Ubuntu Developer Summits Now Online and Every Three Months

Allison Randal allison at ubuntu.com
Thu Feb 28 00:54:39 UTC 2013

On 02/26/2013 05:10 PM, Jonathan Riddell wrote:
> I think this is a terrible shame.  A virtual event will result in far
> less focused sessions.  It will also remove the important community
> bonding aspect of UDS.

I'm torn. On one hand, I firmly believe that it's important for the
future of Ubuntu (the distro) to have Canonical become a *profitable*
company. That's not an easy transformation, and succeeding in that will
require making cuts, even difficult cuts.

On the other hand, I'm really not sure what Ubuntu (distro or project)
will be without face-to-face UDS. It's just a big unknown, that hits me
on multiple levels:

- UDS is (so far) the only place where volunteers and employees mix in
high-bandwidth on fully equal footing. Working at Canonical is like UDS
all year-round, so it's hard to see that from the "inside". But after
being both "inside" and "outside", I noticed a sharp difference. A
virtual UDS might have the same effect, though remote sessions often
dull the impact of meetings like that. Hard to tell. Honestly, the best
integration I've ever had on a geographically distributed team was with
a daily phone call. So, there's a chance that going "virtual" will
encourage Canonical to be more open on a regular basis, instead of
saving it all up for UDS. There's also a chance that the iron curtain
will drop, and we'll never hear another peep out of Canonical. I don't
think the "iron curtain" scenario will play out, but it's something
they'll have to be very careful about.

- Canonical aside, UDS has served as a key point of community cohesion
over the years. Without UDS, there is a risk of "drift off" to such a
degree that there's really no "community" left to speak of. But then
there's also a chance that having Canonical step down from the driver
seat of events will open up whole new doors for community activity. If
UDS is really going away, it might be time for a community-organized
annual event to take its place, like PyCon, DebConf, ApacheCon, etc...

- UDS has been a very good connection point for Ubuntu and for
Canonical. It has provided a key "conversion experience" for other
projects to more actively support Ubuntu, and for other companies to
enter commercial relationships with Canonical. UDS is good for business.
It shows off the best and the brightest of Ubuntu in a way that just
doesn't happen anywhere else. It makes Ubuntu sexy. I don't know what
will replace that.

- There are a lot of people I really like, who I only see at UDS. I have
a very real sense of grief at "will I ever see so-and-so again?" It's
certainly not Canonical's job to pay for my social life. :) But, it's
important to me, enough to be willing to invest effort in making sure
that doesn't happen.

> Robbie blogged recently about removing non-LTS releases ("rolling
> release").  I wonder if this three month UDS frequency is part of
> that.  Removing non-LTS releases will remove a lot of what makes
> Ubuntu a great community project, cadance has always been a hallmark
> of Ubuntu.

This I'm not concerned about. We've been talking for years about the
fact that server users are either very conservative and stick with the
LTS releases, or in the cloud space and want the latest images "right
now" not 6 months old. The non-LTS releases have never really been
relevant server-wise.


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