Update: New client, Xenial packages, Tox in Google Play, Toxcore fork and more!

Hello everyone! It’s been more than two months since the last update and quite a few things have happened since then, so an update is due.

Website

A new client has been added to our website — Toxygen. It’s written in python and uses Qt for its UI. Give it a try and see if you like it. You can get it for Windows and Linux from Toxygen’s Releases page. We also provide Debian and Ubuntu packages for it in our nightly package repository.

Packaging

Thanks to Encrypt’s and tux3’s efforts, we now provide packages for Ubuntu Xenial. As of writing this, the following client packages are available in nightly Xenial: Toxic, Toxygen and uTox.

New packages were added to our package repository: uTox, Ricin and Toxygen. While we did package uTox before, it was just a static binary, whereas now we have proper shared binaries made for target distributions. Ricin is currently available only in the stable repository, but should soon also be available in the nightly.

If you have been following qTox blog — and yes, qTox got its blog, we recommend you follow it if you are a qTox user — you should know that qTox has moved from distributing Linux packages through our packaging infrastructure to using openSUSE’s Open Build Service (OBS) platform, mainly as OBS allows to create packages for more Linux flavors than just Debian and Ubuntu, such as Fedora, openSUSE, CentOS and a few more. Because of this, tux3, the main qTox developer, has stopped maintaining qTox Linux packages in our package repository, but he is against removing them just yet to allow for smoother transition of users to OBS. Encrypt, the other packaging enthusiast, has said that he is willing to maintain qTox packages in our package repository in tux3’s stead, which tux3 is not against, and he will look into adding support for .rpm packages (used by Fedora, openSUSE, CentOS, etc.) to our infrastructure. Packaging is a surprisingly hard and arcane process, so if you have experience with creating proper .rpm packages in target distribution’s chroots, we could use some help — please email Encrypt.

Using Tox package repository

Just as a reminder, here are instructions on how to get our packages on Debian and Ubuntu systems.

We currently support Debian Jessie (8/stable), Debian Stretch (9/testing), Debian Sid (unstable), Ubuntu Vivid (15.04), Ubuntu Wily (15.10) and Ubuntu Xenial (16.04 LTS), i386 and amd64 architectures. To add our package repository, run the following commands, replacing TRACK with either stable or nightly and replacing RELEASE with one of jessie, stretch, sid, vivid, wily or xenial, appropriate for your Debian/Ubuntu release. Packages in the stable track are generally updated whenever a client releases a new version, and packages in the nightly track are updated once a day with the most recent development progress, if any.

echo "deb https://pkg.tox.chat/debian TRACK RELEASE" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/tox.list
wget -qO - https://pkg.tox.chat/debian/pkg.gpg.key | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https
sudo apt-get update
# List all client packages available
grep -h 'Package: ' /var/lib/apt/lists/pkg.tox.chat* | grep -v ' lib'

There is also a special RELEASE called release available, which provides statically built versions of some of the clients. It’s not very well maintained, it’s there mostly for historic reasons, as this was the very first release name we had in our package repository and we advertised it to users. If you are on one of the supported Debian/Ubuntu releases mentioned above but you use the release release, we advise to switch to the release appropriate for your Debian/Ubuntu version.

In the future we plan on making nightly packages to be updated as soon as developers push new code for them, which might happen more frequently than once a day. We also plan on dropping Ubuntu Vivid and Ubuntu Wily support at some point, as those Ubuntu releases have reached their end of life, and adding support for Ubuntu Yakkety.

Android

Antox got published on Google Play. Previously Antox was available only though our F-Droid repo, Google Play testing and as a direct APK download, but now everyone can easily find and download it through Google Play. While we believe that it might be a bit too early to make it publicly available for everyone, given that Toxcore is not optimized for mobile yet: it uses a lot of data and keeps CPU busy, resulting in increased battery usage, which might turn people away from Tox, the Antox developer decided that it’s the perfect time to publicly release it, so here we have it. Install it, test it and report any issues to Antox issue tracker.

Shockingly enough, uTox also got published on Google Play. uTox is a native Linux application, not an Android application, made to run on Android. As such, you can expect it having UI different to what regular Android applications have, to the point that it might be not very usable. It’s surprising to see it being released on Google Play, as uTox for Android was created as a joke, just to prove that you indeed can run it on Android, it wasn’t supposed to be used by anyone. You can give it a try if you feel adventurous enough, and report bugs to uTox issue tracker, but we’d suggest waiting for uTox to be properly ported on Android as an Android application, rather than a generic Linux application.

The story goes that Antox developer didn’t want to publish Antox on Google Play until Toxcore becomes more mobile friendly, so the uTox developer published uTox to Google Play just to provoke Antox developer publishing Antox. Such mind games our developers play with each other.

Toxcore

Toxcore’s developer, irungentoo, has been very busy lately and unable to find time to work on Toxcore. Because any change to Toxcore should be first reviewed and approved by irungentoo, as he is the only one who can merge changes, Toxcore development has been stalled for some time now. To get around this, a non-hostile Toxcore fork was created by iphy, where the development is currently ongoing.

You might have noticed that the fork was created in TokTok GitHub organization. What is TokTok? TokTok initially was one of Google Summer of Code 2015 projects mentored by iphy, specifically it was the New Android Client project (GitHub repository). iphy has extended the idea since then greatly, to the point of making it a distributed storage and computing platform, but the fact that it’s still built on top of Toxcore remains unchanged. Why is the new Toxcore fork in the TokTok GitHub organization? iphy was quick on forking Toxcore, setting up automated testing and review system, opening bug reports and adding code contributions, so that before we could even get iphy to explain what the fork is about and decide whether we should support it and move it to the Tox GitHub organization, it has already became problematic to move it to Tox organization because everything would need to be re-setup again, so we just left it there, at least for now. We might move it to the Tox GitHub organization later, but for now we don’t really care where it is, what we care is improving Toxcore.

The current goal that we work towards in the forked Toxcore is to test whether Toxcore does what the Tox specification says it should be doing. Since the Tox specification was written after the Toxcore implementation was made, not the other way around, Toxcore currently has no specification-based tests. Having a specification testing framework would allow us to test Toxcore and any possible future Tox implementation against the claims made in the Tox specification, which also would allow for an easy way of extending the Tox specification and having those extensions tested. This goal also would allow us to get more familiar with Toxcore codebase, as previously only irungentoo had a good knowledge of it. After the specification-based testing will be complete and we become familiar with Toxcore codebase, we will be able to proceed with including new features into the Tox specification and implementing them.

Multidevice

Multidevice support is not yet complete, Grayhatter and several other contributors are still working on it. Some of the things that need to be done include support of synchronization of video and audio calls, file transfers and friend deletion actions.

New group chats

New group chat support is currently not being worked on by anyone. As you might have read from the previous update blog post, the new group chats are almost fully implemented in JFreegman’s Toxcore fork, the only thing needed for them to work properly is the TCP-DHT support by Toxcore. Irungentoo has said that he will work on adding TCP-DHT to Toxcore, but as he has been busy, he never got to adding TCP-DHT to Toxcore and we don’t know when he will have time to do that. Also, because the current goal of the Toxcore fork is to be fully tested against Tox specification, and both TCP-DHT and the new group chat are not (yet) part of the specification, we can’t implement them before we are done with the testing, as implementing them would make Toxcore behave in a way that is not conforming with the current Tox specification. For now we are trying to avoid modifying Toxcore behavior, until we are done with the specification-based tests. We believe that with irungentoo being less active, having specification-based tests and good understanding of Toxcore is a good investment of our time before we move to implementing other features, such as TCP-DHT for the new group chat, so don’t be upset if your favorite feature didn’t make it in, we are slowly but steadily working on it.

That’s all for now, until the next time!

14 Comments

  1. > synchronization of video and audio calls

    Does that mean something along the lines of “you call one device, and all other devices belonging to the same person light up”? Am I guessing correctly?

    1. Yep. To my understanding, all multi-device does is syncing. You pair several Tox clients and they keep the contact list in sync, messages in sync, etc. Video/audio calls and file transfers are different than regular messages, so they need a special handling when syncing, which is still to be implemented.

      1. Got an idea for you.
        Say, I’m walking home, toxing on my phone. Then, when I come home, I want to continue talking from my PC. It would be awesome to pass the call to my other device seamlessly, without having to re-dial that person I’m talking to.

        Guess, that wouldn’t be too hard to implement as long as all devices know about all other devices: you just give user a list, and then he decides what device to pass the call to.

    1. >Care for bi-monthly update?
      The issue with bi-monthly updates is that in some months a lot of things happen, while in other there is not that much to write about.

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