Canonical Voices

Daniel Holbach

A lot of really great things are coming together right now: tomorrow we kick off Ubuntu Global Jam for the 12.04 cycle, additionally we will have Fix-It Friday tomorrow!

The Ubuntu developer community is putting a lot of effort into this event. There will be experienced developers who

  • take the time to answer all the questions you have,
  • help you fix problems,
  • review code for you,
  • use the time to clear up the sponsoring queue.

Here’s something you can do for us: get involved! Seriously, the more people show up, the more fun it will be, so if you are still hesitant, just show up: We are friendly, we’ll help out and we will have a great time.

If you want to prepare yourself a bit, check out these articles first: Introduction to Ubuntu development, Getting Set Up and Fixing a bug in Ubuntu. Please also give us feedback about them. If there’s anything unclear, wrong or confusing, we will fix it. We not only want a precise 12.04 release, but also precise Ubuntu development docs!

I’m looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow! :)

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Daniel Holbach

Since I heard it, I always like the idiom “to hit the ground running”. There’s no really good German translation of it, but the thought of arriving somewhere, knowing what to do and how to do it definitely has its charm. In practical terms it’s often hard, especially if there’s complicated rules, tools and processes.

I won’t deny that there’s an interesting learning experience involved if you want to get into Ubuntu development. The experience will involve a couple of round-trips, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution to every single package or piece of software.

The good news is though[1]: it’s a lot easier than you think and we’re there to help you.

On Friday, 2nd March 2012, a lot of Ubuntu developers and contributors are going to be there to actively help you get started with Ubuntu Development. This is a great opportunity to ask all your questions, get to know a bunch of really friendly and helpful people and learn lots and lots about Ubuntu and Open Source development. It will almost be like hitting the ground running.

So you like the idea to help make Ubuntu better for millions of users on servers, desktops, laptops, TVs, phones and elsewhere?

There are two lists of items we want to look into fixing together:

  1. Packages which don’t build anymore.
    If you have worked with compiling source code before, you know that a mistake like a syntax error can get you into a situation where the build is broken and does not succeed. There are lots of other reasons why this might happen, a good idea is usually to review the build log referenced in the link above.
  2. Bugs which have been fixed elsewhere.
    Our bug life cycle works like this: make sure the bug can be reproduced reliably, gather all the information necessary, figure out if it’s an Ubuntu-specific problem or if it happens in the vanilla code of the software authors as well, then forward the bug with all the relevant information upstream. The Launchpad bug tracker is a great tool, which puts us into the situation where we are able to go through bugs which were fixed elsewhere already. Taking these fixes and applying them to Ubuntu is a great target for improvements, especially being eight weeks away from release.

There’s only two things you need to do:

  1. Make yourself familiar with Ubuntu development. Just these three articles will give you a good start: Introduction to Ubuntu development, Getting Set Up and Fixing a bug in Ubuntu. (Feel free to read more if you like. ;-) )
  2. Join us in #ubuntu-motu on on Friday, 2nd March 2012 and we will answer all your questions, hang out with you, review code for you and have a good time.

The great thing is: this also coincides with Ubuntu Global Jam, so expect people from all around the globe to hang out and make Ubuntu better.

[1] … and this is where the actual blog post starts. :-)

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Daniel Holbach

WOW. So this was our first Fix-It Friday and there’s still a few to come until release. Here’s what we collectively got through:

What the people above can do, you can do easily! Just make sure you’re there next time. I’m super super happy about Fix-It Friday turned out the first time and as I said above: there will be more… and this one isn’t even over yet! :-)

Thanks everyone and ROCK ON!

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Daniel Holbach

Every Friday
Every Friday…
we hack with you

...we hack together with you...

on Ubuntu

...on Ubuntu.

It's no Rocket Science

It's no Rocket Science...

but rather a lot of fun

...but rather a lot of fun!

Join us

Join us and...'ll make lots of friends!'ll make lots of friends!

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Read the first few articles.
  2. Join us in #ubuntu-motu on on Friday.
  3. Have fun and start making Ubuntu better!

More info here.

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Daniel Holbach

Making Ubuntu better: the Italian team

From 2nd-4th March 2012 we will hold an Ubuntu Global Jam again. This is an event where Ubuntu teams around the world come together, meet locally and together make Ubuntu better. We have a number of events and teams already lined up, among them: the Italian team.

I had a chat with Andrea Grandi and Paolo Sammicheli, here’s how they organised everything.

How did you organise the event?
Paolo Sammicheli: Andrea is the president of the Pistoia LUG. They normally organize events so we’ll be using their big space.
Andrea Grandi: Basically:

  1. Asked in PtLUG mailing list how many people would like to help organizing the event and how many people were interested in.
  2. I contacted the owners of the venue where is our Linux User Group and asked them to reserve it for saturday march 3rd.
  3. I contacted Paolo Sammicheli and the other people of #ubuntu-it-promo to ask them to join us.
  4. I contacted Marco Trevisan to ask him to join us and lead the bug-fixing group during the event.

About the venue: our LUG has a small room with two desks and 4 PC, wifi connection ecc… we normally use it for our meeting. Next to this room there is another one capable of about 100 seats. It’s located inside a big structure few km far from the center of Pistoia.

What’s going to happen in Italy at the UGJ?
Paolo Sammicheli: We’ll start with an introduction about how to start contributing in Ubuntu. Then we’ll split in two team: the beginners team will do testing with me, the experts team will work on unity with Marco.

There will be also a translation session over IRC. So people will jam remotely with us helping translating big tasks (ie: package descriptions)
Andrea Grandi: I confirm this and talking about this to some friends their response was: oh I’ve never used Linux, but I’d like to help testing and translating, it looks funny!

How did you find people who were willing to help with the event?
Paolo Sammicheli: The Pistoia LUG gave all the support.
Andrea Grandi: I asked in our LUG mailing list and in #ubuntu-it-promo IRC channel.

How did you announce the event?
Paolo Sammicheli: We published in the loco directory, we announced in our weekly newsletter and Andrea just blogged about it. Few more blog posts in Italian will follow next week.
Andrea Grandi: using Facebook (inviting all friends), blogging about it and spreading the news on out Twitter and G+ accounts. We also have a local mailing list with about 100 people subscribed.

Did you run UGJ events before?
Paolo Sammicheli: Yes we made few already. Some times we had a peer to peer jam. We met in 3 different cities in small groups (2/3 people) and we worked together through IRC.
Andrea Grandi: personally this is the second UGJ I attend to. Here’s a picture of the last event we had in Pistoia.

Ubuntu Global Jam in Italy

How many people do you feel will attend this time?
Paolo Sammicheli: I don’t know, Andrea?
Andrea Grandi: I think about 12 / 15 people at the moment, but if we can do something more to spread the event we could have more people attending.

Do you have any good tips for anyone planning to organise an event
Paolo Sammicheli: Keep it simple, keep it fun!
Andrea Grandi: Oorganize it in collaboration with other Linux User Groups. Did you know that in Italy there are more than 100 Linux user groups?


Thanks a lot guys! Have a great time at Ubuntu Global Jam! :-)

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Daniel Holbach

Making Ubuntu development more personal

Getting involved in Open Source development can seem a bit daunting, first you have to go through the documentation, then find a task you are interested in, then work on a fix and then, although the first parts might have been hard enough already, either go public with questions you have or a fix you have worked on.

From my own experience I can say that it is daunting. The good thing like with all other learning experiences, especially the social ones, you often find out afterwards: “all my worries were unfounded, this is actually pretty cool and the people I interact with are actually pretty nice”.

We improved our documentation and now it’s time to improve the social bits too. We recognised the need to do this before and we felt that 1-on-1 mentoring was the answer. Unfortunately it turned out that we could not satisfy the demand easily, also did we have many mentees who never turned up again, thus blocking “mentoring slots”.

After lots of discussions, we made the following observations:

  • we work hard on improving our documentation
  • we work on improving the tools
  • somebody is always around to answer questions (be it on IRC, on the mailing list or on AskUbuntu)
  • we got better at doing code reviews and providing feedback this way

This in some cases is unfortunately not sufficient. Therefore we founded the Developer Advisory Team. Its agenda is clear-cut and a lot more light-weight than doing 1-on-1 mentoring: We reach out to

  1. new contributors, thank them for their work and get feedback,
  2. people who might be ready to apply for upload rights and help them and also
  3. contributors that went inactive and get feedback from them and offer help.

This is no magic bullet to fix every kind of problem in the Ubuntu development world, but it will help to find shortcomings in our processes and also make the whole interaction more social.

If you are interested in helping with this effort, please get in touch with Christophe Sauthier or myself. You actually just need some interest in Ubuntu Development and an active interest in making Ubuntu an even more social experience.

Stay tuned for updates on this initiative! :-)

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Daniel Holbach

New Ubuntu developers in the making

Ubuntu has always tried to attract more developers making Ubuntu even better. In doing so it’s always good to try to cover the following points:

  1. Outreach – you want many people to fully realise they can be part of the effort.
  2. Documentation – interested new contributors need a good place to learn.
  3. TODO lists – you need easy tasks new contributors can sink their teeth in.
  4. Feedback loop – give new contributors feedback and allow them to learn from more experienced team members.
  5. Joining the ranks – with some experience they can join the team.

Since Ubuntu exists we have been constantly improving bits in all these categories and I’m quite happy to say that this cycle we improved things quite a bit again.

In terms of outreach we

  • extended the team of people working on Developer news significantly. Benjamin Kerensa and Cody Smith have joined me in bringing weekly updates out there. It has been a fun experience to work together on this and we improved out team infrastructure quite a bit over time. If you ever wanted to be part of a fun team which brings development news out there, comment bellow.
  • had a fantastic Ubuntu Developer Week. 32 sessions, speakers from 15 different countries and about 350 attendees, lots of action, lots of smart question and fun people.

Our documentation has seen a lot of updates: thanks a lot to Barry Warsaw for UDD updates, Andrew Starr-Bochicchio for various fixes and Alexander Fougner for an update of the look (this is still work-in-progress). There are still a number of bugs which can be easily fixed if you don’t mind writing a bit of documentation – so jump in and help improving it even more! (Also do some work items still require help.)

Coming to the point of TODO lists: unfortunately Harvest was broken for quite a while. Thanks to our sysadmin team, I managed to get access to the server logs and identify a couple of problems and fix them. Harvest now works again and thanks to the unstoppable Andrew Starr-Bochicchio we have Fedora patches in Harvest again. Awesome! (There’s still a number of things we want to improve, so if you enjoy web development, check out our TODO list.)

Our feedback loop has become a lot tighter again: not only has the effort to keep the sponsoring queue under control continued (hey, it’s still Sponsorship Friday!), but also have Christophe Sauthier and I set up a team call the “Developer Advisory team“. The task of the team is to reach out to different groups of developers and get their feedback and help them along. One group is new contributors who just got their first contribution in, another group is developers who might be able to apply for upload rights soon. Also do we want to reach out to inactive developers and see what we can do to help. I’m very happy this team is finally up and running, because it makes our development experience a lot more social and puts us into a position where we get more valuable feedback. Christophe and I are still looking for helping hands, so let us know if you want to help.

The Developer Membership Board has been doing a good job this cycle, they have regular meetings and on top of things. Thanks a bunch for your good work.

All in all, I’m quite happy with how we are all moving forward and am thankful for all the great work everybody has put into making things better. There are still lots of things we can improve, so I was wondering if we could get a team of people together who like the idea of bringing more new developers into the fold, people who like the social aspect of Ubuntu, who like teaching, who enjoy making the whole experience more seamless and more fun. Let me know what you think and I can set up a couple of meetings so we can see what we all can do together.

In addition to all the bug lists and blueprint work items I mentioned above, here’s another idea, which David Henningson mentioned to me: wouldn’t it be great to have a script which goes through all Launchpad PPAs to identify people who have been doing great work? As all of these PPA users have mastered one of the big hurdles (packaging and getting a package to build reproducibly), wouldn’t it just be great to get in touch with them and see if they would like to maintain their work in Ubuntu?

The post already got longer than I expected and it’s a mixed bag of updates, but please leave a comment if you have any ideas about the above or would like to help.

Big hugs to everyone! Keep up the good work!

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Daniel Holbach

Meeting friends in Morocco

One thing I love about Ubuntu is that Ubuntu fans and contributors are spread around the whole globe. So when I started planning holidays in Morocco it was almost certain that we’d meet somebody from the LoCo team there.

When I let everyone know about my plans, Adnane Belmadiaf immediately came up with dozens of ideas what I could go and visit in his country. For those who don’t know Adnane, he is one of the heroes behind many of our Ubuntu web projects, for example the LoCo Team Portal, Summit or Adnane is easy to work with, fun and as I found out in Rabat, he’s also a great tour guide.

We arrived in Rabat around noon, quickly found a hotel and got a text message by Adnane saying that he took off the afternoon off work to show us around. Walking around was loads of fun as we not only saw lots of the city, but also because Adnane explained to us a lot about what’s going on in the country.

The second person who contacted me was Hassan, who is member of the Moroccan and Swiss LoCo team. He said:

First, I wish you a Merry Christmas. I know that you’ll be in Morocco. You can have a look on my albums maybe you can see some good plans to visit.

Have a nice trip and in case of any help needed in Morocco you can inform me at <phone number> and I’ll take care.

The Ubuntu community are simply the friendliest bunch on the planet. Amazing, isn’t it?

Two weeks unfortunately isn’t enough to see everything, so we “just” visited Málaga in Spain, took the ferry to Tanger, went to Rabat and Marrakech, did a tour through the desert and flew home from Casablanca. We had a great great time.

Thanks again everyone for making these holidays even more enjoyable!

Big big hugs! ???? ????!

(I still haven’t looked through all the pictures yet, but I’ll upload a few quite soon.)

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Daniel Holbach

Syncing from Debian

A few days ago I read the mail from Iain Lane on ubuntu-devel-announce, which announced that ‘syncpackage’ is now able to directly perform syncs for you (if you have sufficient upload rights), without having to get the sync through the archive admin queue first. Great work to everyone involved, both in the Launchpad and the ubuntu-dev-tools team. Awesome!

Of course I had to try it: I had a look at the sponsoring queue, picked a sync request for projectm (among others), reviewed it, test-built it and finally ran:

syncpackage -d unstable -b 916955 -s ximion -v projectm

Here’s what the parameters mean:

  • -d unstable: sync from Debian unstable
  • -b 916955: close the Launchpad bug with number 916955 during the process
  • -s ximion: sponsor upload for Launchpad user ‘ximion’
  • -v: verbose output please
  • projectm: package we’d like to sync

The whole thing worked flawlessly. Great work everyone!

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Daniel Holbach


Aït Ben Haddou [HDR]

Aït Ben Haddou (Photo by Oscar Gomez - CC-BY-NC-ND)

See you back on 9th January 2012. :-)

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Daniel Holbach

Don’t you love it when you get contributions to your project when you didn’t expect them at all?

By reaching out to contributors, thanking them and welcoming them to the Ubuntu community you do a lot to encourage them and help them integrate into your team more quickly. Generally I feel this is part of our culture already.

Discussions at UDS indicated what we probably could do better is:

  • do this even more, try to be more personal,
  • talk about it more, because it encourages others and motivates others who might still be a bit unsure about getting their feet wet,
  • generally talk more about what we’re doing and what’s going on, to explain where you need help.

To help with this, we set up a team of people who work on weekly development news to get the word out. The only thing you need to do is send a quick mail to ubuntu-news-team AT lists dot ubuntu dot com with “[dev]” in the subject if it’s about Ubuntu development.

Feel free to send a just few lines about

  • what you (or your team) is currently working on and where you might need help
  • a new contributor who just helped your team out

In addition to this, this will give your work the publicity it deserves.

You can also tweet/dent/google+ with the hashtag #thxubuntu.

Thanks in advance! :-)

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Daniel Holbach

I have been writing weekly Ubuntu development updates for about one cycle now. As many seem to like these updates, it’s time to raise the bar a bit. As I can’t do this just on my own, I need your help.

After some discussion with the Ubuntu News team, we agreed that development news can now be submitted to the ubuntu-news-team mailing list by simply sending a mail there with “[dev]” in the subject. To get a better idea of which kind of news we are looking for, check out the development news wiki page.

This is a very important service, as it will help us all to stay informed in our huge development community, it will make our efforts more transparent and inspire others to help out or get involved in similar efforts, so if you have just a few news bits, send them there. If you want to thank somebody for their work, tell us about it.

Also if you have ideas for additional topics we should write about, either send a mail or add a comment below.

Also am I looking for contributors, who would like to get involved in writing and collecting information about Ubuntu development. It’s not a huge amount of work, but should be pretty fun. If you are interested, please leave a comment below or drop me an email.

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Daniel Holbach

It’s human beings who make Ubuntu!

Ubuntu Community Appreciation DayToday is Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day, which is excellent. It’s the first time we do it and from now on 20th November will be a day to remind ourselves that Ubuntu is put together by humans and not “fabricated somewhere”.

The human aspect of Ubuntu was what instantly won me over in 2004. This comes in multiple facets: From a product point of view, that computers stopped being dull and grey boxes, but devices I use to interact with the people I care about. The vision of Ubuntu, that it would always stay free and empower millions of people out there.

I care a lot about the points above, but the most important point to me is “Ubuntu” itself, the recognition that “I am what I am because of who we all are“, which always at the center of all we did. Since day 1 of my participation in the Ubuntu community I was surrounded by people who became friends and it amazes me to see through how many ways I benefited: the amount of encouragement I got, the positive vibes, the uncountable learning experiences, the common feeling of making the world a better place together is something that still drives me and even on some of my slower days will bring an involuntary smile on face.

The list of people I should thank is very very long, I can’t and won’t try to list everyone. I know that I will leave people out, but I can only hope I thanked you all enough in our conversations already. Big hugs to you all, you know who you are! :-)

First I’d like to thank our mustachioed leader. A lot of you will probably know Mark as the founder of the project and somebody who is involved in some of the difficult decisions. I admire the vision and energy with which he has been driving the project for seven years now, especially staying focused after all the shouting and swearing on the internet. Mark gets much less credit than he actually deserves. On a more personal note, I got lots of encouragement from Mark over the years, which I appreciate. Also I’m still glad Mark gave me the opportunity to come to Sydney and do much more.

Also would I like to thank everybody who is involved in making more Ubuntu community happen. This obviously not only this bunch of hippies, but many many more who put a lot of work into organising meetings and events, thinking about how to get more people involved, dealing with conflict, getting the message out there and loads loads more. It often is a thankless task, it doesn’t come with fortune and fame, but is still rewarding to see if your part of the community is thriving and awesome things happen. If you are not there already, make sure you join #ubuntu-community-team and get a hug! :-)

Another group of people I deeply appreciate and would like to thank is: first-time contributors! I know how hard it is to get involved for the first time. It’s not only the steep learning curve, but also that you don’t know anybody in the project yet and you might be worried that you make a fool of yourself. Still there is lots of new contributors and their level of excitement about having gotten their first contribution into Ubuntu is just fantastic. It never ceases to make me smile if I get a mail where people write about their experience. Thanks for sharing your energy and being awesome!

A big big hug to everyone who helps to make Ubuntu happen. You rock!

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Daniel Holbach

Where’s Chuck?

If you lack context, here you go.

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Daniel Holbach

Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day

UCADayAhmed Shams and others have put together a fantastic idea! Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day. Ubuntu is not only an operating system, but also a community full of awesome people, who want to make the world a better place.

Sometimes a little thanks is all it takes to make somebody’s day, to bring us closer together and show that you care. It’s important for us to remember that Ubuntu is put together by people. People who care a lot and put hours and hours of work into this.

From this year on, we want to celebrate and appreciate everybody’s hard work on 20th November. What you can do? It’s simple: just go and thank somebody. Whichever medium choose to do that, just do it! (The UCADay wiki page lists more ideas how to do it.)

Thanks a bunch for putting this great idea together and thanks to everybody for their support! BIG HUGS!

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Daniel Holbach

Some weeks ago, I asked for feedback in a survey about Ubuntu development. Particularly, how well we reach out and how Ubuntu development is generally perceived were focus points of the survey. The great thing is: we had ~350 people replying and we have lots of great feedback and ideas in the results.

You can download the summary (including all the answers) here.

Let’s use all the feedback to make Ubuntu development even easier.

Thanks everyone for your replies!

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Daniel Holbach

I love planning a new Ubuntu release. It’s a great experience to take a few steps back and look at the biggest challenges and opportunities in your area of interest and try to identify the most promising.

Personally, I want us to get better at involving interested Ubuntu users in the development process. We have gotten better and better over the years, but there’s still things we can do better. The fantastic answers in the survey I announced recently helped a lot to see the issues more clearly. (Expect a report of the survey soon.)

So here’s the list of blueprints I registered and where I expect some movement next cycle (feel free to subscribe to any of these, and follow along, if you’re not at UDS):

  • Celebrating developer contributions
    How can we get better at celebrating contributions to Ubuntu development? There is massive amounts of great work going into Ubuntu, some of this is under the radar because it is less visible. Celebrating this more publicly would be both inspiring for those who did the good work, and others who didn’t know about the great work before.
  • Developer Advisory Team
    As opposed to having fully-fledged 1-on-1 mentoring, we might want to think of a much more light-weight approach and coordinate efforts such as: 1) reach out to new contributors, thank them for their work and get feedback, 2) reach out to people who might be ready to apply for upload rights and help them, 3) reach out to contributors that went inactive and get feedback from them and offer help.This should be easily manageable by a small team and would make the developer world a much more social experience.
  • Development documentation improvements
    It’d be worth to discuss the list of open issues of our developer documentation and review the results of the recent survey.
  • Making Harvest rock
    Harvest hasn’t seen much development recently, but we still need a good place to summarise all the needed work in the distribution.Problems both in representation and data should be discussed.
  • Reaching out to future Ubuntu developers
    There is a huge interest in getting involved in Ubuntu development. We want to better reach out to everybody who is interested. The recent survey data will probably help with the discussion of this.
  • Weekly Ubuntu Development News
    We have weekly development updates already, so these can serve as a good piece of news infrastructure. We need to put the project on broader feet and figure out submissions processes, etc. Also are we going to talk about new interesting news bits we might want to include.

These are just the sessions that I will be leading, there will be loads more I’ll attend and contribute to though. :-)

I’m looking forward to this great UDS!

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Daniel Holbach

The Ubuntu Packaging Guide has made a lot of progress since its inception and we have a bunch of great articles together already, which make it a lot easier for newcomers to get a sense of direction and find out how to use the tools.

Some of us have been filing bug reports about it recently, and it’d be great to get them fixed and out there. If you are new to the packaging world, but still want to help out, just say so in your merge proposal and we give it another fact check.

The good news is, the process of fixing these bugs is quite simple, just:

  • bzr branch lp:ubuntu-packaging-guide
  • <edit and fix>
  • bzr commit
  • bzr push lp:~<yourlaunchpadid>/ubuntu-packaging-guide/<bugnumber>
  • bzr lp-open
  • <click on “(+) Propose for merging”>

Here is a list of bugs that would be great to have fixed:

And here is a list of articles that still need to be written:

Be bold, propose changes – every little fix will help.

(Here’s a list of more bugs.)

If you haven’t checked out the Packaging Guide yet, here is it online, or install it like this:

  1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-packaging-guide-team/ppa
  2. sudo apt-get update
  3. sudo apt-get install ubuntu-packaging-guide

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Daniel Holbach

It’s time for another fantastic Ubuntu Open Week!

From 17th October to 21st October there will be one-hour long sessions on IRC about a huge variety of sessions.

Myself I’ll be part of the fun, I’ll speak about Getting Started with Ubuntu Development tomorrow, 18th October from 14:00 UTC – 16:00 UTC.

For my session it will be good, if you set up a Launchpad account already.

Join in, learn, participate and make friends.

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Daniel Holbach

Meeting your Ubuntu friends elsewhere

It’s just great how easily you can make friends in the Ubuntu world. When I first entered the IRC channels, it took me a few minutes to get to know people, some of them I’m still in touch with, even 7 years later.

The belief that we can make the world a better place together and the excitement about what we’re doing clearly bonds us together. Over the years, I met many of my Ubuntu friends in other places, was it at conferences, holidays or elsewhere – it was always big fun. Even if you can’t travel, the good thing is that there is loads of additional Ubuntu-unrelated places (like social networks, etc.) where you can easily get in touch and keep up with what’s happening in their part of the world.

Yesterday I set up to make it easier to spot where all your Ubuntu friends are hanging out elsewhere. Please feel free add your team or group to it.

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