Getting it?

“In this particular case, though, the naming issue seems rather to distract attention from freedom, so I’d rather focus the attention back where it belongs,” [Stallman] said.

But no, he’s not getting it. He’s talking about the “Linux trademark fracas”, rather than the “GNU credit fracas” we’re used to.

Fixin’ To Fix

Havoc, the main thrust of your response was about valuing design skills in the development process. Note that I didn’t question this at all in my entry, and I explicitly distanced my comments from the specifics of the notifications discussion before I began.

You don’t need to defend the skills of Bryan, Seth, Calum and others. No one is questioning them at all, and their design skills were certainly not the focus of my comments. In my entry, I explained why members of our community would have a strong reaction to Colin’s citing of the “GNOME design team”, which does not exist in any material form. It would be great for developers to go to a design team and talk to them about great ways of solving problems. I’ve harangued Calum for years to head up the GUP, but he doesn’t have the time or inclination to do so. If we’re going to start talking about a GNOME design team, then we actually need to have something that looks and feels like it. Blogs are not a replacement for comprehensible structure or process!

This process is what I raised with Seth, and others, at GUADEC. How do we collaborate? How do we make it work in a community context? If Seth is too lazy or jaded to do it, and laughs at Bryan for trying, then I’m not putting my money on Seth to fix the problem. Perhaps I should take a stab at putting together a community process myself (regardless of my comparatively meagre HCI training)…

JP, I understand why you’ve responded about software development contributions, but that was not the subject of my comments. It is quite a different issue to the community design process issues that I’m chiefly concerned about. I’ll answer a couple of your comments though:

  • Canonical doesn’t focus on new software development, but does sponsor it. The main work that Ubuntu developers do is integration, which does involve software development.
  • The Launchpad tools aren’t open source now, but they’re certainly headed that way, though I don’t think there’s a useful timeline for it yet.
  • There won’t be an ‘enterprise version’ of Ubuntu released in April. It’ll be a normal release with a five year support lifecycle.

Update: Joe, I wasn’t really comparing netapplet and NetworkManager as beautiful solutions, just using them as an example of unfortunate duplicate work (future-proof or not), and a perspective on how and why they were released. We write some pretty ugly throwaway code in Ubuntu-land too. :-)

Behind The Curtain

John, I agree that Davyd’s reaction to this has been somewhat unproductive. However, I have resisted blogging about it for most of the day because I tend to feel the same way. Note that it really has nothing to do with the technical conversation at hand (notifications).

Colin mentioned that libnotify and friends were “not an implementation of the GNOME design team’s design”. There is no “GNOME design team”. It does not exist in any official (or reasonably comprehensible unofficial) capacity whatsoever, so mentioning it in this way tends to be taken somewhat offensively. Why? Well, those of us outside the Red Hat and Novell cube walls hear very brief snippets of work being done entirely outside of the community development process, which engenders cynicism, frustration and mistrust.

This was raised at GUADEC numerous times, because it is hurting our community. Look back at the netapplet/NetworkManager debacle. I tend to think that NetworkManager only became a public project as soon as it did because netapplet development was opened up (and it only seemed to happen because Luis managed to leak a screenshot of it in his blog).

Yes, I totally understand that doing software design in a community context is very difficult. But specifically avoiding the community, duplicating work, keeping innovative GNOME work behind the curtain, and pushing away collaborators and contributors is seriously hurting our community.

Now, that said, I think we’re rocking along very nicely despite all of this mess. What concerns me is how the community (which includes all of us: companies, developers and users) will respond when Red Hat or Novell start to pull back the curtain. Because broad buy-in has not been established during design and development, large lumps of code will turn up, disagreements built on mistrust will arise, and choices will have to be made.

So, Red Hat and Novell dudes, I really hope you guys will realise that fixing this is in your best interests, both socially and commercially.

Extreme Ubuntu Rockage

Some of our users go beyond the call of duty. Dominic White of Rhodes University in South Africa is currently pursuing the Ubuntu T-Shirt Challenge. Ingrid Brant explains the game:

The bet, lodged with Hilton Theunissen, of the Shuttleworth Foundation tuXlab project, is that if Dominic wears said shirt for 31 days in a row and we take a photo everyday then they will send us a whole truck load of shirts for the Rhodes geeks.

They’re keeping a photo log to make sure Dominic is keeping his end of the potentially smelly bet. Dominic wrote a great week one update and even pimped Ubuntu to some visiting Members of Parliament!

Rock on, Dominic! Okay, who else is up to the challenge? :-)

Meanwhile, in Brazil, Ubuntu is rocking the Digital Inclusion Bus!

Honeymoon, OSCON, LWE

A couple of days ago, Pia and I returned from a very restful and refreshing holiday. It was definitely more holiday than honeymoon, considering the four months in between wedding and departure, but that’s pretty much what we needed. Life has been complicated recently. I will write more about the holiday later.

In a few hours, I’m leaving for OSCON and LWE. OSCON looks bloody huge from the schedule, much bigger than last year. Crazy! Come and see my talk.

I’ll be in PDX from 1st-7th, and SFO from 7th-13th. Mail me if you want to catch up!