Launchpod 15 – Launchpad’s going open source!

Launchpod: the Launchpad team podcast!

Host: Matthew Revell.
Theme: Obscurity by Barry Warsaw.

Launchpad will be open source on the 21st July this year! (22 June 2009 ed. note: we may push the date a bit, for testing purposes; it could be in August instead.)

Karl Fogel joined the Launchpad team recently as the Launchpad Ombudsman. Find out what that unusual job title means and hear Karl talk about the Launchpad team’s plans for going open source, our new development wiki and how we’re planning to build a community process around the newly open source Launchpad.

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24 Responses to “Launchpod 15 – Launchpad’s going open source!”

  1. Jef Spaleta Says:

    Is the Soyuz component going to be opened as part of the Launchpad opening?


  2. Flimm Says:

    The new Launchpad wiki is good news! I’m sorry, I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but does the wiki concern Launchpad itself, or can projects on Launchpad have their own wiki pages for blueprints and stuff?

  3. Karl Fogel Says:

    No, I think that’s one of the things we’re not opening up (however, there is another component that does much of what Soyuz does that is being opened up).

    See for more on this.

  4. Mark Shuttleworth Says:


    No, as you are aware, Soyuz will not be released together with Launchpad. Soyuz is a back-end tool that we use to manage builds and archives. Launchpad will include a tool that you can use with the Debian Archive Kit (DAK), so you can represent your archives in Launchpad. We use that tool, for example, when working with non-Soyuz archives, like those at and get-deb.


  5. Karl Fogel Says:


    I have yet to run into a developer here who doesn’t think that project wikis are a good idea :-). So it’s coming, it’s just a question of when. See the open bug on this:

    and some other discussion here:

  6. Jamie Bennett Says:

    Good to see there’s a firm date on when we will see launchpad open sourced.

  7. Jef Spaleta Says:

    Well Mark,

    As far as Soyuz goes, are you going to still require your non-Canonical employeed community of Ubuntu contributors to use it, without empowering them to contribute to its day-to-day functionality of a tool to do their work. The fundamental benefit of power of open source is grounded in the fact that users of the software are empowered to be able to help fix and adapt the software. But of course you know that already Mark. You are the smartest man in open source after all.

    Don’t non-Canonical employees make use of Soyuz on a day to day basis? Aren’t there bugs that are frustrating some of those non-Canonical employeed Ubuntu contributors? Don’t those non-Canonical employed Ubuntu community members deserve fair an equitable access to that tool’s codebase because its a tool they are using to help you build Ubuntu? Of course they do, that’s how you build a community distribution. You empower your community by giving them access to improve their workflow by improving the tools to do the work they are doing. What’s weird is that you don’t see that as important for your community of contributors.

    There are a number of bugs filed against Soyuz in Launchpad

    Is Canonical committed to providing all the manpower for fixing all those bugs in a timely manner? Not likely considering that a bug from 2006, which is affecting Canonical’s OEM efforts in 2008: oops.

    Is Canonical stating for the record that the the workflow of the Ubuntu community of contributors would not materially benefit by being able to contribute to the development effort of Soyuz? There are a lot of confirmed and bugs of high importance in that Soyuz buglist. Are you sure Canonical couldn’t make use of some help from the community in developing Soyuz for mutual benefit? I’m pretty sure it would be mutually beneficial, and I’m going to continue to point that out..every single time I see any announcement anywhere about Launchpad being opened. I really hope your arguments for keeping Soyuz closed get better or this just won’t be any fun at all for me.


  8. kfogel Says:

    Re Jef’s comment: he probably asked because we were (until a moment ago) listing Soyuz on the dev wiki. Fixed now — sorry for the confusion, Jef.

  9. Jef Spaleta Says:

    kfogel: That’s part of it.

    But let me be clear, I have an agenda and I’m not afraid to persistently push it. I think its in everyone’s best interest if Canonical to open up all of the tool and service codebases which the Ubuntu community of contributors are required to interact with to do the work of building the distribution.. Soyuz included.

    If Canonical wants to keep its optional user/customer oriented services closed…sure fine..whatever. But everything in the Ubuntu community contribution workflow needs to be opened so that that workflow can better adapt to contributor needs..via community contributor development effort. Canonical can be the gatekeeper on the codebases and keep crackpot ideas out…someone has to be that gatekeeper. But to withhold access to any part of the contribution toolset puts an added burden on Canonical to expense limited manpower to implement and fix things that your own contributor base has the knowledge and experience to do for themselves..if they only had the access to do it. That is a very short-sighted and ill-advised restriction on the way your community of contributors can interact. Soyuz is no different that Rosetta in this regard and I’m going to continue to hammer away at Canonical about opening up soyuz even if its not listed on the wiki.


  10. Jonathan Jesse Says:


    From the conversation of Kiko at UDS in Mountain View he mentioned that some parts of Launchpad were going to be open sourced right away and others might happen later. Personally I have never seen a problem with launchpad not being open. I enjoy using it better then bugzilla and any other software projet system I’ve worked with.


  11. Marcus Says:

    …. not to mention, extraordinarily hypocritical and opens to doubt all that Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth, et al, claim to represent regarding free (as in freedom) software.

    Is this empire building?

    Seems like Ubuntu raped Debian, and the community is as stupid as always and won’t figure this out for another decade.

  12. Martijn Faassen Says:

    Great news about Launchpad’s open sourcing! I hail from the Zope community (developer, and chairman of the Zope Foundation board in fact) and Launchpad is built on bits of Zope 3, among other things. The Zope project also uses Launchpad quite a bit itself, thanks especially to active support from Canonical.

    Unfortunately the communication between the Zope community and the Launchpad developers has been rather lackluster for a long time. Codebases probably have diverged for some time; it’s hard to tell. We understand some of the reasons why; investing time in an open source community can be distracting and sometimes it’s easier to just get work done than spend a lot of time talking and negotiating.

    We believe however that the Launchpad developers must have many interesting ideas and possibly code that could be used to improve the Zope ecosystem. Likewise I’m sure there’s much goodness within the Zope ecosystem (in terms of ideas, people, and software) that the Launchpad developers could benefit from. You know, those benefits of open source communities that some people talk about. πŸ™‚

    This Launchpad open sourcing is a positive sign and makes me hopeful. I’ve also gotten a few other positive signs recently. It’d be nice to hear more from the Launchpad people about how we could improve cooperation. We’re open to suggestions and ideas (beyond moving all our source code into bzr to make your life easier; sorry guys, not today). You know where to find me. πŸ™‚

  13. Mark Shuttleworth Says:


    I appreciate your concern, and it’s true that there are issues in Soyuz that our community would be delighted to see fix, and possibly even willing to lend a hand with. However, it’s also true that Soyuz operates largely in the background, it’s not something that people interact with directly, and it’s is tightly coupled to many of the core processes that we use to service our customers. So our community, like our own teams, will need to work with the developers to identify the issues they most want fixed, and give clear and useful suggestions as to how best the system could work for them.

    We do have some community members who have access to Launchpad and Soyuz code today, and will continue that for folks who have a genuine interest in adding specific features.

    Given that we, like Red Hat your employer, will draw a line beyond which we will not publish code, I think it will be difficult to satisfy you. That line does exist – you must be well aware of the plethora of tools that Red Hat uses internally, and which are not open source, for RHEL’s production.


  14. Jef Spaleta Says:

    For the record… I am not an employee of Red Hat. I have never been an employee of Red Hat. I have successfully suckered Red Hat into giving me a few free t-shirts and the like and expensing the cost of sending me on a few trips to conferences (primarily to get a free trip to visit family), but I have never received a paycheck from Red Hat in any capacity. The minuscule amount of actual work I have so far done for the Fedora community has been done to serve my own personal agenda, and not at a corporate entity’s direction. Making sure companies which proclaim to be open source advocates are actually ‘walking the walk’ is on my personal agenda. My involvement in Fedora from the beginning was meant to take advantage of the opportunity to help see Red Hat ‘walk the walk’ And I’m very confident in the progress being made there. Red Hat seems to have the opposite problem to Canonical in this regard at the moment. Red Hat’s ‘walk’ is far outpacing it’s ‘talk.’

    But I will say this…for the record..Fedora has not built any closed all. Red Hat has gone to great lengths to make a clear and separate space to grow the Fedora project openly in partnership with the community. No NDAs, no secret special access to strategic partners. All the software that Fedora infrastructure runs is openly developed. All of it. The mirror management (which absolutely kicks ass by the way, the local network administration configuration is really nice), the build system, the source control, the wiki..on and on. Every single piece of Fedora’s infrastructure is open source for contributors to access and to help extend or fix. And when it matters, we reach inside of Red Hat in to RHEL from the Fedora side of things and we push…hard…to get the Red Hat in-house tool licensed openly so we can use them in Fedora as well. Fedora, the community project, and its community of contributors have full access to the source code that makes up every single contributor facing process that Fedora requests or mandates its contributors use to interact with to get bits out to users. There’s no back alley arrangement where we hand off our community supplied packages to be built and tested in secret with RHEL’s toolchain. Fedora does all of nitty gritty things that matter to Fedora release management out in the open, warts and all.

    I have no idea how RHEL is put together, but I’m sure its dynamics are quite different than Fedora’s. RHEL doesn’t have a community of contributors, it has customers and strategic partners. Fedora is community, and what is equitable consideration for community contributors is not the same as what is equitable for strategic corporate partners. By building a single process which stresses the needs and interests of strategic partners and customers, you devalue your contributors.

    If your employees time is compensated for with a paycheck, and your partners’ strategic value is compensated by giving them a seat at the planning table, and your customers resources are compensated by support services…. in what way do you compensate contributors for the value of their time and effort to help you build your distribution? You do it by giving them access to the codebases and the freedom to re-purpose them for their own future needs. That’s exactly what’s Debian has done for you in the past.

    -jef”Not an employee of Red Hat”spaleta

  15. AndrΓ© Gondim Says:

    Good news!! πŸ˜‰

  16. matthew Says:

    Wow, Jef.

    I am with you to a point. Free and open is wonderful. However, the fundamentalist fury with which you are pushing your ideals is counterproductive and only serves to make people (me included) want to separate themselves from your arrogant and rude attitude.

    You have stated your case. The project leaders disagree with you. Now it is time to vote with your feet. Walk away. You will be happier, and others will, too.

    This isn’t a civil rights issue like Apartheid or racial segregation in the 1960s American South or Gandhi-era India. This is a political opinion-driven issue. You still have your freedom to use what you prefer. Let others have theirs.

  17. Joshua Wulf Says:

    Congratulations on doing this. Launchpad is an impressive piece of work, and my experience of interacting with it as a user has been satisfying, especially bug reporting. Gives me hope for Linux on the Desktop.

    Infrastructure pieces can be challenging to open up, especially ones that you rely on for doing business – what to speak of ones that give you a (perceived) advantage if they remain proprietary. It was good to see Red Hat release Spacewalk, in a similar vein.

    Looking forward to more of the same

  18. Karl Fogel Says:


    Well, if what you say is true, Canonical will eventually realize it. IOW, if you really believe your argument, then you won’t need to “hammer away”, because you can be confident that reality will do it for you. ‘Nuff said :-).


  19. Vadim P. Says:


    You make a fine example of how uncivilized, unrespectful, and outrageously demanding linux users can be. It really makes someone’s day to waste their time servicing such a person.

  20. Jef Spaleta Says:


    For any serious advocate of change…is eventually ever soon enough? Surely Shuttleworth isn’t content about seeing all the changes he wants to see in things like UI development happen…eventually..or see upstream project releases syncing…eventually. In the same way, I am ill-contented to see corporate entities embrace open development..eventually. Especially corporate entities who spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of open development to others. Canonical is one of those corporate entities.

    But don’t fret, as soon as there are no more press stories about Launchpad becoming open, I’ll have far fewer opportunities to get on my soapbox. The more you talk about it before it happens, the more chances I get to talk about what the implications are that soyuz isn’t being opened. We’ll all be able to move on with our lives once this has no significant PR or marketing angle to leverage.

    It doesn’t really matter what I believe. I an absolutely and fundamentally unimportant. As an employee of Canonical do you believe that the open development process produces better results than a closed development process? Do you believe in that strongly enough advocate for the opening of Soyuz for community contributor development to empower the Ubuntu contributors to make the Ubuntu better ? Would you for example stick your next out and sign an Ubuntu community petition extolling the benefits of opening up soyuz.. as a much more polite way to advocate for that change?

    Would you agree that Ubuntu is openly developed even those Soyuz, which is critical to releasing Ubuntu, is not open for contribution without special permission? Yes Ubuntu is a collection of open source software…so is Xandros. Yes Ubuntu is built using a community process. But that process is not fundamentally an open one…not until Soyuz is open…or Ubuntu contributors are free to develop and use an open codebase with duplicates what Soyuz does as part of the Ubuntu release process.

    By the way, can you tell me which Launchpad components are required to make the Ubuntu PPA feature work? Is Soyuz among them?


  21. Lusitano Says:

    Please, use GNU/GPL 3

    Thank you very much

  22. Jared Spurbeck Says:

    This is kind of late coming in, but I just wanted to congratulate Jef on his principled and polite approach to this. I share his concerns about Free / Open-Source development, I think that they’re important enough to advocate to others, and I don’t think he was being rude about it at all.

    I also think that it is contradictory for Ubuntu to simultaneously tout the benefits of Free / Open-Source Software, and internally use closed-source development tools. If FOSS is so good, then why aren’t they using it? If licensing software as Free / Open-Source is for everyone’s mutual benefit, then why aren’t they doing so? And if it’s not, then why are they pushing FOSS on us?

    I don’t think that it’s zealotry to point out this contradiction, especially as someone who loves the Ubuntu community and who wants to see it thrive. It may be zealotry to only use Free / Open-Source anything, but it could also be principled … or even practical. It could be a means of avoiding lock-in, or even just a way to get involved with a project you love, as Jef pointed out. At any rate, Ubuntu is a Free / Open-Source Software project, and that’s one of the things that a lot of community members like about it. So why can’t the tools be licensed as well? Why aren’t they today, and why weren’t they to begin with?

    I congratulate Mr. Shuttleworth on the open-sourcing of Launchpad. I just get the feeling that he doesn’t “get” why Free / Open-Source Software is so important, and is only opening things up enough to be perceived as being open. And I could be mistaken, but I feel like he is taking advantage of our community spirit, and of the goodwill associated with the Ubuntu name and with Free / Open-Source Software in general. And the Ubuntu One debate going on today only helps to underscore these feelings that I and others have.

    I’m not sure that I like that. And I don’t like that people who raise honest doubts are being told to “vote with their feet,” or being accused of zealotry. It’s not consistent with the spirit of Ubuntu, or with the Ubuntu ethos, to dismiss people out of hand like that. Just like keeping Ubuntu One and parts of Launchpad closed-source is not consistent with cultivating an open and friendly community around a Free / Open-Source Software project.

  23. Karl Fogel Says:

    Just to be clear: the comments accusing Jef of zealotry aren’t coming from Canonical. I completely understand Jef’s point of view, and don’t mind his advocating it at all (and also don’t mind the way he advocates it).

    I have nothing to add to the substance of this discussion, other than what we’ve already said previously. But I do want to make it very clear that no one from Canonical said anyone should “vote with their feet”. We publish other people’s comments, but we are not responsible for them!


  24. MTecknology Says:

    I’m really excited to see Launchpad source code released. I’m also excited to start contributing to the project and fixing bugs. Of course that implies if I have time. I would like to see how the best of the best of the best write code and apply it to my own code as well as use it to develop standards and practices in my own company.

    It’s sad to see the incredible lack of common sense with the open sourcing of software. I would like to see the entire package released. Of course it all comes in due time. Preferably after others understand how Open Source actually works. It really bothers me to see how some people think everything everyone does should be open sourced (essentially) just because they say so.

    Mark: You’ve always been a very approachable guy and I’d like to post my gratitude toward everything you’ve brought together. You’ve generated an extremely outstanding community which is perhaps 90% of the reason I have never stayed away from Ubuntu for long.

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