Ubuntu Development Update
The Ubuntu 11.10 release is coming closer and closer. Only six weeks left until release! So how are things looking?
This week Beta 1 will be released and testing efforts are going to ramped up. In two weeks the kernel and the documentation text will be frozen and in three weeks Beta 2 will get out the door. You know what this means: test Oneiric and file bugs. This is a good opportunity to get the last bugs ironed out and 11.10 in tip-top shape.
Another activity a lot developers put time into right now is NBS (Not Built from Source). This is an effort to clean the archive and make sure that there’s no packages that are no longer built by any source. Sometimes this mismatch is caused by packages that haven’t followed a library transition or were didn’t follow an upstream renaming. As you can imagine with several ten thousands of packages this is a hard task to tackle. The current TODO list looks much better than a few weeks ago, but still there’s a few things that need to be done. Unfortunately this is not suitable task for very new contributors, as it often requires adapting portions of the code to a new API, etc.
Related to this, you can see how the number of packages that failed to build was brought down considerably in the last weeks. Congratulations everyone!
There’s still a number of bugs on the radar for Beta 2, but most of them are assigned already, so we’re well on track. 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.
Ubuntu Global Jam
Do you have plans for this weekend? No? Excellent! We have one of the coolest events of the whole cycle coming up: Ubuntu Global Jam. Local Community teams around the world are coming together to have a good time on work on Ubuntu directly: translations, bugs, packaging, documentation, testing, documentation – everything goes! Check out the list of participating events to find out where to go, or set up an impromptu event yourself! It will be a bit of last-minute organisation, but still it’ll be worth it and loads of fun!
Ubuntu App Developer Week
Next week (5th-9th September) we will see yet another fantastic Ubuntu App Developer Week happening. If you love Ubuntu and want to develop great apps for it, this is exactly what you’ve been waiting for! Here’s a quick taster of what the event will cover:
- Monday: Making Ubuntu a Target for App Developers, Introducing Bazaar Explorer: Version Control for your Apps, Your App & Launchpad best practice, Publishing Your Apps in the Software Center: the MyApps Portal, Universal GRUB Recovery
- Tuesday: Creating a Grooveshark Scope for the Music Lens, The Making of Unity 2D, Making App Development Easy: Gedit Developer Plugins, Getting Started With Python: a Hello World App, Publishing Your Apps in the Software Center: The App Review Board
- Wednesday: Unity Mail: Webmail Notification on Your Desktop, Launchpad Daily Builds and Rapid Feedback: Writing Recipe Builds, Using the Ubuntu One APIs for Your Apps: An Overview, Supercharging Your Apps with Unity Launcher Integration, Hello Vala: An Introduction to the Vala Language
- Thursday: Creating an App Developer Website: developer.ubuntu.com, Rapid App Development with Quickly, Developing with Freeform Design Surfaces: GooCanvas and PyGame, Practical Ubuntu One Files Integration, Will it Blend? Python Libraries for Desktop Integration
- Friday: Getting A Grip on Your Apps: Multitouch on GTK apps using Libgrip, Making Your App Speak Languages with Launchpad Translations, Making your app appear in the Indicators, Publishing Your Apps in the Software Center: The Business Side, Writing an App with Go.
Isn’t that fantastic? Sign up for the Facebook event and start discussing your app plans!
Things that still need to get done
If you want to get involved in packaging and bug fixing, there’s still a lot of bugs that need to get fixed:
- There’s 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.
- Also is the Server team interested in your help: merges from Debian is one possibility, fixing important bugs another.
I had a chat with Oliver Sauder, here’s what he has to say about his experience developing Ubuntu.
Who am I?
Well, I have been an open source and Linux user for quite a while. First few years dual booting Linux with Windows (for different reasons). However, since the first Ubuntu version has been released in 2004 I got rid of Windows altogether in favor of Ubuntu. Since then I haven’t missed any Ubuntu release .
In 2006 I’ve finished my Computer Science degree in Switzerland. Thenceforth working for several companies. First involved in low level programming such as implementing printer drivers and different network protocols in C/C++. From there on moving into the Web sphere and also diving into the world of Java and its surrounding technologies.
All the while long I have been involved in different open source projects, mainly bug fixing but also starting some projects such as Diodon. Unfortunately, as my job is very time consuming I can not spent as much time as I would like to. Hope to change this in the future.
The Ubuntu community:
Working in the Ubuntu community has been a real pleasure. Personally I benefit the most of the code reviews where experienced developers take a look at my changes and give constructive and helpful comments. Thumbs up. Furthermore, questions are allowed; even encouraged, which makes working in the community a pleasant experience.
What could be improved?
Some parts of Ubuntu are very fast moving targets which is great. However, it makes it difficult for occasional contributors to keep up the pace. Therefore good documentation and source code comments are essential.
In comparison to other projects Ubuntu has always had a big amount of good documentation. However it has been a bit cluttered which makes it sometimes difficult to find the right part. Some initiatives to clean up and summarize the documentation have been made which improved the situation a lot (e.g. “Improve packaging guide” to only mention one). Hope to see more of such initiatives in the future.
To close up I’m looking forward contributing more in the Ubuntu community and excited to see where Ubuntu is heading to.
- 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.
- Help out with NBS (a more advanced task).
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.