This is a read-only archive. Find the latest Linux articles, documentation, and answers at the new Linux.com!

Linux.com

Feature: Linux

Report from the Ubuntu Developer Summit

By Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier on November 10, 2006 (8:00:00 AM)

Share    Print    Comments   

Mountain View, Calif. -- Ubuntu developers and other interested parties from all over the world have swarmed to Google's offices in Mountain View this week for the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) to plan out the next release of Ubuntu.

In total, about 140 people have registered for the summit. According to Jane Silber, Canonical's COO, only 30 of the attendees are actually employed by Canonical, the company that sponsors Ubuntu. The remainder of the participants include members of the Ubuntu community, representatives of upstream projects, and other parties who have an interest in how Ubuntu is developed. I've talked to members of the Software Freedom Day project, the Linux Terminal Server Project, several Sun employees, and (of course) a few folks from Google who've dropped in to observe.

Some developers only drop in for a day or two to discuss specifications that are of particular interest to them. For example, Josh Berkus of the PostgreSQL team was in on Wednesday to talk about improving PostgreSQL performance out of the box on Ubuntu, and Keith Packard of X.org is scheduled to be around on Friday to talk about some of the proposed specs for X.org in Ubuntu 7.04, codenamed Feisty Fawn.

How the process works

The developer summit is primarily a chance for developers to hash out ideas and write specs for new features or behavior in the distribution or the community. Aside from a bit of time at the beginning and end of the day that is reserved for announcements and short presentations, the summit is entirely devoted to discussion and heads-down work on specifications for upcoming Ubuntu releases, or for the governance of the Ubuntu community.

Developers propose specifications on Launchpad, and then proposals are scheduled for Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions that last about one hour. From there, proposals can be pushed back for further discussion, or approved and sent on to have a specification written. After the specification is written, it is sent to review, and then on to implementation if it passes review.

Though many developers have made the trek to Mountain View, remote participation is encouraged. VoIP dial-in is available for each of the sessions, and developers are using the Gobby collaborative text editor to write up notes for each meeting. There's no substitute for being at UDS in person, but the Ubuntu folks have tried to accommodate the developers who couldn't make it.

I've sat in on a few of the BoF sessions, and it's interesting to see how much thought goes into each feature. For example, I sat in on a session Wednesday about improving audio codec support for Ubuntu. About 20 developers were in on the session to talk about how to make it easier to provide support for popular codecs with minimal fuss on the user's part.

For legal reasons, the easiest technical solution -- just shipping everything that's available -- is out. Instead, the developers are trying to find a way to allow users to download codecs on demand, and let the users sort out the legal issues. This requires a fair amount of planning, since the solution has to work in GNOME, KDE, and Xfce.

Ubuntu is, as far as I know, unique in providing this level of influence and access to developers outside the project. While Debian is a community-oriented distribution, influence is largely relegated to members of the project only, and there's no central planning session for Debian releases. Fedora and openSUSE allow for some community involvement, but are largely directed by Red Hat and Novell, respectively -- and Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise are entirely shaped by the engineering teams at those companies.

This is not to say that Ubuntu is a free-for-all. Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu's self-appointed benevolent dictator for life, says that Feisty development will be a 50/50 mix between features dictated to the development team by Canonical, and community driven features.

Interesting new features

The final list of features for Feisty isn't set yet, but there have been some interesting discussions so far.

As I mentioned, it looks likely that it will be easier for users to get multimedia codecs "on demand" in Feisty, which will a great relief for many users. Work is also being done to deal with the "audio jumble" problem where different sound systems or programs "fight" for access to sound.

The spec is not finished yet, but it looks like PulseAudio is going to replace the Enlightened Sound Daemon (ESD) as the first step towards harmonizing access to sound so that multiple programs can all chirp, beep, and ooze sound out of your sound card simultaneously without the dreaded "cannot access /dev/dsp" error.

Shuttleworth has indicated that desktop effects, via Beryl, will be a high priority for Feisty. Also, it looks like Ubuntu will be going a bit further in shipping binary drivers in the Feisty release. At present, Ubuntu includes some binary blobs to support wireless cards and some other devices -- but the non-free Nvidia drivers, for example, are not enabled by default.

Shuttleworth says that Feisty will include the binary drivers by default to provide users with the best performance, but he also wants to educate users about free vs. non-free drivers and alternative hardware that does have free drivers available.

Today is the final day of the UDS. If you're in the Mountain View area and have an interest in Ubuntu development, sign up on the wiki and head on down. I'll be there to cover the final day of discussions, and we'll have several interviews with Ubuntu developers and a more detailed overview of features to be found in Feisty next week.

Share    Print    Comments   

Comments

on Report from the Ubuntu Developer Summit

Note: Comments are owned by the poster. We are not responsible for their content.

Get 6.10 right first!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 11, 2006 03:47 AM
Maybe before they start work on the next release, they ought to iron out 6.10. I know I'm gonna get flamed for this, but c'mon, 6.10 is a lackluster release compared to the stellar Dapper. I've tried to upgrade to Edgy 3 times, using various methods (condoned and otherwise) and none of them have worked. I've run Linux for a long time, and never have I seen a release as buggy outside of Alpha's and RC's before.

The only way I got Edgy to work was a straight install on a test machine, rather than an upgrade... so I'll be sticking with Dapper, which is a rock solid Linux to be proud of.

#

Re:Get 6.10 right first!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 11, 2006 10:33 AM
Hence the name edgy. It's not totally stable. They've also only spent four months on it rather than 7.5 like on Dapper. Certainly their upgrade should be better, but in someways I'm not surprised that it has the problems it does.

Even Mark Shuttleworth said those who want a stable system should stick with Dapper.

#

Re:Get 6.10 right first!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 11, 2006 06:13 PM

I know I'm gonna get flamed for this,



Then why bother mentioning it? You're just looking for trouble and are no better than the flamers you implicitly dislike.



I usually install each release in a new partition and migrate my data across as I've found all Ubuntu upgrades to be buggy. Ubuntu installs are generally clean and give me a chance to remove the cruft from the system. I've been running 6.10 for several days with no problems.

#

Re:Get 6.10 right first!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 11, 2006 10:07 PM
THINK about what "Edgy" means.

Edgy => Bleeding Edge => Not entirely polished or stable.

Ubuntu website AND Shuttleworth's blog, expressly said it was a bleeding edge version, why do you think the support period is far shorter than Dapper?

The point of Edgy is to try new ideas and such, to act as a platform demonstrator.

If you use 6.10 (Edgy) as production, there's nothing to say besides: you're an idiot. If you're my Admin, I would fire you on the spot for your stupidity.

Next time, READ the announcements and what the new releases are really aimed for! You claim you've use Linux a long time, but I don't get why you didn't read about Edgy before diving in.

I expected experienced Linux users to READ before they leap!

#

Re:Get 6.10 right first!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 12, 2006 07:08 AM
C'mon. Both of you are being a little militant.

I've upgraded from Dapper to Edgy on no less than five machines now and all's gone very smoothly. It's all a matter of if you've added any third party repos, or used stuff like "Automatix" or "Easy Ubuntu" or the like.

I was at the Dev Conference and I was super impressed with all the people I met, and their grand visions and plans for the future. Cut 'em a little slack... what they're doing isn't easy by any stretch of the word. They're doing a FINE job.

#

Ubuntu is not a religion

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 12, 2006 07:29 AM
Edgy is buggy...get used to it. Congratulations if you installed it successfully but the upgrade does not work. Just read the forum or visit the IRC channel to see how it just does not work.

Open source, linux and Ubuntu are merely tools to get things done. If those tools require hours of work arounds or extensive knowledge of sophisticated terminal commands, then how good a tool is it?

I upgraded from Dapper to Edgy (a 24 hour download and configuration ordeal) that crashed my entire system. A later attempt to do a fresh install didn't crash, but nothing worked right.

I've returned to Dapper on a virtual machine.
Dapper works for just about everybody! Edgy doesn't for a lot of people.

Until Ubuntu is flawless (and it's only 89 percent there) I'm sticking with a combination of XP and Dapper.

#

Re:Ubuntu is not a religion

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 12, 2006 11:10 AM
Ubuntu is a distro.

I myself don't use this distro, but I think the Ubuntu team is doing great things for Linux. With their attitude of "lets tackle those big problems and get this thing going" as opposed to "well it's not our program so...". Examples like the improved startup and their work with video codecs, etc.. are all helping round out desktop Linux. Redhats coming out with great stuff to assist their server customers, while Ubuntu is appealing directly to the desktop crowd working with tons of OS projects to produce better code under the GPL. I commend the Ubuntu developers for their work.

While I have heard the new release is a pain to install/upgrade I hardly believe that these problems won't be sorted out very soon. Rome wasn't built in a day; you installed a dot-0 release.

#

Re:Ubuntu is not a religion

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 13, 2006 04:34 AM
Not sure of your setup obviously but the one peice I'd recommend is using your Dapper as the host OS and running winXP under a VM unless you need gaming or direct hardware support of some sort.

Ideally, I'm loving a win32 partition (30%) and mandriva partition (70%) with my VM hosted from<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/var under Mandriva. Win32 get's a native partition since I need game support else everything requiring windows runs on a VM until I'mm able to replace it.

You'll find a Guest OS on a Windows Host runs slower than a Guest OS on a *nix host; even windows runs better under linux.. bahahaha

#

Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 11, 2006 03:20 PM
"Also, it looks like Ubuntu will be going a bit further in shipping binary drivers in the Feisty release. At present, Ubuntu includes some binary blobs to support wireless cards and some other devices -- but the non-free Nvidia drivers, for example, are not enabled by default.

Shuttleworth says that Feisty will include the binary drivers by default"

Using closed source bits in an open source operating system is not good at all. Ubuntu sends a message to their users that it is OK to use closed source solutions and they also send a message to hardware manufacturers that it is OK to provide binary-only drivers for Linux.

These are very bad messages to send because they hamper the good work that other, more responsible, Linux distributions have done so far to keep Linux open source. Ubuntu chooses short term convenience over the long term benefits and that is a very irresponsible strategy.

It looks like Mark Shuttleworth and the Ubuntu team are ready to do immoral things because they don't really care what's good for their users -- they only care about Ubuntu's popularity and nothing else. Shame on you!

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 11, 2006 11:10 PM
I agree completely.

If this is true, it will really send the wrong message to nvidia and amd/ati. We really should avoid these drivers to be installed by default in any distro.

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 25, 2006 05:08 PM
I am a GNU/Linux driver developer for a hardware mfg company and the overwhelming drone coming out of our manager's offices is "90% of our customers run Windows so the demand isn't there to put a ton of effort into doing this on Linux". Or "we haven't heard any of our customer base calling for a Linux<nobr> <wbr></nobr>..." you fill in the rest. The point is that if Ubuntu can get (any) Linux on the desktop and server in significant numbers then we'll stop hearing this sad old story over and over again from hardware vendors. That increase in numbers will inturn increase support for Linux<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... but it has to get noticed first! I do see Ubuntu may be in danger of getting cornholed into a desktop system that's not suitable for the server. They may want to step up the all-in-one solution for the enterprise marketing blurbs and be damn sure that their server pkgs are 100% compatible with Debian's disto (for the hardcore IT folks).

#

Maybe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 12, 2006 12:35 AM
You are right. Popularity does not equal success.

Though on the other hand, this could make Linux grow, as it would be easier to use for mortals who don't really care about FOSS, they just want listen to music, surf the intarweb, chat on MSN using their AOLbonics, and write dumb stuff on Myspace.
If Linux grows, maybe hardware vendors pay more attention to it...

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 12, 2006 12:35 AM
I'm OK with binary drivers...But only if its used as a temporary solution. In the long term, I still want to use an open-source one. (So I'm waiting for the 3D acceleration part of the open driver for Nvidia cards.)

What do you expect? Canonical is a commercial company, is it not?

But I do agree with your point. It sends the wrong message to the first time Linux user.

If not the concept of open-source, there wouldn't be Linux or any other useful solutions we have today...And that's what most people take for granted.

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 12, 2006 02:16 PM
"It looks like Mark Shuttleworth and the Ubuntu team are ready to do immoral things because they don't really care what's good for their users -- they only care about Ubuntu's popularity and nothing else. Shame on you!"

Which means new users won't have to worry so much about getting Nvidia drivers to work or kept up to date, I suspect, which is a good thing. If you don't like it, don't use it. Use one of the many other crippled no-nvidia driver by default distros, have fun.

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 12, 2006 06:50 PM
Another way of looking at this issue is that it is actually the nVidia graphics controller that is crippled, because it doesn't offer a decent open source driver for Linux (or at least open the specs so that others may develop a decent driver).

If you decide to buy Linux-hostile hardware, don't complain that it isn't well supported on Linux. It is understandable that new users should make such a mistake but there is some evidence that also the experienced users continue to buy computers with nVidia graphics card because it's so easy to install the binary driver. And distro developers have to deal with bug reports that are caused by those binary drivers -- and there is no way that the developers can fix those problems when there is no source code available. See what an Ubuntu kernel team member says about the stability of nVidia/ATI drivers:
<a href="http://kernelslacker.livejournal.com/62413.html?thread=221133#t221133" title="livejournal.com">http://kernelslacker.livejournal.com/62413.html?t<nobr>h<wbr></nobr> read=221133#t221133</a livejournal.com>

Furthermore, we might consider how we could improve this undesirable situation (nVidia being hostile to Linux). Will the situation improve if all the major Linux distributions start using the binary driver? Or should the users of nVidia graphics card complain to nVidia about their poor Linux support, possibly saying that they consider switching to another graphics card? Which would be more effective?

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 13, 2006 02:29 PM
In no way is nvidia hostile toward linux. Their drivers are the best quality I've ever seen. I wish we could have open source drivers, but until there is a business case, can you really expect them to?

I think Intel has been one of the longest standing partners in Linux and they have recently open sourced their wireless drivers (except for the firmware). Don't you think nvidia will eventually follow suit? Let nvidia know that theyre doing a good job, but there is bug xyz that could have been fixed if there was an open source version.

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 13, 2006 08:17 PM
Every single step that the Linux operating system takes towards the wrong direction (closed source) will make it three times more difficult to turn back towards the right direction (open source).

(1) nVidia gives Linux a mediocre quality closed source driver and a crappy open source driver. New Linux users ask themselves: "Why shold we use the crappy open source driver when there is a better closed source driver available?"

They will continue to buy computers with nVidia graphics cards because there is a mediocre quality closed source driver available for Linux. But the Linux driver for nVidia is not as good as the Windows driver.

The consequence: The graphics quality in Linux will never be as good as the Windows graphics and Linux developers can't improve the situation because the Linux driver is closed source.

(2) Linux distro developers think: "That other distro is more popular than our distro because they make it easy for new users to install all kinds of closed source add-ons. Users want closed source add-ons and we must give users what they want. Let's make these closed source add-ons to be installed by default and we'll become the most popular distro."

The consequence: Linux distros start to rely on the closed source bits. This introduces lots of new bugs and problems but the distro makers can't fix the problems because they can't access the source code. And Linux becomes even poorer alternative to Windows -- Linux has poorer graphics and Linux also has more bugs than Windows.

(3) Other hardware makers think: "Look at nVidia -- they give Linux closed source drivers and they are still the most popular graphics card maker for computers that run Linux. And all the popular distros install the closed source drivers by default. Why should we give our competitors extra advantage by offering open source drivers? No way! We will close the source code for our Linux drivers too, just like nVidia does."

The consequence: It becomes impossible to fix any problems in Linux because the source code for most drivers is not available. Linux becomes a crappy version of Windows. Windows has won and no-one wants to use Linux.

Do you still think that nVidia is in no way hostile toward Linux?

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 19, 2006 04:25 PM
You are correct. The folks who claim otherwise typically are g4m0rz and/or Windows XP users. They're also typically quite young and don't know how to live without being plugged into their iPods 24/7. Such people don't care about long-term goals, but rather only what they think affects them *immediately*. Forget a year or two down the road.

I'm a little older, I suspect, than most folks here. Like you, I see the bigger picture, the same picture that recently got Sun to at last free Java. Sun directly cited inclusion in GNU/Linux distros as a Really Big Factor in their decision to GPL their Java implementation. It even worked on Intel; their video drivers are now Free Software.

I don't give a rat's ass about nVidia. I'm looking at ATI now, hoping that AMD's purchase of it will result in chipset specs. AMD has traditionally been friendly to Free Software. Now that Intel is on top--in a BIG way, too--in the CPU wars again, AMD now *really* needs an important differentiator to compete, just like the old days. Let's hope and watch.

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 17, 2006 07:47 AM
I hardly consider nVidia being hostile to Linux when they provide packaged linux drivers (with installers no less) that keep pace with new hardware releases.

Get a clue people and stop attacking the corporations that gracious enough to make their hardware work on a niche OS. Yes, in the video-game market and also the desktop market, Linux is a niche OS.

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 17, 2006 07:41 AM
Go away RMS!

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Administrator on November 13, 2006 05:49 PM
"Shuttleworth says that Feisty will include the binary drivers by default"


This is interesting because on <a href="http://www.canonical.com/projects" title="canonical.com">Canonical's homepage</a canonical.com> they say about Ubuntu:

"Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux operating system. Canonical is committed to providing a Linux operating system that: is entirely committed to the principles of open source software development; no part of it will ever be proprietary, and we encourage people to use it, improve it and pass it on."



I guess Mark Shuttleworth hasn't read that page...

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 15, 2006 06:10 AM
Currently, we make a specific exception for some "drivers" which are only available in binary form, without which many computers will not complete the Ubuntu installation



Unless the Feisty Fawn installer will need the great 3D effects of AIGLX to complete installation, this exception is being widened from "some drivers without which many computers will not complete the Ubuntu installation" to "any drivers our users may find useful to have"

#

Re:Ubun-what?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 15, 2006 06:13 AM
Have a look at <a href="http://www.ubuntu.com/" title="ubuntu.com">http://www.ubuntu.com/</a ubuntu.com>

#

Re:Ubuntu advocates closed source

Posted by: Administrator on November 13, 2006 10:20 PM
The <a href="http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/philosophy" title="ubuntu.com">Ubuntu philosophy page has</a ubuntu.com>

When you install Ubuntu almost all of the software installed already meets these ideals, and we are working to ensure that every single piece of software you need is available under a licence that gives you those freedoms. Currently, we make a specific exception for some "drivers" which are only available in binary form, without which many computers will not complete the Ubuntu installation. We place these in a restricted section of your system which makes them trivial to remove if you do not need them.


I think you need to read Canonical's statement in the senses that they have provided an OS with no proprietary parts (just remove the restricted bits, which they have made simple to do), and the parts they themselves have provided are not and will never be proprietary.

#

Ubun-what?

Posted by: Administrator on November 14, 2006 11:55 PM
Hi there. I just ran across this article about Ubuntu. What exactly is an Ubuntu? Im sorry but Im really not quite familiar with this. But I am interested to know what it is all about. Hope someone could lend a hand here. Thanks.

#

This story has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.



 
Tableless layout Validate XHTML 1.0 Strict Validate CSS Powered by Xaraya