Ubuntu Governance: Reboot?

Daniel Holbach daniel.holbach at ubuntu.com
Thu Nov 20 17:37:44 UTC 2014


thanks a lot for bringing up the discussion. I think your perspective,
having taken a few steps back from the project, is very valuable.

On 18.11.2014 07:18, Jono Bacon wrote:
> It seems a common thread here is a feeling that my suggestions of more
> active, inspirational, and strategic governance is difficult or
> impossible to achieve due to Canonical's dominance in Ubuntu.
> Frankly, I think this is an excuse. I am not denying that Canonical
> are dominating a certain set of projects - Unity, Mir, Juju, to name a
> few. I don't blame community members not choosing to participate there
> because Canonical are primarily making the decisions of direction and
> focus. I also understand that some people are pretty annoyed by some
> of the decisions made by Canonical over time. I get all of this.
> Ubuntu is a big place though.
> It is not just limited to those projects. There is far more that is
> open and collaborative than limited and restricted.
> We have hundreds of core developers, MOTUs, docs writers, translators,
> and other members in the community. We have numerous derivatives and
> flavors. We have literally millions of fans and users across the
> forums, IRC, discourse, social media, and elsewhere. Just because
> Canonical's focus is on mobile and cloud, this has not mean't that the
> desktop, our archives, applications, loco teams, and other areas
> cannot continue to be developed, improved, and enhanced.
> Likewise, Canonical doesn't hold a monopoly on inspiring others around
> the spirit of why Ubuntu is special. Sure, Canonical is focusing it's
> efforts on a dedicated set of places (mobile and cloud), which I don't
> blame them for, but at no point has anyone been silenced for
> motivating and inspiring others to help Ubuntu focus on additional
> areas too, or areas that Canonical is not interested in. Again, Ubuntu
> is far more open than not.
> My primary point here is that I think we may have forgotten a little
> about why Ubuntu is so special. Together we have created a platform
> that provides an incredible wealth of software people can educate
> themselves and others with, set up businesses, create new technology,
> create art and music, and more. A student today can install software
> right now that they could use to create an animated movie, an album, a
> software tool, a magazine, a startup, and other things. They can meet
> smart and passionate people online in our community and learn new
> skills and methods of participation. Ubuntu is arguably the most
> popular Open Source desktop platform, and most popular OS on the
> cloud.
> This is *incredible*.

I agree with what you're saying here. When you're in the middle of a lot
of work items, you see a lot of stuff that is half-working and could be
better, you're immersed in details and you easily forget how absolutely
brilliant things are already. Talking to random Ubuntu users on the
street always confirms this. People generally love what we're doing.

I get a similar feeling when I realise that we don't tell our good
stories very well. Every single day people collaborate, our machinery is
well-oiled and it's incredibly clever and generally fantastic people who
make Ubuntu. It's so amazing and we often take it for granted, a lot of
us are too busy with details to notice. This is why a lot of Ubuntu
users just don't learn about what's going on.

> Are things perfect? No. But nothing is. We all have restrictions and
> frustrations in our workplaces, in our local communities, and in our
> families. Ubuntu is a family, and we are no different. Expectations
> differ, behavior differs, and consequences differ. Sometimes it is
> great, sometimes it sucks. That's life.
> But are these imperfections enough to suggest we can't focus on and
> inspire others around why Ubuntu, and the wider Open Source spirit is
> so special?
> Again, nothing is stopping anyone from doing this. Nothing is stopping
> someone stepping up and inspiring our community to focus on the
> desktop, make it awesome, and continue to be the best it can be.
> No-one is stopping anyone from building the strongest local user group
> community in the world, creating an incredible community of artists
> and designers, and more.
> The point of my blog post is that I don't think you are going to see
> as much of this from Canonical (due to the focus on cloud/mobile), and
> am suggesting our governance and leadership spends more time doing
> this. They are perfectly placed to do this; our governance is
> independent and diverse, and I think this kind of motivational,
> inspirational leadership could inject so much opportunity and
> motivation into the project.

Do governance board members need to do this with their "governance hat"
on? I think everyone could write more, blog more, point out brilliant
things, etc. To me everyone should feel empowered to do this, governance
board member or not.

> Now, some of you have asked why I didn't raise this as a topic when I
> was at Canonical. Well, good question. At times I tried to encourage
> our governance boards to be a bit more proactive, but I admit that I
> never raised this as a high enough priority, which I wish I did. I
> think I was also, frankly, a little too close to the sun with
> Canonical - I was *always* busy, constantly over-scheduled, and I
> think I saw things at times from too much of a pure Canonical
> perspective. What I can assure you is that I haven't secretly waited
> until I left to discuss this - that is a nothing more than a silly
> conspiracy theory.

Yes, "always busy" is a problem. I sometimes get into a mindset where I
think "I'll just finish this thing here and then I'll write something."

Needless to say there are many things finished before I go and write

Being in the middle of details does this to you. I regularly forget that
a blog post with a nice story could be better spent time than fixing a
bug or writing docs or doing something completely different.

> Also, when you step outside of a community for a bit (as I have been
> recently with my focus on XPRIZE), it helps to focus the mind on what
> is really important. Ubuntu is something we should all be proud of,
> and I am just suggesting our governance and leadership helps to
> inspire a new generation of Ubuntu contributors to come and be a part
> of the family.

Thanks again for bringing this up.

Have a great day,

> On 17 November 2014 03:42, Daniel Holbach <daniel.holbach at ubuntu.com> wrote:
>> Hello,
>> On 17.11.2014 12:38, Benjamin Kerensa wrote:
>>> Well then https://wiki.ubuntu.com/CommunityCouncil/ should be updated:
>>> "Members are appointed by Mark Shuttleworth and approved by a vote by
>>> the entire Ubuntu membership."
>>> I have not paid enough attention to CC elections to notice when this
>>> changed but it was in fact the process at some point right? Also
>>> doesn't the final list still got to Mark who can veto?
>> https://wiki.ubuntu.com/CommunityCouncil/Restaffing is correct and
>> mentions and reserves the option to short-list candidates, but that
>> hasn't happened in a while AFAIK.
>> But yes, wiki.u.c/CommunityCouncil should be updated.
>> Have a great day,
>>  Daniel
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