Apertis 15.12 Release

15.12 is the current stable development distribution of Apertis, a Debian/Ubuntu derivative distribution geared towards the creation of product-specific images for ARM (ARMv7 using the hardfloat ABI) and Intel x86 (64/32-bit Intel) systems. Features which are planned for Apertis can be found on the Roadmap page.

What’s available in the distribution?

The software stack in 15.12 is comprised of the following technologies:

  • Linux 4.2
  • Graphical subsystem based on X.org X server 1.17.2 and Clutter 1.22.4 with full Multi-Touch support
  • Network management subsytem provided by ConnMan 1.27, BlueZ 4.101 and Ofono 1.14
  • Multimedia support provided by GStreamer 1.0
  • The Telepathy framework, with XMPP and SIP support
  • The Folks contact management framework
  • The Clutter port of the WebKit browser engine with support for WebGL
  • The GTK+ port of WebKit with features from WebKit Clutter ported to it and a ClutterActor wrapper
  • Size scaled down Apertis image
  • Graphical subsystem image based on Wayland protocol 1.8.1

What’s new in the distribution?

  • Apertis module code reviews
  • Preferences and Persistence design
  • Geolocation and Navigation design
  • Sensors and Actuators design
  • Application Entry Points design
  • Application Layout design
  • Security design
  • Design reviews
  • Initial release of Tartan static analyser
  • JSON testing with Walbottle
  • Containerisation design
  • Text to Speech design
  • hotdoc: new API documentation tool
  • UI Customisation design
  • Example SDK application testing
  • systemd activation for all D-Bus services
  • AppArmor denials cleaned up on boot
  • Application manager’s AppArmor profile is enforced
  • Application manager high-level library
  • Improved media management tests
  • DLT support
  • GIR support in Apertis libraries
  • Preliminary BlueZ 5 support

Release downloads

Apertis 15.12 images
Intel 32-bit
Intel 64-bit / Minnowboard MAX

Apertis 15.12 repositories

 deb https://repositories.apertis.org/apertis/ 15.12 target helper-libs development sdk hmi

Apertis 15.12 infrastructure tools

For Debian Jessie based systems:

 deb https://repositories.apertis.org/debian/ jessie tools

For Ubuntu Trusty based systems:

 deb https://repositories.apertis.org/ubuntu/ trusty tools

Apertis 15.12 Release

This release builds on the Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily) release as its base distribution. The 15.12 release has been verified in the 15.12 test report.

Apertis module code reviews

The code for various Apertis modules has been reviewed for the 15.12 release. As a result of these reviews, various bug fixes and API improvements may be made in future.

In some cases, more review and improvement is anticipated to be needed in subsequent quarters.

  • Breamore
  • Canterbury
  • Eye
  • Frampton
  • Frome
  • libclapton
  • libgrassmoor
  • liblightwood
  • libthornbury
  • Rhayader
  • Ribchester
  • Upchurch

Preferences and Persistence design

The Preferences and Persistence design has been expanded to give more user experience suggestions and a more thorough treatment of background research.

Geolocation and Navigation design

An initial version of a design for handling navigation, geolocation, geocoding, geofencing and other position-based services in the SDK has been produced and reviewed. Further minor changes are needed before the design is finished, but the overall architecture has been laid out.

Sensors and Actuators design

The Sensors and Actuators design has been expanded to cover the use case of multiple and changing sets of vehicles, a more rigorous design for the security of the system, and other minor changes as a result of review. Further minor changes may be made before it is considered final, but the design is quite complete now.

Application Entry Points design

The Application Entry Points design provides recommendations for how to install and enumerate application entry points, which can be used to represent graphical menu entries, content-type handlers, and other applications and agents that implement some interface. It also provides recommendations for a transitional path from the historical GSchema-based approach to the recommended .desktop-file-based approach.

The majority of the built-in applications in the Apertis image have already been converted to this scheme. The Eye video player and the various non-app-based services will be converted during the next quarter, at which point backwards compatibility with the GSchema-based approach can be removed from the Canterbury application manager.

Application Layout design

The Application Layout design updates and clarifies the Applications design document to provide concrete recommendations for how the files in application bundles should be laid out, including support for multi-user, upgrade, rollback and data reset use cases.

Some parts of this design have already been implemented: in particular, several built-in applications have been updated to use the recommended naming scheme based on reversed domain names.

Security design

The Security design document has been updated and expanded. It now describes the general security model and threat model for the platform, including the trust boundaries between users and between application bundles, and the need to mediate communication between application bundles. External references to Android, iOS and Linux LSMs have been updated. New chapters describe polkit (formerly PolicyKit) and the xdg-app containerisation framework (see Containerisation design), and provide recommendations for how we can use them to improve Apertis functionality and security.

Design reviews

The designs for Breamore (system update server) and Curridge (app store server) have been reviewed, and some improvements to the implementations of these components planned as a result.

Initial release of Tartan static analyser

Tartan, the Clang static analyser plugin for adding GLib- and GObject-specific analyses, has been packaged as an initial release for Apertis. This includes support for GVariant, g_object_new() and GSignal type checking, plus a variety of nullability and GError correctness checks. It can be run from the SDK or the target, on any project which can be built using Clang.

JSON testing with Walbottle

Walbottle has been improved to give better coverage of JSON schemas which use multiple levels of nested subschemas, and has been integrated with libthornbury, finding several bugs in its widget parser, widget styler and view parser implementations, which have all been fixed.

Containerisation design

Initial research on the requirements and use cases for an implementation of containerisation (sandboxing) of applications running on Apertis has been done, and once reviewed will form the basis for a design proposal for containerisation. Extensive background research has been done on existing containerisation solutions for Android, iOS and Linux, including a detailed look at iOS’ application sandbox (based on TrustedBSD) and xdg-app for Linux.

One aspect of contained applications is that they should have access to only a subset of all user settings. After discussion and collaboration with upstream developers, work has started to write the AppService project. It is a D-Bus service that will expose to each application only the subset of settings which its AppArmor profile allows it to read and write. This change is transparent to applications which already use the GSettings API. A new GSettingsBackend has been implemented to deal with all the details. Current work-in-progress code is available at https://git.collabora.com/cgit/user/xclaesse/appservice.git

Text to Speech design

An initial design for a text-to-speech (TTS) API for the Apertis SDK has been produced, including background research on various existing solutions for Android, iOS and Linux, and an initial proposal for the structure and API of the service. The overall architecture for this service is mostly settled, but minor updates are expected to the document in the new year before it is implemented.

hotdoc: new API documentation tool

The 0.6.3 version of hotdoc is packaged for use in the SDK.

Hotdoc has been designed as a documentation micro-framework. It provides an interface for extensions to plug upon, along with some base objects (formatters, …)

It is also designed as an incremental documentation system. Along with its final output, it produces a database of symbols and a dependency graph, which can be reused at the next run, or queried upon externally.

For example, the ‘hotdoc server’ uses hotdoc to provide wiki-like functionalities: users can edit and preview the documentation, and the server patches the sources it was extracted from.

The extensions currently implemented are listed at https://github.com/hotdoc.

The hotdoc HTML formatter also supports theming. Its base output has no stylesheets or scripts applied to it whatsoever — this is handled by themes, which can override the base templates. By default, hotdoc will use a theme based on bootstrap and isotope, see 1 for its sources.

Hotdoc also now supports the definition of custom tags to apply to the documented symbols. The default theme uses isotope to allow the users to filter the documentation client-side (for example, to only see symbols in a given version of the documented library), and the ‘tag’ extension allows the generated documentation, ‘server-side’ to be pre-filtered at build time.

The hotdoc server is still in a phase of testing, but the initial prototype is ready, and implements important required functionality: users can edit the documentation after authenticating themselves with a common authentication provider (support is implemented for GitHub, Google and Facebook accounts). While editing the source code comments, the user can see a live preview being updated, and after having provided an edit message, they can publish their changes. They then get redirected to the updated page, and a git commit is made to keep track of their changes. A demonstration of this for the libgrassmoor documentation is available at https://docs.apertis.org/.

UI Customisation design

The UI Customisation Design document has had its first draft released. It aims to cover the architectural design of Apertis widgets and how they should be used. It contains lots of use cases and strives to cover these cases with requirements and recommendations.

It still contains some open questions, relating to technologies and use cases. We are hoping that with a review some of these questions can be answered and addressed.

Example SDK application testing

The running environment of an application bundle changes as Apertis is developed. The instructions for writing an application bundle on the SDK have been checked and updated at HelloWorldBundle. The process of walking through these steps to create an example application revealed some bugs in the SDK, which have been fixed.

systemd activation for all D-Bus services

All D-Bus session services in the target image, and the majority in the SDK image, are now launched as systemd user services, which means that each service runs in its own cgroup which can be subjected to resource limits, configured for automatic restart and so on. As well as integrating the resulting changes into Apertis, we have submitted them as enhancements for the upstream projects, and in many cases the enhancement has already been merged. This is a continuation of similar work in 15.09 which configured every D-Bus system service to be launched as a systemd system service.

This involved changes to these third-party projects: at-spi2-core, blueman colord, dconf, evince, evolution-data-server, gconf, geoclue, glib-networking, gvfs, obexd, syncevolution, telepathy-gabble, telepathy-mission-control-5, thunar, tracker, tumbler, xfce4-notifyd, xfconf, zeitgeist. Additionally, it uncovered a bug in dbus-daemon’s activation code, which was fixed upstream and in Apertis.

The next steps for this topic are:

  • do the same for the remaining non-systemd-activated services in the SDK image (which are related to gnome-keyring, and were added after this work was completed)
  • modify dbus-daemon to disable its traditional service launching mechanism, ensuring that every activated service added in future will be a systemd service

AppArmor denials cleaned up on boot

The AppArmor profiles for many components have been improved so that they do not log denials during a reboot.

  • Apertis components: Beckfoot, Canterbury, Chalgrove, Corbridge, Frampton, mildenhall-launcher, mildenhall-mutter-plugin, mildenhall-statusbar, Newport, Ribchester, Shapwick, Tinwell
  • Apertis profiles for third-party components: Avahi, ConnMan

Bugs and tasks have been opened for some issues which need additional investigation or code changes: , , , , , ,

We plan to continue this cleanup in subsequent releases, and already have work-in-progress profiles for Barkway, Didcot and Prestwood.

Application manager’s AppArmor profile is enforced

Canterbury, the application manager service, now has its AppArmor profile applied in enforcing mode. This means that instead of merely providing informational ‘complaint’ messages if it takes an unauthorized action, unauthorized actions are now denied.

All of the applications and services that are run by Canterbury must now have a matching AppArmor profile: it is not yet required to be in enforcing mode, but it must exist. Applications and services not meeting that requirement will not be launched.

We plan to place additional AppArmor profiles in enforcing mode in subsequent releases.

Application manager high-level library

Canterbury, the application manager service, now provides a high-level library, libcanterbury-0, for use by applications and services.

This library currently provides APIs with which a process can query its own identity, and the identities of processes with which it communicates via D-Bus. In the latter case, it is intended to guide service and agent authors into safe usage patterns that avoid time-of-check/time-of-use vulnerabilities. It should be preferred over more general but lower-level AppArmor interfaces.

Additionally, it provides an API call that processes can use to determine a correct persistence directory, using a simple subset of the Application Layout design.

Additional APIs will be added to this library where needed for future work. In particular, it is an appropriate place to encapsulate the implementation of those parts of the Application Layout design and Application Entry Point design that do not need to cross privilege boundaries.

Improved media management tests

Tracker and Grilo tests have been completely rewritten in a much more manageable way. These tests are now more reliable and no longer subject to race conditions which caused them to spuriously fail before. Additional unit tests have been added to them to increase coverage of thumbnailing and media art behaviour on removable devices (i.e. USB drives).

DLT support

Support for GENIVI’s diagnostic log and trace (DLT) project has been added to Apertis, including the DLT server on target images, and the graphical DLT viewer on the SDK. The DLT server has been integrated with the systemd journal by default, so that all journal messages can be exported to a DLT viewer for analysis.

GIR support in Apertis libraries

A significant amount of work has been done on libgrassmoor, libclapton, libseaton, liblightwood and libthornbury to ensure their APIs are suitable for gobject-introspection (GIR). This is needed for the hotdoc documentation tool and for exposing those SDK APIs in languages like JavaScript and Python. As this work changes the APIs of these libraries in several ways, it will land very early in the 16.03 cycle to give maximum time for stabilising dependencies.

Preliminary BlueZ 5 support

Several components have been updated for version 5 of the BlueZ Bluetooth framework, following migration to that version by Ubuntu. This new version has major API changes, which require synchronized alterations to multiple Bluetooth-related packages and a rewrite of our automated tests for this feature.

These new versions have not been integrated in 15.12 to avoid disruption late in the cycle, and will be integrated during the 16.03 cycle.


Updated packages

During Q4 cycle, several activities have been carried out to be able to rebase Apertis against new upstream base (Ubuntu Wily Werewolf), updating the platform with new features and updated for bug and security fixes. A total of 200 packages have been modified out of 509 in target component; 171 packages out of 1155 in development component; and 92 out of 528 in SDK.

SDK component now supports a new architecture, 64 bit Intel, and a new platform image is provided for that architecture.

In addition to base distribution, a new repository component for helper libraries (“helper-libs”) have been added to the repository, with the purpose of allowing target applications to build on top of those. HMI packages have also been updated to their latest stable version.

OBS Build Projects

Shared Repositories

Repositories are found at:

 deb https://repositories.apertis.org/apertis/ 15.12 target helper-libs development sdk hmi


Image daily builds, as well as release builds can be found at:


Image build tools can be found in the Apertis tools repositories. Note that a string is added to package version depending on the distribution suite based on. For example, if trusty system is to be used expect to install image-builder_7trusty1

Package Version
image-builder, image-tools 7
apertis-image-configs, apertis-image-scripts (*) 15
linaro-image-tools, python-linaro-image-tools 2012.09.1-1co38
parted, libparted0debian1 2.3-11ubuntu1co3
python-debian >=0.1.25

Test Framework

LAVA service at Collabora triggers test cases upon image builds, service is found at:


The list of available test cases, including those can be found here.

LAVA service packages are available in the Apertis tools repository. To be able to install it, please follow instructions

Known issues

  • - factory-reset-tool TC: flagcheck messages are hidden by Plymouth

  • - folks-sync-only test fails: ofono persona store never becomes quiescent

  • - tracker-indexing-local-storage: test-tracker AssertionError in tumbler_assert_thumbnailed

  • - Crash observed in youtube site on GtkClutterLauncher

  • - sdk images don’t have GPL-3 tar and coreutils, can’t build debhelper-based packages

  • - Crash observed in www.cnn.com page on MxLauncher

  • - sdk-performance-tools-sysprof-smoke-test: Test failed for AMD64 SDK

  • - Traffic-control-tcdemo:Video screen transparent partially

  • - cgroups-resource-control: Some tests failed for ARM and i386

  • - apparmor-folks: run-test-folks failed in all platforms

  • - xoo-soft-keys-emulation: xterm: fatal IO error 11 (Resource temporarily unavailable)