Privacy of distro-team meetings

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Mon Sep 10 11:47:09 BST 2007

On Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 08:08:19AM +0100, Matthew East wrote:
> A couple of people have mentioned to me recently that they were
> concerned that at the last distro-team meeting it was resolved to have
> 50:50 private/public meetings.

First of all, this is not the case.  What was resolved was to continue the
development team meeting (which has always been held on #ubuntu-meeting)
every 4 weeks rather than every week.

I anticipated some confusion as a result of this, and so it was communicated
explicitly here:

(there were no responses to this announcement that I saw)

Where did this 50:50 information come from?

Please note also that, properly speaking, there was no such thing as a
regularly scheduled "distro-team meeting", "distro-team" being a term used
inside Canonical to refer to the subset of Ubuntu developers who are on
staff.  The weekly meeting was, for good reason, called the "Ubuntu
Development Team" meeting, and explicitly invited participation from
all Ubuntu developers, not only the subset who work for Canonical.
Unfortunately, there were folks who informally referred to this meeting as
such, it being the one meeting where all of their teammates were also

> However, it's not clear whether the private meetings will only be used
> for those issues, or whether development issues will also be
> discussed. Would it be possible to clarify this? We all know that it's
> a fundamental part of Ubuntu that development is 100% public, so just
> to make it clear to everyone on the outside that this principle will
> continue, it might be clearer to schedule internal meetings separately
> to distro-team meetings, rather than work on the basis of 50:50
> private/public distro-team meetings. In reality, nothing would change,
> but it would just be clear to everyone that there is a distinction
> between Ubuntu development issues and Canonical internal issues.

This is already the case, being exactly what has been agreed upon.  I expect
that the main problem is that the fridge still hasn't noticed the change.

Speaking for Canonical, the main reason for reorganizing meetings is that
it's become too burdensome to have the entire development team (which now
spans something like 15 time zones) gather every week at the same time.
It's also unproductive to hold regular meetings with too many people, as the
content is unlikely to be relevant to everyone.

As it happens, though, attending an all-hands meeting at the same (or
rotating) time every week didn't seem to suit community developers any
better than it did Canonical developers, and community participation was

Now, much more active discussion happens in team meetings (like the periodic
server team meeting, desktop team meeting, etc.), which are more focused.
These are generally tracked on the team's wiki page or via the fridge.

It's also true that, because the development team meeting was the only
regularly scheduled meeting for some folks at Canonical, this didn't address
their need to communicate about purely internal matters.  This particularly
includes development projects undertaken on behalf of Canonical's customers,
which are a key source of funding for the Ubuntu project, but nonetheless
are not appropriate to discuss publicly.

After discussing, privately, our *internal* communication needs, we
established a few new small-group meetings to address them.

To summarize:

- As announced, the Ubuntu Development Team meeting continues to be held on
  #ubuntu-meeting, but only 1/4 as often.
- This meeting serves exactly the same purpose that it always has, to
  provide a forum for open and general discussion of Ubuntu development

- Speaking for the Ubuntu project, our policy (and practice) is that Ubuntu
  development, including that which is undertaken by Canonical, should be as
  open and transparent as we can make it.

- There are (still) no regularly scheduled meetings of the "distro team".

> On a vaguely related issue, I've been thinking recently that the
> emphasis on development conferences and specifications in Ubuntu makes
> it a bit more difficult to follow exactly what is going on with Ubuntu
> Development (compared to intense mailing list based work), at least
> for those of us who can't attend development conferences - would it be
> possible to get some regular summaries of planned specifications,
> distro team meetings or other progress? I've seen some summaries
> around already, but I'm not sure whether they are done regularly or
> not. Apart from promoting the public aspect of Ubuntu development, it
> would also assist the documentation team to gain quicker knowledge of
> new features in the development release to cover before string freeze.
> At the moment we struggle a bit!

A substantial amount of planning and design for Ubuntu development has taken
place at (public) face-to-face events, which have since become known as
Ubuntu Developer Summits, since the first release of Ubuntu.  The documents
which result from these discussions are, as always, pages in the Ubuntu

In the past, the progress of the various development projects underway was
reviewed at the weekly Ubuntu Development Team meeting, where everyone
presented a short summary.  About 9 months ago, the number of concurrent
projects reached a level where this became impractical (with meetings
lasting hours), and instead, developers are invited to summarize their work
by email on a weekly basis.  For Canonical developers, this is part of their
weekly routine.  You can find archives of all of these weekly summaries in
the wiki:

I think the summary mechanism still needs some work, though, and I'm open to
suggestions there (especially where they are accompanied by volunteers!).

 - mdz

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