Ubuntu 11.10 Development update

Ubuntu Development Update

This week we are about to hit UI Freeze and Beta Freeze and we have only 7 weeks left until release. A lot of the great work everybody put into Oneiric is already visible and things look great, even if there are a couple of bugs that still need to be ironed out. If there are show-stopper bugs you still want to help get fixed, this is a great time for it!

I talked to a number of developers and asked what they are excited about in the upcoming release. Let’s hear what they have to say.

What do you personally find most exciting about the upcoming 11.10 release?

  • Neil Patel says: “What I love about the upcoming Ubuntu release is our improvements of the Unity interface, in particular: Alt+` for switching between windows of the same app, the new Dash style, Panel window buttons control the Dash now (maximised/non-maximised), Dash filters rendering correctly (but there’s still some hooking up to do on the daemon side), Lots and lots of Dash fixes in searching/opening/closing/etc/etc, faster active blur, Memory leak fixes. Next week we’ll still get some performance fixes in.
  • Rodrigo Moya, Desktop team member, is very happy about all the GTK3/GNOME3 bits that have made it into Oneiric: I like the new cleaner control center, the gnome-shell, although it’s not in main and the new on-line accounts panel to set up Google and other on-line accounts.
  • Ahmed Kamal says: “I think to me the most exciting is development happening on the cloud front. The first being, the new Ubuntu Cloud product, Ubuntu is taking the OpenStack project, an open source project that created a lot of buzz in the cloud space, and tightly integrating it within Ubuntu server. The second being Ensemble, a framework for devops enabling service orchestration over private clouds (Ubuntu Cloud), public cloud like ec2, or even your local laptop (in the works!)”
  • apt- and software-center hacker Michael Vogt was quite brief today and said: “I’m excited about the new software-center-gtk3 UI!

The great thing is: this is just a minuscule part of the great work that went into Oneiric. Isn’t it awesome?

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.


Next week’s weekend we’ll have one of the coolest events of the whole cycle coming up: Ubuntu Global Jam. Local Community teams around the world come 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 event yourself! It will be a bit of last-minute organisation, but still it’ll be worth it and loads of fun! There’s still some time until 2nd-4th September!

The week after the Global Jam we will see yet another fantastic Ubuntu App Developer Week. Stay tuned for more info on the event. If you love Ubuntu and want to develop great apps for it, this is exactly what you’ve been waiting for!

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.

First timers!

We had a couple of first-time contributors last week! Congratulations to these fine people: Oliver Sauder and Gustavo Goretkin. Awesome!

New contributor

I had a chat with Daniel van Vugt, here’s what he has to say about his experience developing Ubuntu.

I’ve found working on Ubuntu quite rewarding. To see my fixes make their way into the world where millions of people are benefiting is really nice.

The process of working on Ubuntu is fairly impressive. I’m not a fan of on-line social networking, but Launchpad works really well as a community
for lots of people coming together to get software built and bugs fixed. And I have to say it’s much more functional and professional than “professional” tools I have worked with in big technology companies.

To improve things? I think Ubuntu needs to step up from a product that’s only-just finished by the time each beta cycle ends. And we saw the unfortunate side-effects of this when natty was released. Some new components (Unity etc) had literally just been developed, and so the community has spent months fixing what should have been obvious bugs that should not have reached release. It also created some bad publicity for Ubuntu. Good software should look finished before it reaches beta, as you find in most of the commercial software industry. To solve this, all I can suggest is: (a) Longer (less frequent) release cycles or a rolling release; and (b) More careful management. Management should not allow the release of brand new components to the world until they’re a little more mature.


I’ve been a fan of Linux since around 1996. In 1999 I finished a degree in Computer Science in Western Australia, majoring in graphics, systems programming and AI. Initially working for Curtin University doing Linux software development, I was asked to join a startup which a few acquisitions later was IBM. In those 11 years I’ve constantly developed for Linux, many UNIX variations as well as Windows and Mac.

In 2005 an IBM coworker introduced me to Ubuntu when I was still using other distributions. I switched to Ubuntu and have never looked back. But the corporate life gave me no time to contribute to Ubuntu or open source in general.

In 2010 I left IBM to pursue my own business ideas, which are still under (secret) development. However being my own boss has given me the time I needed to finally give back to Ubuntu. Sometimes it’s much more time than I should be spending, but I’ve really enjoyed contributing to Ubuntu and open source in general. So much so, that I’m now contributing fixes to Ubuntu faster than they can be reviewed. It’s all fun and I think the community aspect of Ubuntu on top of a generally nice product is what makes it so great.

Get Involved

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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.
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