them.

Visigoths (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42546753)

This is our Rome, which will not be built in a day, but which can become something significant in the world if we keep our heads and follow through."

Rome died due to lead poisoning and excessive military expenditures. If we're going to become Rome, I suggest BSD instead -- their mascots are a bit more menacing than a penguin. Also, the licensing terms are less restrictive.

Re:Visigoths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42546839)

Rome is still there. If you are speaking of the Roman empire, it existed for over a thousand years. A feat yet to be achieved.

Re:Visigoths (4, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42547043)

Rome is still there. If you are speaking of the Roman empire, it existed for over a thousand years. A feat yet to be achieved.

The Caliphates that lived next door would dispute that. But I can understand ignoring Islamic achievements like that since Rome was the quintessential western empire and the Caliphates only spanned three continents and had a far greater population. It also lasted nearly twice as long as the Roman empire, which actually didn't last over a thousand years... since the empire kept fracturing and falling into chaos over that timeframe while the Caliphates remained largely stable... and existed until the last century (1924, if you need a year).

Re:Visigoths (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#42547381)

The original Muslims were conquered by the Mongols and the Turks who later converted to Islam and took on their customs. A lot of the Turkish people were Jewish at the time they conquered the arabs

Their empire did not last longer than Rome

Re:Visigoths (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42547863)

Their empire did not last longer than Rome

O RLY [wikipedia.org]?

Re:Visigoths (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42548485)

YA RLY [slashdot.org]!

I'm not the guy you're responding to here - I wrote the comment that I just linked you to. The Roman Empire existed in various forms for nearly 2000 years. The Caliphate made it for about 1300. The Caliphate did not last longer than Rome. Linking to a wikipedia article which actively undermines your point doesn't make you more believable.

"Heavens, AC, how does it undermine my point?!" you're not doubt exclaiming. Well the answer to that can be found in the section titled, "The Shadow Caliphate," which talks about how the Caliphate was conquered by the Mongols around 1250, and the Caliph was a caliph in name only - ruling virtually nothing. If you're going to consider that 250 year interval before the Ottoman's took control to be "part of the Caliphate," why then, I declare myself the Holy Roman Emperor, and may the Roman Empire live forever! After all, as long as *somebody* has the title, the government exists... right?

Re:Visigoths (2)

G-forze (1169271) | about a year ago | (#42549073)

I'll just leave this here... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egypt [wikipedia.org]

Re:Visigoths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42549535)

Thanks for the link! How does any of that change what I've said about the Caliphate?

Sadly for your snarky dig, I'm well aware of the dynasties of Egypt, and even China, both of which lasted longer than the Roman Empire.

You might notice that in the comment I linked to above (also written by me), I specifically said, "your history sucks as bad as his does." My response about the Caliphate was NOT a defense of the original statement, it was a critique of girlintraining's assertion, which is completely wrong.

Re:Visigoths (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42549879)

What I make up from that is that the Caliphates isnt a empire on its own, is a term used for a series of empires:

" The term caliphate is often applied to successions of Muslim empires that have existed in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. "

So it more a governing system with a few extra's tacked on that where all shared by the empires that succeed eachother. Each of these empires had other rulers though.

Re:Visigoths (1)

seyyah (986027) | about a year ago | (#42550551)

The original Muslims were conquered by the Mongols and the Turks who later converted to Islam and took on their customs. A lot of the Turkish people were Jewish at the time they conquered the arabs.

There were Jewish and, especially, Christian Turks (or rather Turkic peoples)*, but those that conquered the Arabs were long Muslim.

* And there are still plenty today.

Re:Visigoths (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42547661)

Oh yeah, the Caliphate was totally stable! Except it wasn't. Guess what? Your history sucks just as bad as his does.

That's why assassinations, coups, and civil wars were common, and there was very little common "thread" binding together the various caliphates. See: Umayyad dynasty 7th-8th centuries; Abbasid dynasty (incidentally, they overthrew the Umayyad dynasty), 8th-13th century; Fatimid caliphate, which was coincidental with the Abbasid dynasty because it broke off from the Abbasids; the conquest of Baghdad by Mongols around 1250, after which the Caliph became more or less a titular figure who existed in secret, with absolutely no power, until the rise of the Ottomans in the 1500's.

But you know, aside from all those civil wars, rebellions, warring dynasties, and an interruption of 300 years or so under Mongol rule... the Caliphates were totally stable and long-lived. As far as spanning three continents - you're aware that the Roman empire also "spanned three continents" - in fact, the same continents that the Caliphates did? And, in fact, that's pretty much table stakes for any "empire" operating in or near the central or eastern mediterranean? Africa on the south, Europe on the north, and Asia on the East means you're on a new continent pretty much any direction you go in.

If you're going to consider the Caliphates a single, monolithic entity, then you have to also consider Rome to be one: the Roman Republic (est. ~500 BC), the Western Roman Empire (~25BC - ~500 AD), and the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, which endured from about 350 AD to ca. 1450 AD. In all, that's nearly 2000 years of Roman rule.

But I'm sure the Prophet and his followers greatly value your white knighting of their achievements. No doubt they'll install you as the next Caliph in this mythical long, unbroken line of urbane civilization and democratic governance. At best, the Caliphates existed from about 650 AD to 1924. That's about 1300 years. Comparison of ~1950 years to ~1300 years to determine which is a longer period of time is left as an exercise for you, dear reader.

Re:Visigoths (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about a year ago | (#42552369)

Well, your Roman maths really depend on adding West Roman years to East Roman years while pretending they're the same. It's not even the same geographical area. The Romans never really were all that great with numbers.

Re:Visigoths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42552991)

No, my Roman maths really depend on taking the start of the Roman Republic, circa 500 BC, and calculating until the end of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, in 1450 AD. In case you didn't catch it, 500 BC is equivalent to "-500" AD - 500 years prior to the beginning of AD reckoning.

End Date - Start Date = Duration. 1450 AD - 500 BC = 1950 years.

That the Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empires fragmented out as different geographical units at different times from the same Roman Republic and early Roman Empire is irrelevant for this point - If you're going to declare that the multitude of distinct Caliphates make up a single monolithic "caliphate" from 650 AD to 1924, then you have to also allow for the same principle when analyzing Rome.

Re:Visigoths (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about a year ago | (#42559251)

No, I'm trying to point out that although the East Roman Empire lasted an impressive 1100 years (and more, really), the Roman Empire itself, which it split off from, didn't last quite that long, and that adding them together is disingenuous. If you weren't so busy defending Western civilisation from the Caliphate, you would probably notice that I did in fact not say anything about the Caliphate at all.

Re:Visigoths (1)

Methuseus (468642) | about a year ago | (#42556469)

As the AC says, the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire was originally part of the West Roman Empire. It was a schism, so they really were the same empire for a long time. Also, the Caliphates, as said above, were different empires. If you really want to get technical like that, the Holy Roman Empire actually endured until the mid 19th century, and started well before the Caliphates, which, by definition, couldn't have started until over 1000 years after the Roman empire, since the Caliphates were specifically Muslim. And when was Islam founded?

Re:Visigoths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42547695)

You simply can't make the argument that the Caliphates existed until 1924 while in the same breath dismissing Rome and Byzantium's staying power as some sort of discontinuity.
The Ottoman Empire is about as much a Caliphate as Imperial Britain is a Roman Province.

Yes, but (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year ago | (#42548543)

Except the West has no desire to return to the 3rd century. Large chunks of the Levant, however, would damn sure love to return to the 12th.

Re:Visigoths (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about a year ago | (#42550795)

Islam is only 1400 years old, and the Muslim started fracturing at the very death of Muhammad, when they couldn't agree over who was his successor. The place where I live was taken back from the Muslim (by the Normans) exactly because they were fighting each other, in no way acting as a unified empire.

Re:Visigoths (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#42546971)

Except all the mobile hardware already has drivers for and has been tuned to Android's linux kernel. The GPL has permitted things like Cyanogenmod which really causes the ecosystem to flourish. It would be imprudent to discard all that work for the sake of a license which will close off many vendors' platforms.

Re:Visigoths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42547239)

Cyanogenmod doesn't cause anything to "flourish". Cyanogenmod is used by a very very small (compared to the whole) number of people who either got a really locked down Android with their device, never got an upgrade beyond 2.2 or so, or a small number of HP TouchPad owners.

Remember that Google recently touted how 60% of their users were now using ICS or better ... ? Remember that ICS is now two years old, and that means that the majority of 40% of their users are still using 2.3.

Of course, there's another Qt/QML/HTML system: Open webOS.

Re:Visigoths (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42548149)

It would be imprudent to discard all that work for the sake of a license which will close off many vendors' platforms.

When has prudence had anything to do with the indelible need of geeks to create Nifty Cool Things? When Linux was first created, it was viewed as one of the stupidest things someone could do with their time. Richard Stallman dwelled in bearded obscurity, and Hypercard was considered a good introduction to programming. And yet, here we are.

There's no reason we couldn't switch over to BSD... I mean, look at MacOS X. It didn't need the GPL to flourish.

Re:Visigoths (1)

Microlith (54737) | about a year ago | (#42548415)

When has prudence had anything to do with the indelible need of geeks to create Nifty Cool Things?

That's unrelated to his point, which would be that if you moved Android or whatnot to a BSD kernel, you would be even more locked out of these devices than you already are.

There's no reason we couldn't switch over to BSD...

There's no reason you couldn't, but there are plenty of reasons not to. Particularly with respect to device manufacturers with a fetish for not releasing sources.

look at MacOS X. It didn't need the GPL to flourish.

Instead it had a marketing machine behind it and a thin veneer of *NIX on top. In areas actually important to Apple, they're aggressively hostile to anyone interested in a *NIX userspace.

Re:Visigoths (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year ago | (#42548595)

Not necessarily. Depending on the goal of the company. In the case of Google, MeeGo/Sailfish and WebOS I think there's an interest in having the product open-source.

Re:Visigoths (2)

Microlith (54737) | about a year ago | (#42549657)

In the case of Google, MeeGo/Sailfish and WebOS I think there's an interest in having the product open-source.

And in the case of MeeGo/Sailfish, they actively use GPL projects. Google actively avoids and replaces them, other than the kernel. Handset vendors, however, have a perverse fetish for releasing as little as they can get away with.

This seems relevent (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42546797)

http://xkcd.com/927/

Re:This seems relevent (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year ago | (#42554479)

Hopefully, this won't be the case, since it's the actual developers of the former standards that are sitting together to discuss (and hopefully) simplemente a new one. This means that it'll actually come to replace the former standards, since it's not actually a third party's one.

Like with Gnome vs KDE (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#42547391)

As long you can run the apps of one in all the others (leaving minor "cosmetic" things like particular features of the desktop integration) is all good. All those have its own particularities, but all run linux, qt, html5 apps. Running in a platform that don't enable me to put buttons in my minimized icon like in sailfish? is ok, just don't show it. They all have a lot of things in common (i.e. notifications) in the interface and some things that make then better suited for one environment over other (i.e. don't think sailfish interface is meant for tablets, like i.e. plasma active, or even phones too big to be handled with just one hand, where ubuntu could be better), but what matters is that if i develop for one could run in the rest.

The holiest of grails? (2)

caywen (942955) | about a year ago | (#42547711)

an open and vendor neutral application development strategy

That sounds like the near future of HTML5 and more advanced browsers. But when you add...

... around the commonality of QtQuick and Linux

... well, hmm, ok, the first part sounded great. What's with the second part?

Re:The holiest of grails? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42547927)

Except HTML5 is shit. Users don't want shitty web apps. If the did there would be no need for the iOS or Android SDKs.

Re:The holiest of grails? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42551911)

I've yet to meet a mobile developer who would prefer HTML5 over native if the project budget allows. HTML5 is for those cases when you are forced to compromise.

And frankly, Qt+QML is probably the most advanced GUI toolkit out there, bar none. This is excellent news, though I'm a bit sceptical considering Symbian and Meego, two platforms from a single vendor, failed to have a common component API.

unified Base (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42550247)

Good Idea. That would make development more simple and not every App has to be written twice. I think choice is importent and there should be many different options but they should be compatible with eache other. I do not think that anything else would make sense as I am shure that it would not affect the customizability

2013 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42551397)

Year of the Mobile Linux

Alliance with RIM? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about a year ago | (#42551805)

The summary seemed Linux-centric - BB10 is Qt's best chance of achieving mass penetration in mobile devices.

Yes I know that QNX ain't Linux and BB10 ain't free software but sometimes the enemy of my enemy (WP8, iOS, Android) is my friend...

Re:Alliance with RIM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42552891)

why is Android your enemy? it's open-sourcce, it's giving you code for free. 50 years from now there will be no Disney saying: "we've renewed our copyright, you can't innovate on that". There will only be better uses of the foundational code.

Re:Alliance with RIM? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about a year ago | (#42553181)

'enemy' in the sense of being a rival platform that uses a non-standard C library and graphics stack that make dalvik somewhat non-portable to other platforms.

The distros mentioned in the summary are also based on the Linux kernel but feature a more traditional GNU userland and Qt graphics stack.

Re:Alliance with RIM? (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year ago | (#42554485)

Actually, I think it's ok to say that the other three distros are true unix-like GNU/Linux, while android is not unix-like at all.

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