Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'community'


As a pretty simple-minded person, I am a big fan of simplicity. The world is filled with too much complexity and too much detail. Many often feel the detail is necessary for particular outcomes or to solve particular problems. The lesson I have learned as I have gotten older though is that while the skill is in matching the level of detail to the mind of the observer, the real elegance is in delivering the same level of detail but in a way that feels simpler than expected to the observer. This results in delightful experiences.

Ross Gardler recently quoted Einstein who said “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler“. This so beautifully summarizes my view of the world; life should be as simple as we can make it, but we should not compromise in our goals merely to make things simple. In other words, if we can boil our projects, processes, interfaces, and ideas down into simpler parts that still let us be productive, they become more enjoyable to engage with and thus more successful. Of course, making complex things simple is…complex. It is though, worthwhile, and for many (myself included), a fun challenge. I am sure I am not alone.

As we step into our Ubuntu Developer Summit this week I would like to encourage everyone to think about ways in which we can simplify all aspects of how create and deliver Ubuntu to others as a means to further the project and experience. This doesn’t just apply to user interface design though. How do we make our teams easier to navigate and participate in? How do we make it easier to create your first app, charm, bug fix, translation, document, mailing list post, question, answer, or otherwise? If we can make in-roads this week in simplicity, I am confident it will continue the bold stride Ubuntu is making into the future of devices and the cloud.

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Recently Microsoft Open Technologies celebrated their one year anniversary. I just wanted to offer my congratulations on this important milestone.

Now, it could be tempting for some of you to become a little snitty about Microsoft wanting to engage more openly with people, but I believe that this project (as well as the OuterCurve Foundation; a different but similarly themed entity) should be celebrated. These are important steps in Microsoft evolving into a more open future, and folks such as Gianugo Rabellino from Microsoft Open Technologies and Paula Hunter and Stephen Walli from the OuterCurve Foundation are doing wonderful work in treading these careful steps forward. All three of these folks have been tremendously supportive of Open Source, community (including sponsoring the Community Leadership Summit multiple times), and demonstrate a real commitment to delivering those values in a historically proprietary culture. I can imagine that this is not particularly easy work, and I commend them for their commitment, and Microsoft for their evolution as a company.

Open Source has had a profound impact on the world, and for a company with such a philosophically different history to commit staff and resources to exploring a more open future, well, I think this is a fantastic step forward for Microsoft, Open Source, and wider interoperability.

The Microsoft Open Technologies team will be celebrating on Thursday in Silicon Valley with their anniversary party. Be sure to head over there; unfortunately I am unable to join due to another commitment.

Congratulations, Microsoft Open Technologies!

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I just wanted to talk about a busy week of community management and leadership related content I will be involved in in July 2013 in Portland, Oregon.

Community Leadership Summit 2013

The Community Leadership Summit is the primary annual event that brings together community leaders, organizers and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community. The event pulls together the leading minds in community management, relations and online collaboration to discuss, debate and continue to refine the art of building an effective and capable community.

The Community Leadership Summit 2013 takes place at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon on 20th – 21st July 2013, which is rather conveniently the weekend before OSCON.

At the heart of Community Leadership Summit 2013 is an open unconference-style event in which everyone who attends is welcome to lead and contribute sessions on any topic that is relevant. These sessions are very much discussion sessions: the participants can interact directly, offer thoughts and experience, and share ideas and questions. These unconference sessions are also augmented with a series of presentations from leaders in the field, panel debates and networking opportunities.

I can’t quite believe that this is the fifth anniversary of the Community Leadership Summit, and I am determined to make this the very best year yet! We already have an awesome list of pre-registered attendees, and this is shaping up to be yet another fantastic example of the primary place for community managers and leaders to get together to discuss, share, and learn best practice.

The event is completely free to attend, you just need to register first. I hope to see you there!

Community Management Training at OSCON

Speaking of OSCON, which takes place the week after the Community Leadership Summit 2013, I am also delighted to announce that I will be running my very first community management training class.

As some of you will know, I wrote The Art of Community published by O’Reilly (now in its second edition), which has rather fortunately become the best-selling book on community management and leadership.

For some time now I have wanted to deliver a training class that takes many of the concepts of the book, but extends them with detailed problem solving discussions, workshops, Q+A sessions, and more to provide an intense, detail-rich class about how to manage and lead communities, be them small and local or large and global.

On Monday 22nd July 2013, the day after the Community Management Summit 2013, I will be delivering this one day community management training class.

Topics in the class will include:

  • Welcome and Introductions
    • Discussing how the class will work, student introductions, and facilities information.
  • The Core Mechanics Of Community
    • Read/write communities.
    • Understanding the social dynamics.
    • Building retention and generational growth.
  • Planning Your Community
    • Understanding where to focus community management.
    • Gathering stakeholder and community requirements.
  • Building a Strategic Plan
    • The importance of a crisply defined strategic plan.
    • Structuring and documenting goals and objectives.
    • Delving down to the work item level.
  • Building Collaborative Workflow
    • Understanding the collaborative needs of your community.
    • Building effective communication channels.
    • Determining infrastructure and tooling needs and how to resource them.
  • Defining Community Governance
    • The role of governance.
    • Governance styles: dictatorship, delegated leadership, and enlightened dictatorship.
    • Assessing the governance needs for your community.
    • Building, codifying and documenting your governance structure.
    • Growing effective leadership in your community.
  • Marketing, Advocacy, Promotion, and Social Media
    • Assessing marketing, advocacy and promotional needs.
    • Building a buzz cycle.
    • Using social media effectively.
    • Tracking publicity work and re-aligning for efficiency.
  • Measuring Your Community
    • Knowing what to measure.
    • Defining useful growth and health metrics.
    • Understanding to how to read and react to metrics to provide more focused strategy.
  • Tracking and Measuring Community Management
    • The importance of building credibility from good work.
    • Planning for different visibility needs: stakeholders, the community, and your team.
    • Tracking projects, using burndown charts, and reacting to project changes.
    • Tracking growth and decline.
    • Tracking community health and building a network

Find out more about and book your seat in the class by clicking here. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your seat as soon as possible!

Burnout and Bickering: a Community Manager’s Guide to Conflict

I am also pleased to announce that I will be presenting a brand new presentation at OSCON on Wednesday 24th July 2013 at 2.30pm in D137.

The talk is entitled Burnout and Bickering: a Community Manager’s Guide to Conflict, and here is the description from the talk page

One of the most challenging aspects of growing community is managing conflict and burnout. While we often see the effects of conflict, getting to the heart of the issue is often more challenging.

In this new presentation from Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu Community Manager and author of The Art of Community, he presents a comprehensive guide to conflict and its many different causes.

The presentation explores how to identify these different causes (such as stress, personality differences, language/age/cultural barriers, and more), how to identify when problems are happening in a scalable manner, and how to resolve conflict in a progressive and repeatable way.

Bacon will also cover preventative measures to reduce the potential for both conflict, stress, and burnout, and wrap the content in a set of practical tools you can use in your own community.

All of this will be delivered in Bacon’s amusing anecdote and story filled style, delivering practical recommendations and techniques in a fun and contextual presentation.

I am excited about this presentation. As some of you will know, I have talked before about burnout and managing stress and conflict in communities, and this presentation provides extensive coverage of the topic. I am looking forward to presenting this at OSCON.

See more about the talk by clicking here.

As you can see, quite a week for community management and leadership! I hope to see you there!

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Continuing with the work to refine and improve how we build Ubuntu in an open, transparent, and collaborative way, I want to take a few minutes to discuss some work going on to improve the regularity of our planning and the benefits this brings.

Traditionally planning for Ubuntu has worked like this.

  • We ship a release.
  • Shortly before a release we rapidly prepare blueprints for the next Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS). Everyone is welcome to participate.
  • We discuss topics at the UDS and jot down work items into blueprints.
  • We then execute on those work items over the course of the six month period.
  • We track this work on and use burndown charts to visualize this progress.

While this has served us well, there are a few problems with this approach. The most notable issue is that we work in software, and a lot changes in software in a six month period. This means we define a set of work items, prepare the burndown, and then if requirements or direction changes it can be difficult to reflect those changes across our community and we have to go and postpone a bunch of work items and re-build our burndowns. This means that even though the changes are made to open blueprints, it can cause folks across our community to be out of sync. It also presents the misconception that everything at UDS is locked in for the duration of the six month cycle. If something changes in our strategy or a new opportunity opens up, it can be difficult to change course with everyone on the same page.

Solving this is part of our theme of making Ubuntu engineering as transparent and agile as possible.

One approach we are experimenting with in the Ubuntu Engineering Management team at Canonical is to increase the regularity and transparency of how we plan. Instead of locking in every six months we will do it like this:

  • We host the virtual UDS (vUDS) every three months and use the event as a means to plan out the next three months of work. All discussions are open, everyone is welcome to participate.
  • Blueprints will be used to track that work and work items will be divided up into monthly milestones.
  • On the last week of every month we will review the work performed in the last month to see how well it was completed and then plan the forthcoming month’s work. This provides an open opportunity to identify blockers, define new goals, and change coarse if needed.
  • A new burndown chart will be generated on and we will host a Google+ Hangout presenting the goals for the next month to ensure that everyone is fully up to speed on what is going on.

Now, to set expectations clearly: this is just an idea for how to improve this workflow, and we are doing it for the first time this week, but the idea is that it will dramatically increase the transparency of which teams are working on what, making it easier for others to (a) know what is going on and (b), participate in areas of interest.

My team is currently preparing the work items for April and you will be able to see the final burndown here when it is complete. From there you will be able to see all the blueprints.

I will provide plenty of feedback on what is working well and less well, and your feedback is welcomed, as ever, in the comments.

Building Re-usable Processes

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, we want to make virtual UDS an event that is repeatable and useful for not just UDS but also for domain-specific events too (such as a LoCo themed UDS). The goal is that this event format is repeatable for our wider community.

Likewise, the monthly planning process is also designed to be repeatable for our wider community too, making it simple to get everyone on the same page for planning and executing on awesome projects.

As ever, feedback is always welcome, but I think this combo of a wider planning event every three months combined with monthly work item sync-ups and planning will result in a pretty effective formula for helping Ubuntu to be as effective, transparent, and collaborative as possible.

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Our community is at the heart of how we build Ubuntu. Recently there were some concerns expressed about some aspects of our community and I have been working with various community members and internally at Canonical to resolve some of these issues to make things smoother.

I just wanted to summarize some updates:

  • Regular, transparent planning – we want to improve how we plan the delivery of work items, and make that planning more nimble. While the major decisions are reserved for primary discussion at UDS, we want to regularly and transparently checkpoint progress on those projects, and ensure things are moving along. To do this the engineering managers at Canonical will perform this planning on a monthly basis with our community. An an example, with my team, we will decide at UDS what major projects we will work on and document the work items in those blueprints, and every month I will ask the team to commit to delivering an agreed set of work items that month and update the blueprints accordingly. This will make it easier to understand who is working on what, what needs to be done, and areas in which people can participate. This entire process will be completely open and transparent and I would like to encourage our wider community to use the same approach. As an example, this could be a useful technique for our LoCo community to use for planning their work too around advocacy campaigns. All of this work will continue to be tracked openly in
  • Training our engineers – our engineers at Canonical are expected to openly and transparently perform all work that is not considered customer/company confidential. While this expectation is clear, there are sometimes cases when this doesn’t happen (e.g. if someone joins Canonical without the experience of working in an open environment and isn’t really sure how to do this). I have prepared an internal slide deck with these expectations and workflows clearly laid out; my team will be working to ensure everyone gets the deck, reads it, and gets an answer to any of their questions.
  • Regular leadership problem solving meetings – one problem we have today is that we don’t have a regular problem solving meeting in our community in which our governing leaders are present at. Instead our different leadership boards (e.g. Community Council, Forums Council) tend to resolve issues pertinent to that specific board. We think it could be useful to have a meeting every two weeks that has representatives from our different governance boards and our community can join and raise topics for discussion. We are going to run the first one of these sessions tomorrow (Tue 19th March 2013) on Ubuntu On Air at 8pm UTC. We invite you to bring your topics there on IRC for discussion.
  • Online UDS refinements – as I blogged about last week we have released a survey to gather feedback about how to refine and improve UDS. We have already made some plans for some improvements but I plan on organizing a community meeting to discuss this more next week (I can’t later this week as I am at an event). I think there is an opportunity to refine the format of UDS into a form that becomes a useful and repeatable way of coordinating meetings in a community.
  • Weekly Updates – I have reached out to the engineering managers on some of the core projects at Canonical and asked them to provide weekly updates of work going on. We have already seen the first updates for Ubuntu Touch and Mir.
  • Prepping announcements better – while the major announcements are now out, one piece of feedback I received is that our community felt ill-prepared around things such as the Ubuntu Touch announcement, and people such as our IRC/Forums/Community councils were inundated with questions and didn’t have good answers to those questions. If we need to make future announcements in the same way again, I am going to ensure our core governance boards are clued up first and we provide a FAQ for our community to refer to when getting these kinds of questions. This should relieve this concern.
  • Improving our community on-ramp – one area where I want to drive some improvements is making it easier for people to join the community. We started some work a while back to improve the community landing page on and I have asked Daniel Holbach to drive that work to completion. I am also working with the Ubuntu Touch and Mir teams to ensure that they have awesome documentation and guidance for how people can participate. A good example of the progress being made here is the Mir documentation. If you would like to help improve these docs, then feel free to dig in and help, or share your ideas on the mailing lists.

I want to get as much feedback on these steps moving forward as well as other ideas and areas in which we can focus. You can always grab me on IRC on freenode (my nick is jono) and I hang out in #ubuntu-community-team. Also feel free to drop me an email and join my regular Q+A session every week. Unfortunately, this week’s Q+A session is canceled as I need to be at an event, but I will be back in the regular slot next week on Wednesday at 7pm UTC on Ubuntu On Air.

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Recently there has been some fire flowing about Canonical in the community. These concerns started off as sporadic at first and then we saw a small blog avalanche (blogalanche, if you will) as a number of folks piled onto the ride.

I feel somewhat trapped in the middle of all of this. On one hand I work at Canonical and I believe Canonical are acting in the honorable interests of Ubuntu in helping to build a competitive and forward-looking Free Software platform, but I also feel a sense of personal responsibility when I see unhappy members of our community who are concerned with different aspects of how Canonical engages. Essentially, I sympathize with both sides of this debate; both have the best interests at heart for Ubuntu.

From my perspective there is a balance that needs to be struck. Our community needs to be transparent and open, but also nimble to react to opportunities (such as the convergence story), but also Canonical play an important role in helping us to drive Ubuntu to the masses. We need to be able to work in a way that maintains our Ubuntu values but also gives Canonical the opportunity to get our platform out to the market effectively to reach these users.

I believe one cannot exist without the other; Canonical cannot deliver this vision without our community and Ubuntu would be significantly debilitated if there was no Canonical providing staff, resources, and other investment into Ubuntu. Canonical is not evil, and the community is not entitled; we all just need to step back and find some common ground and remember that we are all in the circle of friends.

This symbol is as potent to me as it was back in 2004.

When I got interested in Linux back in 1998 and wanted to make it my career, my primary motivation was to bring freedom of technology to everyone. This is what attracted me to Ubuntu and ultimately working at Canonical. I don’t want to be rude to other distros who are quite happy within their remit of making a great OS for Linux enthusiasts, but I frankly don’t want to settle for that. I want Ubuntu to be the choice for Linux enthusiasts, but for us to not stop there and also bring Free Software to people who have not yet been blessed by it, and who may be new to technology and the opportunities it provides.

Achieving that goal is not just as simple as making the source code available for the platform and setting up a bunch of mailing lists. It means delivering simple and elegant user experiences built for the needs of our users, consistent and beautiful design, professional-grade quality, strong hardware and software partner relationships, certification across a range of hardware profiles, training, responsive security, diverse marketing and advocacy campaigns, and many other areas. Both Canonical and the community contribute extensively to provide these things that we need to get over that chasm, and importantly, each provides things that the other cannot.

It turns out that building this simple, ubiquitous Free Software experience for everyone is hard. We can’t just settle for the tried and tested approach of pulling the latest upstream software and integrating it into a single Operating System. That is tough, intensive and grueling work in itself, but to achieve the goals I mentioned above we need to be constantly challenging ourselves to innovate and go faster in how we deliver this innovation to our users. We need to always challenge the status quo…not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of not restricting ourselves to tradition and instead helping us to be better at what we do, and ultimately achieve our goals of getting Ubuntu into the hands of more people.

We saw this challenge with Unity: that was a tough, but necessary decision. While we suffered over the firestorm around Unity, I think it ultimately put us in a better position, and now we have a single convergent user interface that spans across multiple devices and we will soon have a single convergent Unity code-base across these devices too. In an era where desktop shipments are down due to the impact of phones and tablets, we are no longer trapped in a form factor that has had a decreasing scope of opportunity for us; the desktop is just one part of our wider convergence vision. This opens up the market for Ubuntu and the Free Software and Open Source values we encompass. While some people in some comment boxes will still bring the hate about Unity, I think that overall it has put us in a position to get Free Software in the hands of more people than if we didn’t make that difficult decision, and the sheer level of interest in Ubuntu for the phone, tablet, TV, and desktop is testament to that.

Put it in my pocket, on my lap, on my desktop, and hang it on my wall.

While making tough decisions is important, it is also important that we maintain our Ubuntu values too. One core value is that our platform and community are open for discussion and participation, so everyone is welcome to help put their brick in the wall. Our archive has long been open and there are many ways to contribute, and while some of these projects were secret before-hand, now everything is out in the open and available for participation. Some may disagree with the rationale of keeping things private, but particularly in the case of Phone and Tablet, the “big-reveal” helped us to have a big splash and generate more press interest and partner inquiries, and thus help us along to our vision.

Importantly though, we made the source and community on-ramp available as soon as we feasibly could. The code for Unity, Ubuntu Touch, and Mir is publicly available, and we are eager to invite people to join and shape those projects. This week we also ran our very first online UDS, with the goal of making the Ubuntu planning process as open and accessible to all as possible, not just those who could travel, and on a more regular cadence. All of the videos, notes and blueprints from that event are archived here. I am confident for the next event we will have an even smoother, better-run UDS, with even more participation.

We are now in a position with a clearly articulated vision around convergence and cloud orchestration, full source availability, daily builds of images, and public mailing lists and IRC channels to have those conversations. Everything is available in public blueprints and tracked at, and we have many outreach campaigns to help our community participate in this vision, such as the core apps project, port-o-thon, regular cadance testing, charm quality improvements, SDK participation, and other areas. Our community should expect our projects to be open, accessible and collaborative, and if they are not, please raise your concerns with the Canonical engineering managers, or talk to me either publicly on my weekly Q&A video hangout at 7pm UTC every Wednesday on Ubuntu On Air, or privately at, or by contacting me on Freenode IRC – my nick is jono. My door is always open.

Things are never perfect in a community, and I am not suggesting we are perfect either, but I believe we are at the cusp of an incredible opportunity to get Free Software and open technology into the hands of the masses, not just by wishing it to be true, but because there is genuine market opportunity for it to be true.

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I just wanted to post a quick blog entry thanking everyone who joined the first day of our inaugural online Ubuntu Developer Summit today. Overall we didn’t see many glitches in our plan of how to run the event, and we also gathered some fantastic feedback for things we can improve and extend upon next time.

If you want to see what happened in the sessions today, you can view the schedule and view any of the recorded hangouts.

Before we get into the second day tomorrow, I just wanted to invite any comments and suggestions for what worked well, what worked less well etc, to see if we can make any adjustments for the second day. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

If I don’t see you until tomorrow, we look forward to beginning Day 2 at 2pm UTC tomorrow! Be sure to see the schedule and join us in the sessions!

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Tomorrow we will be running our very first online Ubuntu Developer Summit. The event will take place over two days and span a range of different tracks: Community, Client, Cloud & Server, App Developers, and Foundations. We have never run an event like this before, but we have prepared extensively to deliver the best online UDS experience we can. When UDS is complete we will then review any rough edges and fix those up for the next event in May.

With this being a new event, I wanted to share some key tips about how to get participate.

For Everyone

UDS takes place on Tues 5th – Wed 6th March 2013 from 2pm UTC. Please note: the original time was 4pm UTC, but we brought the event forward by two hours.

The full event is taking place online and everyone is welcome to join, irrespective of whether you are an active contributor to the community, a partner, a business, an enthusiast, or anyone else. We will be using Google+ Hangouts On Air to stream video from the active participants in the session, and we also provide quick embedded access to IRC, note-taking, and more.

The event will kick off on Tuesday at 2pm UTC with a keynote session. There will then be two hours of sessions, then an hour of plenaries, and then another two hours of sessions. On the Wednesday we will kick off into sessions at 2pm, and have lightning talks in the normal plenary slot. Jorge Castro is taking care of the plenary talks and lightning talks; reach out to him if you want to run a lightning talk.

There are five tracks, with each (apart from Foundations) having two video streams. Each track has two track leads:

  • Client – Jason Warner, Sebastien Bacher
  • Server and Cloud – Antonio Rosales, Daviey Walker
  • Community – Jono Bacon, Daniel Holbach
  • App Developers – Alan Pope, David Planella
  • Foundations – Steve Langasek

You can find all sessions listed at Just visit the session you are interested in at the time of the session to view it; everything is included on the session page. You don’t need anything other than a web browser to view sessions but you will need a Google+ account to actively participate in a hangout.

For Track Leads

You should have all received an email from me about how to schedule sessions and how to start and stop the video streams.

Remember to ensure your Google+ is verified (Michael Hall should have checked this with you).

You and your co-track lead should pick one of the two tracks you have for your track and take care of setting up those streams.

Five minutes before a session (e.g. 1.55pm) is due to begin you should start the video stream and update the session in with the hangout and broadcast URLS. Likewise, 55 minutes into a session (e.g. 2.55pm), be sure to stop the hangout. We need to start and stop the video streams to ensure the recordings are broken up into the different hour long chunks. Required participants will automatically see a link on the session page to invite them to join a hangout – this page does not auto-reload though, so you may want to ask them to refresh the page to join.

Please keep an eye on the sessions on your track and interact with the session leaders to ensure that any required participants can be invited to the session as needed. There may be times as the session is running that people will need to be invited to join the hangout (e.g. IRC participants) – you need to be available to do this when the session leader needs you. If you are not actively participating in the session, feel free to just mute your mic and keep an eye on IRC or listen for when you are needed.

Instructions for starting and stopping the streams is at

For Session Leaders

As a session leader your responsibility is to run a quality session, and to ensure that the topic gets a good level of discussion, work is planned and distributed, and the blueprint gets updated with the agreed work items.

Some tips:

  • Make sure your Internet connection and computer are working well in advance of the session. We recommend you stop any software or services that is using your net connection (e.g. switch off any downloads or other video streaming).
  • The video hangouts will be started and stopped by the track leads (see above) – if you need to invite a new person to a hangout, ask the track lead to invite them.
  • In your session you will have people in the hangout speaking as well as people on IRC offering their contributions too. Be mindful of the IRC contributors, and repeat comments and statements of interest from IRC.
  • Think of the hangout as the inner ring of the fishbowl at a physical UDS. Unfortunately there only 10 seats on the hangout, so we need to ensure the most active participants are in the hangout. People in the hangout should be speaking and actively participating. If you have an active participant on IRC and have free seats on the hangout, be sure to invite them to the hangout. Likewise, if you see someone who is not contributing on the hangout and there is someone active on IRC, ask the hangout person to move to IRC to open up a slot to invite the IRC person and bring them into the hangout.
  • At the beginning of the session, explain the goals and purpose of the session and encourage people to take notes in the embedded etherpad.
  • Have the discussion in the session, and be sure to help everyone participate as much as possible. Remember, you should try to keep the most active members in the hangout.
  • 10 minutes before the end of the session summarize the key decisions and log work items on the blueprint that are assigned to people. This will provide a great set of next steps to move forward with that blueprint.

For Attendees

Joining a session is easy – just look at the schedule and click on a session to view it. On each session page you can see the video stream, the embedded IRC channel, and the embedded etherpad collaborative note taking. You can also see links to the blueprint and other related content.

You don’t need anything other than a web browser to view sessions but you will need a Google+ account to actively participate in a hangout.

If you want to chat to others in general about UDS, you can also join #ubuntu-uds on freenode.

All sessions will be recorded and available on the schedule when they are completed.

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Big shout out to the awesome community over at XDA Developers who have been getting involved in the Ubuntu Touch Port-o-thon to bring the Ubuntu Touch images to more and more devices. Daniel Holbach kicked off the port-o-thon the day after we released the code and images last week, and we are already seeing fantastic work going on.

When the initial announcement hit their forum it generated over a 100 posts within a day and there is currently 101 pages of posts on that thread. There is also an Ubuntu Touch Subforum which has seen over 4000 posts already. We are just blown away by the level of interest.

As you can see on the devices wiki page we are already seeing some fantastic work going on to port Ubuntu Touch to additional devices. Here are some great examples of this work (click each link to see the XDA Developers thread):

Awesome work!

I asked David Planella and Daniel Holbach on my team to kick off a regular engagement with XDA Developers to help us grow an great relationship together. The first call was today and we are kicking some ideas around of how to work more closely together. Stay tuned for more!

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Some of you may have seen the news about us transitioning to an online Ubuntu Developer Summit and running the event every three months. If you didn’t see the news, you can read it here. I just wanted to share my personal perspective on this change.

For a long time now I have been attending Ubuntu Developer Summits as part of my work, but for the last event in Copenhagen my wife was about to give birth and so I attended the event remotely. As someone who has been heavily involved in the planning and execution of UDS for the last 10 or so events, I was intimately aware of the remote participation features of the event, but I had never actually utilized them myself. I was excited to dive into the sessions remotely and participate.

For the sessions I dialed into I found the remote participation worked well, but not as well as it could. Sometimes it was a little difficult to hear people (despite us alway encouraging speakers to sit near the middle of the fishbowl), and for the sessions I wasn’t able to actively participate in (due to the timezone differences), only some of those sessions had videos available that I could review after the session had ended. As such, this made it something of a challenge at times to get an overall view of the event; it depended on attendees taking good notes (which generally happens), but I missed the specifics of the discussions.

Remote participation has always been a critical part of UDS and I think it worked efficiently as it could, but these issues were primarily due to the challenge of delivering an in-person event to an online audience and the practicalities therein.

Of course, the real challenge is getting you people to eat these things.

The move to an online event effectively solves the majority of these issues: every single session will be recorded and available for viewing after the fact (which is awesome for not only attendees, but also for the press, partners and others), and with everyone in the hangout facing a webcam and a microphone, the quality of the content should be better too.

For those people who can’t join the session hangout video stream, IRC participation is available, and those IRC discussions will be logged too and provided in addition to the video of the session and the Etherpad notes. This provides a great overview of all the content and discussion in the session.

An online event is also going to open up the event to more potential participants. There are many folks who either can’t physically travel or justify the travel expenses or time away from their work and family commitments who can now participate in the event by simply opening their web browser. With the wide focus in Ubuntu across the desktop, devices and the cloud, we need more specialists rather than fewer to guide us on our mission, and the online event will make it easier for those folks to attend. I think that this will result in wider and more diverse discussion, ultimately helping us to do a better job planning UDS.

Some folks have expressed a concern about not having as much face-to-face time as in a physical event. Of course, video-conferencing will never ultimately replace being in the same room as someone, but I think much of that personal connection is still shared via hangouts. As an example, my team at Canonical used to have team meetings on Skype or a Conference Call and ever since we switched to Google+ Hangouts the sense of personal connection and team spirit has skyrocketed. Sure, it doesn’t replace being in the same room, but when we balance out the benefits of an online event for the reasons I mentioned earlier, it seems like a reasonable trade-off to me.

Iterative Improvements

One thing that many folks don’t see from behind the scenes of planning the physical UDSs is that we have always taken an really rigorous approach to improving and refining the event. This not only includes the structure of the event, but we have iterated after every detail to improve room layouts, A/V needs, timing, remote participation requirements, scheduling patterns, and more. Every detail of UDS has been scrutinized after every event, and the survey we send out is reviewed with a fine tooth comb, all with the goal of squeezing out as much efficiency as possible so the time everyone commits to UDS is as worthwhile as possible.

We are still exploring the alleged productivity-enhancing benefits of light ping-pong.

With UDS previously happening every six months this has helped us to build a pretty bullet proof formula for the physical event, and many attendees comment at each UDS about just how efficient it is and how much gets done. This is largely due to this iterative refinement process.

The first online UDS takes place next week and I think we have a pretty good plan for it, but we are going to go through exactly the same process for reviewing how each event goes and buffing off the rough edges so that works better and more efficiently each time. With us now doing a UDS every three months it should not take too long to get us into a winning formula, and our community are an essential part of helping us to refine these different pieces. As I mentioned in the announcement blog, after the second event we are also going to take a general look to see if an online UDS is serving the needs of the project well in terms of how we plan Ubuntu development.

Got Questions?

I am sure many of you will still have questions about the new format of UDS. Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7pm UTC. I will be doing my usual weekly Q+A videocast on Ubuntu On Air and will dedicate part of the session to covering how the online event will work and answering your questions. Feel free to bring your UDS and any other questions to the session!

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A few days ago we announced Ubuntu for Tablets; the next piece on our wider Ubuntu convergence story. The tablet joins the Phone, TV, Ubuntu for Android, and the Desktop. See an excellent hands-on video review of the current developer build from Engadget.

Today the source and images for Ubuntu for Phones and Tablets (collectively known as Ubuntu Touch) was released.

I know there is some anticipation regarding this release and I just wanted to share a few facts to ensure we are all on the same page:

  1. Both Phone and Tablet code and images are available – today we are releasing two things for both the phone and the tablet. Firstly, if you simply want to run the software on a spare device, you can install the images on your device without caring about the code. If on the other hand you want to see the code (and contribute to it) we are also making this available too so that you can build, explore, and hack on it.
  2. This is unfinished and in-development software – it is important to remember that this is in-development software and as such is not finished yet. You are going to find that some features and applications are missing, and you will likely find bugs. We wanted to release the code and images early so that our community can try the software, provide feedback, and be able to join the development effort. With this goal to get the content out early we just want to ensure everyone fully understands that this is not yet a final product. I strongly recommend you only install the code/images on a spare handset/tablet and not your main phone/tablet due to the fact it is in-development code.
  3. A limited set of devices are supported – the images are only available for the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10; these are the devices that our development team has been working towards. We appreciate that you may have a different phone or tablet, but unfortunately support for other devices is not currently planned. We will however be kicking off an outreach campaign soon to encourage and support our community in porting the code to other devices. Stay tuned for more!
  4. A new SDK is available also – in addition to the release of the code and images we have also released a new version of the SDK which includes a number of new features, most usefully the ability to deploy a QML app to a device so you can run it!
    • Ubuntu SDK application templates and wizard
    • QML2 UI designer
    • Templates for testing framework and internationalization
    • Deploy QML applications on an Ubuntu Phone/Tablet device
    • Basic terminal (ssh, adb) connectivity tools to the device
  5. Know where to find help – if you have questions or queries you should post your questions to Ask Ubuntu by clicking here.

I am sure you are now chomping at the bit to grab the images, check out the code, and get the new SDK release! Go and find all the details here.

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video platform video management video solutionsvideo player

See the video here

The Community Leadership Summit 2013 brings together community leaders, organizers and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community. The event pulls together the leading minds in community management, relations and online collaboration to discuss, debate and continue to refine the art of building an effective and capable community.

This year the event takes place on 20th – 21st July 2013 (the weekend before OSCON) in Portland, Oregon and is the fifth anniversary of the event and I am determined to make it bigger, better, and more valuable than ever. Over the previous four events CLS has become the primary annual meeting place for community leadership, and every year we get an absolutely wonderful and diverse attendance spanning technology, education, government, science and more.

At the heart of Community Leadership Summit 2013 is an open unconference-style event in which everyone who attends is welcome to lead and contribute sessions on any topic that is relevant. These sessions are very much discussion sessions: the participants can interact directly, offer thoughts and experience, and share ideas and questions. These unconference sessions are also augmented with a series of presentations from leaders in the field, panel debates and networking opportunities.


I am currently getting the wheels in motion for the sponsorship for CLS13 and I just wanted to invite any organizations reading this who might be interested in sponsoring the event. CLS is not a particularly expensive event to put on, but I want to expand the usual sponsorship this year to add a little more polish than usual to the event. As such, I am looking for companies or might be interested in supporting the event and getting exposure to community leaders across a range of industries, but with a strong focus on technology.

One of the messages I emphasize in my opening plenary is that the sponsors of the event don’t buy editorial direction or influence (as the event is very focused on being free, open, and attendee-content driven), and as such sponsorship of CLS is very much an affirmation of support of the event for the right reasons. As such, association with CLS as a sponsor has typically reflected very well on those companies who have sponsored in the past. Such companies have included Intel, Microsoft, Black Duck, Oracle, O’Reilly, OpenNMS, and others.

If you are interested in supporting CLS, please drop me an email to Thanks!

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This week’s live video Q&A is in the normal time slot of every Wednesday at 7pm UTC (click here for the time in your location this week).

As ever, you are welcome to ask me absolutely anything about Ubuntu, Free Software, Community Management, Technology, or anything else. The only questions I don’t accept are tech support questions – Ask Ubuntu, IRC and the Ubuntu Forums are better resources for that.

To join, head over to Ubuntu On Air at 7pm UTC on Wednesday and you can ask your questions in the embedded chat box.

Look forward to seeing you all there!

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When we announced Ubuntu for phones on the 2nd January, we also had a call for volunteers to help create the core applications that would be part of the platform. Like any phone OS we need to provide a calendar, calculator, email, social media apps and more. Ubuntu has long been an open community project and we wanted to work with our community from the outset to work on a set of apps that we can all be proud of.

To do this we included a form on and asked interested Qt/QML developers to fill it in if they were interested in participating. In just a few days we had over 1500 people fill in the form, expressing tremendous interest in being part of these projects and making an awesome Ubuntu phone platform.

We then finalized our list of apps that we think we need and then reached out to the most experienced of these volunteers and broke them into teams, with one team per application (these teams are fairly small, we couldnt use everyone who volunteered, but we will be having an Ubuntu Phone App Showdown in future, so stay tuned!)).

For each of the applications we then worked on some user stories and functional requirements to deliver the core functionality in each of these apps and documented them on the Ubuntu wiki. These applications are all available here.

Call For Design

So, we have a good set of developers assigned for each app, but we would like to invite our community to contribute design ideas for each of these apps. We have already defined a set of user stories and functional requirements, and for each app we have also defined a set of the core screens and functionality that we will need design for. We would like to invite you wonderful designers out there to contribute your design ideas, and these ideas can provide food for thought for the developers.

To do this we are using the popular Balsamiq online mock-ups tool, and the Balsamiq folks have very generously provided an Ubuntu MyBalsamiq site where all of these designs can be storied, commented on, and refined. As such, you can contribute your designs there and then link them to the wiki page for the application the design is for.

A while back I asked Ivo Weevers, head of the design team at Canonical, for a set of design guidelines for these contributed designs to follow, but unfortunately his team has not had the time to deliver this yet, but we do have a simple set of overall design suggestions we would like to ask you to follow as well as some example designs that you can use to match your work to.

If you would like to contribute some designs, simply pick one of the following apps and follow the instructions on the page:

If you don’t want to contribute a design but would like to offer input on the existing designs, simply click on the designs submitted on the wiki page and you use the comments box on the MyBalsamiq site to provide your feedback. I would like to also encourage you folks to share your designs on your blogs, on the Ubuntu Reddit, on social media, and other places!

Obviously not all designs will ultimately be implemented, but the goal here is to primarily provide a great opportunity for the best designs that match the design ethos of the Ubuntu phone to bubble to the surface.

Other Contributions

All of the applications we are working on here have Launchpad projects set up and the code will be publicly available and Open Source from the beginning. We are currently working on a base template project to land in each trunk for the development teams to get started from.

There will definitely be other opportunities for contributing in the future (e.g. icon design, QA, testing), but for now we are focusing on the design and development phase. Stay tuned!

Keeping In Touch

To other members of the Ubuntu for phones community, be sure to join the #ubuntu-phone IRC channel on freenode and you can join the mailing list. I will also be providing regular updates on this work on my weekly Q+A videocast every Wednesday at 7pm UTC on Ubuntu On Air.

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This week’s live video Q&A is back to the normal time slot of every Wednesday at 7pm UTC (click here for the time in your location this week). The day is different this week as I need to join a sprint later this week.

This week I will be running the usual hour long Q&A session as well as talking about some upcoming community projects.

To join, head over to Ubuntu On Air at 7pm UTC on Wednesday and you can ask your questions in the embedded chat box.

Look forward to seeing you all there!

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When we announced Ubuntu for phones on the 2nd January we also announced the developer preview of the SDK. The SDK includes QML and the Ubuntu Phone Components that provides a set of controls for building applications. It includes a comprehensive development environment.

If you want to play with the developer preview, go and get it, then follow the tutorial, and be sure to ask questions if you get stuck.

We have already been seeing some interesting experiments going on on the Ubuntu App Development Google+ Community with people writing applications and playing with the SDK developer preview. I just wanted to share some of this work here.

Francisco Gómez García has been working on cProg inside a terminal:

Stuart ‘Aq’ Langridge has been working on a game:

Martin Kaistra has also been working on a Reddit reader for the phone:

Micha? Pr?dotka has also been experimenting with QML for his app:

See the video here.

Daniel Wood has written a simple calculator:

We have also seen some interesting ideas and mock-ups for apps for the phone such as this from we Love Ubuntu:

And lastly, Mark Johnson, who obviously has far too much time on his hands, has ported his “JonoBoard” app to QML, thus unleashing the mighty power of community:

See the video here.

Remember, if you want to play with the developer preview, go and get it, then follow the tutorial, and be sure to ask questions if you get stuck. Enjoy!

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After missing my weekly live Ubuntu and Community Management video Q&A last week due to exhibiting at CES, I will be doing this week’s live video Q&A on Monday 14th January 2013 (tomorrow) at 7pm UTC (click here for the time in your location). The day is different this week as I need to join a sprint later this week.

I will be kicking off the session with a summary of Ubuntu at CES and a summary of the response to Ubuntu on phones in general as well next steps. We will then get into the Q&A, and as ever, you are welcome to ask me absolutely anything on the show.

To join, head over to Ubuntu On Air at 7pm UTC on Monday 14th January 2013 and you can ask your questions in the embedded chat box.

Look forward to seeing you all there!

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Ubuntu At CES

On Sunday last weekend I flew out to CES to join the rest of my colleagues to exhibit Ubuntu at the show. We were there to show the full range of Ubuntu form-factors that we have available; desktop, TV, Ubuntu for Android, and most recently, Ubuntu for phones.

The Ubuntu booth was located in the South Hall within the cornucopia of screens and gadgets that is CES. The show is huge, really, really, huge, and one could be forgiven for thinking that Ubuntu would be a mere drop in the ocean when you have exhibitors such as Samsung and Sony with their warehouse sized booths. Fortunately, Ubuntu seemed to be one of the highlights at CES.

Although many people were there to see Ubuntu for phones, the phone is really only one part of the true magic of Ubuntu’s focus and direction; a single ubiquitous convergence story that runs across every device you care about and the cloud. This is a story that is a lot clearer when you see each of these different form factors sitting side by side in the same booth, it really helped to connect the dots with our visitors.

Ubuntu TV on display.

Ubuntu is about delivering a beautiful user experience that is perfectly tuned to the screen you are using, yet consistent in design and content across these different form factors. If you have used Ubuntu on the desktop, Ubuntu on the phone and TV looks and feels familiar. We have worked to build the content that you own (and the content that you could own) into the core of the platform, as opposed to it being buried in applications that you need to juggle to access it. We have worked to liberate web apps from the browser tabs that they are trapped in to integrate them with the core of the platform, and we have reduced the on-screen clutter that gets in the way of your content. Ubuntu One provides the connection points between these screens with your personal cloud in which your files, content, settings, and other content is neatly synced between all of your devices; as an example, if you buy or download a new song on your phone, it will sync effortless to your desktop, TV and other devices. This convergence presents a consistent design, user, and content experience across all of your devices, and underlined by Ubuntu; a platform that has a long heritage of openness and community participation.

Our booth at CES was comprehensive. We had two large TVs with high quality cameras attached on either side of the stand where we did demos of the phone to interested passers by. In between these screens we then had stations for demonstrating Ubuntu for TV, Ubuntu One, Ubuntu for Android (which also demonstrated the Ubuntu Desktop), and the Ubuntu developer platform. Between these stations we gave out bags, t-shirts, literature, caps, DVDs, and other material.

An Ubuntu for phones demo station.

At the far end of the booth we also had our meeting room. With CES being a trade-only show, a primary goal for attending was to work with handset manufacturers and operators to explore how they can deliver Ubuntu to their customers. Mark Shuttleworth (founder of Ubuntu/Canonical), Jane Silber (CEO of Canonical), and Chris Kenyon (Head of Business Development at Canonical) spent most of their time in the meeting room talking with potential customers. Fortunately, their calendar was packed throughout the week with meetings and great progress was made.

I spent most of my time at the booth presenting the phone on the big screens to the crowds that visited us. Now, I am not using the word crowd here in an exaggerated sense either – the Ubuntu booth was packed throughout the week, and most people who I spoke to told me that one of the main reasons they came out to CES was to see Ubuntu and in particular to see Ubuntu for phones.

We saw a constant stream of visitors throughout the show.

We also had a huge number of press come along to the booth and myself as well as many of my colleagues did countless demos both on and off camera to these members of the press. Speaking of press, I was delighted to finally meet Timothy Lord from Slashdot and I did a short interview and demo with him. I saw that a video of one of my demos is available online as well as some questions about the phone that I answered. Also, be sure to see SJVN’s write up about Ubuntu for phones.

I have done trade-shows before, and I have exhibited Ubuntu many times at these shows. Although I had never done CES, I had done something similar in style and size (CeBit in Germany), and I had a broad idea of what to expect. Fortunately the show more than surpassed my expectations. We were absolutely inundated with people, and every time I gave a demo of Ubuntu for phone the audience smiled with interest as I walked them through the different features of the phone. Ubuntu for phones was very, very positively received, and from a “things often go wrong when demoing at trade-shows” perspective, we didn’t experience a single crash or failure with the phone (or anything else that we demoed). The only problem we had was rather flakey Internet access which impacted me demoing the deep integration of websites and social media into Ubuntu for phones.

We also had a few other fun things happen. The week set off on the right foot when we won the Editors Choice award at CES from Popular Mechanics magazine, and we also had from the Black Eyed Peas show up to see the Ubuntu phone. We were also expecting MC Hammer to visit us, which unfortunately didn’t happen, but infamous hacker Kevin Mitnick did make an appearance, to which my colleague Michael Frey and I swooned like Justin Bieber fans.

The team holding the Popular Mechanics award.

All in it was a tremendously productive and positive week.

I have never been so excited to be part of Ubuntu and part of this convergence story that we are creating. Not only is this a great opportunity for Ubuntu, but it is a great opportunity for Open Source and Free Software, which continue to drive the ethos and values that form Ubuntu. Everything that we exhibited at CES is Open Source, and our community are a core part of how we build this platform and bring it to the masses.

We have the potential of building a an ubiquitous platform that is simple and elegant for anyone to use, but driven by the values of Free Software. This is what freedom is all about; freedom of technology, freedom of choice, and freedom that is accessible to everyone. Let’s do this.

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Just a quick post to wish all of you a safe and happy holidays, wherever you may be, and whoever you are spending it with.

This year was a great year for Ubuntu, and a great year for Free Software. Step by step we are bringing freedom of technology to more and more people across the desktop, cloud, and devices, and underlining this freedom with a continued focus on elegance and quality. We still have a long road ahead of us, but our wheels are rolling and we are cranking out some AC/DC for the journey; anything is possible.

On a personal note, I just want to thank all of you for reading my blog and social networks and participating in the conversations therein. I know sometimes my posts have sometimes generated some dissenting views, but I cherish all perspectives that you folks share, both supportive and challenging to the work that we do in Ubuntu and the work I do personally as a community manager. I have always been a firm believer in personal growth and evolution, and this year I have been blessed by many of you providing me with different ways of viewing challenges, and different ways of seeing opportunities. These views help me to be a better person, and do a better job.

This is a very special Christmas for me and my family with our new little addition, Jack, and I hope all of you have an equally special and relaxing break. Thanks!

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At the beginning of the 13.04 cycle one of the plans I put in place for my team was the deployment of Ubuntu Accomplishments as a production service for our community. This work involves the following components:

  1. Deploying the validation server on Canonical hardware and managed by the IS team.
  2. Deploying the web gallery to
  3. Updating the client to support publishing to (publishing is not switched on by default and has to be enabled).
  4. Packaging and releasing the daemon and viewer in the Ubuntu Software Center.
  5. Performing a round of QA and testing to ensure the quality of the release is high.

I just wanted to provide a quick update on this.

Canonical IS recently provisioned the machine that the validation server and web gallery will run on. Yesterday Michael Hall and I re-deployed the validation server on a CanoniStack instance to ensure the deployment instructions worked correctly. Mike then went onto deploy the web gallery and update the deployment instructions there. We expect IS to deploy this in the next few weeks and then I will shut down to current validation server that is running on my own Bytemark server. Thanks again to Bytemark for providing the server for free to support the project!

You can see a live demo of the current web gallery by clicking here (this shows my own set of accomplishments); also see Michael Hall’s accomplishments as another example. Clicking on an accomplishment shows more information about it and you can also view all opportunities online too. There is still work to be done, but good progress is being made. :-)

Share your community achievements with the world!

There has been active discussion around the packaging requirements for the software in the Ubuntu Software Center. Michael is coordinating these needs with Rafal so any required changes can be made. One challenge here is how DBUS works with the daemon. Thankfully, didrocks is supporting Rafal to achieve this work. One way or another, there will be Ubuntu Accomplishments available for Ubuntu 13.04 (not installed by default but installable from the Ubuntu Software Center. :-)

In other news, Matt Fischer and Chris Wayne have built support in Ubuntu Accomplishments for the Fitbit; the awesome little personal fitness device. This is not a commercial service or engagement; just adding support to see your Fitbit badges in your Ubuntu Accomplishments viewer. With this you can find out more information about how to achieve the different Fitbit badges right within Ubuntu Accomplishments. It looks like this:

Getting fit wasn’t fun…until now!

What is neat about this is that this support makes use of the Online Accounts feature in Ubuntu, so you simply authenticate with your Fitbit account and then you are good to go. Read more about this from Matt, from Chris, and from Rafal.

Getting Involved

Ubuntu Accomplishments in Ubuntu 13.04 is going to be an awesome feature and achievement for the project. While it won’t ship by default in Ubuntu 13.04, it will only be a click away in the Ubuntu Software Center.

To make this first major release as good as it can be, we need help! Thankfully, there are lots of ways to help, such as:

You can also find out how to get the development branch set up and if you have any questions feel free to reach out in #ubuntu-accomplishments on Freenode or on our [mailing list](

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments!

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