Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'precise'

Daniel Holbach

Apps are super-important for Ubuntu. Many of us have blogged about this in a more general sense, but I want to provide an update of what has been happening behind the scenes in the last few weeks.

Before I start, I want to reach out to you to be part of the upcoming Apps Sprint. Join us on #ubuntu-arb on irc.freenode.net from Monday, 2nd July to Wednesday, 4th July to learn more about Ubuntu apps, get involved in reviewing them and bringing more progress to this effort.

Getting apps into Ubuntu hasn’t been easy up until now, due to a number of circumstances. The review process takes long, some of the steps involved are cumbersome and the review queue has been filling up. There are reasons for this and there is lots of room for improvement.

Technical requirements
As apps are part of a separate repository, the Technical Board requires us to make some very specific namespace distinctions between “regular packages” and apps. This means that apps install into /opt/ and files which can’t go there (.desktop files, lens specific bits, etc.) have to include the package name to avoid possible file name clashes.

This looks pretty straight-forward and you could just rename files and move things around as part of the packaging, but quite often this means you have to make changes in the code as well (think of file locations, translation files, data directories or file look-ups). For a larger app this results in quite a bit of engineering work to make all the changes and make sure they work as intended.

At this point I want to credit the App Review Board (ARB) for some work they have been doing. They could easily just have said: “Rejected: Your app doesn’t do it right.”, but instead they helped app authors to get their app working. This was time-consuming, but a learning experience for everyone involved.

The good news is: quickly, which is our recommended tool to produce apps, has templates where everybody worked hard to get the templates and the code up to scratch, so that writing code for the extras repository gets easier.

Another piece of good news is: pkgme has progressed nicely and can help with the initial packaging of apps (useful if you don’t use quickly).

I very recently started working on a tool called arb-lint, which automates certain parts of the app review. This will make it possible to collect the knowledge of app policies into it, so new ARB members or app review helpers can easily find out what’s wrong with an app and how to fix it. You could even run it on your own app and find out what needs to be improved.

To sum this up: everybody knows that packaging and policies is quite boring to app authors. They just want to focus on producing great quality apps, they’re not interested in tweaking their build-system to adhere to all the policies. Don’t worry – this is understood. There’s still work to be done, but the tools are all progressing nicely.

App submission
During the 18 months the App Review Board has existed, the submission process has changed a number of times. The tool which is now being used is called myApps and a lot of handy improvements have gone into it in the last weeks and months.

One current problem is that some app authors submit tarballs of their apps, others provide bzr branches, others submit their app in a PPA. While we know how to use all of these tools, it makes the review process fairly inconsistent. This is why we came up with a service called apps-brancher, which downloads the app’s code, sticks it into a bzr branch, attempts to package it if necessary and pushes it to Launchpad.

Staffing
The current ARB members are all volunteers and working hard on apps and other places in Ubuntu. Some weeks ago the Ubuntu App Review Contributors team was set up, so that more active helpers can easily join the effort.

Summary
It is true. There is quite a backlog of apps. Some of them might be reviewed and approved quickly, others will need quite a bit of engineering to get into Ubuntu. Some might not be suitable for the extras repository at all.

As you have read above, there are numerous improvements in the works and there are very likely lots of other things which might result in a nice speed-up. Your help will be appreciated here!

The Ubuntu Apps Sprint
All of the above is why we want to invite you to the Ubuntu Apps Sprint from Monday to Wednesday (2nd-4th July). Join us in #ubuntu-arb on irc.freenode.net to:

Quite a number of experts from the ARB, from the quickly and pkgme teams and lots of others will be around to answer your questions. We hope you will get involved and help us out.

Apps will make Ubuntu even more beautiful. It’s just great to get to see so much creativity first. Contributing here is totally worthwhile.

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Daniel Holbach

One class of new contributors has always been successful: self-starters who knew what they wanted to do, where to get involved, with possibly some already existing experience or knowledge. For others it’s been a tougher ride.

To remedy some of this, we set up the Developer Advisory Team. We figured that (among other things) reaching out to new contributors who just got their first fix into Ubuntu to thank them, encourage them and ask for their feedback would help us a lot in terms of bringing them into the fold and finding out what current stumbling blocks are.

The team consists of Andrea Colangelo, Andrew Starr-Bochcchio, Bhavani Shankar, Christophe Sauthier, Evan Broder and myself. We’ve been working together for a few weeks now and been reaching out to many contributors to Ubuntu development.

We collected the feedback and put together a report which summarises the experience of new contributors. If you’re in the thick of process definitions, documentations, backlog of review queues and the like it’s very easy to only concentrate on things which are broken or could be improved.

I’d like to take the time to quote a few of the super positive responses we received:

  • “Developers always respond very friendly.”
  • “I’m also very much impressed by the smoothness of online collaboration through launchpad and bzr (wow, would not have thought I’d be praising bzr at some point ). Branching a project to fix a bug and getting that visible to the project’s developers is effortless and lets me concentrate on the actual work.”
  • “Had heard about reviews taking a long time, but didn’t find it to be the case.”
  • “I really enjoyed getting to see my contributions go through the whole cycle from inclusion to available update. Seeing the process was interesting, as I had not known the different stages previously, and it was exciting to realize that a bug fix (simple, but there nonetheless) could go from a proposed fix to being available for installation in just over 24 hrs.”
  • “Much easier than I had expected. I had always assumed that one had to be an official packager to apply a patch to a package and submit it. Overall, it was a surprisingly painless process.”
  • “I think the most positive part of the experience to date has been the realization that the Ubuntu community cares enough to engage in this kind of feedback solicitation. That is simply unparalleled in other projects, and a testament to the many solid reasons so many prefer Ubuntu.”
  • “Overall, the entire was quite enriching and engaging. To be frank, I was desperately waiting for an opportunity to fix an easy bug for quite some time. And, so when I eventually found one, I was overly joyed. Given another opportunity, I will surely contribute again to Ubuntu development.”
  • “The people. Good response from other people, great impression about the whole community.”
  • “Contributing to free and open source projects makes me excited. It is great that I can paticipate and improve Ubuntu. I feel awesome when my work is released. Also I was glad when people found out their problem doesn’t exist in new release.”

Everybody who helps make this happen on a daily basis: give yourself a pat on the back. I’m proud of what we achieve together, and so should you! :-)

Check out the full report if you want to get into the details of the feedback.

If you have comments yourself or suggestions for improvements, leave your comment below.

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Daniel Holbach

New contributors who don’t have upload rights to Ubuntu yet get their code reviewed and their packages uploaded by Ubuntu developers. This process is called “sponsoring” and our current process has been in place since pretty much forever. It has even gotten easier over time, so new branches or patches show up on our review queue.

Two years ago when we were struggling with getting code reviewed, we put in place “patch pilots”, a great concept we borrowed from the Bazaar team. We set up a monthly schedule and Canonical provided 4 hours per month per engineer with upload rights to make sure code gets reviewed. This has helped a lot.

Getting closer to the 12.04 release, it looks like we need to put some extra effort in and need some help.

Sponsoring Stats

That’s right we have been hovering around 50 for a while now, dealt with many incoming new requests, but still we don’t get down to 0. If you can review code, please help out.

We all are interested in getting new developers on board. This only works if we review each other’s work, gain each other’s trust and give each other advice.

The Sponsorship queue is where a lot of exchange about this happens and where knowledge is passed on. Help out by reviewing today and help grow our community this way.

This is one of the most valuable contributions to Ubuntu! This matters to all of us.

If you want to see at once glance how we are doing and who’s all helping out, head over to our one glance sponsoring page. (Patches to make it look more Ubuntu-y are very welcome!)

Check the instructions for code review (with lots of tips and tricks) and get your name on the page as well!

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Daniel Holbach

I’ve been using Google+ Hangouts for a while and some of you might have seen that Jono posted some evidence of these. Mostly I just used them for team calls with a fixed agenda or to keep in touch with friends.

Yesterday I did a free-for-all hangout, using the new “named hangout” feature of Google+. It’s basically like a chat room with a fixed URL, where you can discuss whatever is on your mind. The idea was to create an opportunity to ask and answer questions in a more personal way without having the feeling of interrupting “more important” discussions.

This was a great experience! I didn’t count all nationalities, but I picked up we had people from South Africa, India, Taiwan, Bulgaria, USA at the same time. This was simply awesome.

Ubuntu Developer Hangout

Above it looks like I was hanging out with 35 people at the same time. This wasn’t the case. Unfortunately the hard limit is still 10 people at a time. There are “celebrity hangouts”, where you can record the event and have more people listening in, but unfortunately this takes away the opportunity to get involved.

Sometimes I did have to mute people whose microphone was not set up properly (one time I think heard a rooster in the background), but generally I feel we fared very well.

Many of the people in the hangouts were great Ubuntu fans and thanked for the work Ubuntu developers and contributors in general are doing. It was really heart-warming. Some had programmed before, even in Open Source projects and were keen to help out. So with the screen-sharing functionality I was able to demo how to fix a simple bug which was great.

Thanks also to Evan Broder and Andrew Mitchell who jumped in and answered a few questions as well.

I think I will keep these as an institution for now and announce events over the @ubuntudev twitter/identi.ca/facebook/google+ accounts. If you should ever want to do a hangout session, use the ubuntu-dev hangout, do it and let me know in advance, so I can post this more publicly.

If you have any experience with events like this and have some new ideas, please comment below!

Thanks again every one – this is just a great way to be in touch with the world-wide community of Ubuntu lovers!

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Daniel Holbach

Today is a good day to join Ubuntu development. Here’s your own, personal checklist:

  • You like doing some detective work.
  • Reading some docs or using the terminal does not scare you.
  • You might have tinkered with some source code before.
  • You love Ubuntu and want to help improve it!

Here’s how we are going to help you:

  • We have a bunch of friendly people on #ubuntu-motu on irc.freenode.net who are going to answer all your questions.
  • We have prepared a list of easy tasks for you.
  • We are going to review your changes and help you when you might get stuck.

What you need to do:

It’s a great feeling to fix bugs for millions of users, especially in this release which will be an LTS and used on lots of new devices.

We are looking forward to seeing you there! Just join the channel and say Hi!

 

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Daniel Holbach

As part of our Fix-It Fridays we saw many many new faces joining the #ubuntu-motu IRC channel which always has many helpful developers who are there to answer questions and help if you should get stuck. Still it seems like some feel uncomfortable asking questions or getting their feet wet in this forum.

After some discussion we thought it might make sense to have an additional low-key event where you can show up, get to know everyone and ask whatever you have on your mind. With Google+ Hangouts becoming more and more popular, we will offer a couple of hangouts tomorrow where you can get easily involved and in touch with us.

Daniel hanging out

Building up to this week’s Fix-It Friday, we will be there for you tomorrow, 8th March 2012 at:

in the ‘ubuntu-dev’ hangout.

We are looking forward to seeing you there to give you a warm welcome to our Ubuntu development community. To get an idea of how things work, you might want to check out the first few articles of our Ubuntu Development Guide.

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Daniel Holbach

Welcoming Monday is a lot easier if you have a great weekend to look back to. 32 LoCo teams in 23 countries definitely had a great time at Ubuntu Global Jam.

The Fix-It Friday activity continued for hours and I thought it’d be a nice idea to go through just a few bits that came in and showcase what exactly was done, so it becomes a bit clearer what all constitutes as a “fix” for Ubuntu 12.04.

Before we dive into discussing fixes, I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the event. The atmosphere was great and super-productive. I hope to see you all next Friday again! :-)

  • Barneedhar had a look at the list of release-critical bugs which were fixed in Debian that haven’t made it to Ubuntu yet. On the list was a motion upload (3.2.12-3.1) which (among other things) fixed Debian bugs 640562 (build failure with libav/0.7.1). This was fixed in Ubuntu as well before, but differently. What Barneedhar did was: review the differences between Debian and Ubuntu and make sure nothing of importance was dropped, then kick off a test-build of the Debian version in current Ubuntu, see if everything still works. The test results were positive, so we could sync the package from Debian and eliminate the delta between Debian and Ubuntu. Excellent work!
  • Leo Iannacone had a look at a bug report about librsvg failing to build. When looking at a bug report, it’s a good idea to first check if you can reproduce it. Leo checked and found that it  still builds on i386 and amd64. Great – the bug could be closed! (Just a tip while we’re at it: If you have an amd64 machine, you can easily build i386 packages, by running ‘pbuilder-dist precise i386 build …’ instead of the regular ‘pbuilder-dist precise build …’.)

A lot of other bug fixes were contributed, patches were reviewed and upload, questions answered, and lots more. Some bug fixes are still being reviewed, some weren’t mtnentioned on the etherpad we used during Fix-It Friday, but lots and lots of new contributors showed up in the last few days (expect an update as part of the weekly “Ubuntu 12.04 Development update”).

Thanks a lot everyone for your great work. You all make Ubuntu as great as it is! :-)

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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 irc.freenode.net 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...

...you'll make lots of friends!

...you'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 irc.freenode.net on Friday.
  3. Have fun and start making Ubuntu better!

More info here.

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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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