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Ubuntu 11.10 Development Update 13

This is a guest post from Daniel Holbach, who will be posting updates about Ubuntu Development. (Original Post).

Ubuntu Development Update

Sticking exactly to the plan, we are quickly moving towards the release of 11.10, and it’s only three weeks until then. If you like partying, start organising your local release party soon! Beta 2 was released yesterday, so give it all the testing love you can. You won’t be disappointed, there’s something great and new in there for everybody.

What will happen in the remaining weeks is obviously fixing high-profile bugs and release time is obviously frantic for everybody. Still: please don’t hesitate to report your bug or attempt to fix a bug. Even if your fix misses the release, it might get in as a stable release update. Apart from development activities, there’s also other heroes hard at work: bugs are being triaged, packages translated, documentation updated, announcement text written, UDS organised and lots lots more. Did I mention planning release parties already?

From a strictly organisational point of view, next week, we’ll hit Final Freeze and we’ll stop translating bits that are not in language packs. The following week we’ll get out the release candidate and get the final language packs in. If all goes well (and it very much looks like it), 13th October will be release day.

I mentioned it last week already, but it’s too amazing not to mention it again: Colin Watson sent out a request for help on the 12th to get the list of packages that fail to build from source under control. Since then we went from 661 packages that fail to build down to 165. Thanks everybody for your great work on this! The easy ones might be taken already, but if you are a hero of making stuff work again, consider helping out.

If you want to know more about the last changes that are going into Ubuntu 11.10, I’d refer you to the oneiric-changes mailing list. Also the big picture specification status overview is interesting to look at, as it gives you an idea of how many work-items that were discussed at UDS in Budapest actually made it into Ubuntu.

If you want to know more about what all changed in the server field, make sure you have a look at Ahmed Kamal’s great blog post. Oh, and make sure you watch cloud.ubuntu.com anyways. :-)

Events

Ubuntu Release Parties
We’re still looking for people who can organise Ubuntu release parties! The Ubuntu Oneiric 11.10 release will get out on 13th October. Why don’t have a release party? Here’s how to organise it and here’s how to register it. There’s 20 events listed right now, these cities are participating:

  • Asia: Bangkok (Thailand), Khon Kaen (Thailand)
  • Africa: Capetown (South Africa)
  • Australia/Oceania: Brisbane (Australia), Sydney (Australia)
  • Europe: Hradec Krlov (Czech Republic), Dublin (Ireland), Podgorica (Montenegro), Belgrade (Serbia), Lloret de Mar (Spain), Blackpool (UK), London (UK), Leeds (UK)
  • North America: Kitchener (Canada), Toronto (Canada), Mexico (Mexico), SeaTac (USA), Lakeland (USA), Melbourne/Viera (USA). (Also there’s the Panama team still looking for a venue.)

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:

First timers!

Since last week we had one person getting their first upload into Ubuntu: it’s Gabor Kelemen, who fixed a bug in pkgbinarymangler. Great work! Only one new first-timer is obviously a sign of the rate of uploads slowing down slightly due to the release, but I’m sure we will see a lot of people fixing bugs post-release. :-)

New Contributor

I had a chat with Florian Brandes from Germany.

Florian BrandesMy Ubuntu story:
Well, I always wanted to know how things worked. Starting from being young and dissembling everything I found (very much to the displeasure of my parents) I soon got fascinated by computers. Of course you can only dissemble a computer so far, and I had the same feeling about operation systems. I was growing up with MSDOS, soon got Windows 3.1 to run and after a while I got my first Windows 95 computer. Since I do also like to try new things, I wondered about the world outside of Microsoft and soon found my way to Linux.

At first, I only tried it as a live CD, then installed it as second OS alongside Windows, but soon switched to Linux completely. I basically tried every major distribution out there (Starting with SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, Red Hat, Slackware, even LFS) and finally tried out Ubuntu. I instantly liked and kept it.

Back to topic: I couldn’t really get Windows to know, not on a detailed level at least, and found that you could “dissemble” Linux very well. If I wanted, I could download the source of (almost) every package or piece of software and change the code, add features or fix bugs. But with all things, it sounds easier than it is and so I was content with just working with Ubuntu, writing a small script here and there, setting up a server at home etc.

But at some point I got interested in the community behind Ubuntu. What was Canonical? How is it related to Ubuntu? Why is Ubuntu so close to Debian? And I started reading wiki pages after wiki pages about Ubuntu, and how to contribute.

I never counted myself a programmer, my skills for that are basic at best, but after I read about packaging, MOTU and a classroom session on IRC about Starting Ubuntu development, I got hooked.

I noticed you fixed some bugs in Ubuntu. What was your experience like?
I tried fixing small FTBFS bugs the first week and it only [;-)] took me about three days to figure out that Monster Masher needed “esound” added to PKG_CHECK_MODULES in configure.ac.

I learned a lot about autotools and packaging these three days. At the end of the third day trying to build the package and then see pbuilder run it’s course without an error…That was a very fine moment indeed!

After that, I continued fixing FTBFS bugs and am just working on mm3d.

I also got in touch with other developers this way and learned that a patch system is nice thing to have, just as well as keeping the changes small (My first merge proposal had the size of 5000 lines diff code…I ran autoreconf before doing the commit)

Did you run into any problems? What do you think could have been easier?
Well it would of course be easier, if I already knew where a problem would lie, what syntax this specific command needs, how the heck that code works etc. but then, where would be the fun?!

I think Ubuntu already did a terrific job concerning the whole “contributing” part. I would even go as far as calling it a little bit too much. When I first started reading, there were dozens of pages targeting development and packaging with cross links going everywhere. It took me a while to read all that (which was definitely worth it and necessary) but it could have been a little bit more straight forward.

How did you generally like it?
Oh, I like it! I like getting to know all kinds of things and maybe even contribute some (small) things. One of those days I will try to fix some “real” bugs (au contraire to the FTBFS bugs, which were mostly packaging errors of some kind).

I would recommend contributing to Ubuntu to everyone, who is interested. It’s not only fixing bugs or adding new features, but the average user who files a bug report, which makes all the difference. I think this is one of the main differences between Open-Source Projects and proprietary software: The Community.

Sure, there are a lot of people developing applications for windows (and nothing wrong with that!) but only Microsoft works on Windows itself. In Ubuntu, it’s different. Everyone can contribute to Ubuntu itself and make it better. That’s what I like so much about it. It’s a whole new world.

Would you be OK if I blogged about you this time? If so, could you write a few words about who you are and what you do with Ubuntu?
Yes it would be OK ;-)

Well, my name is Florian Brandes, I live and work in Germany. I’m a medical student, fourth year, and like working with technical things in my spare time(technical meaning ? programming of microchips, programming on the computer, setting up a home entertainment center and a home server and so on.)

I use Ubuntu for my spare time as well as for studying. I also work in a laboratory and use my laptop for my work there, too. I’m quite content with it and wouldn’t want to miss it.


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.