Have we run out of easy fixes?

Way, way back in the history of Ubuntu I remember hearing a speech by Mark Shuttleworth about how Ubuntu can invest small amounts in key places to cause large changes for the better. I thought it was very hopeful and forward looking as we did have a lot of interesting technologies that weren’t being used or simply not delivered to users in the best way.

But lately the easy wins are all won and it seems at least to me that what we have to look forward to is a much more serious investment into infrastructure projects, design projects and other large projects involving a lot more developers than anyone can even now afford to work on Ubuntu to push it further.

Of course the fact that Ubuntu has been trying it’s best to invest the smallest amount to achieve the largest positive outcome might have given us a reputation with other groups (ahem, fedora/red hat) of being abusive and not really big enough to live up to the name we’ve hyped up for ourselves. But then what to do other than take the awesome work done by the whole free desktop community and combine it together into something for your target audience? Well that was the plan while we were all skint in the Ubuntu community and the people doing most of the work just happen to be over there in fetching red hats.

But perhaps that’s all over, we’ve pushed all the easy stuff and now it’s hard work. I sometimes question the logic on Canonical’s part of investing so much in Launchpad, landscape and other ancillary projects which don’t seem to make much of a difference to Ubuntu development or deployment and yet investment into infrastructure is starving for more attention, more testing and more core development.

The only other thing the community could do is working less on ui playthings and more on interesting core development. But that’s asking a lot considering most gnome, fdo and kernel developers tend to use Ubuntu and yet avoid the community (not a bad thing if that’s the best way to get things done).

Thoughts?

12 thoughts on “Have we run out of easy fixes?

  1. Perhaps the biggest opportunities are no longer in code. ROI is likely much higher on things like process, testing, training, marketing, management, and design. Easy for me to say as I’m not a developer 🙂

  2. I sometimes question the logic on Canonical’s part of investing so much in Launchpad, landscape and other ancillary projects

    I do think Launchpad does help Ubuntu development. Malone(LP Bugs) is way easier to use than Bugzilla. The amount of functionality in the “Merge Request” of Launchpad is a killer. Many other dev portals have “Pull Request” but they are too basic.

  3. My experience of software development is that it is the art of turning hard things into easy things. This holds true just as much in Ubuntu as anywhere else.

  4. There’s plenty of easy things that can get done. Finding and collecting those things and then connecting the people is the hard part.

  5. No, there are still plenty of easy fixes. I blog about them sometimes, and I know Daniel Holbach’s (and others’) work in Harvest continues.

  6. I have one thing to say to you that will justify any amount of effort put into launchpad: PPAs. Seriously, you’ve got everything on launchpad from code hosting to package deployment. What more could a project want?

  7. Launchpad is part of the infrastructure but it is not very engaging for users … I think canonical needs to find a way to engage users into design and they should focus on infrastructure and core development and most important in training users in becoming local Ubuntu support givers to local businesses and other less experienced users.
    I believe canonical should invest more in engaging users in canonical and it’s infrastructure rather then Ubuntu and Ubuntu should become just the medium through which work will be distributed.

  8. > what we have to look forward to is a much more serious investment into infrastructure projects

    Launchpad is a great infrastructure for our code and bugs. We did very well with papercuts and small bugs. I think it can still use work when it comes to making translations, blueprints and answers easier and more attractive to new users.

    > But then what to do other than take the awesome work done by the whole free desktop community and combine it together into something for your target audience

    We do this very well. We put the puzzle together, fix certain things as we do it and then release it, nicely packaged, good looking and somewhat tested (only so much can be tested in 4 months from Alpha to RC).

    As I said. Launchpad is great, however one big flaw I see every time I works with bugs is that there are many disorganized hardware bugs, which are not classified in any way (Launchpad doesn’t have a concept of hardware). Hardware compatibility is still a common linux issue, even these days. I think we can use a ancillary project which entices members of the Ubuntu Community to share hardware information and fixes to hardware issues. This way we can come to a consensus on the “status” of a piece of hardware and plan what needs to be done to get this hardware device fully functional.

  9. komputes: how would you organise hardware? an imported database like what we have for packages so bugs can be filed against them?

  10. @komputes – the design looks very good and should be worked on, it may need to be split up into a multi-stage process in order to convince programmers to work on it.

    I can also see a few parts where the design needs to be refined to make it easier for users and less complex to look at. But they’re things that can happen during the project’s implementation.

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