Canonical Voices

Daniel Holbach

I have some very exciting news, but wanted to share some thoughts I had earlier today.

Since I joined the Ubuntu community I’ve always had to do with people who want to ship their software in Ubuntu and as I’m a generally excitable guy I always thought “finally, it became so much easier – we’re there”! Over the past years we got better documentation, PPAs in Launchpad, the dh command, bzr-builddeb, daily builds in Launchpad, pkgme, the ARB process, translated documentation and lots of other initiatives which always felt like we made the world a better place for ISVs, third party app developers, upstream developers and whoever else wanted their software to be in Ubuntu.

Fast-forward to Ubuntu on the phone and click. Suddenly it became SUPER easy, even easier to ship software. Write a manifest, run “click build“, upload it to the store where it gets auto-reviewed and you’re golden. This was possible because apparmor and friends were so tightly integrated into the phone experience and confinement fully worked, so we could trust apps to be safe and trust our automatic reviews. Finally!


snappy, the evolution of click, has a much broader scope and is finally moving into the center of attention of many and will at some stage also get on the phone and elsewhere. It shares the concept of a central software store with confined apps but brings atomic upgrades, rollbacks and lots of other goodness.

From the point of view of somebody who’s shipping software some things were still missing though. How do you easily do repeatable builds, especially if they involve bundling other software?

Enter snapcraft. A thing of beauty. Finally you can specify all relevant meta-data in one file, define which parts make up your app and snapcraft’s plugins (Go, Java, autotools, etc.) will take care of pulling and building sources and binaries, which files to ship exactly and everything else. It’s magic.

We just shipped 0.2 of snapcraft and the amount of new tests, bug fixes and goodness which landed is staggering. Even more importantly: the syntax of snapcraft.yaml is now very likely going to be stable.

I have more good news:

we are going to have our first of many Ubuntu Snappy Clinics brought to you by Sergio Schvezov, Michael Vogt and myself. The topics of these clinics are going to change, but will always be centered around snappy and the technologies around it and will give enough opportunities to ask your questions and work on things together.

Now is a brilliant time to involved with snapcraft.

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Daniel Holbach

Tomorrow is a special anniversary: 2005-09-05 I joined Canonical – that’s right: It’s going to be a decade.

A lot of what we as Ubuntu Community experienced and went through I wrote up some time ago and it’s well-documented in blog posts, articles, LoCo event reports and pictures from Ubuntu Allhands events, so don’t expect any of that here.

For me personally it’s been a ride I could never have expected like this. A decade in a single company doesn’t seem to happen very often these days and I would also never have dreamed what we are delivering to the world today. I’m happy and proud to have been part of this all.

I still remember the days when I joined. I had just finished my studies and working next to people who could all easily be described as a wunderkind, it made me feel like I had quite a healthy impostor syndrome. It’s easy to underestimate how much I learned here – not just technically or in terms of other abilities, but also as a person. I got to work on things I never imagined I could do and am happy I was involved in so many different projects.

One thing made this whole ride even more special: the people. I made lots of friends along the way – that’s one of the primary reasons I still feel like I work at a very very special place.

Big hugs everyone and thanks for accompanying me this far! :-)

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Daniel Holbach

Thanks to Nathan Haines and José Antonio Rey we have the Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase again. It’s Ubuntu’s way of acknowledging that there’s not just “free software”, but a wider movement which wants to make sharing the fruits of our labour an obvious and straight-forward reality.

You still have some time to submit your works for the competition. The winners are going to get their free culture works included in Ubuntu itself. Please share this with all your producer and artist friends who are into free culture.

Submission groups are as follows:

Find all other relevant information here.

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Daniel Holbach

In the flurry of uploads for the C++ ABI transition and other frantic work (Thursday is Feature Freeze day) this gem maybe went unnoticed:

snapcraft (0.1) wily; urgency=low

  * Initial release

What this means? If you’re on wily, you can easily try out snapcraft and get started turning software into snaps. We have some initial docs available on the developer site which should help you find your way around.

This is a 0.1 release, so there are bugs and there might be bigger changes coming your way, but there will also be more docs, more plugins and more good stuff in general. If you’re curious, you might want to sign up for the daily build (just add the ppa:snappy-dev/snapcraft-daily PPA).

Here’s a brilliant example of what snapcraft can do for you: packaging a Java app was never this easy.

If you’re more into client apps, check out Ted’s article on how to create a QML snap.

As you can easily see: the future is on its way and upstreams and app developer will have a much easier time sharing their software.

As I said above: snapcraft is still a 0.1 release. If you want to let us know your feedback and find bugs or propose merges, you can find snapcraft in Launchpad.

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Daniel Holbach

If you haven’t heard of it yet, every Tuesday we have the Ubuntu Community Q&A session at 15:00 UTC. It’s always up on and you can watch old sessions on the youtube channel. For the casual Ubuntu users it’s a great way to get to know people who are working in the inner circles of Ubuntu and can answer questions, clear up misunderstandings or get specialists on the show.

Since Jono went to XPRIZE, our team at Canonical has been running them and I really enjoy these sessions. What I liked even more were the sessions where we had guests and got to talk about some more specific topics. In the past few weeks we had Olli Ries on, quite a few UbuCon organisers, some testing/QA heroes and many more.

If you have anyone you’d like to see interviewed or any specific topics you’d like to see covered, please drop a comment below and we’ll do our best to get them on in the next weeks!

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Daniel Holbach


Snappy is evolving, becoming more robust and is getting loads of new users. This week will see a new stable release of Snappy. For us that’s reason enough to invite you all to our first Snappy Open House today.

Starting from 14:00 UTC today (2015-07-07), we are going to be on Ubuntu-on-Air, introducing team, talking about what’s new and talking about testing Snappy. If you want to get involved or wanted to get to know snappy, this is a great opportunity.

Hope to see you later on!

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Daniel Holbach

Out of nowhere, the Ukrainian translations team came up and translated 70% (the threshold where we call translations ‘complete enough to be official’) of the Ubuntu Packaging Guide into Ukrainian. This all happened within just a couple of days.

All I can say is: amazing work and Дуже дякую (thanks a lot)! Keep it up


We are going to prepare an upload to Debian and Ubuntu in the coming days as well. Again: fantastic work everyone.

Call for help

This post of course can’t go out without a call for help.

Thanks again translations community, you all are heroes. It’s you who makes Ubuntu welcoming to everyone!

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Daniel Holbach

Daniel McGuire is unstoppable. The work I mentioned yesterday was great, here’s some more, showing what would happen when the user selects “Playing Music”.

help app - playing music


More feedback we received so far:

  • Kevin Feyder suggested using a different icon for the app.
  • Michał Prędotka asked if we were planning to add more icons/pictures and the answer is “yes, we’d love to if it doesn’t clutter up the interface too much”. We are going to start a call for help with the content soon.
  • Robin of asked the same thing as Michał and wondered where the translations were. We are going to look into that. He generally like the Ubuntu-like style.

Do you have any more feedback? Anything you’d like to look or work differently? Anything you’d like to help with?

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Daniel Holbach

Some of you might have noticed the Help app in the store, which has been around for a couple of weeks now. We are trying to make it friendlier and easier to use. Maybe you can comment and share your ideas/thoughts.

Apart from actual bugs and adding more and more useful content, we also wanted the app to look friendlier and be more intuitive and useful.

The latest trunk lp:help-app can be seen as version 0.3 in the store or if you run

bzr branch lp:help-app
less help-app/HACKING

you can run and check it out locally.

Here’s the design Daniel McGuire suggested going forward.


What are your thoughts? If you look at the content we currently have, how else would you expect the app to look like or work?

Thanks a lot Daniel for your work on this! :-)

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Daniel Holbach

snappyIt’d be a bit of a stretch to call UOS Snappy Online Summit, but Snappy definitely was talk of the town this time around. It was also picked up by tech news sites, who not always depicted Ubuntu’s plans accurately. :-)

Anyway… if you missed some of the sessions, you can always go back, watch the videos of the sessions and check the notes. Here’s the links to the sessions which already happened:

Which leaves us with today, 7th May 2015! You can still join these sessions today – we’ll be glad to hear your input and ideas! :-)

  • 14:00 UTC: Ubuntu Core Brainstorm – Calling all Snappy pioneers
    Snappy and Ubuntu Core are still hot off the press, but it’s already clear that they’re going to bring a lot of opportunities and will make the lives of developers a lot easier. Let’s get together, brainstorm and find out where Snappy can be used in the future, which communities/tools/frameworks can be joined by it, which software should be ported to it and which crazy nice tutorials/demos can be easily put together. Anything goes, join us, no matter if on IRC or in the hangout!
  • 16:00 UTC: Snappy Q&A
    Everything you always wanted to know about Snappy and Ubuntu Core. Bring your questions here! Bring your friends as well. We’ll make sure to have all the relevant experts here.
  • 18:00 UTC: Replace ifupdown with networkd on snappy / cloud / server for 16.04
    What the title says. Networkers, we’ll need you here. :-)

The above are just my suggestions, obviously there’s loads of other good stuff on the schedule today! See you later!

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Daniel Holbach

Not sure if you saw Marks’ blog post earlier, but I’ll make sure to be watching the keynote at at 14:00 UTC today. :-)

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Daniel Holbach

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 5th May 2015

Wednesday, 6th May 2015

Thursday, 7th May 2015

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

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

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Daniel Holbach

15.04 is out!


And another Ubuntu release went out the the door. I can’t believe that it’s the 22nd Ubuntu release already.

There’s a lot to be excited about in 15.04. The first phone powered by Ubuntu went out to customers and new devices are in the pipeline. The underpinnings of the various variants of Ubuntu are slowly converging, new Ubuntu flavours saw the light of day (MATE and Desktop next), new features landed, new apps added, more automated tests were added, etc. The future of Ubuntu is looking very bright.

What’s Ubuntu Core?

One thing I’m super happy about is a very very new addition: Ubuntu Core and snappy. What does it offer? It gives you a minimal Ubuntu system, automatic and bulletproof updates with rollback, an app store and very straight-forward enablement and packaging practices.

It has been brilliant to watch the snappy-devel@ and snappy-app-devel@ mailing lists in recent weeks and notice how much interest from enthusiasts, hobbyists, hardware manufacturers, porters and others get interested and get started. If you have a look at Dustin’s blog post, you get a good idea of what’s happening. It also features a video of Mark, who explains how Ubuntu has adapted to the demands of a changing IT world.

One fantastic example of how Ubuntu Snappy is already powering devices you had never thought of is the Erle-Copter. (If you can’t see the video, check out this link.)

It’s simply beautiful how product builders and hobbyists can now focus on what they’re interested in: building a tool, appliance, a robot, something crazy, something people will love or something which might change a small art of the world somewhere. What’s taken out of the equation by Ubuntu is: having to maintain a linux distro.

Maintaining a linux distro

Whenever I got a new device in my home I could SSH into, I was happy and proud. I always felt: “wow, they get it – they’re using open source software, they’re using linux”. This  feeling was replaced at some stage, when I realised how rarely my NAS or my router received system updates. When I checked for changelog entries of the updates I found out how only some of the important CVEs of the last year were mentioned, sometimes only “feature updates” were mentioned.

To me it’s clear that not all product builders or hardware companies collaborate with the NSA and create backdoors on purpose, but it’s hard work to maintain a linux stack and to do it responsibly.

That’s why I feel Ubuntu Core is an offering that “has legs” (as Mark Shuttleworth would say): as somebody who wants to focus on building a great product or solving a specific use case, you can do just that. You can ship your business logic in a snap on top of Ubuntu Core and be done with it. Brilliant!

What’s next?

Next week is Ubuntu Online Summit (5-7 May). There we are going to discuss the plans for the next time and that’s where you can get involved, ask questions, bring up your ideas and get to know the folks who are working on it now.

I’ll write a separate blog post in the coming days explaining what’s happening next week, until then feel free to have a look at:


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Daniel Holbach

What does being an Ubuntu member mean to you? Why did you do it back then?

I became an Ubuntu member about 10 years ago. It was part of the process of becoming member of the MOTU team. Before you could apply for upload rights, you had to be an Ubuntu member though.

That wasn’t all of it though. For me it wasn’t the mail address or “fulfilling the requirements for upload rights”. As I had helped out and contributed for months already, I felt part of the tribe and luckily many encouraged me to take the next step and apply for membership. I had grown to like the people I worked with and learned from a lot. It was a bit daunting, but being recognised for my contributions was a great experience. Afterwards I would say I did my fair share of encouraging others to apply as well. :-)

Which brings me to the two calls of action I wanted to get out there.

1) Encourage members of your team who haven’t applied for Ubuntu membership!

There are so many people doing fantastic work on AskUbuntu, the Forums, in Flavour teams, the Docs team, the QA world and all over the place when it comes to phones, desktops, IoT bits, servers, the cloud and more. Many many of them should really be Ubuntu members, but they haven’t heard of it, or don’t know how or are concerned of not “having done enough”.

If you have people like that in a project you are working in, please do encourage them. In an open source project we should aim to do a good job at recognising the great work of others.

2) Join the Ubuntu Membership Boards!

If you are an Ubuntu member, seriously consider joining the Ubuntu Membership Boards. The call for nominations is still open and it’s a great thing to be involved with.

When I joined the Community Council, the CC was still in charge of approving Ubuntu members and I enjoyed the meeting (even if they were quite looooooooooooooooooooong), when we got to talk to many contributors from all parts of the globe and from all parts of the Ubuntu landscape. Welcoming many of them to Ubuntu members team was just beautiful.

Nominate yourself and be quick about it! :-)

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Daniel Holbach

In the past weeks Nick, David, a few others and I worked on an app / a website, which could easily collect information which will give users of an Ubuntu device a head-start. All our collective experience and knowledge, easily added and translated.

We achieved quite a bit. We’re now very close to getting a first version of it online (both as an app in the store and as a website). We can quite reliably integrate translations and add new content.

We still have a few TODO items and it would be great if you could help out. If you can write a bit of documentation, translate content or fix some HTML/CSS bits or help out with testability. Any help at all will be appreciated.


  • Add content. Just check out our branch and propose a merge. Read the HACKING doc beforehand.
  • Translate. The content is likely going to change a bit in the next days still, but every edit or translation will be appreciated.
  • Hack! We have a number of things we still want to improve. Read the HACKING doc beforehand. Here’s a list of things:
    • Styling/theming/navigation:
      • Bug 1416385: Fix bullet points in the phone theme
      • Bug 1428671: Remove traces of
      • Bug 1428669: Clean up required CSS/JS
      • Bug 1425025: Automatically load translated pages according to the user language.
    • Testing
    • and there’s more.

Ping me on IRC, or balloons or dpm if you want to get involved. We look forward to working with you and we’ll post more updates soon.

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Daniel Holbach

I already blogged about the help app I was working on a bit in the last time. I wanted to go into a bit more detail now that we reached a new milestone.

What’s the idea behind it?

In a conversation in the Community team we noticed that there’s a lot of knowledge we gathered in the course of having used Ubuntu on a phone for a long time and that it might make sense to share tips and tricks, FAQ, suggestions and lots more with new device users in a simple way.

The idea was to share things like “here’s how to use edge swipes to do X” (maybe an animated GIF?) and “if you want to do Y, install the Z app from the store” in an organised and clever fashion. Obviously we would want this to be easily editable (Markdown) and have easy translations (Launchpad), work well on the phone (Ubuntu HTML5 UI toolkit) and work well on the web (Ubuntu Design Web guidelines) too.

What’s the state of things now?

There’s not much content yet and it doesn’t look perfect, but we have all the infrastructure set up. You can now start contributing! :-)

screenshot of web editionscreenshot of web edition screenshot of phone app editionscreenshot of phone app edition


What’s still left to be done?

  • We need HTML/CSS gurus who can help beautifying the themes.
  • We need people to share their tips and tricks and favourite bits of their Ubuntu devices experience.
  • We need hackers who can help in a few places.
  • We need translators.

What you need to do? For translations: you can do it in Launchpad easily. For everything else:

$ bzr branch lp:ubuntu-devices-help
$ cd ubuntu-devices-help
$ less HACKING

We’ve come a long way in the last week and with the easy of Markdown text and easy Launchpad translations, we should quickly be in a state where we can offer this in the Ubuntu software store and publish the content on the web as well.

If you want to write some content, translate, beautify or fix a few bugs, your help is going to be appreciated. Just ping myself, Nick Skaggs or David Planella on #ubuntu-app-devel.

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Daniel Holbach

Did you always want to write an app for Ubuntu and thought that HTML5 might be a good choice? Well picked!


We now have training materials up on which will get you started in all things related to Ubuntu devices. The great thing is that you just write this app once and it’ll work on the phone, the desktop and whichever device Ubuntu is going to run next on.

The example used in the materials is a RSS reader written by my friend, Adnane Belmadiaf. If you go through the steps one by one you’ll notice how easy it is to get stuff done. :-)

This is also a good workshop you could give in your LUG or LoCo or elsewhere. Maybe next weekend at Ubuntu Global Jam too? :-)

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Daniel Holbach

In a recent conversation we thought it’d be a good idea to share tips and tricks, suggestions and ideas with users of Ubuntu devices. Because it’d help to have it available immediately on the phone, an app could be a good idea.

I had a quick look at it and after some discussion with Rouven in my office space, it looked like hyde could fit the bill nicely. To edit the content, just write a bit of Markdown, generate the HTML (nice and readable templates – great!) and done.

Unfortunately I’m not a CSS or HTML wizard, so if you could help out making it more Ubuntu-y, that’d be great! Also: if you’re interested in adding content, that’d be great.

I pushed the code for it up on Launchpad, there are also the first bugs open already. Let’s make it look pretty and let’s share our knowledge with new Ubuntu devices users. :-)

Oh, and let’s see that we translate the content as well! :-)

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Daniel Holbach

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

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

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

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

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

App Development Schools

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


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

Unity8 on Desktop

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




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Daniel Holbach

Building a great community

In last night’s Community Council meeting, we met up with the Xubuntu team. They have done a great job inviting new members into their part of the community. Just read this:

<pleia2> elfy notes all contributors in his announcements
<dholbach> that's really really nice
<pleia2> we do blog posts, emails directly to all the testing members and to -devel list
<dholbach> wow
<pleia2> this cycle we're giving out stickers to some of our top testers
<elfy> if we get that sorted
<pleia2> share on social media too

This is just fantastic. I’m very happy with what the Xubuntu folks are doing and I’m glad to be part of such an open and welcoming community as well.

If you think that’s great too and want to get involved, have a look at their “Get involved” page. They particularly need testers for the new release.

Xubuntu team: keep up the great work! :-)

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