Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Setting up commercial projects quickly

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Setting up a commercial project in Launchpad has gotten easier. You can now quickly register a proprietary project and enable private bugs. You can create private teams and private personal package archives, AKA private PPA or P3A without the assistance of a Launchpad admin.

When you select the Other/Proprietary license while registering a project, or changing the project’s details,

it is given a complimentary 30-day commercial subscription.

The delay between the moment when a commercial project was registered and when the commercial subscription was purchased and then applied to the project caused a lot of confusion. During this delay, proprietary data could be disclosed. We chose to award the project with a short term commercial subscription which enabled the project to be properly configured while the 12-month commercial subscription was being purchased and applied to the project.

Any project with a commercial subscription can enable

Default private bugs
Once enabled by configuring the project’s bug tracker, all new reported bugs are private. You can choose to make the report public.
Default private bugs
Default private branches
You can request a Launchpad admin to configure private branches for your teams. (You will be able to do this yourself in the near future when projects gain proprietary branches.)

As the maintainer of a project with a commercial subscription, you can register

Private teams
When you register a team, you can choose to set the team visibility to private. The team’s members and data is hidden from non-members.
Private mailing lists
When you create a mailing list for a private team, the archive is also private. Only team members may see the messages in the archive.
Private PPAs
When you create a PPA for your public team, you may choose to make it private; private teams can only have private PPAs. You can subscribe users to your archive so that they may install packages without revealing all your team’s members and data to the subscriber.

A secondary benefit of this change is that you can now try Launchpad’s commercial features before purchasing a 12-month commercial subscription. The features will be disabled at the end of 30-days. Your test data will remain private to ensure your data is not disclosed.

Any open source project may also have a commercial subscription to enable commercial features. You can purchase a commercial subscription at the Canonical store. Commercial subscriptions cost US$250/year/project + applicable V.A.T.


(Photo by Fred Dawson on flickr, creative commons license)

An introduction to our new sharing feature

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Launchpad can now show you all the people that your project is sharing private bugs and branches with. This new sharing feature is a few weeks away from being in beta, but the UI is informative, so we’re enabling this feature for members of the Launchpad Beta Testers team now. If you’d like to join, click on the ‘join’ link on the team page.

What you’ll see

Project maintainers and drivers can see all the users that are subscribed to private bugs and branches. The listing might be surprising, maybe even daunting. You may see people who no longer contribute to the project, or people you do not know at all. The listing of users and teams illustrates why we are creating a new way of sharing project information without managing bug and branch subscriptions.

If you’re a member of (or once you’re a member of, if we want people to join) the Launchpad Beta Testers team, you can find the Sharing link on the front page of your project. I cannot see who your project is sharing with, nor can you see who my projects are sharing with, but I will use the Launchpad project as an example to explain what the Launchpad team is seeing.

The Launchpad project

The Launchpad project is sharing private bugs and branches with 250 users and teams. This is the first time Launchpad has ever provided this information. It was impossible to audit a project to ensure confidential information is not disclosed to untrusted parties. I still do not know how many private bugs and branches the Launchpad project has, nor do I even know how many of these are shared with me. Maybe Launchpad will provide this information in the future.

Former developers still have access

I see about 30 former Launchpad and Canonical developers still have access to private bugs and branches. I do not think we should be sharing this information with them. I’m pretty sure they do not want to notified about these bugs and branches either. I suspect Launchpad is wasting bandwidth by sending emails to dead addresses.

Unknown users

I see about 100 users that I do not know. I believe they reported bugs that were marked private. Some may have been subscribed by users who were already subscribed to the bug. I can investigate the users and see the specific bug and branches that are shared with them.

The majority

The majority of users and teams that the Launchpad project is sharing with are members of either the Launchpad team or the Canonical team. I am not interested in investigating these people. I do not want to be managing their individual bug and branch subscriptions to ensure they have access to the information that they need to do their jobs. Soon I won’t have to think about this issue, nor will I see them listed on this page.

Next steps — sharing ‘All information’

In a few weeks I will share the Launchpad project’s private information with both the Launchpad team and the Canonical team. It takes seconds to do, and about 130 rows of listed users will be replaced with just two rows stating that ‘All information’ is shared with the Launchpad and Canonical teams. I will then stop sharing private information with all the former Launchpad and Canonical employees.

Looking into access via bug and branch subscriptions

Then I will investigate the users who have exceptional access via bug and branch subscriptions. I may stop sharing information with half of them because either they do not need to know about it, or the information should be public.

Bugs and private bugs

I could start investigating which bugs are shared with users now, but I happen to know that there are 29 bugs that the Launchpad team cannot see because they are not subscribed to the private bug. There are hundreds of private bugs in Launchpad that cannot be fixed because the people who can fix them were never subscribed. This will be moot once all private information in the Launchpad project is shared with the Launchpad team.

Unsubscribing users from bugs

Launchpad does not currently let me unsubscribe users from bugs. When project maintainers discover confidential information is disclosed to untrusted users, they ask the Launchpad Admins to unsubscribe the user. There are not enough hours in the day to for the Admins to do this. Just as Launchpad will let me share all information with a team or user, I will also be able to stop sharing.


(Image by loop_oh on flickr, creative commons license)

Social private teams

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

The title may sound like a contradiction, but I assure you that it is not. You can now use private teams in social contexts in Launchpad. Private teams can collaborate with public projects and other teams if they choose to reveal the existence of the private team.

  1. Private teams can me members of other teams.
  2. Other teams can be members of private teams.
  3. Private teams can subscribe to bugs, blueprints, branches, and merge proposals
  4. Private teams  can be in public project roles,  such as maintainers, drivers, and bug supervisors.
  5. You can change the branch owner to be a private team.
  6. Private team personal branches (+junk) are always private.

When a member places the private team in a social situation, a the member is asked to confirm that it is okay to reveal the team’s identifying information. This information is the team’s Launchpad Id used in URLs, the displayname, icon, and logo. A user can visit the private team’s Launchpad page and will only see that information. The rest of the page is not shared. Anonymous users cannot see a private team’s page because that user is not being social; logged in users can see the private team’s page

Private team page seen by a non-member

Launchpad did not permit these interactions previously because it was not clear who should know about the team. Someone has to know. If Launchpad permitted private teams to subscribe to bugs or be members of teams without anyone knowing of them, they would be unaccountable. Private teams could spy on organisation, or learn about security vulnerabilities to exploit. Launchpad will not ever permit such asocial behaviour. The resolution for social interactions was to permit other parties to know enough of the private team to make an informed decision. For example, when I choose to make a bug private, I want to know who was already seen the bug through a subscription. I may choose to unsubscribe the private team if I do not trust them.

Private teams may invite exclusive teams to be members. Exclusive teams (moderated or restricted teams) review all members so they are accountable. If a team admin trusts the admins of another team, and that team is accountable, Launchpad permits the other team to be a member. This is actually a rule that applied to all exclusive teams. private teams are always exclusive (restricted membership policy). The only nuance with private teams is when it is a member of another team; the super team may know the members of the private sub team because the super team has the right to audit all its members so that it too can be accountable.

Removing a project from a shared bug report

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Launchpad will soon permit you to say your project is not affected by a bug shared with another project — you can delete the spurious bug task. This action can be done from the bug’s web page, and using Launchpad API.

You can remove a project from a bug if you are the project maintainer, bug supervisor, or are the person who added the project to the bug. This action can only be performed when the bug affects more than one project — you cannot delete an entire bug. This feature permits you to undo mistakes.

Launchpad beta testers will see the remove action next to the affected project name in the affects table.

Delete spurious bugs

The delete() method was added to the bug_task entry in the Launchpad API. There is a example API script,, that can remove a project from many bugs. There is also a split action to create a separate bug just for the specified project to track separate conversations in bug comments.

Usage: [options] bug_id:project_name [bug_id:project_name]

  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -v, --verbose
  -q, --quiet
  -f, --force           Delete or split bug tasks that belong to a public bug
  -d, --delete          Delete a spurious project bug task from a bug
  -s, --split           Split a project bug task from an existing bug so that
                        the issue can be tracked separately
  -w WEBSITE, --website=WEBSITE
                        The URI of Launchpad web site.

Previously, you could not remove spurious bug reports about your project. Many were cause by poor bug target management; you could not move a bug between projects and distributions. You can now move bugs between projects and distributions, but thousands of bugs still wrongly claim to affect a project or distribution. This causes clutter on bug pages and searches, and it causes Launchpad performance problems.

This change is a part of a super-feature called Disclosure. To ensure that confidential data is not accidentally disclosed, Launchpad will only permit private bugs to affect a single project. Soon, you may need to remove a project from a bug before marking the bug private.

Nikki and the Robots

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Nikki and the RobotsNikki and the Robots is the first game from Berlin based games studio Joyride Labs. It’s a retro-styled platformer with beautiful colours and an open source licence, with bugs tracked in Launchpad.

I asked Iwan & Sönke from Joyride Labs about the game.

Matthew: Nikki and the Robots is LGPL and Creative Commons licensed. What made you choose open source licences?

Iwan & Sönke: This one is easy! Our love of open source software and free art made us do it! Also we expect that being open will get us additional attention and love.

Our work and how we license it is an experiment too, so actually we ‘hope’ rather than expect. 🙂

Matthew: How are you planning to distribute the game once it’s ready?

Iwan & Sönke: We are working on the first part of Nikki and the Robots and will start in-dev-sales (pre-sale) once it is ready.

Game, editor and user levels will be free as in freedom. A part-proprietary organic story mode with enhanced levels and additional in-game-art will be available for pay.

Matthew: Can you tell me a bit more about the technology behind the game and the decisions you made? I see, for example, you’re using Haskell.

Iwan & Sönke: Haskell is just my (Sönke’s) favourite language. I have the impression that I can do coding in Haskell much faster than in other languages and I produce less bugs. Besides Haskell we use Qt and OpenGL as the graphics backend and Chipmunk as the physics engine. By the way: we completely rely on free software for compilation on all platforms (so, no VisualStudio or XCode, just gcc, cmake, mingw32, etc.).

Matthew: How are you finding Launchpad as a bug tracker?

Iwan & Sönke: It’s quite usable. Forum and wiki might be useful features to consider for the platform. (We use a free wiki system and will probably set up an own forum soon).

Matthew: Thanks to Iwan and Sönke. You can download an alpha of Nikki and the Robots from the Joyride Labs website.

Beer as in beer

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

JolieBulle logoThere’s quite a bit of overlap between home beer brewing and hacking. Both usually involve experimentation, sharing and a love of what you’re doing.

It’s not surprising, then, that there’s more than one open source project aimed at helping home brewers to create the beer they want. A few home brewing projects are hosted on Launchpad, including JolieBulle (that’s French for “pretty bubble”).

Home brew ... cider in this casePierre Tavares started the project last year to support his own brewing. The result is an application that helps at every stage of the process. When you’re ready to get going, it helps formulate the recipe and allows for the sharing of recipes using the common BeerXML standard. It helps calculate what brewers call the beer’s profile (its bitterness, colour, how much alcohol it has), includes an ingredients database and has tools that help during the brewing process itself.

I emailed Pierre to ask about the development of JolieBulle. Here’s what he said:

From a technical point of view, JolieBulle is developped in pyQt and integrates well in both KDE and Gnome desktops.

I chose Launchpad mainly for the openness of the platform, and the great tools to manage code, bugs and blueprints. I’m pretty new to DVCSes but Bazaar seems fine, and I have no problem using it. I don’t use the translation tool, as I prefer Qt Linguist.

JolieBulle isn’t yet packaged for any distros and Pierre hopes to attract contributors who can help with that.

Photo by Sizbut. Licence CC BY 2.0.

Doing it for the Luz

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Luz is a new project to Launchpad. It creates impressive visual effects that can react to music or be driven by a person using a MIDI controller or a gamepad.

It has been created by Ian McIntosh, part of a Portland, Oregon, artists collective who produce light and projection shows.

Here’s what the Luz page on the Light Troupe site has to say:

With one click, any movement or effect can dance to the beat, react to audio, or be driven directly by human input from any number of any device: Gamepads & Joysticks, MIDI knobs & sliders, MIDI Pianos & Drums, WiiMotes, Wacom Tablets, and any app that can send OpenSoundControl.

Ian has provided a handy series of YouTube tutorials, to get you started. If you want to try it out, here’s the first of those tutorials:

Gufw in Launchpad

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

GUFW's logoIf you’re an Ubuntu user, it’s likely that you’ve used UFW — the Uncomplicated Firewall — and maybe also its graphical front-end, Gufw.

I spoke to Marcos Costales from Gufw to ask about the project and their use of Launchpad.

Matthew: What prompted you to start the project?

Marcos: In 2008 I was translating and testing, but I wanted to contribute more. When Canonical released ufw, I read some reviews that a firewall using the shell was not an uncomplicated firewall; reviews did not see that ufw was perfect for servers and a base with great ideas for something else, I saw a clear opportunity for the development of an application like Gufw.

Matthew: How many of you are working on it?

Marcos: After the first week following release, Vadim joined the project and we were able to generate a lot of expectation. It was amazing to see how Gufw grew exponentially thanks to the contribution of the community. An important point was Cedrick’s mockup for setting a good interface.

From here I would like to thank Vadim, Emilio, Raúl, Planella, Rubén, Rogério, Cedrick and Devid, Gufw is what it is thanks to them.

We are currently working on an application that really simplifies the task of setting up a firewall: very minimalistic, easy to use and understand.

Matthew: How much connection is there between the Gufw and UFW communities?

Marcos: From Gufw we pay attention to the next ufw versions and we request changes we need. We want to thank Jamie for his effort and interest in all of our requests.

There is also an awesome work of documentation taking place in the Ubuntu Wiki.

Matthew: Does Launchpad help the two projects work together?

Marcos CostalesMarcos: Yes, we can follow the blueprints of the next ufw version and review which changes could affect Gufw. We can easily reassign ufw and gufw bugs…

Matthew: Why did you choose Launchpad?

Marcos: Gufw started in Google Code. After one month we moved to Launchpad, and it certainly was one of our best decisions because it offers us all necessary services and an amazing integration between them.

Matthew: What’s your favourite Launchpad feature?

Marcos: Translations. I am a translator in external projects to Launchpad, and I must say that the usability and simplicity of Launchpad is unique.

Matthew: What would you most like to see added to Launchpad?

Marcos: Maybe a small space for a custom website. We must use an external hosting for the main project website.

Matthew: What do you think is Launchpad’s biggest weakness?

Marcos: At first Launchpad seems overly complex and big (compared for example with Google Code). One idea would be to have two views according to the needs/experience of the project: the current one and an easier to use one.

Matthew: Are you looking for people to contribute?

Marcos: Of course we are. There are always pending tasks for anyone who wants to help and everyone is welcome.

Matthew: Thanks Marcos!

Tomdroid: Tomboy notes for Android

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

I like to use Tomboy for just about any time I need to make a note. Shopping lists, a GTD collection bucket, notes from a phone call: Tomboy’s ideal.

Actually, up until recently I didn’t use Tomboy for shopping lists all that often. Making the list was fine but getting it to the supermarket usually meant printing it out, or something else that wasn’t quite as convenient as I’d like.

Baskets only

Then I installed Tomdroid.

Tomdroid does one thing and it does it well: it synchronises your Tomboy notes from elsewhere and lets you read them on your Android phone. You can import your notes from an SD card or, more usefully, synchronise with a TomboyWeb provider such as Ubuntu One.

Now I can tap out my shopping list on a real keyboard and carry it with me without a second thought. And, of course, all those other notes that make my life run smoothly are there with me wherever I am.

Tomdroid uses Launchpad for bug tracking, code hosting, blueprints and questions/answers.

You can download the latest version from the Android Market.

Photo by Tristram Biggs. Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0.

Nautilus Terminal

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Nautilus Terminal in action

If you’re a Gnome user and have watched with envy as your KDE4-using friends effortlessly open a terminal directly in their file-browser, you may be interested in Nautilus Terminal.

Fabien Loison is behind Nautilus Terminal. I asked him a little about the project.

Matthew: What were you doing when you realised that life would be easier if you had a terminal in Nautilus?

Fabien: I was programming and I had a lot terminals open on different folders. I realized I was losing a lot of time to find the one I wanted, and then I remembered that Midnight Commander has an interesting feature: it permits you to enter commands in the current folder. I searched on the web and saw that (KDE 4’s file manager) Dolphin offers this kind of functionality, but nothing about Nautilus… So I decided to do it myself: I started programming Nautilus Terminal.

Matthew: And are you happy with the result?

Fabien: Although Nautilus Terminal is not as well integrated with Nautilus I would like (due to limitations of its extension system), I think I have solved my problem. 🙂

Matthew: What sort of reaction have you had?

Fabien: Most reactions were positive: since the day of the first release I have received many emails and also some blogs have written about Nautilus Terminal (WebUpd8, OMG Ubuntu,…). It seems that many people wanted this feature in Nautilus.

Matthew: So what made you choose Launchpad?

Fabien: I had already been using Launchpad for other projects for several months, and I like it (especially its integration with Bazaar), so I used it one more time. 🙂

Matthew: What has been the most useful part of Launchpad?

Fabien: The most useful part of Launchpad for this project has been the bug tracker, because there were a lot of problems in the first versions.

Matthew: And, similarly, where would you like to see Launchpad improve?

Fabien: That is a difficult question… Maybe having a small wiki for every projects (for the documentation).

Matthew: Finally, are you looking for contributions from other people?

Fabien: Yes, especially for the translations, because I can’t do it myself for all languages (I can translate in French only). So thanks to all translators (and all the people who have helped with code, bug reports,…). 🙂

Matthew: Thanks Fabien!

Visit Nautilus Terminal in Launchpad.