Murray's Blog

Ubuntu Developer Summit, Mountain View

I’ve covered the food and the flight, so now for some actual details about the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Mountain View.

Canonical (or Ubuntu, or even Google, not sure) sponsored travel and accommodation for “upstream” participants, including several people from GNOME and associated projects. Now that’s really working with upstream. We were new to the Ubuntu Summit way of doing things but figured it out quickly. I think we all felt we should be doing more to justify our presence, but hopefully we provided at least some valuable input and advice, and some of us even started implementating specifications. But most of the specifications being considered were lower down in the system, dealing with things such as drivers, devices, X, etc.

The Ubuntu Summits work by discussing specifications and gradually fleshing them out and turning them into definite actions over the week, with Launchpad (trying to) generate a meeting schedule for each day that gets all the relevant people in the right place at the right time to get this done. This report about the UDS has a good overview. Matt Zimmerman does a great good-natured job of keeping things on track without being unpleasantly authoritarian. He should have a blog.

These specifications were relevant to us GNOME people:

The meetings about the Ubuntu release process were interesting, after my experience on the GNOME release team. It’s mostly similar, though they have a much wider set of things to worry about. I do think they suffer from the tendency that prevailed sometimes in the GNOME release team of looking on the bright side and persuading ourselves that everything would be OK. In particular, I think a mere one week gap between a release candidate (when far more people actually start testing) and a final release is wildly optimistic and probably unnecessarily painful. Anecdotally, Ubuntu Edgy shows the result for me, with at least 5 very user-visible bugs, while Ubuntu Dapper (with a longer stabilisation phase) was remarkably polished.

But I’m just a first-time spectator to that process, and it’s genuinely difficult to schedule enough time for boring bug-fixing and testing while still keeping developers enthused enough to actually do that work. Occasional long-time-support releases are probably a good way to balance that, though I wish there was a way to get more upstream bugfixes into the LTS releases without forcing use of backports of completely new major (with new features) versions.

Otherwise, I spent the time on the GNOME couch (Mirco’s photo) goofing around with the GNOME people more than I have a chance to at GUADEC, such as Ryan Lortie, Christian Kellner, Raphael “unpronounceable” Slinckx, Lennart “Milkybar Kid / Doctor Zee” Poettering, Danilo Segan, and loveable Ubuntu/Canonical people such as Daniel Holbach, Michael Vogt, and Sebastian Bacher (the Frenchest accent since Daniel Veillard). I agree with Ryan – these are people I’d just hang out with for the fun of it if we lived in the same place. It’s also intellectually simulating to meet the other people who deal with such different parts of the system.

I also found time to do some mindless hacking that I don’t have time for normally, such as continuing the port of libgdamm, pygda, and Glom to libgda 3.0, and writing some documentation.

I’m still feeling the Jet lag. Yesterday I woke up after a full night’s sleep, drank 2 cups of coffee, and fell asleep for 5 more hours.

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