For the past few weeks I’ve been using a nexus 4 running ubuntu touch as, mostly, my daily driver. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. In part that’s just the awesome size of the nexus 4. In part, it’s the ubuntu touch interface itself. If you haven’t tried it, you really should. (Sailfish ambiances are so much prettier, but ubuntu touch is much nicer to use – the quick switch to switch between two apps, for instance. Would that I could have both.). And in part it’s just the fact that it really feels like – is – a regular ubuntu system.
There have been a few problems. The biggest has been to do with email. I need a phone to do only a few things well – texts, calls, and imap email. The only imap mailer available by default, dekko2, looks very nice and is promising, but was simply not yet reliable for me. It would simply stop getting updates for hours, with no warning, for instance. So I’ve taken to using an ubuntu-push notification system for email notifications, and mutt and offlineimap in a libertine container for reading and sending. The notification system is based on https://forums.ubports.com/topic/3126/facebook-messenger-push-notifications/2 and the python mailbox library. It runs on my mail server, checks for new mail, and, if there is any, sends a push notification to my phone. The code I’m using is here on launchpad and here on github. It can certainly stand to be made a bit smarter (the seenmsgs list should be pruned, for instance, and maildir and mh folder support should be trivial to add for those cool cats who use those). Using this service instead of having the phone try to check for emails not only ends up being very reliable, but also saves a lot of battery life.
All in all this could definately work as my permanent new phone! Now if I could just get my hands on a pinephone or librem 5. The nexus 4 hardware is great, but it would be awesome being able to run an uptodate, upstream kernel. More than that – now that my experiment has succeeded, I probably need to stop, because running the ancient kernel simply is not as safe as I’d like. But I digress.
A huge thanks to Mark and the original touch team for creating it, and to the ubports team for keeping it going.
Nice job, everyone!