The road to 12.10 and beyond

Jonathan Carter (highvoltage) jonathan at
Thu Apr 26 18:44:31 UTC 2012

Hi Edubuntu Developers

Disclaimer: This is a braindump of my vision for 12.10, it's not 
official and anything is subject to change

== In preparation for UDS Q ==

With 12.04 LTS freshly out of the door and with UDS just a bit more than 
a week away, I thought I'd bring up some ideas that I've been thinking 
about the last few weeks so that it could be discussed publicly.

Edubuntu 12.04 is a fine release and our release process was smooth and 
fine-tuned. We have the process down like a smooth running engine. It's 
something that we can be proud of and it's great that we've got this far.

A few releases back I had a conversation with Jordan Mantha where he 
basically said that if we don't do big and exciting things, we won't 
ever attract new developers and community members. I think he has a good 
point. Since then we've continued to do small, incremental feature 
changes and in terms of making Edubuntu stable and more reliable, it 
worked. However, I think it's time that we grow the Edubuntu community 
more aggressively and take on some interesting, higher risk tasks.

I believe it's possible to do that without compromising stability or 
affecting Edubuntu adversely. I have two ideas that I think we could 
pursue for 12.10 as concepts that won't be part of the main Edubuntu 

== Edubuntu Server ==

Around 2005/2006, in the stone age of Edubuntu, we used to have an 
Edubuntu Server product. It shipped with tools such as Schooltool and 
Moodle pre-installed. The idea was that an Edubuntu server could be a 
useful single-server solution in some educational environments. 
Unfortunately, due to a combination of web apps being a lot of work to 
maintain and very few people being able to work on it, we decided to 
drop the Edubuntu Server product to focus on the Desktop. Looking back 
it seems like this was a good choice, it allowed the project to focus on 
the Desktop aspect first.

However, we get many requests for functionality that doesn't belong in 
the desktop. We've also received some enthusiastic feedback from people 
willing to work on an Edubuntu Server product.

Common requests that could be useful for a server product include:

  * A disk cloning/storage utility (ala Clonezilla, Fog, Ghost, etc)
  * Wordpress multisite (or anything that works well for classroom blogs)
  * A Backup server (BackupPC)
  * Authentication server (basically, something that provides LDAP/AD

There are probably 100s of things that could be useful for an Edubuntu 
server. For 12.10 I believe that we should round up as many good ideas 
that we can get, vet them, find as many people as we can who's willing 
to work on them and integrate it for 12.10 as a technology preview.

I'd suggest doing it under a banner like "Edubuntu Labs" (almost like 
Google Labs used to do with prototype products it wanted wider testing 
for) and having a section on the website dedicated to these experimental 

== Edubuntu Tablet ==

It's undeniable how big an impact tablets have in educational 
environments. Many schools are investing in buying iPads. While I admit 
that the iPad is a great device with many available applications, I do 
think that in time, we can do better. When we work in the 6 month cycle, 
there's no way we could ever release anything that can compete with the 
iPad, however, if we break it down to smaller, 6 month milestones, then 
it becomes more plausible.

I would propose that for 12.10, we choose a device (like the ASUS Eee 
pad Transformer Prime) and make Edubuntu easily installable on it and 
find a suitable UI for it (like Unity touch or KDE Plasma Active). Both 
the iPad and Android have a huge base of developers that create 
applications using web standards such as HTML, Javascript and CSS. These 
touch-based applications should be relatively easy to port over to 
Ubuntu and could be promoted using the Ubuntu App Developer 
( infrastructure.

For 12.10 some integration with the existing Edubuntu features could 
also be done, which includes integration with Epoptes 
( which itself could be extended with more tablet 
features, a remote desktop client to connect to LTSP servers (possibly 
something like x2go) and so forth.

For 13.04 (after 12.10) we should have enough information of what's 
missing to make it a very reasonable tablet platform and take it from 
there, possibly making a finished release. By the next LTS (14.04) it 
could potentially be a great tablet platform.

== Edubuntu Desktop ==

Last but not least is our current, Edubuntu Desktop product. This is 
what's going to take priority and continue to exist for now as our 
flagship product.

For UDS here's a few desktop topics we could discuss:

  * Application selection
   * Tomboy or Gnote
     (we don't inherit either from Ubuntu anymore and didn't ship with
      one of those in 12.04)
   * Review KDE-Edu apps and check that we all have them
     (I believe we're missing at least 2)
   * The inclusion of electronics tools (most notably, fritzing)
   * Vym or promoting Freemind in Edubuntu via software center
     (software center isn't currently flavour aware but it's something
     we could bring up)
   * Recipy managers: krecipies, gnutrition, etc

  * Dynamic Ubiquity Slideshow
   * Show tips and tricks in slides for /only/ components that are
     chosen in the installer. For example, if LTSP or Gnome Fallback
     is chosen, display tips and tricks for those. Perhaps alternate
     slides promoting features that weren't chosen, if appropriate.

  * Educational Unity lenses
   * We should do a call for ideas for Unity lenses that may be useful
     in education, and encourage developers to develop them.

  * Authentication client
   * An installer step that allows authentication against, Samba4/AD
     and LDAP/Debian-edu/FreeIPA

== Edubuntu Community ==

  * Grow contributors and membership base.
  * Improve Edubuntu meetings (make them weekly again)
  * Get people to make more Edubuntu videos (there are already some great
    edubuntu videos on YouTube) (perhaps do a competition?)
  * Map on website with list of where schools are with some more
  * Migrate Edubuntu website to Drupal 7
  * Put together a long-term Edubuntu strategy document (like Xubuntu
    did a while back)

== Proposed Blueprints ==

Many of the ideas above are old ideas, but I think the time is right to 
pursue some of them again. Please don't hesitate in joining in the 
discussion and adding your own.

For UDS Q, I propose that we create the following blueprints:

  * Edubuntu Desktop
  * Edubuntu Community
  * Edubuntu Server
  * Edubuntu Tablet

... and schedule the following 2 sessions for it:

  * Edubuntu Desktop/Community
  * Edubuntu Server/Tablet

So basically one session for the typical Edubuntu work and one for the 
higher risk prototype ideas. If there's lots of interest we could split 
it up a bit.

I'm going to end off here since I've already passed the TL;DR barrier. 
I'd really appreciate if everyone could share their thoughts and ideas. 
Edubuntu 12.10 should be fresh and exciting and I think if we bring 
enough people together, we can make it happen.

Have a good day!


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