Ubuntu 12.04 Development update

Development Update

Huzzah! Seven weeks into the release cycle and Ubuntu 12.04 Alpha 1 has just been announced. Bear in mind it is of alpha quality, but please go and test it if you are curious and want to help out.

Ubuntu 12.04 will be an LTS (long term support) release, so we have taken extra measures for it to be more stable, testable and the like. Martin Pitt today reported a lot of improvements in automated testing, error reporting and creating ISO images, which will speed up operations a lot. More interesting for developers who want to keep the Ubuntu archive of packages tidy, he also reported improvements to the infrastructure which separates packages from main and universe.

Customizable Bug Listings
The Launchpad Team has announced beta testing of a more customizable bug lists which could improve developers individual experience as they work on identifying bugs to fix.  In order to test out the new functionality you will need to be a member of the Launchpad Beta Testers Team.


Ubuntu Developer Week
In our last issue we talked about the Ubuntu Developer Week (which will happen from 31st January 2012 to 2nd February 2012) and that we made some changes to the format.

First you will notice that it’s not really a week anymore. We compressed it into three days, but we added many more session slots, also broke them up into 30 minute slots, to make the whole event tighter and also to invite speakers who have a shorter or more dedicated topic to talk about.

We will keep you informed over the course of the event planning.

Bug Jam and Bug Squashing Party in Portland
Ubuntu Oregon in collaboration with Portland-Area Debian Developers will hold the first ever combined Ubuntu Local Jam and Debian Bug Squashing Party on December 4th. Ubuntu Oregon encourages those interested in participating remotely to join #ubuntu-us-or on Freenode
and to watch the Ubuntu Oregon mailing list for more information.

We quickly talked to Steve Langasek, a Debian and Ubuntu developer, who is also going to attend the event. He told us that the primary focus will be on multi-arch issues, but if you are keen to get in touch with Ubuntu and Debian developers, join them either on IRC or live in Portland, even if you prefer to work on other things.

Things that 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:

First timers!

We are proud to introduce you to two contributors who just got their first contribution into Ubuntu. It’s Gregory Hainaut and Alexey Mamadaliev. Excellent work! Keep it up!

Spotlight: 7 weeks in – what happened?

The first weeks of the release are always marked by similar steps: open the release, get the new toolchain to build, get important transitions of key packages in first, start the big task of merging changes that have happened in Debian and upstream since the last release and then there is UDS. At the Ubuntu Developer Summit a huge range of topics are discussed (this time it was around 400 sessions) with specific outcomes, specific work items and specifications. All these parts are public and transparent. The best way to get a feel for this is status.ubuntu.com.

We are 7 weeks in and we agreed on 2237 work items of which 339 are already done, 41 were postponed. This leaves still quite some work to be done, but we made considerable progress already. On a high level there was agreement to fix these bugs and interest in fixing these bugs.

Here is what some of the Ubuntu teams have achieved:

  • Quality Assurance (QA) team: lots of work put into a Jenkins instance that auto-tests installations and runs test suites on key parts of the desktop. Boot speed testing is up next. In addition to that many many bugs have been analysed and procedures about testing and bug triage agreed on.
  • Security team: lots of reactive security work, some engineering on apparmor and Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw).
  • Kernel team: lots of config changes which were discussed at UDS are implemented already and a portion of Ubuntu-local patches were reviewed. 3.2-rc3 is in 12.04 already. Some interesting-looking bugs are actively being worked on.
  • Foundations team: A lot of the infrastructure improvements mentioned above were lead by the team including the ISO testing tracker. Also is the transition to Perl 5.14 almost complete, a lot of working is going into providing python3-enabled packages and the crash reporter is being improved.
  • Server team: lots of work on bug fixes, both in terms of analysing them and fixing them. Ongoing merges from Debian and upstream and merges. powerwaked has received many improvements. Also are more and JuJu charm school events happening and JuJu charms turn up for everything that might be interesting to get deployed anywhere.
  • ARM team: armhf chroots are supposed to be ready soon now, LP autobuilds
    should start around beginning of the week. The delta between x86 and omap4 ubuntu kernel configs was reduced.
  • Linaro team: 11.11 released. Work for 11.12 started. Coordination over GLES patches and automated testing with the Unity team.
  • Desktop teams (Desktop, Desktop Experience): Landed Apport client-side crash signature/duplicate detection, ported session-installer to GTK 3 and dropped gnome-codec-install, landed new Zeitgeist, now written in Vala instead of Python. Brings some nice speedups. Desktop tests feed into Jenkins automated testing instance. Added multiple screenshots and support for videos to software-center. Lots of porting and transition work behind the scenes. Lots of work on test automation and manual test specification, lots of stable release updates.
  • Updates from the Ubuntu flavours:
    • Kubuntu: Almost done with KDE-related merges from Debian.
    • Edubuntu: Edubuntu Council election in progress, upstream work on LTSP.
    • Xubuntu: package updates, lightdm greeter is in progress.
    • Ubuntu Studio: changes in default packages, agree on defaults for JACK.
    • Lubuntu: more monochrome icons, switch to lightdm, updates of various packages.

Obviously this is not everything that happened, just excerpts and bits that seemed interesting to your editors.

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.

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6 Responses to “Ubuntu 12.04 Development update”

  1. Tarik Says:

    Give us back Gnome 2.

  2. warlock Says:

    ask the gnome team not ubuntu…

  3. Pragmatist Says:


    • Collapse of menu and title bar into the header bar when full screen.
    • Improved searching.
    • Application ratings

    • New Tab from the root menu…? The root menu need a significant amount of work.
    • Pop-up menu bar doesn’t always pop-up without minimizing things
    • Some applications (Libre Office) don’t collapse up the menu bar.
    • The administrative/configuration options are still not complete/structure enough.
    • Sub-selecting from multiple instances/windows of the same application is awkward.
    • Menus should ONLY be moved to the top when the application is maximized… otherwise leave the root menu in place!
    ∘ Seriously, it’s too far from the small terminal window in the lower right corner of the screen, and when I’m running Eclipse + three gnome terminals + rdesktop + gvim it just gets really, really, hard to use and VERY confusing.

    Major Complaints:
    • Resizing of standard fonts is missing (technically this appears in the unsupported Advanced Settings for Gnome3 along with a bunch of other settings which should be available through standard applets – or at least the advanced settings applet should be installed by default)
    • Pop-up menu bar on left side of screen
    ∘ This sucks because the most used buttons (and menus) on applications tend to be on the left of the screen which means that the button bar gets in the way. The Firefox <-Back button is a prime example.
    • Over-dependence on networking…
    ∘ The integration of the "Cloud" model is conceptually cool, but I don't want a dis-functional system when operating in an environment without Internet access.
    ∘ Excessive networking is a security problem
    ∘ Many corporate/government organizations don't provide full Internet access… with good reason.
    • Lack of pre-structured information (Menus!)
    ∘ This is not to say that the traditional Motif (gnome/kde/MS) type menus are perfect… The SUSE GNOME slab really grew on me after a while. Sometimes traditional menus are too small/long/narrow/quick to disappear/too brief descriptions, etc.
    ∘ Non-redundant menu structures are flawed since obviously some things fit under multiple categories, but that browsing through a structured hierarchy is still the easiest way to find out what sort of applications are available on a local system. This is the reason Google has *added* menus to their primary search page.
    • Over-dependence on "searching".
    ∘ Because of not having menus
    ∘ There is a reason almost nobody uses "I'm Feeling Lucky" on Google… The results are non-authoritative by nature. Improving the searching in Ubuntu is great, but not at the expense of loosing structured authoritative information about the applications and tools on the system.

    Minor Complaints:
    • Removal of click-able notifications
    • Removal of tear off menus
    • Lack of text descriptions on the main application bar… Are we three years old? Seriously?
    • Application bar is ugly. The non-application icon gloss is way too prominent. Apple does this way better if you MUST use this stupid metaphor. Job's genius was consistency and perfection within his selected metaphor, NOT in the selection of the metaphor itself!
    • The application icons are way too big. Screen real-estate is important for people using their computers as workstations to perform real work.
    • Indicators of when an application is running are too ambiguous.

  4. none Says:

    Unity just needs to go away. Ubuntu could revert to Gnome2 if they wanted to.

  5. Gnome Lover Says:

    Gnome 2 looks so much better than this tablet looking crap, bring it back !

  6. Eduard Amorós Says:

    +++ PLEASE +++ Follow “Pragmatism”‘s recommendations a bit further down. I can’t add anything to that.

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