Thanks to Canonical’s sponsoring of community members I was able to attend the Ubuntu Developer Summit in La Hulpe — a small place near Brussels, Belgium — and meet all those people I’ve been talking with on IRC for all those years. It was a wonderful experience.
I arrived at the evening of Sunday 9 May at the hotel after having walked from the Hoeilaart train station to the Dolce la Hulpe hotel, where the conference was located. Fortunately I had missed the bus in the Netherlands that brought me to the train station where I departed, so I managed to take a quicker bus (makes sense?) and got the earlier train.; the walk from the train station to the hotel was a lot longer than I had anticipated.
Canonical chose the hotel wisely, one could say, because it was completely surrounded by forest and even the village was at least a half an hour walk away. The only escape methods where the expensive cabs or the evening coaches Canonical kindly had provided for. This meant that we had nothing to do than thinking and talking about Ubuntu. Not that this was a bad thing, I enjoyed every minute of the week.
Like every hotel upon which a swarm of geeks descends the wireless network of the Dolce la Hulpe lobby also collapsed under the weight of the almost(?) 300 attendees trying to access it at the same time. The routers just couldn’t keep up with the endless requests for new DHCP-leases. Fortunately the network in the conference centre and the auditorium was deployed by the Canonical sysadmins. If I heard it correctly there were about twenty access points flown to the hotel and set up in the auditorium and around the brick core of the conference centre. Those networks did not fail and provided a reliable connection with the outside world. Yay for them!
The design team
The design team was a great example for us all by showing how to learn quickly. During the Lucid cycle they received fierce criticism for some of the changes to the way Ubuntu looks and feels, but soon they started to improve their communication with the community. What the community members want is an explanation of why the change was made, a rationale for the decision. Announcements made for the Maverick cycle where much more elaborate, linking to design specifications on the wiki and showing examples, even before the Ubuntu Developer Summit. Creating a ‘planet’ for the design team has also helped with this by providing the design team with a channel for communicating with the rest of us. It must not have been easy to see your hard work for Ubuntu being rewarded with personal attacks on your blog post, I really hope the frequency will decrease over time as the community gets used to the concept of a design team.
Other teams can learn from this!
There was a session about providing people wanting to write applications for Ubuntu with clear information on how to do so. At developer.ubuntu.com we’ll be creating a site that gives a comprehensive overview of the Ubuntu platform — i.e. the libraries that are used and recommended by Ubuntu — and links to more extensive documentation, like the yet-to-be-written Ubuntu Developers Manual. We want to make it very easy to Quickly write an application that scratches your itch and integrates well with the Ubuntu desktop.
During another session we’ve discussed the Bug Squad Mentorship programme, which didn’t work very well during the Lucid cycle. The people that had offered to mentor didn’t accept a lot of students, and the people that got accepted as a student didn’t always turn up. However, a mentorship programme has a lot of potential and we want to get this working. Therefore hggdh, Pedro Villavicencio, Charlie Kravetz and I volunteered to be the Bug Squad Mentorship administrators. Our task will be to couple students to mentors. At the moment we’re in the process of cleaning up, if you’re considering to request mentorship, please wait. All current students and mentors should have been mailed with a question regarding their current status and whether they are still interested. See the blueprint if you want to know more.
We’ve also discussed the status of the Adopt-an-Upstream and Adopt-a-Package projects. We’re happy to see that people are taking part in it, but we would like to see some more participation in the larger projects. Work will be done on making the documentation more clear, as well as adding more information when necessary. The blueprint contains the work-items.
In between or during the sessions I also found some time to talk with the sole Ubuntu NL and the Ubuntu BE members I’ve seen about Ubuntu NL. We had some nice discussions and I was really glad to meet them In Real Life. As a matter of fact I’ve met the same amount of people from New Zealand as from the Netherlands. To me that really is a powerful demonstration of the language barrier for participating in the international community. English is vital, but this is a disadvantage to non-native speakers. Not only will non-native speakers have more trouble eloquently selling their ideas to eloquent native speakers, but a lot of the non-native speakers actually never learn English good enough to contribute internationally.
What can really motivate me, I’ve discovered at the UDS, are exciting new things. The prospect of Unity coming true, or even Scott James Remnant‘s awesome sounding plans for Upstart in Maverick make I cannot wait for those to become reality and I’m proud to be active in a community that produces this wonderful operating system. Maverick promises to become a great release already, imagine what 12.04 is going to look like!