Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'opensource'

Daniel Holbach


… was probably written across my face when I first got involved in Ubuntu and contributed my first patch. I wasn’t quite sure if I had followed the right procedure or if anything else was wrong, but luckily I found a lot of very friendly people who helped me out and got my contribution in.

That was almost 8 years ago. Today it’s a lot easier. There is good documentation, there are more consistent processes and better tools.

If you have pondered getting involved for a while, I’d like to invite you to check out our Bug fixing initiative. We singled out a number of issues in Ubuntu which we feel are appropriate to whetting your appetite and sorted them, so the most easy tasks are at the top.

Let us know how this works for you and ask all the questions you might run into on #ubuntu-motu on

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Daniel Holbach

I just went over the soon-to-be-released report of the Developer Advisory Team, where we sum up feedback from first-time contributors to Ubuntu Development and many noted that they found developer documentation easily and things generally worked out for them, but they struggled finding stuff to work on.

The Ubuntu Development team has always been good at creating new TODO lists (merges, Debian RC bugs, build failures, heaps of different bug lists and much much more), but you need to know what you are looking for.

Enter Harvest. We created it so it merely aggregates opportunities for Ubuntu developers in a simple web interface. You can select opportunity types and specific sets of packages to narrow down opportunities based on your interests.

If you got some spare time, are interested in Ubuntu development and would like to help, you would do the Ubuntu world a great favour by doing one of the following:

If you are an Ubuntu developer or would like to become one: trying it out and commenting below with your experience. (Bugs can be filed here.)

If you have a great idea on how it could be further simplified, extended or improved, write up your idea and link to it in the comments.

If you are a web developer: please get in touch. Harvest is written using Django and Python and it’s super-easy to extend, improve and fix it – so if you are looking for something to help out with, this might be a great opportunity for you.

Please consider helping out, your contributions will not only help you make better use of Harvest, but many other developers and new contributors as well. :-)

(If you tried it out and it works perfectly for you, let us know too. :-) )

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Daniel Holbach

I’ve been slacking a bit when it comes to DJing land picked it up this year again. Some of my mixtapes are on a part of my blog that’s not syndicated, but I set up a page with all the posts. I just posted a new one today.

If you have no plans tonight and you’re in Berlin, come to the GNOME3 Launch Lounge (Facebook event page) in c-base tonight. I’ll be playing there as well. :-)

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Daniel Holbach

Congratulations, Debian!

Debian just released Debian 6.0. Good work everyone!

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Daniel Holbach

Daily Build awesomeness

One of my favourite applications in the Ubuntu and general Open Source world is xwax. It allows me to hook up my turntables using a Native Instruments Audio4DJ device. This way I can use music I bought on the Ubuntu One Music store using my turntables (as a controller). It’s absolutely fantastic.

Because I love xwax so much, I just set up an automatic daily build in Launchpad. The process is pretty straight-forward:

  • set up a Launchpad code import of upstream trunk
  • write a very short build recipe (mine basically just says: branch upstream trunk from LP and nest a branch with the packaging into the ./debian directory)
  • test the build recipe
  • and request build for the Ubuntu releases you’re interested in
  • done.

This is seriously good work by the Launchpad and Bazaar people. I hope this will help us figure out problems in specific pieces of upstream software much earlier in the future.


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Daniel Holbach

Christmas video cast

As I mentioned earlier, today I’m working with Ara, Matthias, Michael and Yaiza at Büro 2.0 and we just finished a very funny video cast together.

Matthias ‘doko’ Klose made sure to arrive AFTER the video cast was done, but rest assured he can not evade. In recompensation he brought Father Christmas hats, so to you here’s from the Canonical Berlin team:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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Daniel Holbach

Normally I would’ve done the next video cast next week, but with slowly approaching Christmas everybody has probably better things to do than watching Daniel rambling on about Ubuntu Development.

So we’ll instead do the “Christmas special” this week. Tomorrow, 16th December, 12:00 UTC.

This time I won’t be sitting at home in front of bookshelves, but I’ll be at Büro2.0, Berlin’s fantastic Open Source coworking place. I’ve been working from there for about a year now and I love it. Lots of fantastic people there, all working with Open Source things.

In addition to Büro2.0 awesomeness, I’ll be joined by my Berliner colleagues from Canonical, not only heroes but also awesome friends. It should be a lot of fun, so make sure you tune in.

Ara Daniel

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Daniel Holbach

Below the magic 40

I’m incredibly happy with how the patch pilot programme is working out. We’ve been making steady progress at reducing the number of items up for review.

Sponsoring queue

Sponsoring queue

Looking at the sponsoring queue there are still a few older items that we should clear out. I’m convinced it would make us feel better about the state of things and make it easier for us to stay on top things. Old patches often don’t apply any more, require more work, etc.

The graph above seems to say “we never really get below 40″. Can we do it? I’m sure we can! Let’s all try to clear out the old ones. It’ll make the world a better place! :)

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Daniel Holbach

In last week’s videocast we talked about “getting set up” for Ubuntu Development. Everybody had a gpg key, ssh key, all the tools, a pbuilder and settings in Launchpad sorted out afterwards, which was great.

If you want to have a look at the video again, you can do so.

Up until now I didn’t find a good way to show links/terminal output yet. Are there any suggestions to do this in a better way? If you check out the video above you’ll notice the old-fashioned way how I worked around the problem. :-)

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Daniel Holbach

dholbach TV

dholbach TV

Thursday, 9th December at 16:00 UTC* I’ll be online with another installment of “Ubuntu Development with Daniel Holbach”.

If you haven’t seen the last session yet, I’d encourage you to do so, it was an introduction to Ubuntu Development. This time we’ll talk about getting set up for Ubuntu development. I’ll show you how to

  • install all necessary tools
  • configure them correctly
  • introduce yourself to the Ubuntu infrastructure

On ustream there’s a chat window next to the video, but you can only participate in the discussion if you sign up. (Luckily the process just takes a minute.)

Please help to spread the news about it… and bring questions! :)

* That’s Beirut Thu 18:00, Bogota Thu 11:00, Darwin Fri 01:30, Guatemala Thu 10:00, Hanoi Thu 23:00, Islamabad Thu 21:00, …

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Daniel Holbach

I blogged about the new Harvest a couple of times already. Yesterday we released 0.2.4 which fixed a bug which was filed more than a cycle ago… it merely said: “import json”.

The way Harvest works is that it reads a list of URLs that list opportunities, so Harvest is very easily extensible. It doesn’t need to know about bug reports, merge requests, upstreams, downstreams and the like: it just knows about packages and opportunities.

The old format for opportunities was:


It was only a matter of time that this wasn’t enough any more. Some people suggested to add something like “long description” or “severity” to opportunities to make it clearer what they are about or to make an informed decision. So we moved to JSON where it’s very easy to add optional arguments and you don’t have to guess arguments based on their position.

If you wrote a script that spits out .csv files, that’s fine – it’s still supported. In the new world you’d do it like this:

[{"source_package": "xine-lib", "short_description": 123456, "link": ""},
{"source_package": "zope-archetypes", "short_description": 54321, "link": "", "description": "Please sync zope-archetypes 1.3.9-2 from Debian unstable", "severity": "undecided"}]

Only “source_package”, “short_description” and “link” are required. Everything else is optional.

I’d LOVE to see more opportunities for Harvest coming up. Once you got your script set up, just bzr branch lp:harvest-data add the URL to the JSON output, and propose a merge.

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Daniel Holbach

So you like Ubuntu, enjoy “making things work again”, like to work with others, don’t mind reading a bit of documentation, you’re exactly the person we need.

If you were always wondering “what can I work on?” I suggest you have a look at


Harvest - finding development opportunities

If you have a look at the page you’ll see that it’s divided into two parts: on the left side you can control which kind of development opportunities are shown: you can limit the results to packages (or package sets) and to certain types of opportunities. The results will be shown on the right side.

I want to highlight two types of opportunities that might be interesting for you:

  • ‘bitesize’ – bugs that are marked as ‘bitesize’ in Launchpad and deemed to be good targets for beginners
  • resolved-upstream‘ – bugs that have been fixed by the software authors but we don’t have the fix yet
  • lots and lots of others…

So once you picked an opportunity that looks interesting to you and made it work, you can propose the change for inclusion in Ubuntu. The great thing is that we have patch pilots working every day to get your changes reviewed and into Ubuntu. If you need help, just head to #ubuntu-devel (on and check who’s piloting right now, the information is in the topic.

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Daniel Holbach

Patch Pilot Disco!

Patch Pilot Disco!

I’m very happy with how the “Patch Pilot” programme is coming together: it’s just been a week where in addition to people who do reviews of branches and patches every day, we have patch pilots who spend time in #ubuntu-devel reviewing code.

If we keep up the good work, it seems like we can get the number of waiting requests down to 0!

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Daniel Holbach

First ustream show

So I did my first videocast yesterday. I had a lot of fun doing so and from the comments I got, which ranged from “well done, really informative” to “I didn’t understand the technical bits, but nice haircut” (a friend of mine who’s not really part of the Ubuntu world), everybody else enjoyed it too.

The most comical moment was when a friend decided to visit me, rang the doorbell and my dog started barking and I had to rush out to open the door. (Around minute 53 if you want to see it too.) Lots of folks demanded to see the dog afterwards.

I had a good time and am really happy there were quite a bunch of people attending who enjoyed it too and asked some good questions.

The topic I chose for the first session was “Introduction to Ubuntu development”. Because I’m a very lazy person I used a piece of text I had written up before, that I want to go to at some stage and decided to see how understandable it is. Judging by the questions I got yesterday it should be alright. If you want to give me any more feedback on it, please check it out and comment below.

The next show will be happening in around two weeks, so stay tuned for more news. If you have suggestions for the next one, please also comment below. THANKS! :)

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Daniel Holbach

dholbach tv

Jono spilled the beans already. I’ll be taking a leaf out of his book and start a show called “Ubuntu Development with Daniel Holbach”. The first show will be tomorrow, 25th November 16:00 UTC*.

What I’ll talk about will be all kinds of things related to Ubuntu Development: how to get started, interesting new things that are happening, I’ll (try to) answer all kinds of questions, we’ll do some tutorial sessions, and whatever crazy new things we come up with together.

Bring your friends, bring your questions and join the show!

dholbach TV

I’m really excited to see how this works out. :-D

*That’s Addis Ababa Thu 19:00, Adelaide Fri 02:30, Almaty Thu 22:00, Beijing Fri 00:00, Bogota Thu 11:00, Honolulu Thu 06:00, Istanbul Thu 18:00, Reykjavik Thu 16:00, Tegucigalpa Thu 10:00, Tehran Thu 19:30, …

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Daniel Holbach

We all know how important code review is for Ubuntu. It’s not only about spotting mistakes, but also about teaching new contributors how things are done. There’s always been busier times when we fell back in terms of code review and times where we did better.

At UDS we discussed this fairly extensively and decided we want to make code review a more central activity of Ubuntu development. We’d like to borrow an idea from the Bazaar team: the patch pilot programme.

Patch pilots essentially make themselves available in #ubuntu-devel, add their names to the topic and spend their time helping patches “come through congested waters safely in to harbor”. The goal is not
necessarily to do the upload, but help as good as they can to get the patch right and into a state where all conventions are followed.

Important points are:

  • thank the person for their work and time, make them feel welcome
  • help get it upstream
  • if you’re unfamiliar with a certain package, review as good as you can and get the contributor in touch with somebody who knows more - establishing contacts is very helpful
  • communicate clearly what needs improvement
  • you can improve the patch yourself if you like, just be clear on what you do
  • if you notice things that should be improved in the review process or in the tools, please speak up

Important links:

I’m incredibly happy to also let you know that Canonical made it a requirement for Ubuntu Platform members that can do reviews to spend at least 4 hours per month on being patch pilots.

If you want to add yourself for the programme, please feel free to update the wiki schedule.

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Daniel Holbach

So you always were interested in meddling around with your Ubuntu installation, you tried to build packages or source code before and you like making things work again? Excellent!

This cycle we are actively trying to line up online workshops that explain all you need. It’d be great if you could either leave a comment here on this blog post or on this wiki page about which topic you’d like to see a dedicated workshop or session about.

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Daniel Holbach

I get this question all the time and I’m happy to say we have quite a good answer now.



Harvest finds opportunities in lots of TODO lists that are generated by Ubuntu developer and aggregates that information in one place, so you can easily browse those opportunities by package, package set or type of opportunity.

If you want more information included in Harvest, please either talk to the author of the script that procudes that data or modify it yourself to additionally produce a list in this format and get it added to harvest-data.

If you want to start hacking on Harvest, just follow the instructions in the INSTALL file. Generally it should just be:

  1. sudo apt-get install python-django python-launchpadlib python-django-openid-auth bzr
  2. bzr branch lp:harvest
  3. cd harvest
  4. cp -i
  5. ./ syncdb
  6. ./ init-harvest
  7. ./ update
  8. ./ runserver

… and you’re up and running with the newest data. Sweet, eh?

Have a look at current bugs and feature requests, branch Harvest, hack on it and propose a merge into trunk. We’ll be happy to have you helping out!

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Daniel Holbach

At UDS Natty in one session we talked about our current team reporting infrastructure in the Ubuntu community. Some participants explained that they found it hard to use and set up and that it required the user to be familiar with the wiki markup, etc.

There were lots of ideas kicking around like

  • have a nice and small web app that had some kind of wysiwyg editor
  • allow sorting by month/year, team, team category
  • have public and private reports (for boards that report to another governance board)
  • have irc bots feed actions into the web app
  • etc.

Some time ago I started a project together with the unstoppable Nathan Handler to do all of the above and more. Unfortunately we ran out of time.

If you like working on web stuff and would like the Ubuntu community to be even more transparent and to rock harder, please consider helping out. It’s half-way there.

Launchpad project, the code, its bugs.

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Daniel Holbach

Harvest is online again and available at

I’d like to thank everybody who helped to make this possible, most of all Dylan McCall who worked on this as part of his Summer of Code project.

Some things changed:

  • Harvest is now written using Django which makes it much more maintainable and easy to work on. Check out lp:harvest and propose a merge to help out making it better.
  • Harvest now has a proper release procedure, which should help making it more of a community infrastructure than it ever was.
  • Harvest now has package set information which should make it much more usable.

Some stayed the same:

  • The Harvest project still has bugs, please consider helping out to fix them.
  • Harvest is still split up into lp:harvest, which displays all the data and lp:harvest-data which contains the list of data feeds. Please bear that in mind when filing bugs. Harvest does not know anything about bugs, merges, upstreams, etc. The FAQ on the main page should explain how this works.

I have a request for everyone using it in the next few days: please help us update the data feeds, some of them might be broken and will need updating for natty. Also will we need some help to write some new scripts so we get data feeds for merges.u.c, ftbfs and other lists we use day-to-day. It’d be great if Harvest was the one-stop shop to find out what needs doing for either a package or a whole package set.

Also if you’re at UDS, consider coming to the Natty Harvest session.

Thanks a lot in advance for considering helping out.

I hope this will make big change and answer the question “what can I do to help” once and for all.

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