[Desktop12.10-Topic] Default application selection process

Iain Lane laney at ubuntu.com
Fri Mar 30 10:00:50 UTC 2012

Hi there,

This is my proposal for a UDS discussion. I haven't really formulated
any ideas about how this should work, but I think there's something here
to talk about. This mail also isn't as structured as it could be, but I
hope there's something worth discussing in here.

There isn't really a process for selecting the applications we install
on the desktop images by default. Typically someone proposes a change
and sets out their reasons and if there is enough consensus then the
change is made.

One problem is that there is usually one 'winner' and a number of 'losers'.
Especially when defaults are switched (Evolution to Thunderbird, F-spot
to Shotwell, Rhythmbox to Banshee to Rhythmbox), people on the 'losing'
side are prone to feeling hard done by if they consider that the
decision has not been made fairly.

Obviously my most close involvements around this topic are the recent
media player switches. I'll outline some of the issues from the
perspective of the 'loser'. Please don't turn this into a technical
debate on this specific change; I want to keep the discussion around the

  - Upstream (and some Ubuntu developers) were caught by surprise that
    this option was being considered. Subsequent conversations
    indiciated that this topic came up by surprise in the session.
  - Bugs which were considered a distro priority were not communicated
    with upstream.
  - The etherpad from the session was seen to be the record of the
    discussion and contained a lot of disappointing misinformation. It
    got spammed/trolled quite a lot as a result of the publicity.
  - The outcome from the session was very widely perceived as a final
    decision for the release, when in fact it was not intended to be. I
    don't think this was helped by the wording used in the closing
    plenary [1].
  - After the fact there was a discussion on this mailing list but the
    final decision[0] was taken by a manager at Canonical. It's not
    clear to me whether this was the right thing to happen, rather than
    the decision being made by the entire desktop team.

Hopefully others have thoughts about how this can work better. The main
issue I think is to allow all stakeholders ample opportunity to make
their representations, but the issue around how the decision is actually
finally made is also worthwhile IMHO.


Iain Lane                                  [ iain at orangesquash.org.uk ]
Debian Developer                                   [ laney at debian.org ]
Ubuntu Developer                                   [ laney at ubuntu.com ]
PhD student                                       [ ial at cs.nott.ac.uk ]

[1] http://youtu.be/f-kUYCxE6Sg 05:10
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