Ubuntu 12.04 Development update

Development Update

With holidays and the end of the year coming up soon, there is still lots going on, but there is not much on the release cycle plan which concerns us. 12th January, which is still four weeks away, will mark Debian Import Freeze, which will be a first gentle reminder to start solidifying instead of shaking things up again.

Update: Debian Import Freeze will be on 9th January. (Thanks Colin Watson)

If you want to know how all the individual teams are faring and what happened since last week, have a look at the release team meeting minutes, as always a great place to stay up to date. Another good place for more info is the status overview of blueprints and their work items: currently we 22% of our 2320 work items already sorted out.

Matthias Klose and many others have put a lot of hard work into making a complete rebuild of the Ubuntu archive happening. This happened as part of bootstrapping the armhf architecture. Very interestingly this brought up a couple of build failures that need to resolved. There is a list of general build failures and armhf/armel-specific ones.

The Desktop team just made a list of all the additional tasks they have and put out a call for help. So if you love your Desktop, want to make it even better, introduce yourself to them and find out what you can do!


Ubuntu Developer Week
The planning of Ubuntu Developer Week (31st January 2012 to 2nd February 2012) is still going on and we should have something interesting to announce really really soon. If you always wanted to hear more about a specific topic, here’s your chance to let us know: leave a comment under the post to request your favourite topic.

Things which 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:

Also there’s a call for help from the Desktop team. Go check it out and see if you’d like to be part of the team!

Upload rights!

We have two Ubuntu developers who just got their upload rights approved by the Developer Membership Board: Micah Gersten, who just became Ubuntu Core developer and Julian Taylor who became MOTU.

Congratulations to the two of you, well-deserved!

Spotlight: Getting fixes into Ubuntu and getting upload rights

In terms of Ubuntu development one thing seems to remain a mystery to many: How do I a fix into Ubuntu? Even worse: I’m a mere mortal, can I get upload rights too?

There are many horror stories floating around regarding these two questions. “You need to work for Canonical.” being the worst answer to the above. Secret hand-shakes and bribes might be fun or appreciated, but it’s even easier than that.

Getting fixes into Ubuntu
A lot of the work in Ubuntu development is done using Bazaar, a distributed revision control system. What this basically means is: changes are easily identifiable and can easily be integrated from different development branches. With hundreds of developers, thousands of projects and different development focuses this makes perfect sense.

So how about our fix? First we branch the source code (get a local copy of it), edit it to fix the problem we identified, commit it locally, push it on Launchpad, then propose our branch for merging. Done. If you need more details about this, check out the article in the Packaging Guide.

There’s also the possibility to attach a patch file to a bug in Launchpad. You just need to make sure you subscribe the Sponsors team to the bug, to get the patch looked at.

It’s that easy. The Ubuntu developers have set up a schedule of “patch pilots” who regularly go through the list of open review items and tend to them.

Getting upload rights
Once you got a few fixes in and got a better understanding of Ubuntu development and the processes, you might get encouraged by your reviewers of peers in the Ubuntu community to apply for upload rights.

You have different options: if you are just interested in a package or two, because you love those packages or because you wrote them, you can just apply for upload rights for these. This is generally the easiest path. You need to demonstrate your level of involvement and dedication, have got a few uploads under your belt and a proper understanding of the relevant processes.

A lot of Ubuntu packages (not all) are categorised into “package sets”. Examples for these are “desktop”, “kubuntu”, “server”, “zope” and others. If you find yourself always working on the same packages which all are part of the same set, you might consider this option. Just remember: with greater power (immediate access to more packages), comes greater responsibility. This is not meant to discourage you, but just to make sure you meet all the requirements.

Two other options are MOTU and Ubuntu Core Developer: MOTUs (Masters of the Universe) have access to all the packages in Universe and Multiverse. Ubuntu Core Developers have access to every package in the archive.

The process for applying for upload rights is generally quite easy: document your work on the Wiki, send a mail to the Developer Membership Board (DMB) about it, attend a meeting, done. More details are available on the Wiki. The DMB obviously wants to make sure you know what you are doing and that you have a good enough understanding, but they are all likable people. So if you want to make sure you are a good fit, either talk to them or to one of your reviewers or peers beforehand.

Particularly the new options of getting upload rights for a package or package set are super-interesting for people with a narrow focus and good relations to upstream. Make use of these options! 🙂

Oh, and if somebody figured out the secret hand-shake, please let me know.

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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One Response to “Ubuntu 12.04 Development update”

  1. Colin Watson Says:

    A small correction: Debian import freeze starts on 9th January, not 12th January.

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