New Contributor Feedback - 12.10

Vibhav Pant vibhavp at
Sun Nov 18 04:17:31 UTC 2012

Over the past development cycle, the Ubuntu Developer Advisory Team [1]
reached out to many new contributors. As part of that work, we solicited
feedback about our development process. We have summarized this feedback in
the attached report. It is our hope that it will help drive further
discussion about our development processes, tools, and documentation in the
lead up to UDS and over the course of the next cycle.

Attracting new developers and maintaining our welcoming environment for
contributors is an important task for the project. We encourage both new
contributors and existing developers to discuss your interpretations of the
report as well as any other feedback you might want to share about your
experience working on Ubuntu.

The full text is below. It is also available as a PDF [2].


On behalf of the Developer Advisory Team,

-- Vibhav Pant

New Contributor Feedback - 12.10

The Ubuntu Developer Advisory Team
developer-advisory-team at

Number of people we reached out to: 66
Got feedback from: 29
Response Rate: 43.93%

                                  Total Mentions        Positive
Improvement Needed
Tools & Infrastructure               15                  8              7
Processes                               9                    4
Documentation                        10                   6              4
Outreach                                 4                    4
People                                   19                   18

In the 12.10 cycle the Developer Advisory Team reached out to 66
to ask for their feedback. We received feedback from 29 (Response Rate:
43.93%). This does not include many other conversations we are involved in,
for example when we help contributors with their development application.
The general tone of the feedback was positive and we received quite a
of ideas for how we can improve our development workflow.

Current members of the Developer Advisory Team are: Andrea Colangelo,
Starr-Bochcchio, Barneedhar Vigneshwar, Bhavani Shankar, Christophe
Daniel Holbach, Evan Broder and Vibhav Pant.

Tools & Infrastructure
The vast majority of contributors who mentioned tools and infrastructure
generally enjoy using Bazaar and Launchpad. Especially the tight
between Bazaar and Launchpad and the straight-forward process were noted as
advantages. PPAs, daily builds, translations integration and many other
things were also mentioned in a positive light.

As points for improvement the learning curve, the amount of different
and tools and Launchpad-git integration were quoted.

 * The thing is Bzr-only in Launchpad - I would really like to have git as
   option too
 * Launchpad is a pain to get working initially, and there's really a whole
   lot of stuff to read up on first before things become useful.
 * would try to reduce the number of tools available because sometime it's
   disorienting when you have to choice things and both have pro and cons.
 * Even though I'm more of a git fan personally, bzr's integration
   with launchpad makes contributions very easy and very fun. For instance
   unity or compiz - you pick up a bug, prepare a branch, request a merge
   and wait for reviews. Easy.
 * Pushing to launchpad can trigger builds, review, merges, ... That's
   amazing stuff which helps a lot in building and managing a whole
 * The tools, while occasionally cryptic and unpolished, make development
   easier, faster and even fun once you get the hang of them.
 * In general, I like the development process and the tools (from build
   systems to online services) are very easy to use.
 * It's not always clear which launchpad service is the right one to use.
   on a blueprint, if I want to offer a comment, should I edit the
   or pick a relevant name to email? Or is there somewhere a discussion
   feature associated with it?
 * The features provided by Launchpad are also interesting.
 * Launchpad environment which integrates all the development workflow; I
   quickly and easily checkout sources of any package, commit a patch, link
   to a  bug report, ask for a review/merge, manage the translation, build
   package and push it into a PPA, etc. That's just amazing..
 * It was quite easy to create the branch and pushing it to launchpad as
   everything needed is explained by launchpad (where to push, how to push
 * Also, it would be very good to have a much easier way to submit bugs
   related to a ppa. Currently, they end up being emails sent to me. Having
   more visibility, would help the user and me.
 * Launchpad could be slightly improved (speeding it up, fixing some
   bugs like, adding some markup options, etc).
 * I liked the automation that you accomplished using launchpad and bzr.
 * like the development process and the tools (from build systems to online
   services) are very easy to use
 * Bzr and Launchpad are very effective and make collaboration and peer
   feedback nearly painless.

Processes in general were mentioned less as part of the feedback, the only
improvements contributors requested were doing the follow more easily:
in touch with package maintainers, finding out what needs doing, getting
packages into Debian/Ubuntu, quicker sponsoring and more stable release
Our processes got some good feedback as well.
 * I am very satisfied with the helpfulness of the community, and I have
   had any negative interactions based on any work that I have done. All of
   the comments from uploaders or reviewers of my work have been
   and this really helps one learn and remain motivated.
 * It would be nice if people doing bug triage got in touch with the
   maintainer as well - sometimes some of the questions which get asked of
   bug submitters by bug triagers could be more useful with prior input
   the maintainer.
 * The only part I feel that can be improved is the way I have to find
   packages that I have interest in helping.
 * Debian seems to have an enormous barrier to entry for getting new
   accepted into the archive. And unfortunately this is described as the
   easiest way to get new packages into Ubuntu!
 * Generally once a release has been released not too much care is giving
   it - sure, there's an occasional sru, but for the rest it's ignoredâ€
 * I think it's important for new contributors to see their work go into
   Ubuntu more quickly, the only thing that I think it should be improved
   sponsoring, It takes some time to get someone work reviewed and uploaded
 * Anyone can jump on a bug, submit a fix for it, and have it accepted into
   the archive.
 * The most exciting things about being involved in  development have most
   definitely been the UDS's.

The Documentation which has been a helpful resource for all new
The improved developer portal ( provides useful
like the packaging guide which have immensely helped contributors. The vast
majority of replies mention it in a very positive light. The outreach and
fixing initiatives were mentioned as great entry points as well. However, a
contributor mentioned that too much documentation on our wiki is confusing,
another contributor mentioned that the Ubuntu wiki could be more structured.

 * Generally, the wiki is really helpful here, especially with routine
   such sponsorship for uploading
   (eg: At this point I can't
   think of any easy way of improving this issue. However, a quick lookup
   that lists all of Ubuntu development / packaging tasks are that links to
   existing documentation might be useful. However, I have always managed
   look up what I have needed to find quickly with the various search tools.
 * What I think can be improved is the way the wiki is structured (or at
   some of the pages on it). It looks like it contains all the information
   that is needed. But sometimes I just can't find what I am looking for
   I have to go to google or ask on irc.
 * Documentation can always being improved.
 * The guys behind introducing new people to Ubuntu development have made
   very easy for them to start contributing to Ubuntu, there is a lot of
   documentation, a lot of training sessions on irc on
   nowadays no one should be afraid of contributing to Ubuntu.
 * There is a ton of great documentation, perhaps too much?
 * With the availability of great documentation made by Ubuntu developers,
   setting up my environment to start with Ubuntu development wasn't
   at all for me.
 * There is a vast amount of knowledge in forms, wikis and how-to's.
 * The documentation and examples on how to make an SRU turned out to be
   helpful than hoped, so I made a few beginner's mistakes that could have
   been avoided.
 * I really like the fact that I got quick feedback to my contributions.
   thing that is really important for me is the bug fixing initiative wiki
   page and the fact that lately it seems to be updated regularly.
 * The community is also very helpful and there is a vast amount of
   in forms, wikis and how-to's.

Outreach & People
We should take pride in the great feedback we received. Our processes,
and documentation seem to work great for almost all our contributors. One
thing we should be especially proud of is us as a community. Read the
below: everybody seems to love working together with us. We received
overwhelmingly positive feedback on fantastic help our developer community
provides. More than majority of the contributors mentioned of our ever
welcoming and helpful developers. A contributor writes “The fact that
someone took the time to review my patches, understand them, comment them
push them to ubuntu is great†.
The #ubuntu-motu and #ubuntu-devel IRC channels have proved to be an
indispensible resource for new contributors. Like one contributor said,
have asked a simple question about packaging on IRC and in addition to the
response, I have received a complete review of my packaging, with a clear
list of all mistakes and what can be improved. I have appreciated a lot the
discussion which was very friendly and helpful even if I was a total
2 years ago†, the developer community has always been an important factor
guiding new contributors through development in Ubuntu. A welcoming
it's still one of Ubuntu's proudest assets.

 * Thank you, it is great to have ones work noticed!!
 * it is really awesome to receive feedback like this when you don't expect
 * I really appreciate being contacted personally, it gives the impression
   that Ubuntu is a friendly and welcoming community.
 * People are very friendly and welcoming and vibrant.
 * The people that assisted me were helpful and encouraging.
 * from time to time people are unresponsive and you have to wait until
   someone else comes along.
 * My experience has been very positive, the ubuntu community it's a very
   welcoming place and being a known member before starting the work with
   the packaging helped me a lot.
 * The community is really really helpful in all work I've been doing -
   really easy to get information when there is a problem.
 * Community is always very responsive and all my questions are getting
   answered very quickly.
 * Everyone helps as much as possible, I really like that. Not only
   employees I mean the community as a whole. That's excellent.
 * The people helping me put everything in order so that didn't turn out to
   be a big issue.
 * So in perspective, Ubuntu got much friendlier, not only from a technical
   perspective, but also from an interaction level between requests and
 * "Mentoring moments"; when a "developer proper" takes time to guide one
   though a particular process (e.g. fixing  a bug) is something I find
   extremely valuable an motivating.
 * I have asked a simple question about packaging on IRC and in addition to
   the response, I have received a complete review of my packaging, with a
   clear list of all mistakes and what can be improved. I have appreciated
   lot the discussion which was very friendly and helpful even if I was a
   total beginner 2 years ago.
 * I felt a bit lost at the beginning because it was something I never did
   before, but had good advice and help from other members who pointed me
   the wiki pages, explaining the process of pushing the changes to
   and submitting them to review for merge.
 * The fact that actually someone took the time to review my patches,
   understand them, comment them and push them to ubuntu is great because
   feels like the work you've been doing could benefit other people as well
 * Thankfully, the people helping me put everything in order so that didn't
   turn out to be a big issue.
 * I've known lots of people in the Ubuntu team, that have helped me a lot,
   and I've learned all that I know from them, this is the most positive
 * All I've found a bit discouraging is the reliance on IRC participation;
   for example, at one point I'd prepared a package for REVU, but never
   managed to get anyone to look at it because I couldn't be on IRC at the
   appropriate time.
 * People (in the BugSquad, I did not talk to much other Ubuntu people) are
   friendly and helpful. (Newbie) questions are answered nicely, all in
   to help one out and learn how Ubuntu development works.
 * People were very friendly and helpful.
 * Each time I interact on IRC or Launchpad, I have the same feeling, the
   communication is always smooth.
 * For a Debian maintainer, working in Ubuntu is very straightforward. I've
   never had much trouble getting sync requests approved, and in the more
   complex cases I've encountered (bootstrapping gcc-mingw-w64 in
   other developers at home in Debian and Ubuntu have given me a hand.
 * The feedback feels quite constructive.
 * For the bulk of the work I've done so far, I've had a mentor (who was
   basically assigned to me). Someone who's been able to walk me through
   dark arts of packaging and answer most of my questions when  necessary.
   suspect this is atypical of others who are just getting started with
   development. I consider myself lucky

Here are the highlights the Developer Advisory Team received in their
Totally worth a read!

 * There's a certain amount of satisfaction one can get out of writing
   software used by millions of people.
 * My experience working with Ubuntu has been overwhelmingly positive so
 * Thanks a lot for your review and the work you do to. Thats the kind of
   work needed to get more people easily involved in development of a
   operating system like Ubuntu!
 * It was the best experience I had in contributing to a linux distro.
 * It is a great platform to develop for.
 * My impression, not sure if I'm right or not, is that Ubuntu is very
   meritocratic, anyone can jump on a bug, submit a fix for it, and have it
   accepted into the archive
 * Contributing to Ubuntu is great beside knowing that your work is used by
   lot of people around the glob makes you feel good, you're going to learn
   a lot of exciting new stuff like how your favorite OS works, how open
   source development works, you're going to have new friends, and of
   you're going to have a lot of fun.
 * I like that everybody can fix bugs and add new features to software he
 * I really do enjoy Ubuntu development, and love being able to create
   changes / fix bugs that help everyone else.

The goal of the Ubuntu Developer Advisory Team is to reach out to new
contributors. Over the course of the 12.10 development cycle, the team
contacted many first time contributors offering our thanks for their work
which helps to make Ubuntu better for millions of users. We also seek to
identify stumbling blocks that might make participating in Ubuntu
be harder than it should.

The Developer Advisory Team contacted the new contributors and solicited
feedback on their experience with Ubuntu development. We asked three open
ended question:
   1. What was your general experience with Ubuntu development like?
   2. What did you like about it?
   3. What do you feel could be improved?

The responses we received fell into five broad categories:
   1. Tools & Infrastructure
   2. Processes
   3. Documentation
   4. Outreach
   5. People

We reached out to 66 new contributors in total. Of these, 29 gave us their
feedback on Ubuntu development, giving us a 43.93% response rate.


 ,-O.  Ubuntu pre-developer and translator
O    0
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