Ralph mentions some of the stats from askubuntu.com. It’s been hectic trying to keep up with the grow, especially as the stack method can be confusing at first. Now that we’re out of beta I can go over some of the tools I’ve been using to help best make use of the site.
The first is George Edison’s StackApplet, a nice appindicator-based reputation tracker with notify-osd support, so that your growing reputation can motivate you throughout the day:
And for those of us on the road there’s DroidStack:
Along with 10.10 here comes askubuntu.com. We’ve had a great beta where many experienced people participated and we had a nice standard of high quality answers and low noise. We’re experiencing a flood of new users and questions, so feel free to help out.
Remember people love to vote on answers with screenshots and easy to use instructions. Go get em!
We’ve got some great sessions lined up. LoCo questions with Laura, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and yes, the return of Ubuntu Studio to Open Week. As usual you can Ask Mark Shuttleworth about Ubuntu, or maybe you’d dig an Inkscape lesson from Martin Owens.
Ahmed and Dustin will be showing you how to run your first Ubuntu Server in the cloud and how to deploy your applications right on there. We’ve got the alphabet soup handled, with i18n sessions from David Planella and a11y with Charlie Kravetz. duanedesign will be doing a tutorial on screencasting, and don’t miss Belinda Lopez’s education session.
If that’s not enough we’ve got sessions on how to get started, finding your place in Ubuntu, how to find help, and … whew … ALL THAT AND MORE.
So come join us on #ubuntu-classroom and #ubuntu-classroom-chat next week. And don’t forget to bring a towel.
At Ohio LinuxFest I had lunch with Carl from System76 and Chase Douglas, who has been working on bringing multitouch to Ubuntu. Since we’re nerds the subject of hardware came up, and I got a glimpse of the amount of effort S76 puts into getting quality parts that are known-good Linux compatible components and some of the challenges they face. They have a budget box that boots in 6 seconds, if you get the SSD option. So, speaking about SSDs …
I had a first generation Intel SSD, and like most Intel SSD owners there’s really nothing like it. But it can get expensive, especially on a nice home machine where you want lots of room. On a laptop you can compromise with a hybrid drive, like this one, which I put in my new netbook and is a nice middle ground. However if you’ve got room in your PC case there’s a great compromise that I’ve been rolling with at home. Life is too short to worry about partitioning, however, a 40gb SSD is about one hundred bucks and a worthy addition to your existing PC.
"But it’s only 40gb!"
Yes. You will get this, and then put / on it. /home will go on your normal 1tb drive or whatever. So your OS is on the SSD, and all the stuff you need space for will be on the big disk.
"Is it worth the hundred bucks?"
Yes, because instead of spending $250 to get a 200mhz microbump or another 2 cores on the CPU you will get the mid priced CPU option and then buy this and then come out on top, by a mile. Or you will put this in your existing PC and realize that your existing computing needs are just fine once you get rid of the drive bottleneck.
"Aha, but what about stuff in /home, that’s still on spinning platters!"
Login time is about the sameish, since you’re reading a bunch of junk from .gconf, but the rest of the boot is so fast you won’t mind the compromise. Apps will launch very quickly. Your data will still be on disk, so copying stuff around will be normal, etc. You can also make a temporary directory under / and symlink things there that is important to you (like your Firefox profile, trust me on that one). And there’s enough room on the drive to pop into /tmp if you want to build something and want the SSD speed.
On a related note ZaReason does offer the X25-v and dual drive setups, though I have no idea if they partition it for you how you would expect. If anyone is familiar with this leave a comment!
It’s no secret that I am a Banshee fanatic. For all my talk about web apps, there’s just no replacing Banshee for me.
It’s a beautiful thing. We’ve got a sh*t hot Ubuntu/Debian Mono team, a responsive upstream who cares about users, people like Bertrand Lorentz taking care of things like Sound Menu/MPRIS2 support, and we’ve got people like David Nielsen being the bridge between upstream and the distro (Like thesetwo.)
Didier posted a status update of the state of Banshee for UNE. I personally take responsibility for thanking Alex Launi and Nathan McCallum in my own special way, so that leaves Alan…
If you want to thank Alan, get him something from his Amazon wishlist. And as always, thanks to Novell for sponsoring the Banshee project.
PS: Nathan, come find me so I can buy you alcohol even though I know you don’t drink it. I tried to find you at OLF and you were missing.
One of the coolest things we do is Ubuntu Open Week. This is a week long set of IRC tutorial sessions that we do for users. In the past they were heavily development related, but now as we have a Developer Week and Application Developer Week, we can start to use Ubuntu Open Week for something more useful to end users. And since it’s always the week after a release it’s an opportunity for Ubuntu teams to talk to people who might be interested in joining the project.
I’m looking for a few good men and women to do their first ever tutorial sessions. I think it’s about time we got some new blood in here, and it’s pretty low barrier to teach an IRC class. Here’s the schedule if you want to get in on this. Feel free to contact me at jorge at ubuntu dot com or find me on #ubuntu-community-team on freenode.
I’d like to see more participation from derivatives!
I always do my presentations in PDF because it’s a common format. Sometimes however I want to add in a slide or remove a slide when I find out I messed something up but don’t have time to go edit the presentation and re export it.
For Maverick’s Featured Apps we now have PDFMod, for quick an easy manipulation of PDFs.
PDFMod is written by these fine people and packaged up for you by this fine person.
One of the bummers about the wallpaper contest is that there’s so many good ones that I forget to try them all out. Besides, why should I do all that thinking work, the computer should do that. What horrible anxiety!
Now there’s a “bundle” (a little xml file basically) in Maverick that you can select, and then it’ll just rotate the new wallpapers for you automagically, just like Cosmos, but for the user-contributed wallpapers.
Thanks to Ken Vandine for implementing this, and to Ivanka for listening to my idea! This will look sharp in booths. :)
We probably need to do a better job communicating that we do offer updated drivers in the distro. Things like the linux-backport packages in Lucid for various drivers, etc.
Perhaps the installer in the future can detect funky unknown hardware and pull in the right things automatically or something instead of me having to know that there are backported wireless drivers available or something.
I’ve put out a call for help for server interested folks to start working with upstreams. On top of that we’ve got a new contributor on Community Team at Canonical, Ahmed Kamal, who’s grabbed the bull by the horns and helped step up to grow the server community (cloud and otherwise), along with the always amazing Dave Walker.
Now that 10.04.1 is out the door here are some of the reasons I think Ubuntu Server rocks, add your own!
Cloud, out of the box. Both private and public. Wether you dig the EC2 work spearheaded by Eric Hammond (with thanks to Scott Moser for continuing the work), or you want to run your own via Eucalyptus, you can do that. Did you know you can customize your -server images on boot?
Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud has been focused on getting you from ISO to cloud in about 5 questions and 20 minutes.
Did I mention we give you Puppet out of the box? And we don’t just ship it, we participate with the folks at Puppet Labs to deliver you the best Puppet experience … and we take that one step further when it comes to /etc, by integrating it all with etckeeper and bzr.
Check out tomcat6-instance-create, easily allows one to setup multiple separate tomcat instances for any user, while still benefiting from distro upgrades.
Little nice things, like a full blown window manager for the CLI in Byobu, command-not-found, an entire easy to use LAMP stack in one command.
For some reason people always think that having seperate / and /home partitions is necessary to having a healthy Ubuntu system.
I don’t know why people keep recommending this but I am doing my best to spread the word that you don’t need to go through all that noise. If you don’t believe me you can read the recommendation from the guy that writes the installer. If you have seperate drives or run multiple distros then that’s fine. Separate partition on a laptop with one disk? Don’t need it. We’ve supported this for over two years!
As always, when touching a disk you care about with a partitioning tool, BACKUP, regardless of whatever method suits you.
Next thing you know people will start recommending clean installs instead of upgrades! (Pro tip: If upgrades weren’t an official and supported recommendation then we wouldn’t ship an upgrade tool!)
I was on holiday for a bit, so I clicked on this expecting it not to work, since it didn’t when I left. Then launchpad went ahead and did it.
NICE! What I’ve done here is basically grabbed upstream Shotwell trunk, the packaging from our desktop team, send to Launchpad, and it spit out dailies. Now we’re cooking with Crisco; we’ll be able to easily make daily builds of everything we ship on the desktop right off the bat, and anything we can import. That’s a pretty nice service for application authors, thanks Launchpad!
Check out the documentation, and please remember that it’s still a work in progress, but we’ve got top people working on it. ;)
I am looking for a Direct Attached Storage device. I already have a home server, but due to lack of space in the case and the fact that it’s doing a great job being an NFS and Samba box that I don’t need a NAS. I’d like something I can just eSATA right to my existing box.
I am about 85% sure that I need a Drobo S to fill my needs. However it is quite expensive, so before I decide to commit I want to ask around.
I know some people have built alternatives to the Drobo, but I’m not looking to replace my ubuntu-server OS (since it’s rocking) or run a speciallized OS. I want a box I can just plug in and get Drobo-like behavior. I want to be able to use drives I might have laying around, and be able to just replace them when they die, and if the drive that died is a small one I want to be able to plop in a larger one and Just Work(tm).
From talking to people like Scott James Remnant and others at Debconf I know it should be possible to build such a beast with btrfs that will do what I want, the question is, how does one set this up? Ideally just add on a dumb expansion bay with a bunch o’ drives that does what I want. Has anyone tried to make a drobo-like setup with btrfs yet?
Now that the OAuth apocalypse is over and my gwibber works again I had a thought of how to integrate with more services. Wouldn’t it be neat if we stretched out to other services, like say … the new Ubuntu Stack Exchange (I suck at GIMP, but you get the idea):
Since we do multiple columns you could do your favorite tags, unanswered questions, hot questions, whatever you like. Just like I do on my phone with Droidstack. You can just add whichever SE network site you wanted!
I’ve already chatted with Ryan Paul about it and he’d be happy to review a patch since him and Ken are busy with smashing bugs. If you’re interested in this kind of feature please grab the bug and rock it! https://bugs.edge.launchpad.net/gwibber/+bug/629826
Allison Randall has blogged about her new role in Ubuntu; working at Canonical as the Technical Architect for Ubuntu. One thing which I think is awesome is how she mentions people who encouraged her:
To give credit where credit is due, there have been 4 great influences on my career over the years, mentors, friends, people who believed in me, encouraged me to dream big dreams and try big things, who taught me that I’m better, smarter, wiser, more dynamic, and resilient than I ever imagined. In alphabetical order: Damian Conway, Greg Kroah-Hartman, Mark Shuttleworth, and Nathan Torkington. Thanks guys, I wouldn’t be here without you!
Everyone has mentors in Free Software, so Allison’s post inspired me to talk about mine. People who made you who you are. I hope this encourages you to talk about the people who inspired you.
While Allison’s post motivated me, this next month I get to celebrate 3 years at Canonical and I would like to thank people who have motivated me to do what I do. Think of them as the root of me:
Dave Camp - Dave is one of the older Ximian folk, a former co-maintainer of Nautilus, and later he worked on Mozilla. He taught me to ignore the haters, and rock on by your bad self. He’s a hacker’s hacker, a dude who puts his head down and skates. He doesn’t care about fame, fortune, or any of that jazz, he’s just a dude. He is also an amazing guitar player.
Luis Villa - Not much to say here, he’s brought so many of us here that I have no words that could ever be kind enough to explain what Luis has done for so many of us.
Jeff Waugh and Benjamin “Mako” Hill - I am going to mush them together, since at the time they were the collective first “Ubuntu Community managers”. Jeff for being the spark plug of motivation and getting me to a UDS, and Mako for being the Free Software advocate who leads by example, not by shoving the GPL down people’s throat. I would love to hear much more from both of you. Both of you believed in me from the beginning, and I will always be grateful.
Asa Dotzler - many years ago when I first started wondering what Mozilla was he took the time to explain open source to me. I also love that he flames Linux for what it is, maybe someday we’ll get our act together. :) I’m not even sure if he’s looking at Linux these days but I’ll always appreciate his first interaction with me.
These people pointed me in the right direction, and these are the ones who focused me into a fine instrument of Ubuntu laser-destruction. If you hate me, then it’s probably these people’s fault:
Luke Kanies from Puppet Labs (at the time from Reductive Labs), who convinced me to think about applying for my current job at Canonical.
Oliver Grawert, who made me actually do that or he promised to punch me in the face.
Daniel Holbach. The name mentioned by Jono Bacon when he said “I am starting a new team” that made me apply for the job on the spot and totally not care what the consequences are. He has that effect on people.
… and of course the rest of you on the community team (and I just don’t mean Canonical folk) who have been supportive of me over the years, even when I quit the team and had a temper tantrum a few years ago.)
And on top of that I’ve got the old folks, the mentors who are just awesome by being there, they’re all good friends and good mentors. I am pretty sure that everyone who has worked with these people are not surprised:
Chris Blizzard - old school GNOME, now at Mozilla. He builds airplanes ffs.
Vincent Untz - old school GNOME, now at Novell. He builds ice cream ffs.
Miguel de Icaza - old school GNOME, now at Novell. He builds stack exchanges ffs.
Ryan Lortie - old school GNOME, now at Codethink. He builds dconf ffs.
I’d also like to take a moment to thank the new people — those of you who are new here and want to rock. Spend some time researching my generation’s heroes, and learn from what they have to say.
Hah, I just thought “Some day this entire mess will all be yours”, but I don’t know if that’s a nice thing to say or not, so heh to you.
It’s been a while since the last application menu status. Since the last one the app menu developers have had a sprint, a bunch of other work in Unity, including some holidays as well as a new child process in Ted’s case, so now things can settle and be back to “normal”:
In Ubuntu we’ve been shipping Empathy, a chat client based on the Telepathy framework, which has supported Video chat over gtalk (a jabber based network) for quite some time (see my answer on Stack Exchange). In case you didn’t know, Empathy (and the underlying guts) has been primarily developed and supported by a company in the UK called Collabora; who have been funding this work for quite some time. And yeah, they’re basically awesome people to hang out with.
I am wondering why it took Google over 2 years to support this feature. Google decided to support Jabber on purpose, for whatever reason when they launched gtalk; they’ve always been good at supporting open standards, but they never supported this feature until just now. Why?
Those of use using Empathy/Telepathy have been enjoying audio/video support for quite some time, so we know it’s technically possible. And as it works out the people who make our operating system WANT to ship features like this OUT OF THE BOX. Maybe they wanted to and couldn’t get it quite out the door until now. Who am I to complain, without gtalk the Jabber protocol would probably not be as popular, so thanks for that Google folks for putting their hand in that.
I can’t help but wonder why Google would support Jabber right off the bat with gtalk but it would take them so long to support the video/audio feature until now; our Telepathy friends seemed to figure it out — but I don’t want to dwell on that, what I do want to dwell on is a message we need to send to companies like Google: how can we better improve our platform so that it doesn’t take you 2 years to support us.
This afternoon I met Dave Mustaine at the signing for his new autobiography, Mustaine. I was surprised (and elated) to see so many people there for a genre that continually has been written off, even though it’s the greatest form of music we as a species can ever hope to achieve.
This, my friends, is the face of pure joy. (Mine, not his, blame the camera guy). More pics here.
During our Debconf we were wondering how many people shared the common link of being both Ubuntu Developers and working in Debian. The initial list is 62! (Make that 59, see below) Thanks to Lucas Nussbaum and Michel Bienia for this first cut.
Ondřej Surý, Fabio Tranchitella, Kees Cook, LI Daobing, Fathi Boudra, Steve Kowalik, Benjamin Mako Hill, Scott Kitterman, Alexander Sack, Colin Watson, Sebastien Bacher, Martin Meredith, Andrew Mitchell, Daniel Silverstone, LaMont Jones, Fabio Massimo Di Nitto, Loïc Minier, أحمد المحمودي (Ahmed El-Mahmoudy), Luca Falavigna, Laurent Bigonville, Philipp Kern, Martin Pitt, Matthias Urlichs, Sebastian Dröge, Luke Faraone, Steve Langasek, Thom May, Matthias Klose, Alessio Treglia, Iulian Udrea, Timo Jyrinki, Emilio Pozuelo Monfort, Albin Tonnerre, Stefan Potyra, Andrea Veri, Scott Howard, Nicolas Valcárcel, Raphaël Hertzog, Reinhard Tartler, Julian Andres Klode, Barry deFreese, Benjamin Drung, Michael Banck, Riccardo Setti, Lucas Nussbaum, Adam Conrad, Michael Vogt, Jelmer Vernooij, Adrian Perez, Robert Collins, Tollef Fog Heen, Gerfried Fuchs, Mark Shuttleworth, Andrew Pollock, Sylvestre Ledru, Michael Casadevall, Ben Collins, Jo Shields, and Chris Cheney
This is a list of people who are in ubuntu-dev or ubuntu-core-dev AND have their key in the Debian keyring, it’s not an indicator of how active that person may or may not be. Here are the scripts they used if you’re interested in working on this sort of thing.
UPDATE: mdz, keybuk, and Kyle McMartin are emeritus, I’ve removed them from the list.
A few of us were in NYC to participate in Debconf 10. This was my third Debconf but the first time I’ve ever spoken at the event, thanks to Zack for convincing me to try it! Unfortunately I had been travelling for quite some time and wasn’t able to attend the entire week. Here are some talks that might be of interest:
I met Bruno Girin at GUADEC 2010, where he was chatting with Adam Dingle from Yorba (the guys who make Shotwell) where I learned that Bruno was contributing patches to their project. As it turns out Bruno is an Ubuntu person who stepped up to the plate to work with upstream projects. This is the kind of thing we try to encourage, which is why we love it when people Adopt an Upstream.
And to top it all off, he blogged about his experience on his contributions to Shotwell and how he got started working on it. I asked Adam what he thought and he sent this along.
The entire Shotwell team is grateful to Bruno Girin for his substantial contributions to Shotwell over the last several months. Bruno first got involved with Shotwell development by submitting some small patches to improve support for his Canon EOS camera and to display the exposure bias for each photo. Before long, he had moved on to larger projects: he enhanced Shotwell to detect cameras using udev instead of libusb, and then implemented a major feature for the 0.7 release, namely importing the user’s F-Spot library into Shotwell. Bruno ended up coming to GUADEC in The Hague in July and it was great to meet him and hang out together there. He has lots of ideas about future enhancements to Shotwell and we look forward to working together more!
The Adopt an Upstream and Adopt a Package is a place where we strive to keep good tips and tricks on getting started working with upstreams; be it forwarding patches, cleaning up bugs, or whatever work is needed if you want to help contribute. Great work Bruno!
Here’s a nice little application that will tell you what your reputation is on any site on Stack Exchange, including Ubuntu.
I mailed George Edison (the author) with some tips and stuff, and next thing you know he’s got it up on Launchpad ready to go, so if you want to dive in and start filing and fixing bugs, feel free to hop in.
The team PPA isn’t ready yet, so use George’s PPA to install it:
The package name is “stackapplet”. Many thanks to Luke Farone for uploading this into Debian (it’ll make it’s way into Maverick as well!).
We didn’t ship Tomboy in 10.04 with support for Application Indicators because the experience wasn’t quite there. We lost things like the ability to pin notes, etc. The Rhythmbox and Banshee indicators were the same way, which is why we’re going to be using the Sound Menu.
Now we allow people to apply the same great technology (thanks KDE!) on the application’s icon in the launcher to create quicklists:
This is literally the Tomboy app indicator patch applied to the launcher with a “hey, this time you’ll be in the launcher” flag turned on, so it’s just the beginning.
Pins and all sorts of cool stuff can go in there. I’m looking forward to seeing what upstream application developers build. For example I’d love to have my favorite playlists in my banshee icon, or my incoming items in my Boxee queue, etc.
EDIT: Pretend the little arrow is pointing to tomboy and not cheese. ;)
Cody Russell and Neil Patel have been rocking Unity.
Paul Hummer and Aaron Bentley have been doing amazing work fixing tons of bugs so that we can offer people an easy way to offer daily builds.
Happiness is seeing the LoCo council working with individual teams through reapproval and the level of detailed work going on there.
In the first I forget Ted Gould and the rest of that team. Daily builds wouldn’t be such an oft requested feature if it wasn’t for the great work Fabien Tassin has done in this area. And the last example involves so many people I don’t know where to begin.
I’m going to make an effort to stop blogging about “what I am doing” and talk about the people who are enabling me to do stuff because I can’t catch them all, but if we think about our team members more we can collectively tell our story.
Lately I think we’ve gotten in a collective funk of “here’s what I think about this.” followed by “Oh yeah, well here’s what I think of that”, and “Allow me to retort!” and then getting stuck in a rabbit hole of distractions.
So screw that, let’s share some stories Like this. And this. And talk about the people that are inspiring you that enables us to deliver this stuff to people.
Here’s the status for this week, as we continue to grind through patches from contributors. 2 patches that need more work, 12 forwaded upstream, 2 to Debian, and one patch accepted (and one rejected) by an upstream.
Total bugs with patches: 2263 (0) Reviewed patches: 347 (+16)
Bugs with ‘patch-needswork’: 88 (+2) Bugs with ‘patch-forwarded-upstream’: 145 (+12) Bugs with ‘patch-forwarded-debian’: 43 (+2) Bugs with ‘indicator-application’: 44 (0) Bugs with ‘patch-accepted-upstream’: 48 (+1) Bugs with ‘patch-accepted-debian’: 13 (0) Bugs with ‘patch-rejected-upstream’: 16 (+1) Bugs with ‘patch-rejected-debian’: 1 (0)
Ted and Cody have been busy this week with non-appmenu related business, so the team has decided to skip a release this week since there hasn’t been much work done on the menu. The team is aware of the major issues, like “some apps are slow to draw the menu” like Nautilus, the Epiphany “I think I want to draw the menu but not really” bookmark bug, and the completion of the desktop menu, which continues to elude Ted, and the occasional odd bug. Don’t fret, the menu is is great shape considering we’re not even at alpha 3 yet and we’re heading into a team sprint next week. It’s likely we’ll shut off the double menus next week and be feature complete.
I love web apps. So I wanted to see how Chromium’s latest support for web apps is like. After all, they’re going to have an “app store” of web apps. Here’s what I saw:
I hate to be a downer, but a pinned tab with an icon on it and removing the browser chrome doesn’t make it an “application”, if I wanted that I’d browse in full screen all day! While I love Chrome’s app mode and Mozilla Prism I think people are missing the point. Look at this tutorial on Mashable on how to use Google Buzz as a desktop app. Searching for web apps for other sites gives you similar results. Take existing website, fullscreen it, and we’re done.
This isn’t what I had in mind when people told me about web applications! I was thinking more like this (thanks to Ken for the GIMP mockup):
I wish web app developers would take into account of how much better their “application” could be if it took advantage of being an actual application. We know you can drag and drop stuff on web apps, etc. One app that did this well (for it’s time) was the original Google Talk widget, when you throw it in app mode it looks pretty decent (ignore that it’s Flash):
Ok, not bad, unfortunately when you chat with a person it opens a tab in there instead of opening a window for you to chat with the person like a traditional app. But we’re getting closer! Now look at these two:
Now this is what I think of when people say “web applications”. The Google Buzz “desktop app” is really the mobile Buzz site wrapped in Chrome. It reflows text when you resize it, and works how you think it should work. Compare that to Mashable’s solution of just fullscreening Gmail. I can move this window around and do what I want to it. Google has basically already created a cross platform Buzz desktop client! (But you have to know how to wrap the mobile site in app mode, lame).
And look at the Zoho example! The skin is a knock off of the Office 2003 UI, but that’s an implementation detail; You’d have a hard time convincing people that was a web application at first glance. I think apps like Meebo could be so much more engaging if I could break them out of the browser and onto my desktop.
Make it so when I double click on documents in my file manager that it opens the word processor app already “prismed” up, when I “install Seesmic web” I get an icon on my desktop that I can interact with; I like to alt-tab, minimize and interact with web applications too. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of tabs with web sites in them, and I already have that!
Tomorrow is going to be a great day for Developer Week. Starting at 1600 UTC David and Nigel will be going over our continuing effort to get patches reviewed and submitted to upstream projects as part of Operation Cleansweep.
After you’ve learned how to review patches, Pedro’s session right after is how to forward those patches (and bug workflow) upstream.
Then, at 1800UTC you can come to my session, “Daily Builds and you”, which is about how we plan to offer upstreams the ability to spin off builds in Launchpad for great justice.
The Ubuntu Stack Exchange is an idea to have an Ubuntu-specific exchange. If you’re not familiar with how these sites work then look at Stack Overflow, which is probably the most popular, and apparently also popular with programmers.
Before the site gets approved we need people to commit to using it (because it wouldn’t make sense if people didn’t use it!). Click here if you’re interested in participating.
Another week, another release of the new menu for UNE. This week indicator-appmenu did not have any releases, as the bugs reported have been in appmenu-gtk. Cody Russell has released 0.1.1 of appmenu-gtk, which is in Maverick and currently building for the Lucid PPA. Here are the highlights:
- Bullets should now appear as bullets instead of checkmarks - Fix errors in GIMP
The menu itself is in pretty good shape right now, unless someone has any objections we’d like to turn the double menus off in the applications for next week’s release. Special thanks to Hernando Torque for his detailed bug reporting for the menus!
Getting patches upstream and fixes out to users continues to be an area that we’re continuing to focus on. (See Operation Cleansweep) However there are plenty of people out there rocking things whom you might have never heard of doing the right thing day in and day out. Like Marcus Carlson:
Marcus has been working on the 100 Papercuts project on a piece of software called Nautilus, which is the default file manager for Ubuntu. Marcus is not only fixing the papercuts, but he’s doing the due diligence of making sure the patch and bug are filed upstream and committed by working with the upstream maintainers.
How is he doing this? Well, he’s Just Doing It, fixing them and sending the patches to the corresponding bug report in the upstream GNOME Bugzilla. So I asked Nautilus developer Cosimo Cecchi on how this is working out for him:
"I’d like to say a big thanks to Marcus Carlson for all the efforts he’s been devoting to improve Nautilus’ quality by sending patches and cleaning up our bugzilla. I feel this kind of behavior is great, and productive in building an awesome community around a project."
So a big thanks to Marcus for his work on making GNOME and Ubuntu better and to Cosimo’s work reviewing the patches.
If you have a passion for being the bridge between users and upstreams and need a place to start then I encourage you to find a papercut and rock it!
Matt posted his thoughts on how the model of packaging software in OSS can change to adapt to new user needs. LWN also picked this up. Some of the comments are heading down into details, so I thought I would explain from a more general perspective on how I see the packaging landscape instead of talking about tools. I don’t think it’s about tools, it’s about the mindset.
To me there are two mindsets here. The first is the Windows way. The idea that the OS comes bare, and you allow people to download and install whatever they want from wherever they want. In the old days this was floppies and CDs, and gradually evolved to the internet (downloading .exe’s). Admins in controlled environments have .msi files, which they can deploy via active directory.
And then there’s what in my circle of friends has always been known as “The Debian Way”. This is a part of our culture that most new users have the hardest time with. Why “hunt and peck” over the internet to find what you need when the OS can provide that for you? Why update individual apps when you can just update them all at once with one system? And don’t forget the built in quality control, this way we lower the risk of Bad Things(tm) being installed on people’s computers. Surely people will totally get this!
So for years this was misunderstood, and people still wanted to go download random files from the internet, and people who didn’t know how it worked claimed that installing software in Linux is like the hardest part ever, when really it was totally awesome. For those of us on The Debian Way, things were pretty ideal. There were issues though:
Not everything was packaged. But then again this can be a “quality filter”. My friend Kyle Rankin has a saying “If it’s not in apt it doesn’t exist”. If something was more than a flash-in-the-pan it would get packaged.
If there is a long time between releases this means users get stuck with really old software, and miss out on the “buzz”.
If you were an upstream project and you did a stable release it might be a long time before that get to users. This can be infuriating if you’re fixing bugs but can’t them into user’s hands.
To this day people still want to go to websites and click on stuff and get software. And admit it, you’ve drank from the forbidden cup of random .deb on the web at one point or another!
The Ubuntu path, which inherits from The Debian Way(tm) kind of sort of helped mitigate this, by doing time based releases, so upgrades can’t be so old, and with PPAs users can wedge in a solution if they were impatient.
Fast forward a few years and the iPhone’s app store is basically “apt” with shiny and a quality assurance process on top. (The way Apple handles the app process is a different topic). On this device you have applications from one “repository”, there’s NO concept of installing third party applications. Every one loves it. I talked about this when I ran for GNOME board a while back and I think it still applies.
And here’s the crux:
People who complain that applications are hard to install have no problems using the “package systems” on mobile phones because they never had to hunt and peck for apps on their brand new smart phones, even though the locked down app stores on phones are just as “limited” as the “limited” apps that are packaged in repositories. Why? Because modern mobile phones never really let you install random applications from the internet, so there was no expectation that this would work. Your PC, however, did, and if you didn’t wrap your head around the model then you just didn’t get it, and that’s how people end up on openoffice.org downloading 146 meg tarballs which contain a bunch of .debs that you had to manually install. And yeah, mobile stores let you update the apps independently of the OS. On top of that, people thought that it was totally ok to just throw random .debs, RPMs, whatever, and source tarballs on the internet and that that was OK.
So as far as users were concerned … FAIL. No wonder people hate it!
As it ends up, it’s all about presentation. No one complains about how hard it is to install random APKs from the web because that’s a niche thing. App developers KNOW they need to get in the Android Market and that that was the primary avenue to get applications to users. AT&T is even blocking third party apps, and no one will care. We collectively fail at linking packagers with upstream developers, which is why when normal users go searching for applications they end up with tarballs they can’t use.
Things like this is what we want to fix with the Software Center, we want to narrow the gap between upstream software developers and users. A buddy of mine who criticized the Debian way put it bluntly: “You guys add artificial barriers between me and my users, and that sucks.” I personally like to think as the Software Center as the refined “middle ground” where we can totally continue to innovate as a Free Software Whole:
No one in Ubuntu wants to keep users away from awesome apps, we want them just as badly as you do. We hurt when we see new apps and can’t get to them too.
We totally want to enable upstream app developers to get their stuff out there so people can use it.
We all want something easy, simple, but also secure. We don’t want hunt and peck randomness like one OS, but no one wants an arbitrary random rules (that change but no one tells you) of what goes in and what doesn’t like the other guys. We need to find Balance.
The old “distro model” needs to change, we need to be more agile to developer and user needs. This will take time.
So here we are. On one hand we have us old school people who like how the system has worked. You tell new people to use the Center and we’re good. I don’t have to worry that my wife will end up with a broken computer because I trust the Ubuntu developers who upload to the repository. At the same time more advanced users might want a little bit-o-bling from the latest upstream applications, but at the same time no one wants to upgrade to a -dev release of the distro to get new software. Upstreams don’t want to deal with the mess so they just put tarballs up on websites and move on.
It’s really nice how Google’s Chrome repository gives people what they want when they want it. They provide stable releases all the way back to Hardy, people don’t need to care about backports, updates, regression testing etc. You get it right when they announce it. They have stable, beta, and dev releases, and you can upgrade AND downgrade (something you can’t do with Windows Chrome without reinstalling the whole thing!) Google also have lots of resources. I am not sure that would scale for everyone. Users adding 50 PPAs will also end in pain, so that doesn’t scale either so I am not sure what the solution is but at the end of the day the packaging spice must flow and it’s in our collective best interest to solve it.