Ubuntu Developer Summit: 10.04 (Lucid)
This week, I’m in Dallas, Texas working at the Ubuntu Developer Summit. Hundreds of Ubuntu developers and other community members are gathered to discuss the future of the project, particularly the 10.04 release. Developers are engaged in technical discussions about how to implement new features for the release next April.
Obviously, a week is not enough time to decide, design and plan half a year of work, but we try to fit as much as possible into the week, because it is such a rare opportunity for us to work together face to face. In order to make the best use of our time, there is a very full schedule of sessions, and we do a great deal of advance preparation.
There is a persistent rumor that UDS is where we decide what to do in the next cycle, but this isn’t quite accurate. UDS is where we primarily figure out how to do what needs to be done. Naturally, UDS is a sea of ideas, thanks to all of the creative thinking which happens among attendees, and we do dream up and decide to do new things there. However, most of this is determined well before we all board airplanes to travel to UDS.
Brainstorm is constantly collecting and ranking suggestions from Ubuntu users. Ubuntu development teams hold public meetings on IRC where they discuss ideas and plans. Canonical stakeholders submit requirements for their needs. All of this information is aggregated, sorted, evaluated and prioritized, largely by the heroic engineering managers at Canonical, who then develop the core of the agenda for UDS. Additional sessions are then added as they come up during the week, when there is space.
At this particular UDS, I am moderating the server track, where we’re hashing out the details of our projects for Ubuntu Server Edition 10.04. Being a UDS track moderator makes for a very busy week, with back-to-back sessions all day for five days straight. It’s only Wednesday, and I’m feeling a bit fried already, having been away from home for over two weeks.
In each session, there is a discussion between the developers working on the project, the other UDS attendees who are interested in it, and any random folk who listen in on the audio stream and add questions or comments via IRC. The participants take notes using Gobby and then publish them in the Ubuntu wiki, where they are developed into specification documents tracked in Launchpad.
Those specifications are further broken down into work items, which we can use to maintain a burn down chart. Rick Spencer, our desktop engineering manager, gave a presentation this afternoon about how that process will work. The burn down chart will give us a tool for establishing whether we are on track to complete our work, or if we are under or over committed, and make adjustments to our plans as needed.
I have a sense of tremendous momentum going into this release cycle, which will culminate in our third LTS (long-term support) release of Ubuntu.