Ubuntu Touch Demo for Mobile Asia Expo

Last week, I attended Mobile Asia Expo (MAE) in Shanghai. It was my first experience of China, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I got the chance to meet lots of folk from Canonical, as we all arrived from around the world to attend the trade show.

One of my tasks was to assist the London marketing team with loading the demo build we selected for showing off at the show. If you’d like to see it as well (what, you couldn’t fly to Shanghai to see it?), you can simply load it from our servers.

You’ll need a Nexus 4 or a Nexus 10 device, and you need to be prepared to replace the android software on it (you can go back). You need to setup the phablet-flash tool. The desktop setup part of our install instructions are sufficient, but the whole document is worth a read (this is still developer territory, and not quite for end users yet). Connect the device via it’s USB cable to your host Ubuntu desktop.

If your device has already been modified to run adb as root, the instructions are simple:

$ phablet-flash --legacy --revision raring/monthly-06  
$ phablet-network-setup  
$ phablet-demo-setup  

phablet-network-setup clones the current settings from the host laptop. If that’s not what you want you can configure the phone using it’s UI, before running phablet-demo-setup.

Note that you need ‘–legacy’ because our engineering teams have already moved forward to a new way of hosting the Android parts, and last weeks trade show image is old-style!

If your device needs to be prepared from scratch (it’s just come out of the box), then you need to use some extra steps:

First, boot the device to the bootloader (hold down the power key and volume down), and unlock it:

$ fastboot oem unlock

Now partition the storage, and format the data partitions:

$ fastboot -w

Now, download the binaries we’ll need.

$ phablet-flash -b -d mako -D --legacy --revision raring/monthly-06

Now load on the custom recovery image:

$ fastboot flash recovery ~/Downloads/phablet-flash/ubuntu-touch-preview/raring/raring/monthly-06/raring-preinstalled-recovery-armel+mako.img

Now, boot to recovery mode (select it from the bootloader menu), which has a working adb. We can push a zip to ‘/sdcard/autodeploy.zip’ and the recovery tool will flash it at next boot. First, do the android BSP:

$ adb push ~/Downloads/phablet-flash/ubuntu-touch-preview/raring/raring/monthly-06/raring-preinstalled-armel+mako.zip /sdcard/autodeploy.zip  
$ adb reboot recovery  

When the device has rebooted, and settles down to the charging icon, reboot it by hand to the recovery mode again, by booting to the bootloader and selecting recovery mode. We can now flash Ubuntu onto it:

$ adb push ~/Downloads/phablet-flash/ubuntu-touch-preview/raring/raring/monthly-06/raring-preinstalled-phablet-armhf.zip /sdcard/autodeploy.zip  
$ adb reboot recovery  

Now the device will boot into ubuntu, and you can add the demo content as before:

$ phablet-network-setup  
$ phablet-demo-setup  

If you have a Nexus 10, then substitute ‘manta’ where you see ‘mako’ above. Note that it needs both volume keys and the power button held down to get to the bootloader.

I found that sometimes this build would not populate the people lens correctly, or show the thumbnail pictures of contacts. I found that a reboot (after opening contacts in the phone app) worked to resolve it.

If you’re curious what changed to make these images ‘legacy’, it was the container switch, announced here.

3 thoughts on “Ubuntu Touch Demo for Mobile Asia Expo

  1. John Post author

    phablet-tools have just been bumped to version 1.0, and there are interface changes. If you want to recreate this demo, consult the announcement message, and make the appropriate tweaks to the command lines.

  2. Dave

    thanks for the article! I’m trying to get touch (raring) running on a Nexus 4 with a windows based machine, and your post here is the closest I’ve gotten to success. Boy, it has been frustrating. Maybe you have an idea where I am going wrong?

    Put the phone in developer mode, check Turn on USB debugging, check Install the naked drivers for the nexus 4, check download raring-preinstalled-recovery-armel+mako.img, raring-preinstalled-armel+mako.zip and raring-preinstalled-phablet-armhf.zip, check unlock bootloader, check partition storage and format partitions, check flash raring-preinstalled-recovery-armel+mako.img to recovery, check go into recovery and push raring-preinstalled-armel+mako.zip as autodeploy, check reboot, wait, and reboot to recovery, check push raring-preinstalled-phablet-armhf.zip as autodeploy, reboot, wait and reboot, check Then I get nothing. The device tries to boot, then turns itself off after 30 seconds or so.

    Any tips for me?

  3. Dave

    After spending 9 hours trying to get it to work, I headed home, where I have an Ubuntu machine. This morning, I installed it from there. I’m glad I had Ubuntu at home.

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