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. 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.