Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'community'


Earlier today Mark Shuttleworth blogged about the evolution of Mir, the powerful display server we are building as one component in the Ubuntu convergence story across desktops, phones, tablets, and more, but also as a general purpose display server that other distributions, desktops, and other upstreams can use too.

Mir will be landing by default in Ubuntu 13.10 with the XMir compatability layer to ensure we can continue to ship our existing Unity codebase and to ensure that any and all other distributions can ship their desktops too. This will be the first major distribution to ship a next-generation display server, not only on a desktop, but also on phones and tablets too.

I recommend you read Mark’s post in full, but I want to highlight this piece in particular:

On Ubuntu, we’re committed that every desktop environment perform well with Mir, either under X or directly. We didn’t press the ‘GO’ button on Mir until we were satisfied that the whole Ubuntu community, and other distributions, could easily benefit from the advantages of a leaner, cleaner graphics stack. We’re busy optimising performance for X now so that every app and every desktop environment will work really well in 13.10 under Mir, without having to make any changes. And we’re taking patches from people who want Mir to support capabilities they need for native, super-fast Mir access. Distributions should be able to provide Mir as an option for their users to experiment with very easily – the patch to X is very small (less than 500 lines). For now, if you want to try it, the easiest way to do so is via the Ubuntu PPA. It will land in 13.10 just as soon as our QA and release teams are happy that its ready for very widespread testing.

In a nutshell, we are passionate about encouraging not only Ubuntu flavors, but all distributions (either Ubuntu-derived or not) to be able to harness Mir as a powerful next-generation display server for either shipping their X desktop with XMir or harnessing Mir directly. From 13.10 onwards we will have a production-stable, fully supported Mir ready for everyone to use.

To put it clearly: while Mir will serve the needs of Unity well across a range of devices, it is not only intended for Unity, it is intended to serve other environments across a range of devices too.

Last week I reached out to most of our flavors to discuss this work (and discuss many related topics with the Mir engineers), and these discussions are continuing this week. I have also been in touch with some other distributions to discuss Mir support. Obviously we will be working closely with Debian to help get Mir in the Debian archives too.

Mir is Free Software (get the code or test from a PPA), discussed openly on mir-devel (see the archive), and we provide weekly updates from Kevin Gunn, Mir Engineering Manager every Tuesday at 5pm UTC on Ubuntu On Air. We are also refining our documentation to help folks write clients (see the API, the sample client, and other documentation). If you have any other questions about adding Mir support, feel free to get in touch with the Mir team on mir-devel.

tl;dr: the Mir team are very open to discussing the needs of upstreams and distributions. Get in touch on mir-devel or feel free to send me an email and I will put you in touch with the right person.

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Today is a sad day for Free Software.

We discovered today that Seth Vidal was killed in a bike accident. Seth was very active in Fedora. He was the lead developer of Yum, a Fedora Project Board Member, active in CentOS, among many other contributions.

I didn’t know Seth well personally, but professionally he was a fantastic example of the passion and commitment that drives Free Software and collaborative community and he will be missed.

My condolences go out to Seth’s family, friends, colleagues, and our friends in the Fedora community and at Red Hat who knew Seth so well. I think it is important that we respect Seth’s family’s privacy at this time.

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A few weeks ago we announced the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group (CAG). The CAG is designed to provide a place where carriers can help influence the development and requirements of Ubuntu for smartphones.

The founding members of the CAG were Deutsche Telekom, Everything Everywhere, Korea Telecom, Telecom Italia, LG UPlus, Portugal Telecom, SK Telecom and the leading Spanish international carrier.

I just wanted to follow up with a few CAG-related updates.

New Carriers

Firstly, we are pleased to announce two new carriers that have joined the CAG.

Last week we announced PT Smartfren Telecom, the largest mobile internet provider in Indonesia, an important market for the Ubuntu smartphone.

Richard Tan, Deputy CEO at Smartfren, commented:

“Ubuntu is an important option for Indonesia because it offers an attractive, flexible and differentiating solution for smartphones”.

Today we followed up with another carrier in the form of China Unicom; one of the world’s largest mobile operators, with nearly 300 million mobile subscribers.

Li Xingxin at China Unicom’s terminal research and support center commented:

“Ubuntu can be an exciting new platform for the Chinese market, offering a brand new user experience that balances user simplicity with operator requirements”.

We are delighted to welcome both PT Smartfren Telecom and China Unicom to the CAG! We also have some other carriers to announce, including a large US carrier; more details on that soon.

Differentiation and Scopes

When it comes to mobile devices, there’s a thin line between differentiation and fragmentation. Differentiation is enabling phone manufacturers and carriers to put their own stamp not just on the outside of the phone but also on the inside. To stand out against the competition in today’s market, manufacturers and carriers must go beyond the phone hardware itself and provide value-added services such as music and video content to the user.

Victor Palau, VP, Phone & Hyperscale Delivery at Canonical wrote an excellent piece on this topic called Differentiation Without Fragmentation and talks about the areas in which Ubuntu Phone can be given a unique brand and identity via theming, default applications and content, pre-defined launcher applications, and connecting backend content to default Ubuntu front-end applications.

A core method of differentiating is at the content level with music, video, applications, services, and other material. This is where our powerful scopes technology comes in, providing a way of delivering content to users, front and center, with a consistent experience…all while avoiding fragmentation.

For those of you who are interested in writing a scope to expose content and services to Ubuntu devices, see an overview of the technology, our tutorial for writing a scope, our growing cookbook with common scopes-related questions.

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Over the course of the year we have been seeing fantastic progress with Ubuntu and our convergence story. This includes eight carriers in the Carrier Advisory Group, strong interest from hardware manufacturers, significant coverage from press and at shows such as CES/MWC, and an explosion of participation in people writing apps for Ubuntu Touch.

The engineerings team has also been making steady and significant progress on the road to October to have a first cut of the platform available for phones, and a core piece of this work is our Core Apps project.

The Core Apps project is where our community are working on the core applications that we hope to ship as part of the phone. This includes a Calendar, Music Player, Clock, Calculator, Weather App, Sudoku, RSS Reader, File Manager, Document Viewer, Terminal, Dropping Letters game, and a Stock Ticker.

With each of these projects we have been working with our community developers to ensure they have as much support and help to build these apps, and ensuring that our design team are hooked in to provide beautiful designs to help make each of these apps look crisp, consistent, and sleek. Many, many thanks to all of our wonderful contributors who have been driving these apps forward.

Delicious, Delicious, Dogfood

Back in May we had an effort to get Ubuntu for phones to a point where we could use it as a daily driver, to eat our own dogfood if you will. Although we don’t expect the first iteration of the phone to be ready until October, getting it ready as a daily driver helped to expose the system to more people and therefore find more bugs and edge cases that needed resolving. This project was successful and many of us are using the phone as our main handset now; I certainly am. :-)

We would now like to do this for our core apps, to set a goal to have them ready as a daily driver by the end of July. We reached out to the development teams earlier this week and raised this goal as part of the team meetings for each app and the wider teams are supportive of this effort.

Now, many of these applications are pretty much already there, but some others need more work. As usual, I have asked my team to provide as much help and guidance to our contributors for us to achieve this goal, and based on an assessment of the applications as they stand today, this goal is very achievable.

How It Will Work

To get started we created this page to track the Core Apps dogfooding work. The page lists the core features that we think most people will need to use the apps on the daily basis for basic requirements. For those features that are already there we have specified this next to each feature.

We are going to be working with the developers as part of these projects to help achieve this goal, and if you have experience of working with QML, we would love you to participate too. Just drop me an email and I will get you connected to the team.

Anybody can participate in dogfooding the Core Apps though, all you have to do is use them. You don’t need to be a developer, you don’t need to know anything about porting or compiling or packaging. Just fire up one of the apps, on a supported device or on your desktop, and start using it for your daily activities.

The most important thing you can do while dogfooding is to find and report any bugs you find. It’s important to provide as much detail as possible in your bug report, including screenshots and device information, and describing the steps to reproduce the bug. You can find guidance for how to report this bugs by reading this page.

Once again, thankyou to everyone helping to make our core apps a success and we are excited to see the progress made throughout the month. Thanks, everyone!

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Beginning last week, we started our Ubuntu Weekly Update videocast that provides a range of weekly updates to keep our community, press, upstreams, and partners in the loop and up to date with recent progress.

Today’s show was a special two-hour show with two parts:

  1. The first part (beginning at the start of the video) includes status updates from the engineering mangers and project leads of Mir, Unity, Juju (Core and Ecosystem), Click Packages/App Upload Process, Ubuntu Touch, Unity APIs, and Community. We also fielded questions from the community who were viewing the show.
  2. The second part (beginning at 59.54) includes an hour-long interview with Chris Halse-Rogers (Mir Engineer), Kevin Gunn (Mir and Unity Engineering Manager), Oliver Ries (Director of Display Server and Unity Engineering), Robert Ancell (Mir Technical Lead), Steve Langasek (Ubuntu Foundations Engineering Manager), and Thomas Voss (Technical Architect). Again, viewers of the show asked a number of questions that were answered by the team.

You can view it below:

Can’t see the video? See it here!

As ever, questions are welcome in the comments, and Mir-specific questions are welcome on #ubuntu-mir on Freenode and on the Mir mailing list.

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Many of you will have seen the recent news about Mir coming to Ubuntu 13.10 in October 2013. For those of you who are unaware of Mir, it is an Open Source display server we are building that we will use across desktops, phones, tablets, and TV. It currently works with Open Source drivers and we are currently in discussions with the major GPU manufacturers to discuss Mir support in their proprietary drivers.

From the announcement yesterday:

For 13.10 we plan on delivering Mir by default in Ubuntu Desktop with XMir (an implementation of X running on Mir) and our current Unity 7 codebase (the same Unity codebase that is currently in the Saucy development release).

This will be enabled for graphics hardware with Open Source drivers supported by Mir (primarily intel, nouveau and radeon). For binary graphics drivers (e.g. many NVidia and ATI cards) that don’t support Mir yet, we will fallback to the normal X server that we usually ship. This will mean that all users are well served in Ubuntu 13.10 and everyone will get the standard Unity 7 experience with feature parity with X (e.g. multi-monitor support). This fallback will be removed for Ubuntu 14.04. We are working with GPU vendors and partners to provide the required driver support and are confident to have this in place for 14.04.

We discussed this before the announcement with the Ubuntu Community Council and all councils and flavor leaders from each of our official flavors this week. Many thanks to those folks for the feedback they provided.

For those concerned about flavors being able to ship their desktops in Ubuntu 13.10, each of the desktops showcased in our flavors (GNOME 3, KDE, XFCE, LXDE) work with XMir running on Mir (see the video of them running). Please note, this is running on XMir, not Mir directly. Now, whether the flavors choose to use XMir on Mir or ship X directly is of course up them. Fortunately, they have a few options at their disposal for 13.10.

Testing, Reporting Bugs, and Benchmarks

If you would like to try Mir, Oliver Ries, Director of Display Server and Unity at Canonical, posted instructions for how to get started. Likewise, Nicholas Skaggs on my team has announced that Mir is part of our regular cadence testing, so we encourage you to test Mir, report your results, and feel free to discuss Mir on the mir-devel mailing list.

Most recently, we reached out to Phoronix to ask if Michael could perform some benchmarking tests on Mir to see where things stand today with applications running on XMir on Mir. Now, bear in mind that Mir has not yet been through a round of performance optimizations (this will happen a little later in the cycle), and the results naturally have a performance impact because of this, but the impact was not too great. These performance regressions should be largely resolved before Ubuntu 13.10. Oliver Ries blogged reviewing the results and discussed plans to resolve these issues.

Staying Up To Date

Next week we will provide two opportunities to ensure you have as much information about Mir as possible. On Tues 2nd July at 5pm UTC we will be doing our normal Ubuntu Weekly Update with updates from a range of teams of progress over the last week (see the last one here).

Immediately after that session at 6pm UTC I will then be doing a a full interview with a number of members of the core Mir team and inviting your questions too.

Watch both sessions on Ubuntu On Air.

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Today we had our first Ubuntu Weekly Update with summaries from engineering managers and leads for Mir, Unity, Juju (Core and Ecosystem), Click, Smart Scopes, Ubuntu Touch, Community, and other areas. After the summaries we opened up the session to questions from viewers.

This weekly videocast will provide a regular in-depth, open, and transparent update of week-to-week engineering and community work going on.

See it below:

Can’t see the video? See it here!

Remember, you can always catch my regular weekly Q&A where you can bring any of your questions. Watch it live at Ubuntu On Air every Wednesday at 6pm UTC.

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We have been working hard to ensure that the various engineering teams working on different parts of Ubuntu are being as open and transparent as possible. This has included many of these teams (e.g. Unity, Mir, App Development etc) sending regular weekly updates of progress being made. Well, we want to amp that up to the next level, so I am proud to announce the Ubuntu Weekly Update Videocast!

The idea is simple: we are pulling together a number of engineering managers from a range of different teams and they will provide a weekly summary of what their team has been working on, and their plans for the coming week. These summaries will form the beginning of the videocast and then we will open up for questions throughout the rest of the hour. This will provide a recorded summary of progress that our community, members of the press, and others can use to keep up to date, and a regular opportunity to ask questions to the team.

Our first Ubuntu Weekly Update Videocast is happening tomorrow, Tuesday 24th June 2013 at 5pm UTC live on Ubuntu On Air. Be sure to join us there!


As many of you will know, every week I do a regular Q&A videocast where I invite the community and anyone else to come and ask me anything. This show happens every Wednesday at 6pm UTC live on Ubuntu On Air and has been well received by the community to ask anything on their minds about our goals, strategy, and areas of focus.

For some time now I have been wanting to conduct a series of interviews with various Ubuntu teams and communities about their work, and I did my first one last week with Jamie Strandboge and Martin Albisetti who are working on the future app upload process designed for app developers who want to deliver their apps on the Ubuntu convergent platform. See the interview here, which includes a lot of questions asked from viewers too.

I will be conducting more and more of these interviews, so let me know what topics and teams you want to see in the comments.

Mir Interview

The next interview I am doing is with the Mir team and this will take place on Tuesday 2nd July 2013 at 6pm UTC live on Ubuntu On Air. Be sure to join and bring your questions too!

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This week I am pleased to announce two Q&A sessions to get all your juicy Ubuntu-related questions answered:

  • Wed 19th June – taking place an hour earlier this week at 6pm UTC will be my usual weekly Q&A session where you are welcome to bring any and all questions! Be sure to join me, it is always a lot of fun. :-)
  • Thu 20th June – taking place at 7pm UTC and kicking off the first in a series of 1-on-1 interviews that I am going to do, I will be interviewing Martin Albisetti who is a member of the team making application submissions for Ubuntu on desktops, phones, tablets, and TVs easier than ever. Martin’s team is building the server that will recieve submissions as click packages and review them before they go out to users. Martin is also an active member of the community and a member of the Community Council. I will be asking Martin some questions about his work and then we will open it up for you folks to ask questions too.

You can access both of these sessions on Ubuntu On Air.

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We are working on a powerful vision with Ubuntu; to build a convergent Operating System that runs on phones, tablets, desktops, and TVs. A core part of this vision is that this is a platform and ecosystem that you can influence, improve, and be a part of, significantly more-so than our competitors.

One consistent piece of feedback we have seen from carriers and handset manufacturers is a a greater desire for platform competition and participation on helping to shape and define the ecosystem. A key goal for Ubuntu is to satisfy these needs.

Today we launched the the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group (CAG) which includes Deutsche Telekom, Everything Everywhere, Telecom Italia, Korea Telecom, LG UPlus, Portugal Telecom, and SK Telecom as founding members. Wide industry participation in the group will help us to prioritize the delivery of new Ubuntu features, and grow an ecosystem of software, services and devices that meets that need.

The CAG provides regular meetings that take place regularly and typically include a briefing by Canonical or a partner company, followed by feedback from carriers. Members can bring domain specialists to calls for each relevant topic covered. Topics planned for discussion in the CAG forum include:

  • Differentiation for OEMs and operators.
  • Developer ecosystems and application portability.
  • HTML5 standards, performance and compatibility.
  • Marketplaces for apps, content and services.
  • Revenue share models for publishers, operators, and OEMs.
  • Payment mechanisms and standards.
  • Platform fragmentation.
  • Consumer and enterprise market segments and positioning.

CAG members can also launch Ubuntu devices before non-members in local markets. The first two launch partners will be selected from within the group, with the next wave following six months later; non-members will face a substantial wait to gain access to the platform. Members will have early knowledge of silicon, as well as OEM and ODM partners involved in the Ubuntu mobile initiative.

The Carrier Advisory Group is chaired independently of Canonical by David Wood, who has 25 years’ experience in the mobile industry, including leadership roles at Psion, Symbian and Accenture. He has wide experience with collaborative advisory groups, and twice served on the board of directors of the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).

David has this to say about the CAG:

“The mobile industry still needs an independent platform that enables innovation and differentiation. That platform is Ubuntu. The Carrier Advisory Group will have the opportunity to influence the Ubuntu roadmap, and take full advantage of the potential this emerging platform.”

If you are a carrier interested in helping shape Ubuntu’s mobile strategy and being part of the CAG, click here.

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Last week I had a neat idea. Well, at least I think it is a neat idea. Let me share it with you folks to get your take.

We have been spending a lot of time refining every aspect of the application development process for writing Ubuntu phone/tablet/desktop applications. This has included:

  • Building a simple, and powerful Ubuntu SDK.
  • Building a comprehensive knowledge base on for getting started writing your first app, and performing common programming tasks.
  • Integrating source control, bug tracking, and more from Launchpad into the SDK.
  • Providing a safe and secure, sand-boxed environment to run apps in, and an automated process for reviewing how these apps come into Ubuntu and are exposed to Ubuntu users.

This is all part of an end-to-end process to make writing apps for Ubuntu fun, simple, and intuitive from the minute you load the SDK to the minute your app appears on a users phone, tablet, or desktop.

Project Websites

One piece we haven’t looked into is how app developers can set up a website for their app.

App websites vary tremendously in size and complexity. Some people just want a single static web page with details of the app and how to get it. Some want a more complex site with integrated forums, bug tracking, and more.

As part of what we can offer with Ubuntu, we should be able to bundle all aspects of your infrastructure too. Need a website? Check. Need a forum? Check. Need a bug tracker? Check.

Fortunately we have a powerful cloud orchestration tool in Juju that can not only simplify the deployment, management, and scaling of the service, but could potentially take virtually all of the pain out of getting the site set up in the first place, and then scale up where needed.

The Idea

Let’s assume I have just published my first version of my app in Ubuntu. I now need a simple website to get my app on the web and known to users. While I want to start simple, there is a possibility though that my project may become hugely popular making me a king among men and require a larger, more expansive web presence.

Let’s start simple though. Ideally, I want to be able to specify some configuration detail like this in a file:

   app-name: Read All About It
   download-archive-name: readallaboutit
   launchpad-project: readallaboutit
   website-strapline: All the headlines in your hand.
   screenshots: ['',
   page-about: True
   page-developers: True
   page-screenshots: True
   page-contact: False

…and then do this:

juju deploy --config myconfig.yaml ubuntu-app-website

The charm would read in the configuration file and generate a set of static web pages based on that configuration.

As an example, it would pre-populate chunks of the page, and generate developer information on the Developer page with details of the main branch, bug tracking, a form to submit a bug, and more (we can pull this from the Launchpad project).

It could look simple like this:

This would mean an app developer could spin-up a super light-weight app website with just a configuration file and Juju on whichever cloud service they prefer. This would be light-weight both in terms of getting up and running and resource usage; you could set this up on a tiny cloud instance. As ever, if my project was to get slashdotted I could scale up the service, as with any other Juju charm.

Now let’s assume I want to add more functionality to my website. This is where the real power of Juju could come in. Let’s assume I want a forum. I should be able to run:

juju deploy ubuntu-app-website-forum
juju relate ubuntu-app-website ubuntu-app-website-forum

This would then spin up a forum (or Discourse site) but the charm would integrate it into the existing website with a navigation link and shared theming. It could then look like this:

We could then conceivably have any number of supported additions (e.g. mailing lists, video streams, event organization, tutorial content, API docs etc) for the website that app maintainers can use to easily expand their service as they see fit.

Next Steps

I shared this idea with Jorge who thought it was a neat idea. He then talked with Marco who has been putting together a first cut that we can experiment with. If anyone is interested in helping to build this, please let me know in the comments.

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The Ubuntu community is a core part of what makes us what we are, and right at the center of that are our Ubuntu Members. Ubuntu Members provide significant and sustained contributions over a wide range of areas such as packaging, documentation, programming, translations, advocacy, support, and more. We always want to do our best to recognize and appreciate our many members in the Ubuntu family, across these many different teams and our flavors.

We are pleased to announce a new benefit for new Ubuntu Members. When you become approved as an official Ubuntu Member, you will be mailed a printed certificate signed by Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu project to recognize your membership. We hope you put it up on your wall where you contribute to Ubuntu and bring freedom and openness to technology.

To find out more, and find out how to get yoru certificate, see this post on the fridge.

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Michael Hall

This is my third Core Apps update, you can go back and read about the Clock and Calendar apps if you missed them.  Today I’m going to show off the Calculator app.

Calculator Features

Basic Functions

The Calculator does exactly what you would expect a calculator to do.  It’s a four-function calculator and does it’s job perfectly well.  But it has a few unique features that make it so much more useful.  Using the old paper-roll calculators as inspiration, the calculator lets you label the numbers in your calculation, so you can go back and see “7 what?”.  When you’re done with a calculation, instead of clearing it off, you simply drag upwards to “tear off” that individual calculation.

Calculation History

Just because you’ve torn off a calculation, doesn’t mean you’ve thrown it away.  Instead, your calculation is stored in a browseable history.  This makes the labels even more useful, because you can go back hours, days, even months to an old bit of calculating.  You can even tap on any number in any of those calculations to insert it into your current one.  If you really are done with a calculation, you can swipe it to the right or left to delete it from your history.

Visual Designs

The Design team says we’ll have visual designs for the Calculator later this week, so the developers will be able to start on implementing those.  Keep an eye on the design team blog and Google+ to see them when they come out.

Release Schedule

The release schedule for the Calculator is the same as the Clock.  It’s already well past what would be considered an Alpha release, so we just called May for that milestone.  Going forward, we plan on delivering a Beta in July that includes the visual designs, followed by a final release in August.

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Michael Hall

Yesterday I posted the first in a new series of Core App Update, featuring the Clock App’s development.  Today I’m going to cover the status of the Calendar

Calendar Features

Calendar View

The calendar now provides several different views you can choose from.  You start off with a full month at the top, and your events for the day below.  Swiping left and right on the month will take you back or forward a month at a time.  Swiping left or right on the bottom half will take you back and forward a day at a time.

Pull the event area down and let it go, and the month will collapse down into a single week. Now swiping left and right there will move you back and forward a week at a time.  Pull down and let it go again and it will snap back to showing the full month.

Finally, you have an option in the toolbar (swipe up from the bottom edge) to switch from an event list to a timeline view of your events.

Adding Events

You can current add events to the calendar app, and they will be stored in a local database.  However, after discussions with Ubuntu Touch developers, the Calendar team is refactoring the app to use the Qt Organizer APIs instead.  This will allow it to automatically support saving to Evolution Data Server as a backend as soon as it’s integrated, making calendar events available to other parts of Ubuntu such as the datetime indicator.  Being able to import your ical feeds is also on the developer’s TODO list.

Visual Designs

We don’t have new visual designs for the Calendar yet, but it is one of the apps that the Design team has committed to providing one for.  Now that they are done with the Clock’s visual designs, I hope to see these soon for the Calendar.

Release Schedule

Once again I worked with the Calendar developers to set release targets for their app.  The alpha release is targeted for month-2, this month, and should include the switch to Qt Organizer.  Then we plan on having a Beta release in August and a Final in September.

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Michael Hall

The Ubuntu Touch Core Apps project is a new kind of collaboration between Canonical and the wider Ubuntu community, with a goal of developing high-quality applications for Ubuntu Touch. A couple of months ago I set out the Core Apps roadmap to October, and it’s high time I got around to giving you an update on our progress.

I had originally planned on giving an update of each of the core apps in a single blog post, but I realized that was going to get very, very long.  And nobody has time to read a giant wall of text.  So instead I’ll be breaking them up, one post per apps, so you can spread your reading time over multiple days.

To kick this off, here are the latest developments going on in the Clock app:

Clock Features

Sunrise & Sunset

Recently added to the main Clock tab is a way to check the sunrise and sunset times for the day.  Simply tap on the clock face and it will switch to the sunrise/sunset view.  Tap it again to switch back.  Swipe up from the bottom to reveal the toolbar, where you can set your location (which is used to calculate your specific sunrise and sunset times).


The Clock app developers are still waiting on a platform API to support registering alarms that will work even when the Clock app isn’t running.  But while they’re waiting on that, they’ve still be working hard on the interface for managing your alarms.  Their approach is both minimal and obvious, you drag the hour and minute hands around to the time you and and click Done in the center.  If you need more options, you can pick how often to repeat, what alarm tone to use, and whether or not to vibrate.

Now these won’t actually work until the platform API is in place, but you can already see how it will look to the user, and how simple it is to do.


Like the alarms, setting a timer is both minimal and obvious.  Unlike alarms, the timer is working today.  Drag the hand around to set how many seconds, tap the minutes part of the time and drag the hand to set the minutes.  Make more than one revolution around the dial and it will start adding hours as well.

Another nice feature is the ability to define custom timers that you can use again and again.  Swipe up from the bottom to reveal the toolbar again, select Add Preset, and set the duration using the same simple dragging motions on the dial.


Finally we come to the stopwatch part of the app.  In addition to simple start, pause and reset functionality, the stopwatch lets you mark laps as it goes, and keeps a log of each one that you can view both while the stopwatch is running and after.

Visual Designs

Some of you may have seen the new visual concepts that the Design Team published last month, which received quite a bit of positive feedback.  Well this week they sent the Clock developers the completed visual designs for the Clock app, so we should start to get our first taste of those designs in action in the next few weeks.

Release Schedule

Starting a couple of weeks ago, I started working with each of the Core Apps developer teams to set release targets for Alpha, Beta and Final releases of the app, with a goal to have them all at a 1.0 version before the October release of Ubuntu 13.10.  For the clock, we decided to mark the month-1 milestone (May) as an alpha release, because of the progress they had already made.  We then picked month-3 (July) for beta and month-4 (August) for our final release target.  Furthermore we have work items assigned on a monthly release basis to track the progress we are making.

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Recently we had our online Ubuntu Developer Summit where we discussed a range of topics, defined next steps, and documented work items. The very last session at the event was an overall summary of the tracks (you can watch the video here), but I wanted to blog an overall summary too. These notes are quick and to the point, but they should give an overall idea of decisions made.


  • Content Handling -

    • Siloing apps.
    • Main applications will define a “main repo” and provide an API to deliver, share and access the data in the main repo.

    • Want to update to 1.14 or even 1.15 if the video ABI doesn’t change.
  • System Settings

    • Focus on the phone settings defined here.
  • Scopes

    • Scopes that didn’t land in 13.04 should land within 2 weeks.
    • Several scopes will be migrated from Python to either C++ or Go for memory purposes.
  • Chromium

    • Expressed interest in moving to Chromium as default for a better user experience. Gathered feedback on the possible move. Next steps are to take discussion to the mailing list.
  • Unity 8/Mir Preview in 13.10

    • Want to have a preview of Ubuntu 8 (Phablet UI) running on Mir as an optional session (installable from universe or PPA, most likely).


  • Reviewed the current 13.10 release schedule found several changes made in 13.04 that mistakenly hadn’t been carried over, such as later freeze dates and one fewer alpha; Adam Conrad will be syncing all this up and sending mail to the ubuntu-release list for review.
  • We discussed the positioning of the development release in light of some conversations last cycle, and put some more flesh on the design for making it easier for people to follow along with the development release all the time.
  • This cycle, we’ll be bringing up a new 64-bit ARM architecture based on cross-building work done last cycle, and we’ll update developers on that once we get closer to the point of starting up builds in Launchpad.
  • Moving forward with click packages. Fleshed out ideas on source package provision, integrating with existing client package management stacks, and clarifying some other things like the security model.
  • For image based upgrades, the team held a demo and Q&A for the current proposed solution, which is split into client, server, and upgrader; client is going well and expected to land by the end of June, server is currently blocked on infrastructure but should be ready around the same time, and Ondrej Kubik has been making good progress at tweaking the CyanogenMod recovery environment for the upgrader.
  • Firmed up the plan for packaging Android components for Ubuntu Touch images.
  • Upstart will be used as the standard way of spawning desktop apps for Unity on touch devices and ideally on desktop too (Unity 7 and 8). This will let us make sure we only have one instance per app, and will make it easy to apply AppArmor, seccomp and cgroup confinement consistently to all apps.
  • Defined a goal to reduce the amount of time it takes to prepare, test and make a Checkbox release, automating more of the process. This will benefit people who use the Checkbox tool as part of their daily work. It’s possible that Checkbox may move to Universe, although this needs some more discussion.
  • The server certification tools are being reengineered to use the new plainbox engine as their core. This will preserve the existing UI, but we’ll have co-installable packages with the new core, and will eventually switch over to the new tools.
  • The cert tools and test suite are being upgraded to work well on ARM for our hyperscale and mobile work, fixing any issues so we can get full, clean test runs on ARM servers. MaaS will be used for provisioning, and tested as a part of the ARM server solution.
  • We will be basing the primary kernels for 13.10 on Linux 3.10, but will strongly consider 3.11 depending on timing. For Ubuntu Touch devices, we already have kernels available for Nexus 4 and 7, and plan to also bring up kernels for Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 10. We’ll provide a 13.04 hardware enablement kernel in the 12.04.3 point release.
  • In terms of Ubuntu Touch power management, we have some preliminary baselines against Android on Nexus 4 and will replicate those on other devices, although they won’t be entirely meaningful until things like Mir land. We’ve written some new utilities such as eventstat to track down problems here. On power management policy, we agreed key requirements for the system power manager and we’ll extend powerd to serve our immediate needs.


  • Community Roundtable:

    • Approved LoCo teams are no more, will be verified teams.
    • Bringing back fortnightly leadership meetings.
    • Ubuntu Advocacy Kit is driving to 1.0.
    • Gathered UDS feedback.
  • Ubuntu Community Website

    • Great discussion which clarified everybody’s involvement in the project.
    • Clear roadmap for completing the content and design in the next few weeks.
    • Design and web team have the templates we need to finish the work.
    • No discussion with IS yet around deployment – this will be coordinated next week.
  • Ubuntu Womens Session

    • Several events planned to get more people involved and the word out (Career Days, UOW, etc.).
    • Discussion about a women in technology themed event at CLS.
  • Ubuntu Status Tracker

    • The status tracker is many things to many different teams, but we managed to figure out a number of issues we can tackle, which should make everybody’s lives easier.
    • Removal of kanban view.
    • Add links from team pages to milestones pages.
    • Set up a meeting to discuss setting up an “ongoing” dev series.
  • Ubuntu On Air! Discussion

    • Issues with supporting multiple hosts.
    • Discussion about building support into summit and re-using vUDS components to support more shows and multiple hosts.
    • We want to open it up to more contributors, so we get more variety into the shows.
  • Development Onramp for Touch / Unity Next

    • Goals to improve docs.
    • We will track contributions to all the projects to see how we improve.
    • Increased focus on testing, coordination with the SDK team.
  • Documentation Team

    • Update Getting Started Page, review current docs and previous mailing list feedback.
    • Regular doc review cadence and more health check meetings.
    • Focus on content in the UAK.
  • Ubuntu Enterprise Desktop Discussions

    • Another meeting will be planned to get more input from users of enterprise desktops.
    • Some common issues were identified and discussed:
    • outdated cfengine package
    • access to Firefox/Thunderbird packages before publication (resolved)
    • support for livemeeting/linc
  • More Ubuntu Touch images

    • We identified the current blockers and will simplify thingsby using an image without firmware blobs, so they can be added by a local tool afterwards.
    • After the rebase to saucy we will also update the docs accordingly.
    • Kernel images for devices will first live in PPA, afterwards probably in universe.
  • Regular Ubuntu Development Updates

    • Organise regular Ubuntu on Air Hangouts to which we invite people from news sites as moderators.
    • Briefly summarise work from the last week(s).
    • Ask engineers to demo/showcase interesting developments.
    • Do Q&A sessions.
    • Also invite members of governance teams along.

Cloud and Server

  • Openstack Next Steps

    • Looked at some high level areas for this cycle, avoiding digging into areas covered by other sessions. We decided that at current, moving over to Git for our packaging work doesn’t add value. We also agreed to clean up on some cruft within the packaging branches.
  • Cloud Archive Status Check

    • Decided we had to support Grizzly for 12 months, which exposes a 3 month support gap from the backing Raring release. Need to discuss with the security team about how to fill this gap. Reviewed proposal for SRU cadence and tentatively rubber stamped.
    • Better co-ordination around trumping by Security dates, specifically if it covers more than one project.
    • Looked at using updates as a reason to increase our messaging.
  • 12.04.x images with LTS Enablement Kernel

    • The cloud images currently only contain the Precise (3.2) kernel. Discussed adding the kernel HWE stack to cloud images. We need to document how to enable backports, clearly state the support, and possibly tool cloud-init to handle updating the kernel on boot if folks need a more recent kernel on boot.
    • We will not be creating new images with the HWE kernel for the default images. The HWE kernel will be used for Clouds that have a high velocity of change in the Hypervisor (i.e. Windows Azure). For the regular images, we will investigate tooling in cloud-init and other places to make the ingestion of the HWE kernels easier, such as enhancing the documentation, allowing for easier enablement of backports, and making it easier to enable the HWE kernel at boot time.
  • Cloud-Init for Vagrant

    • We will create a good Ubuntu development workflow for Vagrant users (cross platform OSX, Windows). Ben Howard will investigate cloud-init tooling as well as the best method to enable the DKMS modules.
  • Cloud Init & Cloud Image Development for Saucy

    • We will define the development work to improve cloud-init and cloud images for the saucy cycle.
    • Discussed work on pre-cloud init phase, vendor hooks, cloud init plugin, and rebuding tools.
  • Juju Core Development

    • 1.10 version of juju available in backports for 13.04, and should be available in precise backports soon.
    • Look for releases in juju/dev ppa updating weekly, juju PPA monthly, and have stable release go into backports (couple of times per cycle).
  • OpenStack Hypervisors

    • HyperV support is currently untested.
    • VMWare support in charms, but not primary supported charms.
    • We need a matrix to demonstrate interoperability and support of each variation.
    • Need to work out additional hardening support.
  • Openstack QA

    • Building on our great history, moving away from per commit hardware testing to a more fluid multi virtualised separated environment, allowing greater interoperability testing. Hardware Cert term showed interest in getting more involved. The scope of this will be ratified when the interop matrix is created.
  • Flag Bearer Charms

    • Will improve flag bearer charm integration testing.
    • Implement list of reference charms.
    • Develop Percona backup XtraBackup flag bearer charm.
    • Document flag bearer and reference charm criteria in best practices.
    • Discuss flag bearer charms on mailing list.
  • Charm Policy Review

    • Add into policy for a charm to provide a config option to specify the version. The other items such as installation location (ie /srv), implementation of common subordinates, backups are to be added to best practices. The 3 ack on charm reviews is still under discussion.
    • Split Juju docs best practices and policy sections.
  • Audit Charms

    • Discussed re-reviewing the current charms in the charm store to ensure accurate readmes, tests, functionality, rating, categories, and icons. The workflow was discussed for queues, and which charms to tackle first.
  • Charm Development Tooling

    • Discussed gathering all the different charm development tools into one central package. These charm development tools include charm-tools, charmsupport, juju-gui,openstack-charm-helpers. Folks also discussed how the tools could be improved, and used as a singular set.
  • Juju Framework Charm for Server Application Technologies

    • Discussed further building out of the Django, Rails, Node.js, and possibly Java.
  • Improve Juju Documentation

    • Make a better user and charm developer experience for Discussed getting a permanent beta site going, methods to get documentation contributions. Hopefully a revamped docs will be in production in the next couple of weeks, and if not we’ll have a beta site very shortly (days).
  • Juju Charm Testing

    • Currently jenkins.qu.u.c has graph testing showing reliable results. Marco will be landing integration soon (days), with a more formal testing framework to follow (weeks).
    • Some ideas discussed were to gate charm store commits on testing, showing testing status in the GUI, and pre-deployment testing. Test examples will be made available along with a charm testing school.
  • Add User Feedback loops and Social Networking to Charm Store Charm Pages

    • Discussed making sure users have a method to give and receive feedback on a per charm basis. We currently have social networking (+1s, Likes, Tweets) in addition to downloads, quality rating, bug links, and testing status. Some ideas were to get clarification from design on showing social networking numbers, as well as a ‘leave feedback’ form.
  • Juju GUI Development

    • Discussed development done, and upcoming work. Covered ideas such as design, bundles, diagnostics, user data, juju feature parity, maintenance and support.
  • Improving QA for seeded server packages

    • Established three distinctive areas of testing, these are upstream test suites which typically run at build-time, integration tests via dep8 and service level testing which often requires multiple nodes and is conducted using juju.
    • We established that there is the regression test suite that can be included in many of the packages directly, with the requirement that we package some of the common ubuntu testing libraries.
    • Discussed some areas of standardisation for dep8 testing.
  • Fastpath installer work for 13.10

    • Established what FPI is, and the processes which are part of it.
    • Fast Path installer will be delivered as a installable package in Ubuntu, most likely in python. The interface to it will we yaml formatted configuration.
  • OpenStack Charm work for Saucy/Havana

    • Migrate all charms to be python based.
    • Consolidation into new charm-helpers nextgen library.
    • Complete SSL/HTTPS support into charms.
    • Integration of wiki and help documentation, upstream series aligned with upgrading notes.
    • Design around how proprietary+1 plugins will be integrated into core charms for Cinder and Quantum.
  • Investigate alternatives to mysql

    • Agreed that the best course of action was to maintain mysql for this cycle, and try and support other flavours of mysql getting into Ubuntu via Debian.
  • Ceph activities for Saucy

    • Dumpling release will be out in August (co-incides with FF for Saucy) so will be target for this release.
    • Lots of incremental improvements in efficiency and performance, full RESTful API for RADOS Gateway admin features, block device encryption for data at rest.
    • ceph-deploy (upstream cross platform deploy tooling) will be packaged.
    • Implementation of more automated testing during Saucy.
  • HA Openstack charms V2

    • Reviewed the current state of HA support in Openstack charms. Percona has volunteered to charm their offering, allowing great coverage by their mysql HA variant for active/active clustering.
    • Work also on active/active and brokerless messaging options (ZeroMQ) and incremental improvements for service check monitoring in load balancers.
    • Cluster stack (Corosync/Pacemaker) to be reviewed and upgraded for Saucy in preparation for 14.04.
  • MongoDB activities for Saucy

    • File Main inclusion report for Mongo to support Ceilometer and Juju use cases. Raise a Micro Release Exemption (MRE) to the techboard, as point releases are bug fix only.
    • Upstream armhf enablement patches. Re-sync with Debian. OpenSSL license exception.
  • Virtualization Stack Work for Saucy

    • If debian libcgroup maintainer finds time, we’d like to merge cgroup-lite into libcgroup. For per-user configuration, first make it default-off optional, conditional on userns sysctl being enabled.
    • LXC work is going well on track to 14.04 (and lxc 1.0) roadmaps. For this cycle, we’d like to get user namespaces enabled in the saucy kernel with a new off-by-default sysctl controling unprivileged use, and complete the ability to create and start basic containers without privilege; add console, attach and snapshot to the API, complete the create API function, and convert all of the lxc-* programs to use the API; write a libvirt driver based upon the API, and a patch to enable testing it with openstack; write loopback and qcow2 block device drivers; Get the subuid (user namespace enablement) patches into the shadow package; discuss with the community the maintenance of stable trees; improve the API thread safety; and work our distro lxc tests into the upstream package (akin to how it is done in netcf).
    • In edk2, we want to contribute to the implementation of the ability to save and restore nvvars from the ovmf bios from qemu. We’ll fix the apparmor bug preventing the block device mounting in libvirt-lxc, which is blocking use of that feature by openstack.
    • We intend to merge libvirt at least at version 1.0.6, qemu at 1.5, and hopefully xen 4.3. We’ll follow up on citrix’ plans for xcp. The blueprint lists additional xen work planned. We’ll also look into default use of openvswitch bridges in libvirt.

Quality Assurance

  • Core Apps

    • Autopilot testcases written for ubuntu core applications will be checked to ensure they pass before auto-landing updates in the ubuntu touch images.
    • The quality community team will help core application developers develop a suite of manual testcases for each ubuntu core application. These will be run as part of the verification process for the 1.0 stable release of each application.
  • Testcases

    • Add testcases so all default desktop applications for each flavor are covered.
    • Expand and improve server testcases to allow more participation by those who might lack domain specific knowledge and/or hardware.
  • Growth/Experience

    • Make available documentation more accessible by linking to it from the tools we use for testing, like the qatracker.
    • Continue holding testing ‘how-to’ and knowledge sharing sessions during UDW, UOW, as part of UGJ, and on ubuntu on air.
    • Add testing achievements to the ubuntu accomplishments project.
  • Ubuntu Touch

    • Ubuntu Touch images will be smoke tested using the pending/current model already in use for other images. This ensures no image is published for general consumption that doesn’t pass a set of tests ensuring basic functionality of the image.
    • Current Ubuntu Touch autopilot tests for the core applications will be investigated for use as part of these smoke tests.
    • The concept of smoke test is going to be expanded to cover a no regression build.
  • Autopilot

    • Autopilot 1.3 is now released and will be available in raring and saucy. No quantal support is planned. Precise support is being examined, but requires further investigation and backporting work.
    • Autopilot developers will now be available on #ubuntu-autopilot — no need to always ping thomi! :-)
  • Mir

    • Planned tests for stressing mir to ensure good behavior during stressed conditions for things like OOM, memory leaks and race conditions.
    • Stress tests targeted to be run as often as possible, but might be limited due to time constraints of wanting to run the tests over a longer period of time.
  • UTAH

    • UTAH will be expanded to include automated upgrade testing capabilities. UTAH jobs will be created for bootstrapping base images, for performing upgrades, and running post-upgrade tests. The old auto-upgrade-testing tool can still be used by flavors if desired.
  • Dashboard

    • Create high-level views of the state of quality in ubuntu by aggregating results of test runs. This will allow for ‘problem’ areas within ubuntu to be more easily identified and targetted for further testing or investigation by interested parties. You can follow this work on the QA dashboard here.
  • Upstream

    • autopilot-gtk will now be maintained by the upstream QA team. Bug fixes and outstanding issues will be solved in order to allow for the autopilot desktop tests to run
    • Once running properly, the autopilot desktop tests will become a part of daily image testing
    • Continue development on umockdev to add support for more exotic networking tests (eg, 3G) and research sound testing

As ever, you can track progress on work items on and we hope to see you at the next UDS in three months. :-)

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Recently there was yet another storm in a teacup that distracted us from creating and sharing Ubuntu and our flavors with others. I am not going to dive into the details of this particular incident…it has been exhaustively documented elsewhere…but at the heart of this case was a concern around the conduct in which some folks engaged around something they disagreed with. This is not the first time we have seen disappointing conduct in a debate, and I wanted to share some thoughts on this too.

In every community I have worked in I have tried to build an environment in which all view points that challenge decisions or decision makers are welcome with the requirement that they are built on a platform of respectful discourse; this is the essence of our Code Of Conduct. Within the context of an Open Source community we also encourage this engagement around differences to be expressed as solutions with a focus on solving problems; this helps us to be productive and move the project forward. This is why we have such a strong emphasis on blueprints, specs, bugs, and other ways of expressing issues and exploring solutions.

Within the context of this most recent issue I saw three problems (problems I have seen present in other similar arguments too):

  1. Irrespective of the voracity or content of an opinion we must never forget to be respectful and polite in the way we express and engage with others, irrespective of whether you are a volunteer, Canonical employee, or otherwise. Respect must always be present in our discourse, irrespective of the content of our opinions; without it we become a barbaric people and lose the magic that brought this wonderful set of minds together in the first place. There is simply no excuse for rudeness, and inflammatory FUD that has no evidence to back it up other than presumed ill-intent serves nothing but to demotive folks and ratchet up the flames, as opposed to resolve the issue and make things better.
  2. Trust needs to be earned, but trust should always be built within the wider context of a set of contributions and conduct. Unfortunately some folks consider decisions they disagree with to be a basis for (a) entering into a paranoid debate about the “real reason” the individual or company made that decision (and typically not believing the rationale provided by said decision-maker) and (b) seemingly forgetting about all the other positive contributions that the person or company has contributed. I can assure you there is no nefarious scheme at place at Canonical; our goals are well known in the community. If I felt Canonical was fundamentally trying to demote and shut the community out, I wouldn’t work here; I have no interest in working for a company that doesn’t understand the value of community, and I am not worried about finding suitable employment elsewhere. I work at Canonical because I believe our goals with Ubuntu are just and the company’s commitment to our community is sincere.
  3. Ubuntu is not a consensus-based community. Consensus communities rarely work, and I am not aware of any Open Source project that bases their work on wider consensus in the community. It would be impossible and impractical to notify our community of every decision we make, let alone try to base a decision on a majority view, but we do try to ensure that major changes are communicated to our leaders first (this is something we have been driving improvements in recently). We always need to find the right balance between transparency and JFDI, and sometimes the balance isnt’t quite there, but that does not mean there is some kind of illuminati-ish scheme going on behind the scenes.

Ubuntu is a community filled with passionate people, and I love that we have folks who are critical of our direction and decisions. If everyone agreed with what we are doing, we would not always make the right decisions, and our diversity is what makes Ubuntu and our flavors such a great place to participate.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it is important that all viewpoints are welcome, but we have to get the tone and conduct of some of these debates under control. The sheer level of sensationalist and confrontational language that is often in place in these disagreements doesn’t serve anyone but hungry journalists looking for page hits.

Now, I am not suggesting here that anyone should change any of their viewpoints. If you vehemently disagree with an aspect of what we are doing in Ubuntu or at Canonical, that is fine and of course, welcome. What I am appealing to everyone though is to treat others like you wish to be treated, with respect and dignity, and lets keep the sensationalism out of our community and focus on what we do best…building a world-class Free Software platform and its rich ecosystem of flavors.

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As many of you will know, our goal is to get the Ubuntu phone in a state where it can be used on a daily basis for testing, and importantly, finding bugs, UI issues, and other details that help us to refine the overall Ubuntu Touch experience. Progress is on-track for the end of May.

I decided to start dogfooding a little early (please remember, we are shooting for the beginning of July to be broadly in shape for dogfooding, so if you try, don’t expect things to be ready right now), so today I put my SIM card in my Galaxy Nexus with Ubuntu Touch and things are working pretty well so far. It seems that my data is no longer getting wiped on image updates, which helps testing significantly, so I am regularly upgrading with the daily images.

As ever, if you decide to test, you are doing so at your own risk…don’t be surprised to see bugs, crashes, and potential data loss (although I have not seen any data loss so far).

Some notes about my experience dogfooding:

  • Making and recieving phone calls works well. I am using T-Mobile as my network.
  • Sending and recieving texts works well too. Messages appear chronologically.
  • Contact syncing is not in place but Sergio blogged about how to sync your contacts from Google. This has made my phone infinitely more useful and rather nicely, it pulls in the avatars too so I can see who is calling me. :-)
  • Browsing and connecting to wireless networks works well.
  • The browser works well overall, although currently requires wifi (3G browsing coming soon).
  • Camera works well (for still photos, video not implemented yet) and I can browse my pictures in the gallery.
  • Many of the community-written core apps are present and working. Calendar lets me save and browse calendar events (although syncing with a calendar service is not there yet). Weather shows me the weather for my area right now and a week long forcast. Calculator is working and largely feature-complete. Other core apps are on their way to the daily image soon.
  • Overall the core Unity UI is working well. I can search for apps, load them, quit them, multi-tasting works well, and the indicators work (for adjusting volume etc).

The primary blockers in my way right now for normal use out and about are:

  • The screen does not auto shut-off. This means if the screen gets turned on in my pocket it never turns off and the battery dies.
  • Speakerphone not wired into the UI yet.
  • Can’t set the time on the phone yet. Also, the alarm feature in the clock doesn’t work; I need this to get me up in the morning. :-)
  • Not so much a blocker, but the phone is still filled with example material and contacts. They need to be removed.

All of these are on the TODO list for completion by the end of the month.

I have been filing bugs for a bunch of the issues I am seeing on a day to day basis and the team are working hard to hit the end of May goal. Overall progress is looking good.

Although I have been using the daily images for quite some time on a phone without a SIM card, using as an actual phone is even more motivating than before. I can feel the phone coming together and when we get many of these issues fixed, it is going to deliver a far superior experience than the Android phone I was using before.

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A while back I started a project called the Ubuntu Advocacy Kit. The goal is simple: create a single downloadable kit that provides all the information and materials you need to go out and help advocate Ubuntu and our flavors to others. The project lives here on Launchpad and is available in this daily PPA. If you want to see the kit in action just run:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:uak-admins/uak
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install uak-en

Now open the dash and search for “advocacy”. Click the icon to see the kit load in your browser.

We discussed the UAK this week at UDS and I want to get the kit to 1.0 level of completeness. This doesn’t require a huge amount of work, just getting a core set of content written up in a concise, simple, but detailed fashion. I want to complete this work and then get the kit up on as something people can download to get started advocating Ubuntu and our flavors.

I have created a blueprint to track this work and I am stubbing out a bunch of pages in the kit for pages that I think we will need as part of a 1.0 release.

And why are you telling me this?

Well, I am looking for help. :-)

If you enjoy writing and have a knowledge of good quality advocacy, I would like to invite you to write some content. If you can just reply to this post in the comments (or anywhere else I tend to look, such as email or IRC), we coordinate who works on what and I will update the blueprint where appropriate.

Thanks for reading!

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Recently the Technical Board made a decision to sunset Brainstorm, the site we have been using for some time to capture a list of what folks would like to see fixed and improved in Ubuntu. Although the site has been in operation for quite some time, it had fallen into something of a state of disrepair. Not only was it looking rather decrepit and old, but the ideas highlighted there were not curated and rendered into the Ubuntu development process. Some time ago the Technical Board took a work item to try to solve this problem by regularly curating the most popular items in brainstorm with a commentary around technical feasibility, but the members of the TB unfortunately didn’t have time to fulfill this. As such, brainstorm turned into a big list of random ideas, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, and largely ignored by the Ubuntu development process.

Now, some folks have mused on the decision to sunset brainstorm and wondered if this is somehow a reflection on our community and our openness to ideas. I don’t think this is the case. While it is always important to build an environment where ideas are openly discussed and debated, ideas are free and relatively simply to come by, and the real challenge is converting that awesome vision in your head into something we can see and touch and deliver to others; this is not quite so free and simple. While Brainstorm provided a great place to capture the ideas, and we had no shortage of them, the challenge was connecting brainstorm to the people who were happy and willing to perform the work, and it didn’t really serve this purpose very well.

There were two problems with this. Firstly, picking up other people’s popular ideas is not how Open Source traditionally works. Open Source is built on a philosophy of scratching your own itch, traditionally fueled by programmers fixing their annoyances and building features and applications they want. Now, this is not to say a non-programmer can’t rally the community around their idea and build momentum around an implementation, but doing this requires significantly more effort than a fire and forget submission into brainstorm. In other words, just because an idea is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is interesting enough for a developer to want to implement it. Secondly, brainstorm started to garner an unrealistic social expectation that popular ideas would be automatically added to the TODO list of prominent Ubuntu developers, which was never the case.

Today at UDS we had a discussion about these deficiencies in brainstorm in traversing the chasm between idea and implementation and Randall Ross had an interesting idea. With brainstorm retired we should re-focus the brainstorm URL and provide some guidance for tips and tricks for how to take an idea and rally support around it to develop an implementation. As an example, over the years I have discovered that taking an idea and building a well formed spec with detailed UI mock-ups and architectural diagrams, a detailed blueprint, regular meetings, and burndown charts, all significantly help to taking ideas from fiction to fandom. Equipping our community with the skills and tools to bring these ideas to fruition is a better use of our time.

So, the TL;DR of all of this is…brainstorm was a great idea at the time, but it didn’t effectively drive the most popular ideas in our community to fruition and delivery in Ubuntu. We want to help provide guidance and best practice to help our community be more successful in converting their ideas into development plans and getting people interested in participating.

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