Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'free software'

rsalveti

This week I’m proudly participating at the Ubuntu Developer Summit to help planning and defining what will the Quantal Quetzal (12.10) release be in the next following months.

As usual I’m wearing not only the Linaro hat, but also my Ubuntu and Canonical ones, interested and participating actively at most topics that are related with ARM in general.

And what can I say after the first 3 days at UDS-Q? Well, busy as never before and with great opportunities to help getting Ubuntu to rock even more at ARM, with current devices/platforms and with the exciting new ones that will be coming in the next few months.

Here are a few highlights from the first days:

Monday – May 7th

  • Introduction and Keynote
    • Great start as usual by Mark, showing the great opportunities for both Canonical and Ubuntu, describing the new target and use cases, and also showing how important Cloud is now for Ubuntu. After that we had, finally, the announcement of a real hardware availability from Calxeda, proving that ARM server are indeed real! (which is a quite important accomplishment)
  • Schedule displays all working with our member’s boards
    • This was the first time that all the schedule displays available at UDS were all covered by the ARM boards provided by Linaro. This time we got Pandaboard, Origen and also Snowball constantly showing the schedule through all the day. Low power and powerful devices all around :-)
  • Plans for a minimum filesystem for embedded devices
    • Discussion to cover all the possible embedded related use cases for Ubuntu, and trying to understand the real requirements for a minimum filesystem (rootfs) for those devices. While we didn’t decide to generate the smallest-still-apt/dpkg-compatible rootfs for our users (as ubuntu-core is already covering most of the cases), we’ll provide enough tools and documentation on how to easily generate them. At Linaro side the Ubuntu Nano image should probably reflect such suggestions.
  • Identify impact of the switch to pure live images for ARM platforms
    • Here the focus was basically to review and understand if we would really continue providing pre-installed based images instead of just supporting live based ones. Having the images provided only at the SD cards are very useful to make the bootstrap and install quite easy, but it hurts badly the performance. As we’re now getting ARM boards that are very powerful in many ways, the I/O bound shouldn’t limit what the users would be able to get from them. The decision for Quantal is to drop support for the pre-installed images, and provide live based ones at the SD cards (think like the live-sd image as we have with CD on other archs), where the user would install Ubuntu the same way as done with x86, and using USB/Sata based devices as rootfs by default.
  • OpenStack Deployment on ARM Server
    • The focus of this session was basically to better understand what might be the missing pieces for a proper OpenStack support at ARM. Quite a few open questions still, but the missing pkgs enablement, LXC testing and support and KVM for a few platforms will help making sure the support is at least correctly in place. After initial support, continuous test and validation should happen to make sure the ARM platforms keeps well supported over the time (which will be better stressed and tested once MAAS/Juju is also supported properly at ARM).

Tuesday – May 8th

  • Detail and begin the arm64/aarch64 port in Ubuntu
    • Clearly the most important session of the day for ARM. Great discussion on how to prepare and start the ARMv8 port at Ubuntu and Debian, by starting with cross-build support with multiarch and later support with Fast Models and Qemu. A lot is still to be covered once ARM is able to publish the ARMv8 support for Toolchain and Kernel, and session will be reviewed again at Linaro Connect at the end of this month.
  • Ubuntu Kernel Delta Review
    • Usual review of the patches the Ubuntu Kernel team is maintaining at the Ubuntu Kernel tree. At Linaro this is important as we also enable the Ubuntu specific patch-set at the packages provided by the LEB, for proper kernel and user-space support. Luckily this time it seems the delta is really minimum, which should probably also start to be part of Linux Linaro in the following month.
  • Integrate Linaro hwpacks for ARM with the Ubuntu image build infrastructure
    • Usual discussion about trying to avoid replicated work that is strictly related with each ARM board we support at both Ubuntu and Linaro. Decision is to finally sync with the latest flash-kernel available at Debian and try to get the common project/package with the hardware specific bits in place, so it can be used by linaro-image-tools, flash-kernel and debian-cd.

Wednesday – May 9th

  • MAAS Next Steps
    • Session to review and plan what are the next steps for the MAAS project, which is also missing proper ARM support for now. Great discussions on understanding all the requirements, as they will not necessarily match entirely with the usual ARM devices we have at the moment. Here the goal for ARM is to continue improving the PXE support at U-Boot (even with UEFI chainload later), and understanding what might be missing to also have IPMI support (even if not entirely provided by the hardware).
  • System Compositor
    • Great session covering what might be the improvements and development on the graphics side for next release. Goal is to use a system compositor that would be started right at the beginning at the boot, which will then be controlled and used properly once lightdm is up (with X11). This will improve a lot the user experience on normal x86 based desktops, and luckily on ARM we’re also in a quite nice situation with the work done by Linaro helping getting the proper DRM/KMS support for the boards we support, so I hope ARM will be in a great shape here :-)
  • ARM Server general enhancements (for ARMv7 and perhaps v8)
    • At this session we could cover what seems to be the most recurrent and problematically thing at supporting ARM servers, which is the lack of a single and supported boot method and boot loader. UEFI should be able to help on this front soon, but until then the focus will be to keep checking and making sure the current PXE implementation at u-boot works as expected (chainloading UEFI on u-boot is also another possibility Linaro is investigating). There is also the request for IPMI support, which is still unclear in general how it’ll be done generically speaking.
  • Integration testing for the bootloader
    • As Ubuntu is also moving to the direction of continuous validating and testing all important components available, there’s the need for a proper validation of the bootloader, and the effect at the user experience while booting the system. For ARM it’s also a special case, as U-Boot is still the main bootloader used across the boards. Test case descriptions in place, and discussion will probably continue at Linaro Connect as this is also an area where we also want to help validating/testing.
  • ARM Server Benchmarking and Performance
    • Here the Ubuntu Server Team presented how they are benchmarking and checking performance at the server level at x86, and covering what might still be needed to run and validate the ARM boards the same way. For ARM the plan is to run the same test cases on the available scenarios, and also try to get Linaro involved by making sure this is also part of the continuous validation and testing done with LAVA. Another important topic that will probably be extended at Linaro Connect is finding a way to get the power consumption data when running the test cases/benchmarks, so it can be further optimised later on.
  • Compiz GLES2 Handover
    • Last session of the day, trying to find the missing gaps to finally get the OpenGL ES2.0 support merged at the Compiz and Unity upstream branches used by the entire Ubuntu desktop (across all archs). Following work and actions will basically be to fix the remaining and important plugins after merging the changes, and also getting a few test cases to properly validate the support at Ubuntu. Once all done, it should be merged ASAP.

These are just a few topics which I was able to participate. There are a lot of more exciting work coming on, which can all be found at http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-q/. Remember that you’re still able to participate in a few of them tomorrow and friday, as remote access is provided for all the sessions we have.

I’m sure a lot of more exciting stuff will be discussed for ARM support until the end of this week, and at Linaro Connect, at the end of the month, we’ll be able to review and get our hands dirty as well :-)

Exciting times for ARM!


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rsalveti

For those following the development of the next Ubuntu release (12.04 – Precise Pangolin), you all know that we’re quite close to the release date already, and to make sure Precise rocks since day 0, we all need to work hard to get most of the bugs sorted out during the next few weeks.

At Linaro, the Linaro Developer Platform team will be organizing an ARM porting Jam this Friday, with the goal of getting all developers interested in fixing and working on bugs and portability issues related with the Ubuntu ARM port (mostly issues with ARMHF at the moment).

The idea of having the Porting Jam at Friday is to have it as a joint effort with Ubuntu’s Fix Friday and Ubuntu Global Jam, so expect quite a few other developers helping improving Ubuntu as well!

It’s quite easy to participate:

Remember that for ARM this release will be a quite huge milestone, as it’ll be the first LTS release supporting ARM, besides delivering support for ARM servers and ARMHF as default, so let’s make sure it rocks!

Looking forward for a great porting Jam!

Happy bug fixing!


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Steve George

Raspberry Pi is a project to spark exploration, innovation and to create a new generation of programmers by putting a computer into the hands of every British child. That was the passionate vision presented by David Braben of Frontier Development at Develop in a talked labelled “Giving something back”. There are some interesting parallels with the vision One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) had. The radical difference is that with the effects of Moores Law since the OLPC project the Raspberry Pi vision is for a device that costs 15 GBP – that makes it realistic to put one into the hands of every child in the UK!

They showed an alpha last year which got lots of attention – watch it and then we’ll continue:

Raspberry Pi: Elite writer David Braben’s 15 computer

The starting point for this endeavour is that children aren’t excited by Computer Science in the UK any more and that this has meant a radical drop in the number of University applications. There’s a shortage of precise figures, said David, but it could be as much as a 51% drop since the mid-90’s. He cites a lot of reasons for this, from changes in life-style, curriculum and the mass-media. His conclusion is that a key shortage is a computing environment for kids that encourages programming – a BBC B for a newer generation. The team aims to create a small (phone sized) computer, powered by an ARM chip, which you can plug a TV/keyboard into and a software load with educational software on it. The long-term mission being to provide these free to groups of children with appropriate content, along with management capabilities for teachers.

The bottom line for me is that encouraging experimentation, exploration and creation is a good thing in and of itself. If you want to create programmers they have to start along the journey of realising that you can create as well as consume in the digital world. When I was in school computers were all the rage from an educational perspective and certainly while we mostly played games we also created small programs. Like many others I spent long hours typing out program listings that came in magazines, and learnt rudimentary concepts in BASIC. While I personally took an indirect path into computers I do think these experiences were formative in accepting what was possible and sparking an inherent interest.

Raspberry Pi running Ubuntu

Creating a complete computing environment for children and teachers is a hugely ambitious goal. You have to solve hardware, software, content and distribution problems along the way. At the moment the Raspberry Pi team is focusing on the hardware, with an initial developer version due this year. I see the software stack as being a critical portion – you’ll be glad to know that Ubuntu is the OS! It has to be said that although I got into computing with BASIC and a manual I don’t think that’s going to cut it for kids these days: it certainly wouldn’t have cut it for me if there’d been anything like the Net! Moreover, I think we have to accept that the Web is the platform and that the elements of sharing, socialising and interacting are all part of what makes up computing now. So any software stack has to look forward and encompass new elements even when trying to be simple. That said I think the software and languages we have today are a lot stronger and more compelling: whether that’s languages like Python or some of the OLPC environment! Of course, it’s easy for a technical audience to focus on the technology stack but this changes all the time, what’s more important is the content and education contacts.

Clearly, the content will need to address childrens needs at different ages, and working with the education sector so that it fits their needs and understanding is going to be very important. David noted that managing groups of machines was a key need for educators who aren’t technicians. I was struck by the passion and willingness to get involved throughout the room – if that passion can be harnessed it will hold the project in good stead. I’ve love to see Raspberry Pi develop into a full charity with funding from the industry and efforts to work with the education sector.

If you’re like to find out more about Raspberry Pi, and perhaps sign-up for one of their dev boards, then see their site. What do you think about this initiative and on a more general level how can we help get kids involved in experimenting with technology?


Tagged: Free Software, Linux, Ubuntu

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rsalveti

As at Linaro we usually work with many PPAs over the releases, there was a need to generate a proper changelog for a PPA, in a way we could know what packages got changed before doing the release.

At first I thought I could just parse the repository metadata (as a PPA is nothing more than a debian repository), but then I realized I could just use the awesome (yes, *awesome*) launchpadlib, if it had a way to get the data I needed.

So I called the launchpadlib master I know (Ursinha), and in 15 minutes we saw that we could use it to parse the “.changes” file, and from there get the data I needed. As Launchpad stores the PPA packages publishing history, it’s quite easy to get all the changes over period of time.

A few minutes later (after also noticing that there’s a python-debian module to parse the changes file), I created the first version of the generate-ppa-changelog.py script, that does exactly what I needed, and with just a few python lines :-)

Here’s the link: http://bazaar.launchpad.net/~rsalveti/+junk/launchpad/view/head:/generate-ppa-changelog.py.

Usage:

rsalveti@evatp:~/projects/launchpad/scripts$ python generate-ppa-changelog.py -h
usage: generate-ppa-changelog.py [-h] [-d YYYYMMDD] [-s SERIES] -t TEAM
[-p PPA] [--version]

Print Changelog for a PPA

optional arguments:
-h, –help show this help message and exit
-d YYYYMMDD, –date YYYYMMDD
start date to probe for changes
-s SERIES, –series SERIES
ubuntu series to look for changes (default: natty)
-t TEAM, –team TEAM launchpad team that owns the PPA
-p PPA, –ppa PPA ppa name to probe the changelog (default: first PPA)
–version show program’s version number and exit

If no argument is given, it will probe all the changes for the default series.

Output Example:

rsalveti@evatp:~/projects/launchpad/scripts$ python generate-ppa-changelog.py -t linaro-maintainers -p overlay -s natty -d 20110701
Changelog for linaro-maintainers’s overlay PPA (series natty) since 2011-07-01 00:00:00

base-files (5.0.0ubuntu28linaro3) natty; urgency=low

* Updating Linaro LEB version to 11.07 (development branch)

— Ricardo Salveti de Araujo Fri, 15 Jul 2011 04:19:40 -0300

libjpeg-turbo (1.1.1-1inaro2) natty; urgency=low

* release
* add timestamp code to cjpeg.c
* default cjpeg.c and djpeg.c timestamp code to off

— Tom Gall Mon, 11 Jul 2011 20:32:23 +0000

linaro-meta (017) natty; urgency=low

* Refreshed dependencies
* Added libjpeg-turbo62 to linaro-alip, linaro-graphical-engineering,
linaro-multimedia-engineering, linaro-ubuntu-desktop

— Tom Gall Wed, 13 Jul 2011 15:41:29 +0000

u-boot-linaro (2011.07.1-0ubuntu1~natty1) natty; urgency=low

* New upstream 2011.07.1 which includes
– PXE FDT fix from previous ubuntu release so patch has been removed
– Added missing PXE env vars (LP: #808815)
– Generated unique usbethaddr (LP: #809015)
– Modify pxe command to look for usbethaddr if ethaddr is NULL

— John Rigby Wed, 13 Jul 2011 23:31:39 -0600

x-loader (1.5.1+git20110715+fca7cd2-1ubuntu1~natty1) natty; urgency=low

* New upstream release
– several fixes for panda and igep
– OMAP3 code cleanup
– Beagle Rev C5 support
– Support for IGEPv3 board

— Ricardo Salveti de Araujo Fri, 15 Jul 2011 05:55:09 -0300

x-loader (1.5.0+git20110714+cdc887b-1ubuntu1~natty1) natty; urgency=low

* New upstream release
– Adding support for IGEPv3 board
* debian/patches/01-Beagle-Rev-C5-support.patch:
– Adding support for the new Beagle C5

— Ricardo Salveti de Araujo Fri, 15 Jul 2011 02:36:58 -0300

And now we can just generate the proper changelog anytime we want to do a call for testing or a Linaro Ubuntu release :-)


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Steve George

Apple finally announced iCloud, reinforcing that the Cloud is ready for consumers. It validates some of the things we’ve been doing in Ubuntu and encourages us to think about how the trend will impact free software in the future.Cringley focuses on Apple targeting Microsoft by making the desktop category just like a device and moving everyone onto the Internet. Steve Jobs is quoted as saying:

“We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device – just like an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch. We’re going to move the hub of your digital life to the cloud.”

I don’t know if this targets Microsoft, I do know that Apple has done as much as anyone to make the network a central part of our digital life.

It’s clear that we all spend more time online – if you stand-back you can see see our increased dependence on the Web (we spend more time on-line than watching TV), along with how central some web apps are becoming to our lives (from Facebook to Google calendar). You might question how quickly this is happening or how widely spread: there’s not much bandwidth in Africa, and I often find it surprising how poor connectivity is in rural areas. But, that’s just a question of timing – large numbers of users already think of their computers and the Web as being synonymous.

The Web itself is rapidly becoming the standard development platform and storage medium for applications. With HTML5 and its’ extended technologies we will see increasingly complex and capable web apps: this Financial Times HTML5 app is a nice example and tweaks Apple’s tail! Even if the interface of everything can’t be a Web front-end, then data storage is also moving in that direction: increasingly users think of their content as being ‘available’ everywhere – meaning online.

From a user perspective this means we all expect to access our favourite applications and our personal data at any point from a myriad of devices. The impact on Windows is that the field is being reset, both at a software and a hardware level. Microsoft is not a cherished consumer brand that everyone loves so they will have to start over. But, it equally impacts anyone that wants to create a general operating system – Ubuntu being my concern.

If everything is on the network, and the network provides many of the applications then there’s going to be a fundamental set of shifts in how the system stack supports the user. Among the many areas, two things stand out for me.

The first theme is that we need to provide ways for users to store and access their content online. We’ve seen Apple’s system, we’re bound to see systems from all the titans of the industry as well at a lot of start-ups. This could be fantastic for users, but there’s also potential for drawbacks if there’s no standardisation – we don’t want to go back to a world of locked in data.

But it’s deeper than data, users don’t think “I need my data” they think “I want my photos of Nancy the dog” which means we need to attach storage and applications together. That’s why in Ubuntu One we talk about the personal cloud and we’re providing both applications and API’s to build on top of basic data storage and sync. Any data storage (including Ubuntu One) also needs to be available across multiple platforms so that our users can access their content whenever they want or need it. Importantly, to make the Cloud the central storage location it needs to be fully integrated and seamlessly part of the users experience – going to the ‘Web folder’ is a fail!

The second theme is that the operating system will be a window onto the Web, and this changes what it needs to present to the user and the services it provides to applications. From a user perspective we need to integrate the Web so that there’s no difference between local and network applications. Moreover, some of the metaphors of the Web are impacting how users think about interacting with their computers, take search as an example.

For applications to be truly integrated it will mean that the system stack will need to provide services that web application developers can use. For example, rather than signing into a myriad of different web applications how can the system stack authenticate me to them seamlessly. Perhaps even the idea of local and web apps will need to disappear, if we can provide technologies that help web application developers create applications that work both locally and through the network.

A final thought, I said at the start that Apple has done as much as anyone to make the vision of a connected world real. But Unix and Linux has done even more – network computing is central to our technology, and distributed community is central to our ethos. For me this means Ubuntu has great strengths it can draw on as we create this future – Ubuntu can be the operating system for the rest of us in a connected world!


Tagged: ubuntu canonical icloud

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Steve George

Why wasn’t Google invented in the UK? Where are all the great British software start-ups? Why isn’t there more Open Source in the UK?

That last question may not have come up in the Chancellors budget speech, but it should have. This was my central argument to The Register this week –  to move from an economy whose value is “the loan was created in Britain”, to one where it’s “invented, designed and built in Britain” then we need to unleash innovation through Open Source.

You might think it a bit self-serving for me to be pushing Open Source as the answer to the UK’s ills. In fact, as I far too passionately made my points to Lucy Sherriff, it crossed my mind that I could fully conform to my own stereotype of “special pleading corporate PR” by next asking for special tax breaks and complaining about unspecified (but nonetheless burdensome) “red-tape”! Nonetheless, I believe that technology and Open Source have to be key elements in the rebalancing of the UK’s economy.

First, lets put back into the box the idea that the UK cannot do technology, and that we should just leave it to Silicon Valley. The funny thing is that when you pull up the covers on successful valley technology companies you’ll find plenty of Brits. That shouldn’t be a surprise, the education system in the UK is strong, we have a fantastic tradition in science and engineering, and the language/culture compatibility helps. Finally, it completely ignores the evidence of the technology companies we do have, from successful start-ups such as Last.fm through to majors like ARM.

Perhaps it’s that cultural contrarianism that makes us unable to dwell on the positive or accentuate the good. A national character of, you say “tomato”, I say “no, it’s a squashed, bruised, fruit that tastes anaemic and who knows the long-term effects of the pesticides”. So, lets not waste any more bits on this – the UK has great technology capabilities and we should celebrate them!

So why is Open Source an important element in creating an environment that can create success for our technologists and economy? Because, it’s a leveller and a remover of locked-in de-facto networks. Open source releases innovation and provides ways for companies of all sizes to compete, bringing greater competition and delivering more value to everyone.

First, government wants to encourage start-ups and small business. There’s lots of policy options, but a big (perhaps the biggest) lever is government procurement. Our tax money should be used to buy great value technology, provided by local companies if at all possible. Governments know this, but they’re often concerned that small suppliers will fail – it’s a real concern because it happens. Mandating that the technology be Open Source removes that concern. That way if the supplier fails it can be supported and maintained by an alternative supplier. And, in the long-run you create a competitive national set of technology companies that will be employing locally and providing services far more efficiently than a small number of multi-national conglomerates (yes, looking at you Oracle).

Second, Open Source enables a local (ie national) supplier ecosystem to be created. Fundamentally, if our technology companies just resell proprietary software that’s developed by the large multinationals they will lack the skills to innovate and create on their own. Open Source is customisable and enables the suppliers to develop the same skills that will be needed to create products. There’s no black-boxes in Open Source, so if someone spots an opportunity or a gap they can understand it and innovate from there.

Third, Open Source provides more flexible and capable systems for end-users. My biggest fear about proprietary software is that it destroys enquiry in our children and students – it’s a curiosity trap. How many of the stories about great inventors (whether software or not) start with them taking apart everything they could get their hands on, from clocks to cars. They had a spirit of enquiry, a curiosity to understand and then improve.

In this era Open Source is the biggest library of software on the planet. In any domain, sphere or software idea there’s an Open Source project and some of the most skilled developers on the planet out there working on it. And everyone can read, understand and enquire – how short a step is it for the imagination to be fed and the idea of improving to occur? It’s terrible to anaesthetise our children and students with the idea that they shouldn’t look under the hood or understand what’s happening. That’s exactly what proprietary software does. And we risk missing the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates because of it.

So really George (Osbourne in this case), stop throwing tax dollars at bribing multi-national banks to keep taking space in Canary Wharf. Unleash the UK into the forefront of the global technology revolution by adopting an industrial policy that develops technology as a key area, and for goodness sake make Open Source part of that mix. You know I’m right!


Tagged: Canonical, innovation, Linux, Ubuntu

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Hardik Dalwadi

First i would like to thanks all UDD attendees & Canonical, Ubuntu Community for making UDD successful event. we had around 350 attendees @ Hotel Leela, Grand Ball Room.

So, let me  share some behind the scene pictures.

 

This is how we started @ 1:30 PM, 26th Jnauary, 2011

 

Time to make seprate Ubuntu Cotton bags with T-shirts.

Final Goodies: Notepad, Pens, sticker, Products Sheets, Mavercik T-Shirts and Ubuntu Cotton Bags

 

Finally three containers with all goodies, according to their t-shirts size @ 2:30 PM, 26th January, 2011

Registration Counter @ 7:00 PM, 26th January, 2011

Agenda @ 9:10 PM, 26th January, 2011

UDD Presentation Hall @ 11:00 PM, 26th January, 2011

UDD Demonstration Room @ 3:00 AM 27 January, 2011

It was very interesting and busy day for all, packing bags to preparing demo room, shaping final presentations. We were very excited to see all Ubuntuers on UDD. And, OMG!!! that dream came true. Here is a picture taken 15 minutes before the UDD started. And, I believe Picture Speaks Louder Then The Words, OMG!!! It is!

 

Fronte-Right-Corner: A picture taken 15 minutes before the UDD started.

 

REAR-Right-Corner: A picture taken 15 minutes before the UDD started.

 

Though,  i was busy @ UDD Demonstration Counter, organized by Canonical and OEMs and LOEMs, showing their devices with Ubuntu, so i would not write much about UDD Presentation, later in this blog i will cover UDD Presentation source and community blog, covering whole UDD Presentation  part.  Again coming back to demo part, We demoed Wipro Machines (Netbook, Notebook, Tablet, Desktops), Lenovo All-In-One M90Z with Ubuntu 10.10, Dell Zino and Dell Latitude Netbook with Ubuntu Light. Most of the attendees were interested in getting list of Machine pre-installed with Ubuntu and available in Indian market. And that was one of the common need of all. And we surprised by seeing huge demand for that. In past, i have covered in my blog with picture of some LOEM brand with Ubuntu showcasing in CROMA. I got huge demand from attendees to generate and promote list of LOEMs and OEMs shipping machines with Pre-installed Ubuntu in Indian Consumer / Retail Market. We are already doing this for enterprise and corporates. I am sure i will cover that list in future blog. We had given 1 hour for UDD Demonstration Counter,  combined with UDD Break in UDD Agenda.  But personally,  i was much more  busy during the day  for demonstration ;) Here are few pictures from Demonstration Counter.

UDD Demonstartion Room @ 1:00 PM, 27th January, 2011

UDD Demonstration Counter @ 3:00 PM, 27th January, 2011

Overall it was amazing event. During the day, i had great meeting with Nigel Babu and Sreekanth. Nigel also covered detailed report of UDD. Sreekanth had given nice demo on preparing and running customized Ubuntu AMI on Amazon EC2 Cloud Services. We had given separate counter for community. Thanks a lot Sreekanth.

Finally, Closing keynote  by Prakash thanking  all UDD attendees and Canonical Employee for making UDD successful. Here is a snip from Nigel’s Blog Post.

Closing keynote by Prakash and Thanks to all UDD attendees and Canonical Employee for making UDD successful.

Though, We have finished the UDD, but still we are hearing from attendees. Personally, i got lot of e-Mails from attendees.  There was common request to do it again. And, of-course i will update you more in future. Here few words from one of e-Mail, i received. Personal thanks to Mr. Girish


Dear Hardik,
It was a great experience at Leela palace in Bangalore on Ubuntu Developer Day.
I had very good opportunity to meet many people to from open source.
Please keep on organising such events in India.

My Canonical colleagues also got the similar kind of e-Mails after UDD. It was great satisfaction for us. Here is few links around the web covering UDD, bit commercially, but that is not offensive :) .


http://www.mymobile.co.in/index.php/national-news/312-ubuntu-developer-day-counts-over-350-in-attendance

http://www.efytimes.com/e1/57794/fullnews.htm

http://press-releases.techwhack.com/

http://tweetmeme.com/story/3872838340/ubuntu-developer-day-in-india-a-resounding-success-with-over-350-in-attendance

http://friendfeed.com/techwhack/29e6af84/ubuntu-developer-day-in-india-resounding

To going at more commercial part, there was very nice coverage by Beyond Beat, Evening new paper.

I like the title most, i will close this blog with that one | UBUNTU STORY: STAFF OF TWO, LAKHS OF USERS | Big thanks to strong Ubuntu Community and Canonical. Now? Let’s make it billion….

UDD Coverage by Beyond Beat, Evening New Paper of Bangalore

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Steve George

To go with the Software Business Development role we also opened up an Ubuntu Developer Relations Advocate job as the two areas are closely related. Business Development is focused on working with developers at a business level, fundamentally creating a revenue-generating relationship.  Developer relations is focused on working with developers at a technical level, providing resources, assistance and community.  Both roles could be speaking to the same people in a small developer shop, but the focus of the conversation is different and we need both to help developers be successful.

Fundamentally, the objective of developer relations is to provide a focus for evangelising the platform and assisting developers as they develop software for Ubuntu. One thing to clarify is that the type of development we mean here is ‘developing applications that run on Ubuntu‘, with the desired outcome being that we increase the range of applications available to Ubuntu users. So this is different to a lot of our other community relations work which is aimed at contributors to Ubuntu. Another point is that our focus is on commercial software developers since we believe that it’s important to create a sustainable ecosystem around the platform: that doesn’t exclude FOSS since Open Source can be commercial – although being realistic I expect that most of the commercial software will be proprietary.

Developer relations is a mixed role, it’s partially to evangelise the platform and attract developers, and partially assisting developers by giving them resources and a community. I group the responsibilities into three areas – attracting, enabling and enthusing. By attracting we mean communicating and showing how great the Ubuntu platform is for developers. This covers the Ubuntu distribution but also developer enabled technologies such as Unity, UbuntuOne and distribution through the Software Center. To enable developers we need to provide resources they can use to develop on Ubuntu explaining the tools and technologies that are part of the platform and how to use them.  A key difference between Ubuntu and other platforms is that we aim to be participatory and transparent. So the most important element of ‘enabling’ is that we want to create a Developer Community: we’re focusing our attentions on developer.ubuntu.com which you can think of as the equivalent to IBM’s Developer Works or Apple’s Developer Center. This is a real connector role so a key part will be working with the wider world, and coordinating internal Canonical teams and exciting everyone so that we’re all working together to the common goal.

Finally, there’s lots of discussion whether Developer Relations should sit within an engineering department or within a marketing organisation, which depends on your objectives. In our case the focus is increasing the range of software that is available on Ubuntu which is a long-range business development strategy aimed at strengthening the platform, so we’ve chosen to put Developer Relations within that team so we can have the best connections. Either way at heart it’s a technical role that is all about communications by helping developers get the most from the platform – being their advocate.

We know the objective and the strategy, how to drive it forward is open territory that will need leadership, energy and tenacity. If you have experience in Developer Relations and some of the thoughts above chime with your own ideas then hop across to the Ubuntu site where you can read the job description and apply!


Tagged: Canonical, developers, Linux, Ubuntu

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Hardik Dalwadi

We are happy to announce Ubuntu Developer Day in Bangalore.

What is Ubuntu Developer Day?

Ubuntu Developer Day is the biggest software day in Bangalore this year.
With keynote speeches from various members of the Canonical team, and a
more focused technical delivery, register now to avoid disappointment.

Who should attend?

Engineers and Product Managers at OEMs and ODMs with responsibility or
interest in deploying Ubuntu on new devices and computers.

Where?

Leela Palace Kempinski Hotel
23 Airport Road Bangalore 560008
Tel: 080 25211234

What is the cost?

The event is sponsored by Canonical and is free of charge. Lunch and
refreshments will be provided by Canonical.

How do I register?

Register before January 20th at www.ubuntu.com/ubuntudeveloperday

Update:
Registration closed for Ubuntu Developer Day, Bangalore, Jan 27, 2011.

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kenvandine

When people ask me what I do, I frequently answer with “The same thing I would do if I didn’t need to work for a living”.  I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work full time on free software, and as I love to describe it, “helping to make the world a better place”.  I am just a small part in the effort to make free software common place, and I am proud to do my part.

Enough with the feel good stuff… What do I “really” do? :)

My role with Ubuntu is described as an Integration Engineer, what the heck does that mean?  Glad you asked, I work on the Ubuntu Desktop team, to help integrate the amazing work going on in the Design, Desktop Experience, and Ubuntu One teams into Ubuntu.  I help package their software, distribute updates, and advise and assist with design/architecture as it applies to how the software will be consumed by the user.  I care very much about how new features will affect existing and new users and how they will discover the new features.

As you can probably imagine, this is a lot of fun for someone like me.  I get to play around with new stuff that isn’t ready for the distro yet, helping out with testing and figuring out how it impacts our users.  Being a naturally born tinkerer, this is simply an awesome experience for me.

I also drive the Social from the start initiative in Ubuntu, trying to bring social experiences closer to the desktop, making the integration of their daily computer usage and their social life feel more natural.  I have very strong beliefs about web technologies and experiences, buy me a beer sometime and I can rant for a while.  Long story short, to provide the best possible experiences we need to remove the need to use the browser.  I don’t hate the browser, we can’t live without it.  But the best way to interact with your friends on social networks needs to be more contextual.  For example, you see a friend posted some new photos in an album.  You should be able to view that album in your local photo album viewer, as well as tag friends and comment on photos.  Why not do it in the browser you ask?

  1. Your browser probably already has a dozen tabs open doing anything from shopping for new shoes to making a reservation for dinner this weekend.  Do you really need another tab viewing photos?  What does that have to do with anything else your doing in that browser session?
  2. Perhaps your viewing photos of a friend’s kid’s first birthday party, you might want to view photos of your own child’s first birthday to reminisce.

Trying to make this possible, I spend as much time as I can contributing to Gwibber, trying to generalise as much as I can to make it a desktop service that can be easily used by any application.  Gwibber is a natural fit for this, since it aggregates multiple services, which is key to pulling this all together as a central service to handle this for the user.  Gwibber is also a great upstream project to contribute to, lead by the always awesome Ryan Paul.  He’s very open to my ideas, and easy to work with.  At the beginning of each development cycle I get to brainstorm ideas with him and figure out how I can best contribute to making the road map a reality.

For someone like me, it is pretty easy to have fuzzy lines between what I do during my day job and what I do just for fun.  In the evenings or over weekends, when I am not off hanging out with the family, I usually end up hacking on Gwibber or libgwibber for fun. :)

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mark

Prompted in part by the critique of Canonical’s code contributions to the kernel and core GNOME infrastructure, I’ve been pondering whether or not I feel good about what I do every day, and how I do it. It’s important for me to feel that what I do is of service to others and makes the world a better place for it having been done. And in my case, that it’s a contribution commensurate with the good fortune I’ve had in life.

Two notes defined for me what I feel I contribute, in this last month. One was a thank-you from New Zealand, from someone who is watching Ubuntu 10.04 make a real difference in their family’s life. For them it seems like a small miracle of human generosity that this entire, integrated, working environment exists and is cared for by thousands of people. The other was a support contract for tens of thousands of desktops running Ubuntu 10.04 in a company. Between those two, we have the twin pillars of the Ubuntu Project and Canonical: to bring all the extraordinary generosity of the free software community to the world at large, as a gift, free of charge, unencumbered and uncrippled, and to do so sustainably.

The first story, from New Zealand, is about someone who is teaching their children to use computers from a young age, and who has observed how much more they get done with Ubuntu than with Windows, and how much more affordable it is to bring computing to all the kids in their community with Ubuntu. For them, the fact that Ubuntu brings them this whole world of free software in one neat package is extraordinary, a breakthrough, and something for which they are very grateful.

It’s a story that I hope to see replicated a hundred million times. And it’s a story which brings credit and satisfaction not just to me, and not just to the people who make Ubuntu the focus of their love and energy, but to all of those who participate in free software at large. Ubuntu doesn’t deserve all the credit, it’s part of a big and complex ecosystem, but without it that delivery of free software just wouldn’t have the same reach and values.

We all understand that the body of free software needs many organs, many cells, each of which has their own priorities and interests. The body can only exist thanks to all of them. We are one small part of the whole, it’s a privilege for us to take up the responsibilities that we do as a distribution. We have the responsibility of choosing a starting point for those who will begin their free software journey with Ubuntu, and we work hard to make sure that all of those pieces fit well together.

Ubuntu, and the possibilities it creates, could not have come about without the extraordinary Linux community, which wouldn’t exist without the GNU community, and couldn’t have risen to prominence without the efforts of companies like IBM and Red Hat. And it would be a very different story if it weren’t for the Mozilla folks and Netscape before them, and GNOME and KDE, and Debian, and Google and everyone else who have exercised that stack in so many different ways, making it better along the way. There are tens of thousands of people who are not in any way shape or form associated with Ubuntu, who make this story real. Many of them have been working at it for more than a decade – it takes a long time to make an overnight success :) while Ubuntu has only been on the scene six years. So Ubuntu cannot be credited solely for the delight of its users.

Nevertheless, the Ubuntu Project does bring something unique, special and important to free software: a total commitment to everyday users and use cases, the idea that free software should be “for everyone” both economically and in ease of use, and a willingness to chase down the problems that stand between here and there. I feel that commitment is a gift back to the people who built every one of those packages. If we can bring free software to ten times the audience, we have amplified the value of your generosity by a factor of ten, we have made every hour spent fixing an issue or making something amazing, ten times as valuable. I’m very proud to be spending the time and energy on Ubuntu that I do. Yes, I could do many other things, but I can’t think of another course which would have the same impact on the world.

I recognize that not everybody will feel the same way. Bringing their work to ten times the audience without contributing features might just feel like leeching, or increasing the flow of bug reports 10x. I suppose you could say that no matter how generous we are to downstream users, if upstream is only measuring code, then any generosity other than code won’t be registered. I don’t really know what to do about that – I didn’t found Ubuntu as a vehicle for getting lots of code written, that didn’t seem to me to be what the world needed. It needed a vehicle for getting it out there, that cares about delivering the code we already have in a state of high quality and reliability. Most of the pieces of the desktop were in place – and code was flowing in – it just wasn’t being delivered in a way that would take it beyond the server, or to the general public.

The second email I can’t quote from, but it was essentially a contract for services from Canonical to help a company move more than 20,000 desktops from Windows to Ubuntu. There have been several engagements recently of a similar scale, the pace is accelerating as confidence in Ubuntu grows. While Linux has long proven itself a fine desktop for the inspired and self-motivated developer, there is a gap between that and the needs of large-scale organisations. There isn’t another company that I’m aware of which is definitively committed to the free software desktop, and so I’m very proud that Canonical is playing that role in the free software ecosystem. It would be sad for me if all the effort the free software community puts into desktop applications didn’t have a conduit to those users.

There’s nothing proprietary or secret that goes into the desktops that Canonical supports inside large organisations. The true wonder for me is that the story from New Zealand, and the corporate story, both involve exactly the same code. That to me is the true promise of free software; when I have participated in open source projects myself, I’ve always been delighted that my work might serve my needs but then also be of use to as many other people as possible.

Ubuntu is a small part of that huge ecosystem, but I feel proud that we have stepped up to tackle these challenges.

Canonical takes a different approach to the other companies that work in Linux, not as an implicit criticism of the others, but simply because that’s the set of values we hold. Open source is strengthened by the fact that there are so many different companies pursuing so many different, important goals.

In recent weeks it’s been suggested that Canonical’s efforts are self-directed and not of benefit to the broader open source community. That’s a stinging criticism because most of us feel completely the opposite, we’re motivated to do as much as we can to further the cause of free software to the benefit both of end-users and the community that makes it, and we’re convinced that building Ubuntu and working for Canonical are the best ways to achieve that end. It’s prompted a lot of discussion and consideration for each of us and for Canonical as a whole. And this post is a product of that consideration: a statement for myself of what I feel I contribute, and why I feel proud of the effort I put in every day.

What do we do for free software? And what do I do myself?

For a start, we deliver it. We reduce the friction and inertia that prevent people trying free software and deciding for themselves if they like it enough to immerse themselves in it. Hundreds of today’s free software developers, translators, designers, advocates got the opportunity to be part of our movement because it was easy for them to dip their toe in the water. And that’s not easy work. Consider the effort over many years to produce a simple installer for Linux like http://www.techdrivein.com/2010/08/massive-changes-coming-to-ubuntu-1010.html which is the culmination of huge amounts of work from many groups, but which simply would not have happened without Canonical and Ubuntu.

There are thousands of people who are content to build free software for themselves, and that’s no crime. But the willingness to shape it into something that others will find, explore and delight in needs to be celebrated too. And that’s a value which is celebrated very highly in the Ubuntu community: if you read planet.ubuntu.com you’ll see a celebration of *people using free software*. As a community we are deeply satisfied to see people *using* it to solve problems in their lives. That’s more satisfying to us than stories about how we made it faster or added a feature. Of course we do bits of both, but this is a community that measures impact in the world rather than impact on the code. They are very generous with their time and expertise, with that as the reward. I’m proud of the fact that Ubuntu attracts people who are generous in their contributions: they feel their contributions are worth more if they are remixed by others, not less. So we celebrate Kubuntu and Xubuntu and Puppy and Linux Mint. They don’t ride on our coattails, they stand on our shoulders, just as we stand on the shoulders of giants. And that’s a good thing. Our work is more meaningful and more valuable because their work reaches users that ours alone could not.

What else?

We fix it, too. Consider the https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PaperCut Papercuts project, born of the recognition that all the incredible technology and effort that goes into making something as complex as the Linux kernel is somehow diminished if the average user gets an incomprehensible result when they do something that should Just Work. Hundreds of Papercuts have been fixed, across many different applications, benefiting not just Ubuntu but also every other distribution that ships those applications. If you think that’s easy, consider the effort involved to triage and consider each of thousands of suggestions, coordinating a fix and the sharing of it. The tireless efforts of a large team have made an enormous difference. Consider this: saving millions of users one hour a week is a treasury of energy saved to do better things with free software. While the Canonical Design team played a leading role in setting up the Papercuts project, the real stars are people like http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2010/06/maverick-papercut-hunting-season-opens.html Vish and Sense who rally the broader papercuts team to make a difference. Every fix makes a difference, on the desktop http://ubuntuserver.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/ubuntu-server-papercuts-project/ and the server.

At a more personal level, a key thing I put energy into is leadership, governance and community structure. When we started Ubuntu, I spent a lot of time looking at different communities that existed at the time, and how they managed the inevitable tensions and differences of opinion that arise when you have lots of sharp people collaborating. We conceived the idea of a code of conduct that would ensure that our passions for the technology or the work never overwhelmed the primary goal of bringing diverse people together to collaborate on a common platform. I’m delighted that the idea has spread to other projects: we don’t want to hoard ideas or designs or concepts, that would be contrary to our very purpose.

We setup a simple structure: a technical board and a community council. That approach is now common in many other projects too. As Ubuntu has grown, so that governance has evolved, there are now multiple leadership teams for groups like Kubuntu and the Forums and IRC, who provide counsel and guidance for teams of LoCo’s and moderators and ops and developers, who in turn strive for technical perfection and social agility as part of an enormous global community. That’s amazing. When people start participating in Ubuntu they are usually motivated as much by the desire to be part of a wonderful community as they are to fix a specific problem or ease a specific burden. Over time, some of those folks find that they have a gift for helping others be more productive, resolving differences of opinion, doing the work to organise a group so that much more can be achieved than any one individual could hope to do. Ubuntu’s governance structures create opportunities for those folks to shine: they provide the backbone and structure which makes this community able to scale and stay productive and happy.

A project like Ubuntu needs constant care in order to defend its values. When you are tiny and you put up a flag saying “this is what we care about” you tend to attract only people who care about those things. When the project grows into something potent and visible, though, you tend to attract EVERYONE, because people want to be where the action is. And then the values can easily be watered down. So I continue to put energy into working with the Ubuntu community council, and the Canonical community team, both of which are profoundly insightful and hard-working which makes that part of my work a real pleasure. The Ubuntu community council take their responsibility as custodian of the projects community values very seriously indeed. The CC is largely composed of people who are not affiliated with Canonical, but who nevertheless believe that the Ubuntu project is important to free software as a whole. And the awesome Jono Bacon, the delightful Daniel Holbach, and unflappable Jorge Castro are professionals who understand how to make communities productive and happy places to work.

Something as big as the Ubuntu community cannot be to the credit of me or any other individual, but I’m proud of the role I’ve played, and motivated to continue to play a role as needed.

In more recent years I’ve come to focus more on championing the role of design in free software. I believe that open source produces the best quality software over time, but I think we need a lot more cogent conversations about the experiences we want to create for our users, whether it’s on the desktop, the netbook or the server. So I’ve put a lot of my leadership energy into encouraging various communities – both Ubuntu and upstream – to be welcoming of those who see software through the eyes of the new user rather than the experienced hacker. This is a sea change in the values of open source, and is not something I can hope to achieve alone, but I’m nevertheless proud to be a champion of that approach and glad that it’s steadily becoming accepted.

There were designers working in free software before we made this push. I hope they feel that Canonical’s emphasis on the design-lead approach has made their lives easier, and the community at large more appreciative of their efforts and receptive to their ideas. But still, if you *really* care about design in free software, the Canonical design team is the place to be.

I do some design work myself, and have participated most heavily in the detailed design of Unity, the interface for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. That’s an evolution of the older UNR interface; most importantly, it’s a statement that Linux desktops don’t need to be stuck in the 90′s, we can and will attempt to build new and efficient ways of working with computers. I’ve been delighted with the speed at which some of Unity’s facilities have been adopted by hundreds of projects, their goal is to make using Linux easier and classier for everyone, so that pace of adoption is a measure of the speed at which we are reducing the friction for new users discovering a better way to use their PC’s.

Design without implementation would leave us open to accusations of wanting others to do our work for us, so I’m proud also to lead a wonderful team that is doing the implementation of some of those key components. Things like dbusmenu have proven useful for bringing consistency to the interfaces of both GNOME and KDE applications running under Unity, and I very much hope they are adopted by other projects that need exactly the facilities they provide. I’d credit that engineering team with their focus on quality and testability and their desire to provide developers with clean API’s and good guidance on how best to use them. If you’ve used the full set of Indicators in 10.10 then you know how this quiet, persistent work that has engaged many different projects has transformed the panel into something crisp and efficient. Utouch is coming up for its first release, and will continue to evolve, so that Ubuntu and GNOME and KDE can have an easy road to multi-touch gesture interface goodness.

Beyond my own personal time, I also support various projects through funding. Putting money into free software needs to meet a key test: could that money achieve a better outcome for more people if it were directed elsewhere? There are lots of ways to help people: $100,000 can put a lot of people through school, clothed and fed. So I really need to be confident that the money is having a real, measurable impact on people’s lives. The thank you notes I get every week for Ubuntu help sustain that confidence. More importantly, my own observation of the catalytic effect that Ubuntu has had on the broader open source ecosystem, in terms of new developers attracted, new platforms created, new businesses launched and new participants acknowledged, make me certain that the funding I provide is having a meaningful consequence.

When Ubuntu was conceived, the Linux ecosystem was in a sense fully formed. We had a kernel. We had GNOME and KDE. We had X and libc and GCC and all the other familiar tools. Sure they had bugs and they had shortcomings and they had roadmaps to address them. But there was something missing: sometimes it got articulated as “marketing”, sometimes as “end-user focus”. I remember thinking “that’s what I could bring”. So Ubuntu, and Canonical, have quite explicitly NOT put effort into things which are obviously working quite well, instead, we’ve tried to focus on new ideas and new tools and new components. I see that as an invigorating contribution to the broader open source ecosystem, and I hear from many people that they perceive it the same way. Those who say “but Canonical doesn’t do X” may be right, but that misses all the things we do, which weren’t on the map beforehand. Of course, there’s little that we do exclusively, and little that we do that others couldn’t if they made that their mission, but I think the passion of the Ubuntu community, and the enthusiasm of its users, reflects the fact that there is something definitively new and distinctive about the project. That’s something to celebrate, something to be proud of, and something to motivate us to continue.

Free software is bigger than any one project. It’s bigger than the Linux kernel, it’s bigger than GNU, it’s bigger than GNOME and KDE, it’s bigger than Ubuntu and Fedora and Debian. Each of those projects plays a role, but it is the whole which is really changing the world. So when we start to argue with one another from the perspective of any one slice of free software, we run the risk of missing the bigger picture. That’s a bit like an auto-immune disease, where the body starts to attack itself. By definition, someone else who is working hard all day long to bring free software to a wider audience is on the same side as me, compared to 99% of the rest of the world, if I want to think in terms of sides. I admire and respect everyone who puts energy into advancing the cause of free software, even if occasionally I might differ on the detail of how it can be done.

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rsalveti

It’s been a while since I don’t post anything, and the main reason is that I just got a new job and I’ve being pretty busy with it :-)

After working at INdT for more than 2 years, I decided that it was time to move on, get back to Campinas, get closer with friends and family and start looking for a new job.

I had a quite good time at Recife, working with Mamona, Maemo and MeeGo, mostly helping bring up different ARM platforms to be used by the Institute in many different projects. The work was nice, but Recife can be hard to get through over the time. I’ll for sure miss the nice work place we’ve built, and the nice people I worked with.

About the new job, I’m quite happy to announce that I’m now working as a Software Engineer at Canonical. My main objective now is to help bringing Ubuntu into different ARM platforms, like beagleboard and the new pandaboard.

Canonical is awesome, and the people from the Ubuntu Platform Team is even greater. Had the opportunity to meet most of the people at the last Ubuntu Platform Sprint that was held at Prague, and it was awesome to see so many skilled and fun guys working together to improve Ubuntu.

That’s it, now it’s time to get back to work because we have a huge pile of cool and fun things to work on :-) If you’re interested in understading, helping and participating on what we’re currently doing, get at #ubuntu-arm, freenode, and ping me (rsalveti)!


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mark

A few months ago we took on the challenge of building a version of Ubuntu for the dual-boot, instant-on market. We wanted to be surfing the web in under 10 seconds, and give people a fantastic web experience. We also wanted it to be possible to upgrade from that limited usage model to a full desktop.

The fruit of that R&D is both a new desktop experience codebase, called Unity, and a range of Light versions of Ubuntu, both netbook and desktop, that are optimised for dual-boot scenarios.

The dual-boot, web-focused use case is sufficiently different from general-purpose desktop usage to warrant a fresh look at the way the desktop is configured. We spent quite a bit of time analyzing screenshots of a couple of hundred different desktop configurations from the current Ubuntu and Kubuntu user base, to see what people used most. We also identified the things that are NOT needed in lightweight dual-boot instant-on offerings. That provided us both with a list of things to focus on and make rich, and a list of things we could leave out.

Instant-on products are generally used in a stateless fashion. These are “get me to the web asap” environments, with no need of heavy local file management. If there is content there, it would be best to think of it as “cloud like” and synchronize it with the local Windows environment, with cloud services and other devices. They are also not environments where people would naturally expect to use a wide range of applications: the web is the key, and there may be a few complementary capabilities like media playback, messaging, games, and the ability to connect to local devices like printers and cameras and pluggable media.

We also learned something interesting from users. It’s not about how fast you appear to boot. It’s about how fast you actually deliver a working web browser and Internet connection. It’s about how fast you have a running system that is responsive to the needs of the user.

Unity: a lightweight netbook interface

There are several driving forces behind the result.

The desktop screenshots we studied showed that people typically have between 3 and 10 launchers on their panels, for rapid access to key applications. We want to preserve that sense of having a few favorite applications that are instantly accessible. Rather than making it equally easy to access any installed application, we assume that almost everybody will run one of a few apps, and they need to switch between those apps and any others which might be running, very easily.

We focused on maximising screen real estate for content. In particular, we focused on maximising the available vertical pixels for web browsing. Netbooks have screens which are wide, but shallow. Notebooks in general are moving to wide screen formats. So vertical space is more precious than horizontal space.

We also want to embrace touch as a first class input. We want people to be able to launch and switch between applications using touch, so the launcher must be finger friendly.

Those constraints and values lead us to a new shape for the desktop, which we will adopt in Ubuntu’s Netbook Edition for 10.10 and beyond.

First, we want to move the bottom panel to the left of the screen, and devote that to launching and switching between applications. That frees up vertical space for web content, at the cost of horizontal space, which is cheaper in a widescreen world. In Ubuntu today the bottom panel also presents the Trash and Show Desktop options, neither of which is relevant in a stateless instant-on environment.

Second, we’ll expand that left-hand launcher panel so that it is touch-friendly. With relatively few applications required for instant-on environments, we can afford to be more generous with the icon size there. The Unity launcher will show what’s running, and support fast switching and drag-and-drop between applications.

Third, we will make the top panel smarter. We’ve already talked about adopting a single global menu, which would be rendered by the panel in this case. If we can also manage to fit the window title and controls into that panel, we will have achieved very significant space saving for the case where someone is focused on a single application at a time, and especially for a web browser.

We end up with a configuration like this:

Mockup of Unity

Mockup of Unity Launcher and Panel with maximised application

The launcher and panel that we developed in response to this challenge are components of Unity. They are now in a state where they can be tested widely, and where we can use that testing to shape their evolution going forward. A development milestone of Unity is available today in a PPA, with development branches on Launchpad, and I’d very much like to get feedback from people trying it out on a netbook, or even a laptop with a wide screen. Unity is aimed at full screen applications and, as I described above, doesn’t really support traditional file management. But it’s worth a spin, and it’s very easy to try out if you have Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installed already.

Ubuntu Light

Instant-on, dual boot installations are a new frontier for us. Over the past two years we have made great leaps forward as a first class option for PC OEM’s, who today ship millions of PC’s around the world with Ubuntu pre-installed. But traditionally, it’s been an “either/or” proposition – either Windows in markets that prefer it, or Ubuntu in markets that don’t. The dual-boot opportunity gives us the chance to put a free software foot forward even in markets where people use Windows as a matter of course.

And it looks beautiful:

Ubuntu Light

Ubuntu Light, showing the Unity launcher and panel

In those cases, Ubuntu Netbook Light, or Ubuntu Desktop Light, will give OEM’s the ability to differentiate themselves with fast-booting Linux offerings that are familiar to Ubuntu users and easy to use for new users, safe for web browsing in unprotected environments like airports and hotels, focused on doing that job very well, but upgradeable with a huge list of applications, on demand. The Light versions will also benefit from the huge amount of work done on every Ubuntu release to keep it maintained – instant-on environments need just as much protection as everyday desktops, and Ubuntu has a deep commitment to getting that right.

The Ubuntu Light range is available to OEM’s today. Each image will be hand-crafted to boot fastest on that specific hardware, the application load reduced to the minimum, and it comes with tools for Windows which assist in the management of the dual-boot experience. Initially, the focus is on the Netbook Light version based on Unity, but in future we expect to do a Light version of the desktop, too.

Given the requirement to customise the Light versions for specific hardware, there won’t be a general-purpose downloadable image of Ubuntu Light on ubuntu.com.

Evolving Unity for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10

Unity exists today, and is great for the minimalist, stateless configurations that suit a dual-boot environment. But in order embrace it for our Netbook UI, we’ll need to design some new capabilities, and implement them during this cycle.

Those design conversations are taking place this week at UDS, just outside Brussels in Belgium. If you can’t be there in person, and are interested in the design challenges Unity presents for the netbook form factor, check out the conference schedule and participate in the discussion virtually.

The two primary pieces we need to put in place are:

  • Support for many more applications, and adding / removing applications. Instant-on environments are locked down, while netbook environments should support anybody’s applications, not just those favored in the Launcher.
  • Support for file management, necessary for an environment that will be the primary working space for the user rather than an occasional web-focused stopover.

We have an initial starting point for the design, called the Dash, which presents files and applications as an overlay. The inspiration for the Dash comes from consoles and devices, which use full-screen, media-rich presentation. We want the Dash to feel device-like, and use the capabilities of modern hardware.

Unity Dash

The Unity Dash, showing the Applications Place

The instant-on requirements and constraints proved very useful in shaping our thinking, but the canvas is still blank for the more general, netbook use case. Unity gives us the chance to do something profoundly new and more useful, taking advantage of ideas that have emerged in computing from the console to the handheld.

Relationship to Gnome Shell

Unity and Gnome Shell are complementary for the Gnome Project. While Gnome Shell presents an expansive view of how people work in complex environments with multiple simultaneous activities, Unity is designed to address the other end of the spectrum, where people are focused on doing one thing at any given time.

Unity does embrace the key technologies of Gnome 3: Mutter, for window management, and Zeitgeist will be an anchor component of our file management approach. The interface itself is built in Clutter.

The design seed of Unity was in place before Gnome Shell, and we decided to build on that for the instant-on work rather than adopt Gnome Shell because most of the devices we expect to ship Ubuntu Light on are netbooks. In any event, Unity represents the next step for the Ubuntu Netbook UI, optimised for small screens.

The Ubuntu Netbook interface is popular with Gnome users and we’re fortunate to be working inside an open ecosystem that encourages that level of diversity. As a result, Gnome has offerings for mobile, netbook and desktop form factors. Gnome is in the lucky position of having multiple vendors participating and solving different challenges independently. That makes Gnome stronger.

Relationship to FreeDesktop and KDE

Unity complies with freedesktop.org standards, and is helping to shape them, too. We would like KDE applications to feel welcome on a Unity-based netbook. We’re using the Ayatana indicators in the panel, so KDE applications which use AppIndicators will Just Work. And to the extent that those applications take advantage of the Messaging Menu, Sound Indicator and Me Menu, they will be fully integrated into the Unity environment. We often get asked by OEM’s how they can integrate KDE applications into their custom builds of Ubuntu, and the common frameworks of freedesktop.org greatly facilitate doing so in a smooth fashion.

Looking forward to the Maverick Meerkat

It will be an intense cycle, if we want to get all of these pieces in line. But we think it’s achievable: the new launcher, the new panel, the new implementation of the global menu and an array of indicators. Things have accelerated greatly during Lucid so if we continue at this pace, it should all come together. Here’s to a great summer of code.

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Steve George

Wavesat is using the Bazaar version control system for commercial development making it simpler and easier for their teams to collaborate around the world. It’s a great example of Open Source delivering cost savings and innovation to business users. We’ve recently put up a case study that gives more details.

Bazaar (Bzr) is a distributed version control system. It’s an essential tool for developers: there’s a great guide to revision control on betterexplained.com. When people state that there’s no innovation in Open Source, distributed revision control is one of the examples that counters this.

Bazaar is particularly well suited to distributed development because the concept is built-in right from the start. Perhaps it’s testament to the open source development process which is by its nature distributed. For a business like Wavesat that has developers based in different locations this means they can be more efficient.

Canonical sponsors the development of Bazaar because distributed revision control is critical in Open Source development. But, it’s also something that companies can benefit from so we provide commercial services for Bazaar. This consists of helping organisations migrate, along with providing support and training. For organisations with an existing version control system such as CVS or Perforce we help with the migration to a new work-flow using Bazaar on Linux (Ubuntu, RHEL, SLES) or a legacy operating system such as Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac. Check out the case study for more information.


Tagged: bazaar, bzr, Linux, Ubuntu

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mark

When you present yourself on the web, you have 15 seconds to make an impression, so aspiring champions of the web 2.0 industry have converged on a good recipe for success:

  1. Make your site visually appealing,
  2. Do something different and do it very, very well,
  3. Call users to action and give them an immediate, rewarding experience.

We need the same urgency, immediacy and elegance as part of the free software desktop experience, and that’s is an area where Canonical will, I hope, make a significant contribution. We are hiring designers, user experience champions and interaction design visionaries and challenging them to lead not only Canonical’s distinctive projects but also to participate in GNOME, KDE and other upstream efforts to improve FLOSS usability.

Fortunately, we won’t be working in a vacuum. This is an idea that is already being widely explored. It’s great to see that communities like GNOME and KDE have embraced user experience as a powerful driver of evolution in their platforms. Partly because of the web-2.0 phenomenon and the iPhone, there’s a widely held desire to see FLOSS leap forward in usability and design. We want to participate and help drive that forward.

There’s also recognition for the scale of the challenge that faces us. When I laid out the goal of “delivering a user experience that can compete with Apple in two years” at OSCON, I had many questions afterwards about how on earth we could achieve that. “Everyone scratches their own itch, how can you possibly make the UI consistent?” was a common theme. And it’s true – the free software desktop is often patchy and inconsistent. But I see the lack of consistency as both a weakness (GNOME, OpenOffice and Firefox all have different UI toolkits, and it’s very difficult to make them seamless) and as a strength – people are free to innovate, and the results are world-leading. Our challenge is to get the best of both of those worlds.

I don’t have answers to all of those questions. I do, however, have a deep belief in the power of the free software process to solve seemingly intractable problems, especially in the long tail. If we articulate a comprehensive design ethic, a next-generation HIG, we can harness the wisdom of crowds to find corner cases and inconsistencies across a much broader portfolio of applications than one person or company could do alone. That’s why it’s so important to me that Canonical’s design and user experience team also participate in upstream projects across the board.

In Ubuntu we have in general considered upstream to be “our ROCK”, by which we mean that we want upstream to be happy with the way we express their ideas and their work. More than happy – we want upstream to be delighted! We focus most of our effort on integration. Our competitors turn that into “Canonical doesn’t contribute” but it’s more accurate to say we measure our contribution in the effectiveness with which we get the latest stable work of upstream, with security maintenance, to the widest possible audience for testing and love. To my mind, that’s a huge contribution.

Increasingly, though, Canonical is in a position to drive real change in the software that is part of Ubuntu. If we just showed up with pictures and prototypes and asked people to shape their projects differently, I can’t imagine that being well received! So we are also hiring a team who will work on X, OpenGL, Gtk, Qt, GNOME and KDE, with a view to doing some of the heavy lifting required to turn those desktop experience ideas into reality. Those teams will publish their Bzr branches in Launchpad and of course submit their work upstream, and participate in upstream sprints and events. Some of the folks we have hired into those positions are familiar contributors in the FLOSS world, others will be developers with relevant technical expertise from other industries.

One strong meme we want to preserve is the idea that Ubuntu, the platform team, is still primarily focused on integration and distribution. We will keep that team and the upstream work distinct to minimise the conflict of interest inherent in choosing the patches and the changes and the applications that actually ship each six months as part of an Ubuntu release.

Of course, there’s a risk to participation, because you can’t easily participate without expressing opinions, visions, desires, goals, and those can clash with other participants. It’s hard to drive change, even when people agree that change is needed. I hope we can find ways to explore and experiment with new ideas without blocking on consensus across diverse and distributed teams. We have to play to our strengths, which include the ability to diverge for experimental purposes to see what really works before we commit everyone to a course of action. It will be a challenge, but I think it’s achievable.

All of this has me tapdancing to work in the mornings, because we’re sketching out really interesting ideas for user interaction in Launchpad and in the desktop. The team has come together very nicely, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the processes, brainstorming and prototyping. I can’t wait to see those ideas landing in production!

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