Ubuntu Development Update
Next week Alpha 3 of Ubuntu 11.10 will be released, so everybody is currently trying to get their latest updates in and everything tidied up for a release. For today I got an update from Ubuntu Desktop Team hero Sébastien Bacher, so if you’re interested in any other aspect of Ubuntu Oneiric, I’d refer you to the oneiric-changes mailing list and the big picture specification status overview instead. So what’s happening with the Ubuntu Desktop?
As you all know Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty) stayed on GNOME 2.32 because the GNOME3 schedule was too short to integrate the new version correctly in the release, but the GNOME3 team (which mostly consisted of non-Canonical contributors) did a great job on getting GNOME3 in a PPA.
For Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric) we decided to land GNOME3 early, to update to 3.0 while doing merges from Debian, stabilise a bit and then go for GNOME 3.1 and track the unstable series. Thanks to the work in GNOME3 team PPA the first round of updates went smoothly and
we landed GNOME3 around the UDS time. We switched to GNOME 3.1 after UDS, starting by the platform pieces and then the desktop ones. GNOME 3.1.4 tarballs were due this week and thanks to the rocking Desktop team contributors it’s mostly in Oneiric already.
Let’s have a look at the Desktop version status overview:
- Green mean “up to date”, yellow is “up to date but with a new revision in Debian”, orange lines indicate packages that need an update.
- The page lists the default installation set but you can click next to the first column title to display extra “desktop-ish” components not installed by default.
- We take notes of what need to be done and what is worked on.
You can also see a “Still to claim” category with updates which need to be done, those are packages any contributor is welcome to work on, the etherpad has also a list of things which still use gconf or gtk2, which is a target for the next LTS (Ubuntu 12.04).
This means: our stack is up to date and GNOME 3.1.4 is mostly in oneiric by now.
What is coming next (or where we still need some help):
- the updates listed on versions overview and in our Etherpad notes
- fix the integration issues listed on etherpad and in the desktop-o-gtk3-gnome3 spec
- transition gtk2 code to gtk3 (currently: ubuntu-sso-client, ubuntuone-control-panel, libubuntuone, system-config-printer, sessioninstaller, onboard, openssh, libgnome-keyring)
- transition gconf code to gsettings (currently: unity, ubuntuone-client, onboard, ubiquity, indicator-session, notify-osd)
- We might be a bit short on ressources to bring back the screensaver animations, but we should at least make the screensaver lock screen be more unity like (more details)
- we still want to integrate gnome-online-account and some of the new GNOME 3.1 features to the oneiric installation
- the new gnome-contacts needs to be packaged
- clutter and clutter-gst need to be promoted to main (since cheese, totem and empathy will use them)
- some patches in our GNOME packages have been commented to not block the GNOME3 updates but need to be refresh and turned on
- there’s a couple of desktop bugs that would be nice to get fixed, especially those targetted to Oneiric because we think we should fix those this cyle, (bugs not assigned free to be claimed – if you want to work on an assigned bug please contact the assignee first)
Thanks a lot Sébastien for the update!
Another update I’m very happy to give is about the Ubuntu Packaging Guide. It’s still work in progress and we’re aware of short-comings and things we want to improve, but it gets better and better every day. While this has been a team effort, two people put a lot of work into it lately:
- Jonathan Riddell, one of the Kubuntu heroes, who is currently on a trip in Bazaar land. Just have a look at the recent packaging guide commits to see how much work he put into it.
- Alexander Fougner, who helped the packaging guide to adopt the ubuntu.com styling.
It’s 2 weeks until Feature Freeze, when the majority of the feature work should have landed. If you have updates you want to get into Ubuntu which shake things up, you better get a move on and do it now.
The Ubuntu Developer Week and Ubuntu Cloud Days are over now, but you can’t find logs of all the sessions that happened on their respective web pages. These events are always over much too quickly, but there’s always the next event to look forward to: this time it will be Ubuntu Global Jam, which has currently 13 participating events listed. 2nd-4th September will be a great time to get involved and help out Ubuntu on a local level!
If you want to get involved in packaging and bug fixing, there’s still a lot of bugs that need to get fixed, particularly packages that fail to build. Also is the Ubuntu Mozilla team looking for help, so if you’re excited about Mozilla and what’s happening there, join IRC, talk to the guys on #ubuntu-mozillateam on irc.freenode.net. And then there’s Security bugs you can take a look at, the team is a friendly bunch and they’re incredibly helpful in getting your patch reviewed.
You won’t believe it: since last week we got seven new people in the Ubuntu Developer world. Applause to these folks who got their first changes into Ubuntu! Applause everyone! Paolo Pisati, Federico Hernandez, Christian Kujau, ‘conrad_s‘, Sahak Petrosyan, Evgeny Kapun and Ben Tucker. Good work everyone, rock on!
This week I talked to Christian Titze from Germany, here’s what he has to say:
Who am I? My name is Christian Titze and I live in Germany. I just finished my Abitur (the German university entrance qualification) at a school which has computer science as a major subject. Soon I will start to study information technology at a university.
But how did I come to Linux and Ubuntu? Here’s my Ubuntu story:
As most of us I started using computers with Microsoft Windows. The first time I used a computer was about the time when Windows 98 SE came out and in the years to come I used my PC mainly for gaming, making presentations and writing documents. I didn’t know much about programming and I had never used another operating system than Windows back then. But in early 2008 Ubuntu 8.04 came out. I read about it on a tech blog and so I thought ‘let’s give it a try’. Of course I pretty much expected an OS that ‘just works’ on my PC as Windows did. But after I installed it, problems with my Wi-Fi connection occurred and when I couldn’t find a way to fix them, I just booted into Windows and barely ever used the Ubuntu partition on my HDD again (although I really liked the orange/brown design of Ubuntu and the ‘Human’ theme of GNOME – it was something completely different than I was used to!).
At about the same time I was extremely interested in smartphones and so I started to write reviews about devices with the Symbian S60 OS on a tech blog (some of you probably still remember my name from there). From then on my interest in all kinds of computer technology has grown to infinity.
Meanwhile I learned C++ and the 8051 assembly language in school and with growing interest in technology and therefore in programming, operating systems and the differences between them I decided to give Linux a try again. Unfortunately 9.10 still didn’t support the Wi-Fi of my desktop machine but it worked perfectly on my Dell laptop and eventually I decided to replace the extremely slow and bloated Vista on it with Ubuntu. It wasn’t easy for me because it was a completely different world and at first the Wi-Fi didn’t work out of the box. Fortunately I just needed to plug in my ethernet cable and install the Broadcom drivers (This little pop-up saying proprietary drivers are available kept me from switching back to Windows! It’s extremely important for new users so that they don’t need to search working drivers or even compile from source. Nobody will do it. It needs to ‘just work’). But I got used to this completely different world and now I really love it.
With the release of Windows 7 I switched back to Windows but soon I was some kind of ‘bored’ with it because I had no real CLI (which became really important to me after a certain time, it is really easy and makes your life easier if you know how it works and what you can do with it) plus I felt that I didn’t have the control over my OS but the other way round and there’s no community like the Ubuntu community. The people around Ubuntu are extremely friendly and if you have a problem you can just ask. There are no stupid questions and nobody will call you a noob or make fun of you. They just help you with your problem and that’s awesome!
Of course there was also this time of the famous ‘distro-hopping’, as in the life of every Linux user. Eventually I decided to use Ubuntu because of the extensive documentation, the ease of use, the huge community and of course because it’s the most used Linux distro, meaning that if there is an application for Linux it will surely be also available as a binary package in Ubuntu because of its enormous user-base.
As I’m a daily reader of ‘OMG! Ubuntu!’ I read all the stories of the people who spend their spare time participating in Ubuntu and since I have a lot of time until university starts for me I decided to give Ubuntu something back for their efforts in spreading the Linux desktop with an user-friendly, secure and free (…as in ‘free speech’ and as in ‘free beer’) distribution.
I have experience in programming C++, writing bash-scripts and I just started to learn Java but I never fixed a bug in the source code someone else wrote before. So the first thing you do if you want to participate is to search for an easy bug like a typo or similar. Every time I saw one of the ‘Ubuntu 11.10 development update’ posts here I wanted to grab one of the bugs posted under the Ubuntu stories to finally get started, but unfortunately most of them were already in process to be fixed because so many people read those articles So for me as a new contributor it was very hard to find my first bug where I had plenty of time to fix it before someone else grabs it and fixes the typo within a few minutes – remember that I have never fixed a bug in Launchpad before and all I knew was how to report a bug and translate things. So one day I just searched for ‘typo’ in LP and there it was, the first bug to be fixed by me:
With the development guide it was really easy to get into it and to make a branch but unfortunately my fix didn’t work with a branch as there was another big problem with the open-vm-tools package. So the reviewer of my fix suggested I should create a debdiff but the build just didn’t work because of a missing developer package on my system. Thanks to the IRC of the ‘masters of the universe’ (if you’ve ever wondered what Ubuntu-MOTU means) I finally was able to submit my first bug fix.
The only thing I missed was some kind of a ‘quick-start-guide’ for Launchpad. I‘m sure it would be very helpful for new contributors.
I have also submitted a wallpaper for the Oneiric release which was made entirely using Inkscape and GIMP on Ubuntu.
As you can see I’m a pretty new contributor and to participate in Ubuntu doesn’t necessarily mean you need to know much about programming and stuff. You can also help in designing the distribution or help to translate it into your language. Everybody can help everywhere and that’s why Ubuntu really is ‘Linux for humans’.
My hint for all the soon-to-be-contributors is: Don’t hesitate to ask! The community around Ubuntu is full of friendly people that will help you and if you need a fast answer while fixing a bug just contact the people over at the Ubuntu-MOTU IRC. If you have problems with building a package or something try to use the man pages, maybe you just forgot an option or made a syntax error and so this is the fastest way to get a solution for your problem. Also remember that fixing a bug doesn‘t only help the community but also you: You‘ll get more and more knowledge of what is going on ‘under the hood’ of your OS.
Although I really like Ubuntu and I use it extremely often it’s not the main OS on my ‘working-machine’ yet The reason is that it still has some problems when run natively on my MacBook Pro and I don’t have all the gorgeous touch-gestures of Mac OS X. I know that there is an application for that but I think the Ubuntu developers should think about integrating more multi-touch-gestures directly into the OS as they are extremely comfortable and save a lot of time.
What I also don’t like about Ubuntu is the new Unity interface, or better: How Unity was introduced. I like the idea behind Unity and I think it has great potential for the future and although I like the GNOME 3 shell at the moment better, Unity could become the ‘winner’ if the developers make the right choices. But at the moment Unity is still extremely beta: I convinced my father to use Ubuntu about one year ago and he likes it but after the update to Natty, Unity sometimes crashes or many other bugs occur and then he asks me what to do and the only thing I can say is to logout and -in again or to restart the computer. But believe me, no Joe Average would continue to use such a buggy interface. So the only thing we can do now is to wait for a stable Unity in 12.04 LTS. As mentioned before it has great potential, but at the moment it is beta software tested on all the Ubuntu users out there. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater of Unity but truth must be told to create an even better user experience in the future.
Last but not least I want to thank all the people around Ubuntu for making such a great operating system and being such a friendly community! I will always try to contribute to Ubuntu whenever I have the time to – fixing my first bug was a great experience for me and to help people around the world with my contributions makes me really happy. I also try to spread Ubuntu wherever I can: I already convinced my father, my beautiful girlfriend and some other people to use it.
Don’t hesitate to contribute if you ever wanted to give the community something back; if you’re not a programmer you’ll surely find another area where you can participate in, e.g. translating, reporting bugs, designing Ubuntu art or spreading the distribution …everybody is welcome in the world of Ubuntu!
- Read the Introduction to Ubuntu Development. It’s a short article which will help you understand how Ubuntu is put together, how the infrastructure is used and how we interact with other projects.
- Follow the instructions in the Getting Set Up article. A few simple commands, a registration at Launchpad and you should have all the tools you need, and you’re ready to go.
- Check out our instructions for how to fix a bug in Ubuntu, they come with small examples that make it easier to visualise what exactly you need to do.
Find something to work on
Pick a bitesize bug. These are the bugs we think should be easy to fix. Another option is to help out in one of our initiatives.
- Help out with the dh_python2 porting.
- Help out with fixing packages that don’t build anymore.
- Help out with security bugs.
In addition to that there are loads more opportunities over at Harvest.
Getting in touch
There are many different ways to contact Ubuntu developers and get your questions answered.
- Be interactive and reach us most immediately: talk to us in #ubuntu-motu on irc.freenode.net.
- Follow mailing lists and get involved in the discussions: ubuntu-devel-announce (announce only, low traffic), ubuntu-devel (high-level discussions), ubuntu-devel-discuss (fairly general developer discussions).
- Stay up to date and follow the ubuntudev account on Facebook, Identi.ca or Twitter.