Launchpad: The next six months

A couple of weeks ago, the Launchpad team leads at Canonical gathered in Millbank Tower to talk about what we’ll be doing over the next six months. We talked with each other, we talked with Martin Pool from Bazaar, we talked with people on the Ubuntu Platform team, we talked with Mark Shuttleworth, we talked a lot.

Over the week, two very important things slowly began to dawn on us. I’ll talk about one of them now, and leave the other one to hang tantalizingly in the air like some forbidden fruit that’s learned how to hover.

The first important thing we realized is that Launchpad was originally conceived as a way of helping better connect the Ubuntu operating system to the upstream projects on which it depends. We further realized that could do that much better than we are right now.

A flood of bugs

Zillions of bugs get filed against Ubuntu every day. While some of them are introduced when the Ubuntu community packages software, many are really bugs in the underlying upstream code.[citation needed] And quite often they’re already fixed in the latest upstream version — it’s just that the Ubuntu package doesn’t have the fix yet.

Yet even though Ubuntu is drowning in this sea of bugs, it can’t simply forward them upstream indiscriminately. Upstreams shouldn’t be bothered with old bugs; they only want to hear about bugs that are still in their code. And Ubuntu needs to know when such a bug has been found, both to tell users that a fix is coming and to help plan packaging updates.

Package of the day

Launchpad should be doing much more to help rescue Ubuntu from this deluge. With PPAs and source package branches, Launchpad ought to be able to make it really easy to create a packaged version of the tip of any upstream, to test against, and to file bugs and provide patches directly to that upstream. That is,
Launchpad needs to make Ubuntu Daily Builds rock.

That’s going to be our overall focus now. At the same time, we’re also aware that we need to spend time polishing what we already have. So, for this month and for UDS, we’re going to be focusing only on reducing technical debt, fixing OOPSes and cleaning up the UI.

Where to now?

The Canonical Launchpad team are going to be focused on “bridging the gap” between Ubuntu and its upstreams. We’ll focus on better, faster bug triage, on making it really easy to get upstream tip on the Ubuntu desktop and really tight translations integration between Ubuntu & its upstreams. Early next week, we’ll email out a high-level roadmap of where we want to go.

We are interested in getting real-user feedback about our solution to better integrating upstreams and Ubuntu developers. If you are an upstream or Ubuntu developer interested by that problem, please contact us.

PS. If you’ve read this far, you are probably wondering what the second Very Important Thing was. I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait.

8 Responses to “Launchpad: The next six months”

  1. jani Says:

    Was the second thing that downed upon you the fact that lack of native git support makes LP less attractive for a lot of FOSS projects and that something needs to be done ? :D

  2. Kubuntiac Says:

    Better support for daily builds? Awesome!

    As someone already using Chrome daily, Firefox Daily, Amarok Daily (neon) and Inkscape daily, as well as compiling Koffice daily, I’ve desperately wanted to be able to report bugs and see fixes in my other packages as fast as I get to with these.

    This is a move that will massively accelerate the development of free software as a whole imnsho.

  3. Adam Says:

    “The first important thing we realized is that Launchpad was originally conceived as a way of helping better connect the Ubuntu operating system to the upstream projects on which it depends.”

    Nah, the second thing has to be that Launchpad has done, and promises to do, much more than “just” that.

  4. André Gondim Says:

    It’s a nice news!!

    Cheers.

  5. James Says:

    You need to steal Debian’s fixed versions feature – at the moment it’s very confusing tracking which versions of an Ubuntu package have the bug or fix. Once you have that, you can say “fixed in this future version” and the bug will be resolved when that version is uploaded to Ubuntu.

  6. Launchpad Blog Says:

    [...] 1. In September, we defined a strategic vision for Launchpad around “bridging the gap between upstreams and the Ubuntu distribution”. This will help [...]

  7. Martin Says:

    @James, do you have a link for that?

  8. Launchpad Blog Says:

    [...] we started focusing on bridging the gap between upstream projects, users, and distribution packagers, we’ve been talking to a lot of [...]

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