Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'community'

Nicholas Skaggs

On Community Governance

Recently the Community Council formally requested Jonathan Riddell to step away from his leadership role in the Kubuntu community. For many people this came as a shock. Who are the community council? Why would they have authority over Kubuntu and Jonathan? And what did he do to deserve this?

These are all valid questions! To be clear, despite being a part of the community team at Canonical, I was not a part of this decision. Nor were my fellow team members apart from Daniel and Michael who serve on the CC. It's important to remember this decision came from the Community Council.

For my part, I'd like to talk a little about the governance structure of ubuntu as I think it's important. Regardless of what you think about the decision, Johnathan, Kubuntu, or Canonical, I think it's a good idea we answer the questions of just who is the Community Council and what authority they have within the project. I've tried to present the facts about governance as clearly as possible here to the best of my ability, but I am happily corrected.

Who are the community council?
The are a group of volunteers who were elected by all of us who are community members. Mark sits as a permanent member and acts as SABDFL. He does vet out candidates, but anyone can be nominated. The elections are open and the most recent had several candidates to choose from. At the moment, two of the seven elected members (with Mark being the permanent 8th member) are Canonical employees.

What does the community council do?
One of the biggest responsibilities of the council are to act as a mediator and arbitrator for conflict between folks within the community. In addition, they help oversee the other councils, delegate responsibilities and ensure the community upholds the Code of Conduct.

Why do we need a community council?
The community council exists to help ensure the community has a way of dealing with conflicts, resolving disputes and making hard decisions when there is otherwise no clear majority or easy answer. They also are one of the primary ways the Code of Conduct is enforced.

Should the community council have authority in this matter?
In a nutshell, yes. As the ultimate upholders in Code of Conduct violations, the community council should have authority for any such violation.

Should I blindly trust the community council?
Of course not! They are a like any other elected official and abuse of power is something we have to deal with as humans. Respect the position and authority of leaders, but never grant them a free pass. And make sure you vote!

So what about this decision?
The decision made by the CC in this case is not an easy one. That said, while I don't agree with how this decision was communicated, I do respect the authority and position of the council to weigh in on these matters. This is important! These folks deserve our respect as volunteers who freely give their time to help ubuntu!

I empathize greatly with the Kubuntu Council and community as such a decision seemingly has a large perceived effect. Perhaps the actual ramifications aren't as great as they appear? Perhaps not. I hope and trust Johnathan will continue working on KDE and kubuntu. My hope for Kubuntu is they emerge as a stronger community and continue to produce an awesome distro.

And as for my opinion on if the CC should have made this decision? Remember being a sideline observer in matters like this that you intrinsically don't have all the facts. It's easy to point fingers and assume things. Hindsight also makes it easy to say you would have made a different decision or went about it a different way. I don't envy the position of anyone in the community council. As I've not personally had the pleasure of working with Johnathan anywhere near the extent these folks have I can honestly say I don't know. But the reality is my opinion doesn't matter here. Keep in mind ubuntu is a meritocracy, and while all opinions are welcomed, not all cast equal weight.

So please respect the authority of our community governance structure. Respect those who serve on both councils. Not satisfied? We vote again on Community Council members this year! Think we should tweak/enhance/change our governance structure? I welcome the discussion! I enjoyed learning more about ubuntu governance and I challenge you to do the same before you let your emotions run with your decisions.

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Michael Hall

Ubuntu is sponsoring the South East Linux Fest this year in Charlotte North Carolina, and as part of that event we will have a room to use all day Friday, June 12, for an UbuCon. UbuCon is a mini-conference with presentations centered around Ubuntu the project and it’s community.

I’m recruiting speakers to fill the last three hour-long slots, if anybody is willing and able to attend the conference and wants to give a presentation to a room full of enthusiastic Ubuntu users, please email me at mhall119@ubuntu.com. Topic can be anything Ubuntu related, design, development, client, cloud, using it, community, etc.

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Michael Hall

Ubuntu has been talking a lot about convergence lately, it’s something that we believe is going to be revolutionary and we want to be at the forefront of it. We love the idea of it, but so far we haven’t really had much experience with the reality of it.

image20150423_164034801I got my first taste of that reality two weeks ago, while at a work sprint in London. While Canonical has an office in London, it had other teams sprinting there, so the Desktop sprint I was at was instead held at a hotel. We planned to visit the office one day that week, it would be my first visit to any Canonical office, as well as my first time working at an actual office in several years. However, we also planned to meet up with the UK loco for release drinks that evening. This meant that we had to decide between leaving our laptops at the hotel, thus not having them to work on at the office, or taking them with us, but having to carry them around the pub all evening.

I chose to leave my laptop behind, but I did take my phone (Nexus 4 running Ubuntu) with me. After getting a quick tour of the office, I found a vacant seat at a desk, and pulled out my phone. Most of my day job can be done with the apps on my phone: I have email, I have a browser, I have a terminal with ssh, I can respond to our community everywhere they are active.

I spent the next couple of hours doing work, actual work, on my phone. The only problem I had was that I was doing it on a small screen, and I was burning through my battery. At one point I looked up and realized that the vacant desk I was sitting at was equipped with a laptop docking station. It had also a USB hub and an HDMI monitor cable available. If I had a slimport cable for my phone, I might have been able to plug it into this docking station and both power my phone and get a bigger screen to work with.

If I could have done that, I would have achieved the full reality of convergence, and it would have been just like if I had brought my laptop with me. Only with this I was able to simply slide it into my pocket when it was time to leave for drinks. It was tantalizingly close, I got a little taste of what it’s going to be like, and now I’m craving more of it.

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Michael Hall

A couple of years ago the Ubuntu download page introduced a way for users to make a financial contribution to the ongoing development of Ubuntu and it’s surrounding projects and community. Later a program was established within Canonical to make the money donated specifically for supporting the community available directly to members of the community who would use it to benefit the wider project.

During the last month, at the request of members of the Ubuntu community and the Community Council, we have undertaken a review of the this program. While conducting a more thorough analysis of the what was donated to us and when, it was discovered that we made an error in our initial reporting, which has unfortunately affected the accuracy of all subsequent reports as well.

What Happened?

Our first report, published in May of 2014, combined the amounts donated to the community slider and the amounts dispersed to the community during the previous four financial quarters. In that report we listed the amount donated from April 2013 to June 2013 as being a total of $34,353.63. However, when looking over all of the quarterly donations going back to the start of the program, we realized that this amount actually covered donations made from April 2013 all the way to October 2013.

This means that the figure contains both the amount donated during that Apr-Jun quarter, as well as duplicating the amounts listed as being donated for the Jul-Sep quarter, and a part of the Oct-Dec quarter. The actual amount donated during just the Apr-Jun 2013 quarter was $15,726.72. As a result of this, and the fact that it affected the carry over balanced for all subsequent reports, I have gone back and corrected all of these to reflect the correct figures.

Now for the questions:

Where are the updated reports?

The reports have not moved, you can still access them from the previously published URLs, and they are also listed on a new Reports page on the community website. The original report data has been preserved in a copy which is linked to at the top of each revised report.

Where did the money go?

No money has been lost or taken away from the program, this change is only a correction to the actual state of things. We had originally over-stated the amount that was donated, due to an error when reading the raw donation data at the time the first report was written.

How could a mistake like this happen?

The information we get is a summary of a summary of the raw data. At some point in the process the wrong number was put in the wrong place. All of these reports are manually written and verified, which often catches errors such as this, but in the very first report this error was missed.

Are these numbers trustworthy?

I understand that a reduction in the balance number, in conjunction with questions being raised about the operation of the program, will lead some people to question the honesty of this change. But the fact remains that we were asked to investigate this, we did find a discrepant, and correcting it publicly is the right thing for us to do, regardless of how it may look.

Is the community funding program in trouble?

Absolutely not. Even with this correction there has been more money donated to the community slider than we have been able to use. There’s still a lot more good that can be done, if you think you have a good use for some of it please fill out a request.

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Daniel Holbach

Next week we are going to have another Ubuntu Online Summit (5-7 May 2015). This is (among many other things) a great time for you to get involved with, learn about and help shape Ubuntu Snappy.

As I said in my last blog post I’m very impressed to see the general level of interest in Ubuntu Snappy given how new it is. It’ll be great to see who is joining the sessions and who is going to get involved.

For those of you who are new to it: Ubuntu Online Summit is an open event, where we’ll plan in hangouts and IRC the next Ubuntu release. You can

  • tune in
  • ask questions
  • bring up ideas
  • get to know the team
  • help out :-)

This is the preliminary schedule. Sessions might still move around a bit, but be sure to register for the event and subscribe to the blueprint/session – that way you are going to be notified of ongoing work and discussion.

Tuesday, 5th May 2015

Wednesday, 6th May 2015

Thursday, 7th May 2015

Please note that we are likely going to add more sessions, so you should definitely keep your eyes open and check the schedule every now and then.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all and seeing us shape what Snappy is going to be! See you next week!

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Ben Howard

I am pleased to announce initial Vagrant images [1, 2]. These images are bit-for-bit the same as the KVM images, but have a Cloud-init configuration that allows Snappy to work within the Vagrant workflow.

Vagrant enables a cross platform developer experience on MacOS, Windows or Linux [3].

Note: due to the way that Snappy works, shared file systems within Vagrant is not possible at this time. We are working on getting the shared file system support enabled, but it will take us a little bit to get going.

If you want to use Vagrant packaged in the Ubuntu archives, in a terminal run::

  • sudo apt-get -y install vagrant
  • cd <WORKSPACE>
  • vagrant init http://goo.gl/DO7a9W 
  • vagrant up
  • vagrant ssh
If you use Vagrant from [4] (i.e Windows, Mac or install the latest Vagrant) then you can run:
  • vagrant init ubuntu/ubuntu-15.04-snappy-core-edge-amd64
  • vagrant up
  • vagrant ssh

These images are a work in progress. If you encounter any issues, please report them to "snappy-devel@lists.ubuntu.com" or ping me (utlemming) on Launchpad.net

---

[1] http://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/snappy/15.04/core/edge/current/core-edge-amd64-vagrant.box
[2] https://atlas.hashicorp.com/ubuntu/boxes/ubuntu-15.04-snappy-core-edge-amd64
[3] https://docs.vagrantup.com/v2/why-vagrant/index.html
[4] https://www.vagrantup.com/downloads.html

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Jouni Helminen

Ubuntu community devs Andrew Hayzen and Victor Thompson chat with lead designer Jouni Helminen. Andrew and Victor have been working in open source projects for a couple of years and have done a great job on the Music application that is now rolling out on phone, tablet and desktop. In this chat they are sharing their thoughts on open source, QML, app development, and tips on how to get started contributing and developing apps.

If you want to start writing apps for Ubuntu, it’s easy. Check out http://developer.ubuntu.com, get involved on Google+ Ubuntu App Dev – https://plus.google.com/communities/1… – or contact alan.pope@canonical.com – you are in good hands!

Check out the video interview here :)

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Michael Hall

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the thirteenth Southern California Linux Expo, more commonly known at SCaLE 13x. It was my first time back in five years, since I attended 9x, and my first time as a speaker. I had a blast at SCaLE, and a wonderful time with UbuCon. If you couldn’t make it this year, it should definitely be on your list of shows to attend in 2016.

UbuCon

Thanks to the efforts of Richard Gaskin, we had a room all day Friday to hold an UbuCon. For those of you who haven’t attended an UbuCon before, it’s basically a series of presentations by members of the Ubuntu community on how to use it, contribute to it, or become involved in the community around it. SCaLE was one of the pioneering host conferences for these, and this year they provided a double-sized room for us to use, which we still filled to capacity.

image20150220_100226891I was given the chance to give not one but two talks during UbuCon, one on community and one on the Ubuntu phone. We also had presentations from my former manager and good friend Jono Bacon, current coworkers Jorge Castro and Marco Ceppi, and inspirational community members Philip Ballew and Richard Gaskin.

I’d like thank Richard for putting this all together, and for taking such good care of those of us speaking (he made sure we always had mints and water). UbuCon was a huge success because of the amount of time and work he put into it. Thanks also to Canonical for providing us, on rather short notice, a box full of Ubuntu t-shirts to give away. And of course thanks to the SCaLE staff and organizers for providing us the room and all of the A/V equipment in it to use.

The room was recorded all day, so each of these sessions can be watched now on youtube. My own talks are at 4:00:00 and 5:00:00.

Ubuntu Booth

In addition to UbuCon, we also had an Ubuntu booth in the SCaLE expo hall, which was registered and operated by members of the Ubuntu California LoCo team. These guys were amazing, they ran the booth all day over all three days, managed the whole setup and tear down, and did an excellent job talking to everybody who came by and explaining everything from Ubuntu’s cloud offerings, to desktops and even showing off Ubuntu phones.

image20150221_162940413Our booth wouldn’t have happened without the efforts of Luis Caballero, Matt Mootz, Jose Antonio Rey, Nathan Haines, Ian Santopietro, George Mulak, and Daniel Gimpelevich, so thank you all so much! We also had great support from Carl Richell at System76 who let us borrow 3 of their incredible laptops running Ubuntu to show off our desktop, Canonical who loaned us 2 Nexus 4 phones running Ubuntu as well as one of the Orange Box cloud demonstration boxes, Michael Newsham from TierraTek who sent us a fanless PC and NAS, which we used to display a constantly-repeating video (from Canonical’s marketing team) showing the Ubuntu phone’s Scopes on a television monitor provided to us by Eäär Oden at Video Resources. Oh, and of course Stuart Langridge, who gave up his personal, first-edition Bq Ubuntu phone for the entire weekend so we could show it off at the booth.

image20150222_132142752Like Ubuntu itself, this booth was not the product of just one organization’s work, but the combination of efforts and resources from many different, but connected, individuals and groups. We are what we are, because of who we all are. So thank you all for being a part of making this booth amazing.

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Daniel Holbach

What do Kinshasa, Omsk, Paris, Mexico City, Eugene, Denver, Tempe, Catonsville, Fairfax, Dania Beach, San Francisco and various places on the internet have in common?

Right, they’re all participating in the Ubuntu Global Jam on the weekend of 6-8 February! See the full list of teams that are part of the event here. (Please add yours if you haven’t already.)

What’s great about the event is that there are just two basic aims:

  1. do something with Ubuntu
  2. get together and have fun!

What I also like a lot is that there’s always something new to do. Here are just 3 quick examples of that:

App Development Schools

We have put quite a bit of work into putting training materials together, now, you can take them out to your team and start writing Ubuntu apps easily.

Snappy

As one tech news article said “Robots embrace Ubuntu as it invades the internet of things“. Ubuntu’s newest foray, making it possible to bring a stable and secure OS to small devices where you can focus on apps and functionality, is attracting a number of folks on the mailing lists (snappy-devel, snappy-app-devel)  and elsewhere. Check out the mailing lists and the snappy site to find out more and have a play with it.

Unity8 on Desktop

Convergence is happening and what’s working great on the phone is making its way onto the desktop. You can help making this happen, by installing and testing it. Your feedback will be much appreciated.

Unity-8-Is-Starting-to-Look-More-Like-a-Desktop-for-Ubuntu-Video-465329-5

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Michael Hall

For a long time now Canonical has provided Ubuntu LoCo Teams with material to use in the promotion of Ubuntu. This has come in the form of CDs and DVDs for Ubuntu releases, as well as conference packs for booths and shows.

We’ve also been sent several packages, when requested by an Ubuntu Member, to LoCo Teams for their own events, such as release parties or global jams.

Ubuntu Mauritius Team 14.10 Global Jam

This cycle we are extending this offer to any LoCo team that is hosting an in-person Global Jam event. It doesn’t matter how many people are going, or what you’re planning on doing for your jam. The Jam Packs will include DVDs, stickers, pens and other giveaways for your attendees, as well as an Ubuntu t-shirt for the organizers (or as a giveaway, if you choose).

Since there is only a few weeks before Global Jam weekend, and these will be shipped from London, please take your country’s customs process into consideration before ordering. Countries in North America and Europe shouldn’t have a problem, but if you’ve experienced long customs delays in the past please consider waiting and making your request for the next Global Jam.

To get an Ubuntu Global Jam Pack for your event, all you need to do is the following:

  • Register you Global Jam event on the LoCo Team Portal
    • Your event must be in-person, and have a venue associated with it
  • Fill out the community donation request form
    • Include a link to your LoCo Team Portal event in your request
  • Promote your event, before and after
    • Blog about it, post pictures, and share your excitement on social media
      • Use the #ubuntu hashtag when available

You can find all kinds of resources, activities and advice for running your Global Jam event on the Ubuntu Wiki, where we’ve collected the cumulative knowledge from all across the community over many years. And you can get live help and advice any time on the #ubuntu-locoteams IRC channel on Freenode.

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Michael Hall

Whenever a user downloads Ubuntu from our website, they are asked if they would like to make a donation, and if so how they want their money used. When the “Community” option is chosen, that money is made available to members of our community to use in ways that they feel will benefit Ubuntu.

I’m a little late getting this report published, but it’s finally done. You can read the report here: https://docs.google.com/a/canonical.com/document/d/1HrBqGjqKe-THdK7liXFDobDU2LVW9JWtKxoa8IywUU4/edit#heading=h.yhstkxnvuk7s

We pretty consistently spend less than we get in each quarter, which means we have money sitting around that could be used by the community. If you want to travel to an event, would like us to sponsor an event, need hardware for development or testing, or anything else that you feel will make Ubuntu the project and the community better, please go and fill out the request form.

 

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Michael Hall

There’s a saying in American political debate that is as popular as it is wrong, which happens when one side appeals to our country’s democratic ideal, and the other side will immediately counter with “The United States is a Republic, not a Democracy”. I’ve noticed a similar misunderstanding happening in open source culture around the phrase “meritocracy” and the negatively-charged “oligarchy”. In both cases, though, these are not mutually exclusive terms. In fact, they don’t even describe the same thing.

Authority

One of these terms describes where the authority to lead (or govern) comes from. In US politics, that’s the term “republic”, which means that the authority of the government is given to it by the people (as opposed to divine-right, force of arms, of inheritance). For open source, this is where “meritocracy” fits in, it describes the authority to lead and make decisions as coming from the “merit” of those invested with it. Now, merit is hard to define objectively, and in practice it’s the subjective opinion of those who can direct a project’s resources that decides who has “merit” and who doesn’t. But it is still an important distinction from projects where the authority to lead comes from ownership (either by the individual or their employer) of a project.

Enfranchisement

History can easily provide a long list of Republics which were not representative of the people. That’s because even if authority comes from the people, it doesn’t necessarily come from all of the people. The USA can be accurately described as a democracy, in addition to a republic, because participation in government is available to (nearly) all of the people. Open source projects, even if they are in fact a meritocracy, will vary in what percentage of their community are allowed to participate in leading them. As I mentioned above, who has merit is determined subjectively by those who can direct a project’s resources (including human resource), and if a project restricts that to only a select group it is in fact also an oligarchy.

Balance and Diversity

One of the criticisms leveled against meritocracies is that they don’t produce diversity in a project or community. While this is technically true, it’s not a failing of meritocracy, it’s a failing of enfranchisement, which as has been described above is not what the term meritocracy defines. It should be clear by now that meritocracy is a spectrum, ranging from the democratic on one end to the oligarchic on the other, with a wide range of options in between.

The Ubuntu project is, in most areas, a meritocracy. We are not, however, a democracy where the majority opinion rules the whole. Nor are we an oligarchy, where only a special class of contributors have a voice. We like to use the term “do-ocracy” to describe ourselves, because enfranchisement comes from doing, meaning making a contribution. And while it is limited to those who do make contributions, being able to make those contributions in the first place is open to anybody. It is important for us, and part of my job as a Community Manager, to make sure that anybody with a desire to contribute has the information, resources, and access to to so. That is what keeps us from sliding towards the oligarchic end of the spectrum.

 

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Daniel Holbach

I’m very happy that folks took notes during and after the meeting to bring up their ideas, thoughts, concerns and plans. It got a bit unwieldy, so Elfy put up a pad which summarises it and is meant to discuss actions and proposals.

Today we are going to have a meeting to discuss what’s on the “actions” pad. That’s why I thought it’d be handy to put together a bit of a summary of what people generally brought up. They’re not my thoughts, I’m just putting them up for further discussion.

Problem statements

  • Feeling that people innovate *with* Ubuntu, not *in* Ubuntu.
  • Perception of contributor drop in “older” parts of the community.
    • Less activity at UDS/vUDS/UOS events (was discussed at UOS too, maybe we need a committee which finds a new vision for Ubuntu Community Planning)?
    • Less activity in LoCos (lacking a sense of purpose?)
    • No drop in members/developers.
  • Less activity in Canonical-led projects.
  • We don’t spend marketing money on social media. Build a pavement online.
  • Downloading a CD image is too much of a barrier for many.
  • Our “community infrastructure” did not scale with the amount of users.
  • Some discussion about it being hard becoming a LoCo team. Bureaucracy from the LoCo Council.
  • We don’t have enough time to train newcomers.
  • Language barriers make it hard for some to get involved.
  • Canonical does a bad job announcing their presence at events.

Questions

  • Why are less people innovating in Ubuntu? Is Canonical driving too much of Ubuntu?
  • Why aren’t more folks stepping up into leadership positions? Mentoring? Lack of opportunities? More delegation? Do leaders just come in and lead because they’re interested?
  • Lack of planning? Do we re-plan things at UOS events, because some stuff never gets done? Need more follow-through? More assessment?

Proposals

  • community.ubuntu.com: More clearly indicate Canonical-led projects? Detail active projects, with point of contact, etc? Clean up moribund projects.
  • Make Ubuntu events more about “doing things with Ubuntu”?
  • Ubuntu Leadership Mentoring programme.
  • Form more of an Ubuntu ecosystem, allowing to earn money with Ubuntu.

Join the hangout on ubuntuonair.com on Friday, 12th December 2014, 16 UTC.

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Daniel Holbach

It’s fantastic that a we have more discussion about where we want our community to go. We get ideas out of it, people communicate and get a common understanding of issues. Jono’s blog post and the ubuntu-community-team mailing list generated a lot of good stuff already. Last week we had an IRC meeting with the CC and discussed governance and leadership in there.

We took quite a bit of notes, and Elfy set up a doc where we note down actions. I would like to suggest we have

Please

  • use Elfy’s action’s doc for submitting agenda items,
  • your agenda item is a concrete proposal or something which could be turned into work items,
  • make sure you’re there,
  • add your name to it!

Looking forward to seeing you there! :-)

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Daniel Holbach

I’m very happy that the ubuntu-community-team mailing list is seeing lots of discussion right now. It shows how many people deeply care about the direction of Ubuntu’s community and have ideas for how to improve things.

Looking back through the discussion of the last weeks, I can’t help but notice a few issues we are running into – issues all to common on open source project mailing lists. Maybe you all have some ideas on how we could improve the discussion?

  • Bikeshedding
    The term bikeshedding has a negative connotation, but it’s a very natural phenomenon. Rouven, a good friend of mine, recently pointed out that the recent proposal to change the statutes of the association behind our coworking space (which took a long time to put together) received no comments on the internal mailing list, whereas a change of the coffee brand seemed to invite comments from everyone.
    It is quite natural for this to happen. In a bigger proposal it’s natural for us to comment on anything that is tangible. Discussions in our community of more technical people you will often see discussions about which technology to use, rather than an answer which tries to comment on all aspects.
  • Idea overload
    Being a creative community can sometimes be a bit of a curse. You end up with different proposals plus additional ideas and nobody or few to actually implement them.
  • Huge proposals
    Sometimes you see a mail on a list which lists a huge load of different things. Without somebody who tracks where the discussion is going, summing things up, making lists of work items, etc. it will be very hard to convert a discussion into an actual project.
  • Derailing the conversation
    You’ve all seen this happen: you start the conversation with a specific problem or proposal and end up discussing something entirely different.

All of the above are nothing new, but in a part of our project where discussions tend to be quite general and where we have contributors from many different parts of the community some of the above are even more true.

Personally I feel that all of the above are fine problems to have. We are creative and we have ideas on how to improve things – that’s great. In my mind I always treated the ubuntu-community-team mailing list as a place to kick around ideas, to chat and to hang out and see what others are doing.

As I care a lot about our community and I’d still like to figure out how we can avoid the risk of some of the better ideas falling through the cracks. What do you think would help?

Maybe a meeting, maybe every two weeks to pick up some of the recent discussion and see together as a group if we can convert some of the discussion into something which actually flies?

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Michael Hall

The Ubuntu Core Apps project has proven that the Ubuntu community is not only capable of building fantastic software, but they’re capable of the meeting the same standards, deadlines and requirements that are expected from projects developed by employees. One of the things that I think made Core Apps so successful was the project management support that they all received from Alan Pope.

Project management is common, even expected, for software developed commercially, but it’s just as often missing from community projects. It’s time to change that. I’m kicking off a new personal[1] project, I’m calling it the Ubuntu Incubator.

get_excited_banner_banner_smallThe purpose of the Incubator is to help community projects bootstrap themselves, obtain the resources they need to run their project, and put together a solid plan that will set them on a successful, sustainable path.

To that end I’m going to devote one month to a single project at a time. I will meet with the project members regularly (weekly or every-other week), help define a scope for their project, create a spec, define work items and assign them to milestones. I will help them get resources from other parts of the community and Canonical when they need them, promote their work and assist in recruiting contributors. All of the important things that a project needs, other than direct contributions to the final product.

I’m intentionally keeping the scope of my involvement very focused and brief. I don’t want to take over anybody’s project or be a co-founder. I will take on only one project at a time, so that project gets all of my attention during their incubation period. The incubation period itself is very short, just one month, so that I will focus on getting them setup, not on running them.  Once I finish with one project, I will move on to the next[2].

How will I choose which project to incubate? Since it’s my time, it’ll be my choice, but the most important factor will be whether or not a project is ready to be incubated. “Ready” means they are more than just an idea: they are both possible to accomplish and feasible to accomplish with the person or people already involved, the implementation details have been mostly figured out, and they just need help getting the ball rolling. “Ready” also means it’s not an existing project looking for a boost, while we need to support those projects too, that’s not what the Incubator is for.

So, if you have a project that’s ready to go, but you need a little help taking that first step, you can let me know by adding your project’s information to this etherpad doc[3]. I’ll review each one and let you know if I think it’s ready, needs to be defined a little bit more, or not a good candidate. Then each month I’ll pick one and reach out to them to get started.

Now, this part is important: don’t wait for me! I want to speed up community innovation, not slow it down, so even if I add your project to the “Ready” queue, keep on doing what you would do otherwise, because I have no idea when (or if) I will be able to get to yours. Also, if there are any other community leaders with project management experience who have the time and desire to help incubate one of these project, go ahead and claim it and reach out to that team.

[1] While this compliments my regular job, it’s not something I’ve been asked to do by Canonical, and to be honest I have enough Canonical-defined tasks to consume my working hours. This is me with just my community hat on, and I’m inclined to keep it that way.

[2] I’m not going to forget about projects after their month is up, but you get 100% of the time I spend on incubation during your month, after that my time will be devoted to somebody else.

[3] I’m using Etherpad to keep the process as lightweight as possible, if we need something better in the future we’ll adopt it then.

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Michael Hall

When things are moving fast and there’s still a lot of work to do, it’s sometimes easy to forget to stop and take the time to say “thank you” to the people that are helping you and the rest of the community. So every November 20th we in Ubuntu have a Community Appreciation Day, to remind us all of the importance of those two little words. We should of course all be saying it every day, but having a reminder like this helps when things get busy.

Like so many who have already posted their appreciation have said, it would be impossible for me to thank everybody I want to thank. Even if I spent all day on this post, I wouldn’t be able to mention even half of them.  So instead I’m going to highlight two people specifically.

First I want to thank Scarlett Clark from the Kubuntu community. In the lead up to this last Ubuntu Online Summit we didn’t have enough track leads on the Users track, which is one that I really wanted to see more active this time around. The track leads from the previous UOS couldn’t do it because of personal or work schedules, and as time was getting scarce I was really in a bind to find someone. I put out a general call for help in one of the Kubuntu IRC channels, and Scarlett was quick to volunteer. I really appreciated her enthusiasm then, and even more the work that she put in as a first-time track lead to help make the Users track a success. So thank you Scarlett.

Next, I really really want to say thank you to Svetlana Belkin, who seems to be contributing in almost every part of Ubuntu these days (including ones I barely know about, like Ubuntu Scientists). She was also a repeat track lead last UOS for the Community track, and has been contributing a lot of great feedback and ideas on ways to make our amazing community even better. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that she’s trying to re-start the Ubuntu Leadership team, which I think is needed now more than ever, and which I really want to become more active in once I get through with some deadline-bound work. I would encourage anybody else who is a leader in the community, or who wants to be one, to join her in that. And thank you, Svetlana, for everything that you do.

It is both a joy and a privilege to be able to work with people like Scarlett and Svetlana, and everybody else in the Ubuntu community. Today more than ever I am reminded about how lucky I am to be a part of it.

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Michael Hall

Last week was our second ever Ubuntu Online Summit, and it couldn’t have gone better. Not only was it a great chance for us in Canonical to talk about what we’re working on and get community members involved in the ongoing work, it was also an opportunity for the community to show us what they have been working on and give us an opportunity to get involved with them.

Community Track leads

This was also the second time we’ve recruited track leads from among the community. Traditionally leading a track was a responsibility given to one of the engineering managers within Canonical, and it was up to them to decide what sessions to put on the UDS schedule. We kept the same basic approach when we went to online vUDS. But starting with UOS 14.06, we asked leaders in the community to help us with that, and they’ve done a phenomenal job. This time we had Nekhelesh RamananthanJosé Antonio ReySvetlana BelkinRohan GargElfy, and Scarlett Clark take up that call, and they were instrumental in getting even more of the community involved

Community Session Hosts

uos_creatorsMore than a third of those who created sessions for this UOS were from the community, not Canonical. For comparison, in the last in-person UDS, less than a quarter of session creators were non-Canonical. The shift online has been disruptive, and we’ve tried many variations to try and find what works, but this metric shows that those efforts are starting to pay off. Community involvement, indeed community direction, is higher in these Online Summits than it was in UDS. This is becoming a true community event: community focused, community organized, and community run.

Community Initiatives

The Ubuntu Online Summit wasn’t just about the projects driven by Canonical, such as the Ubuntu desktop and phone, there were many sessions about projects started and driven by members of the community. Last week we were shown the latest development on Ubuntu MATE and KDE Plasma 5 from non-Canonical lead flavors. We saw a whole set of planning sessions for community developed Core Apps and an exciting new Component Store for app developers to share bits of code with each other. For outreach there were sessions for providing localized ISOs for loco teams and expanding the scope of the community-lead Start Ubuntu project. Finally we had someone from the community kick off a serious discussion about getting Ubuntu running on cars. Cars! All of these exciting sessions were thought up by, proposed by, and run by members of the community.

Community Improvements

This was a great Ubuntu Online Summit, and I was certainly happy with the increased level of community involvement in it, but we still have room to make it better. And we are going to make it better with help from the community. We will be sending out a survey to everyone who registered as attending for this UOS to gather feedback and ideas, please take the time to fill it out when you get the link. If you attended but didn’t register there’s still time, go to the link above, log in and save your attendance record. Finally, it’s never too early to start thinking about the next UOS and what sessions you might want to lead for it, so that you’re prepared when those track leads come knocking at your door.

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Steph Wilson

Community members at the Sprint

Victor and Andrew are two inspiring Community developers that have devoted their spare time to contribute to the Ubuntu Touch Music App team. I sat down with them during the Washington Device Sprint in October where they told us how they drew inspiration from the Design Team, and what drives them to contribute to Ubuntu.

You can read more about Victor and Andrew through their blogs, where they post interesting articles on their work and personal projects.

From left to right: Riccardo, Andrew, Filippo and Victor

From left to right: Riccardo, Andrew, Filippo and Victor

Hey guys, so when did you first get involved with Ubuntu?

Victor: “I started to contribute to the Ubuntu platform in March/April 2013 where I noticed there was no music app, so I started putting one together. It was pretty sketchy to start with, but it worked. I didn’t have a device to test it on so I mostly tested it using the platform on my desktop – so things were a bit hit and miss.

There was also another developer doing a music app, and at the time there was no core capability of playing music through an application for the proposed devices. Michael Hall (Open Source Software Developer) and Alan Pope (Engineering Manager) pulled Daniel Holm and I together, where we merged our core bases and started the music core app.

We didn’t have as much time as other applications, so we more or less sprinted like we are now to get things done. It was very spec driven and specific, which was helpful but sometimes it was hard to put together a full vision of what the designers wanted. So now we are redoing it from the feedback we have gathered, and it’s going pretty well. A little more agile than it was previously as to do thing faster, but it’s been fun the whole time. It’s nice to work on an application that people need and gets visibility, never get sick of hacking at it.”

Andrew: “I’m from North London, where I’m currently studying Software Engineering at Oxford Brookes University. I was working on my own music app where I just taught myself how to do things using my own framework, then I saw that these guys at Ubuntu had a similar problem to me, and so I thought I’d provide a patch. This then built up from there, and now here I am!”

Steph: “It’s amazing that someone can be in their bedroom writing codes and then suddenly your app is on a phone!”

Victor: “The other great thing about it is the Community Managers make it easy and apparent that you can contribute to different projects.”

Andrew: “Yeah someone just got in contact with me and asked me if I wanted to join the team and told me how open source projects work.”

What inspired you to contribute?

Victor: “A lot of my original inspiration was from what the Design Team had previously done. The previous iteration design spec was very large for the music app and it wasn’t as future driven, more just visually pleasing.”

Do you find it hard to implement some designs?

Victor: “We try to make it as close to the designs as we can, but obviously there’s compromises. There was some very flow driven things such as: sized cover arts that were hard to implement, but we can implement them now. It’s nice because they use the same pattern from other applications.”

Andrew: “Usually we just tell the designer that this is just not possible.”

What is it about open source that you like?

Victor: “I have been a user since 2006, but I have never been a large open source developer myself. It is hard to get involved with when you don’t know what you want to contribute to.”

Andrew: “Most applications are so developed already, so you would have to learn the existing code base and develop on it, whereas if you start a new you know everything from the get-go. Seeing your application on the device and knowing it can be on other devices too, is pretty exciting!”

How does it fit into your lifestyles?

Victor: “I’m a software engineer as well, so I write a lot of code. I haven’t really done QML or QT until I started doing these applications with the Ubuntu platform, so it has been a learning experience. I am learning something new from experienced people.”

Have you made any other applications for Ubuntu?

Victor: I’ve made a few games like Piano Tiles, and another that’s kind of like a clone of that but in QML – It’s a simple app but a good time waster haha.”

How much time does it take you to develop an app?

Victor: “It took me like a day. Andrew made a game last night! In 2 hours…”

Andrew: “Yeah we did! Loads of us at the sprint just got together in a room and made a few games.”

So you’re used to working remotely, does that put a barrier against things?

Andrew: “It sometimes delay things. However, you start to build this image of a person, so when you actually get to meet them you start to understand how they are and what makes them tick.

Victor: “Depends on how personal it really needs to be. If you are collaborating together and it’s mostly writing code and coming up with ideas, it doesn’t necessarily need to be face-to-face. It is obviously nicer, but you also get the benefit if the other person is a night owl in a different country where sometimes our hours overlap, two different chunks of time we’re working in.

Andrew: “There’s usually someone on IRC to speak to, it’s like a 24 hour operation haha.”

What’s the vibe like in the Community at the moment?

Victor: “It’s a pretty small Community at the moment, with close ties. Everyone is receptive to feedback, so if it was larger Community I don’t think it would be as receptive.”

Steph: “Thanks for your time guys!”

Here’s a sneaky preview of the music app, more will be revealed soon:

Album detail

Landing page

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Michael Hall

A couple of weeks ago we announced the start of a contest to write new Unity Scopes. These are the Dash plugins that let you search for different kinds of content from different sources. Last week Alan Pope posted his Scopes Wishlist detailing the ones he would like to see. And while I think they’re all great ideas, they didn’t particularly resonate with my personal use cases. So I’ve decided to put together a wishlist of my own:

Ubuntu Community

I’ve started on one of these in the past, more to test-drive the Scope API and documentation (both of which have changed somewhat since then), but our community has a rather large amount of content available via open APIs or feeds, that could be combined into making one really great scope. My attempt used the LoCo Team Portal API, but there is also the Planet Ubuntu RSS feed (also feeds from a number of other websites), iCal feeds from Summit, a Google calendar for UbuntuOnAir, etc. There’s a lot of community data out there just waiting to be surfaced to Ubuntu users.

Open States

My friend Paul Tagliamante works for the Sunlight Foundation, which provides access to a huge amount of local law and political data (open culture + government, how cool is that?), including the Open States website which provides more local information for those of us in the USA. Now only could a scope use these APIs to make it easy for us citizens to keep up with that’s going on in our governments, it’s a great candidate to use the Location information to default you to local data no matter where you are.

Desktop

This really only has a purpose on Unity 8 on the desktop, and even then only for a short term until a normal desktop is implemented. But for now it would be a nice way to view your desktop files and such. I think that a Scope’s categories and departments might provide a unique opportunity to re-think how we use the desktop too, with the different files organized by type, sorted by date, and displayed in a way that suits it’s content.

There’s potential here to do some really interesting things, I’m just not sure what they are. If one of you intrepid developers has some good ideas, though, give it a shot.

Comics

Let’s be honest, I love web comics, you love web comics, we all love web comic. Wouldn’t it be super awesome if you got the newest, best webcomics on your Dash? Think about it, get your XKCD, SMBC or The Oatmeal delivered every day. Okay, it might be a productivity killer, but still, I’d install it.

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