GNOME Boxes looking for Debian/Ubuntu help…
If you read any of my previous blog entries, you must be now familiar with this ‘express installation’ concept we have in Boxes. Its pretty neat actually, you just set a few options at the beginning and then you can leave Boxes (or your machine) and when you are back, everything is setup for you automatically in a new box.
I have invested a lot of time/efforts on this already and will be spending a lot more time in future as well but I am just one man so can not possibly cover all operating systems out there. That is why I am asking for help from anyone who will be interested in adding express installation support for Ubuntu and Debian while I focus on Fedora and Windows variants. Oh and if you are interested in adding support for some other distribution/OS, that contribution will also be more than welcomed.
In any case, happy hacking!
If you’re interested in doing this (it would be great to get Boxes in 12.04) let me know. You’ll likely need to link up with the Desktop Team, I can help get you talking to the right people if you want to rock this.
Developers with feet in Debian and Ubuntu
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.
Ubuntu-related videos from Debconf 2010
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:
- The Unity Desktop Environment - Mark Shuttleworth
- Collaboration between Ubuntu and Debian: Me
- Upstart in Debian - Scott James Remnant
For more Debconf videos from the amazing Debian video team see this page.
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.
Wanna help? https://wiki.ubuntu.com/OperationCleansweep
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)
On roads, ways, and packaging.
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.
Here are the stats for the last week’s worth of patch review, as part of Operation Cleansweep:
Total bugs with patches: 2243 (-27)
Reviewed patches: 321 (+11)
Bugs with ‘patch-needswork’: 82 (+2)
Bugs with ‘patch-forwarded-upstream’: 123 (+4)
Bugs with ‘patch-forwarded-debian’: 38 (+5)
Bugs with ‘indicator-application’: 43 (-1)
Bugs with ‘patch-accepted-upstream’: 46 (-2)
Bugs with ‘patch-accepted-debian’: 13 (+1)
Bugs with ‘patch-rejected-upstream’: 12 (+1)
Bugs with ‘patch-rejected-debian’: 1 (0)
Last updated: Sun, 27 Jun 2010 08:05:33 +0200
Debian Derivatives Front Desk
In case you missed Nigel’s post to -devel the Debian project is firing up a “Derivatives Frontdesk”. This is a place where developer and contributors of Debian-based derivatives can work together, so if you’re a contributor who has always wanted to learn how to work better with Debian, then this is the place for you. You’ll also find us on #debian-ubuntu. Introductions are happening on the mailing list so join today!
Here’s our corresponding documentation if you need it. We don’t really call it a front desk but the purpose is the same.
On a related note, Raphaël Hertzog has kicked off packaging Ayatana goodness in Debian. EDIT: Raphaël mentions “For the record, I only suggested pkg-ayatana, it’s Evgeni Golov who went ahead and created the project.”
More Debian/Ubuntu QA tool integration
In case you’re a Debian Developer and missed this post, you can now subscribe to Ubuntu bugs for packages you care about.
I have an action item to investigate if we can do this per person as an option vs. per package. More to follow in a longer Debian-related post.