Hardware Support

Marc Kaplan ubuntu-doc at technomensch.net
Thu Oct 2 01:42:15 UTC 2008

This evening, I had a conversation with Dave Murphy [1], a very active 
member of the QA/Dev teams and currently one of the Admin for the 
Checkbox project on Launchpad [2].  I spoke with him regarding our (The 
Docs Team's) interest in moving the very technical and detail-oriented 
hardware documentation out of the Wiki and try to get it more 
centralized with the Hardward Testing and QA teams into some kind of 

As an example, I showed him our WiFiDocs section and how there were all 
these articles about different cards, different manufacturers, different 
drivers, etc., and that the Wiki is not the best place because it's 
tough to maintain.  Once someone puts it in, they forget about it and it 
just sits there.  No bug report often goes to the hardware team, etc.... 
leaving the information just hanging out in space.  Based on our 
conversation, it sounds as though "some" of this might be replaced once 
this project gets completed.

Here is how he descibed the Checkbox project:

"Checkbox is a combination of a test runner and test suites that allow 
anyone to determine whether their hardware is working with Ubuntu (or 
indeed at all), and whether Ubuntu is working. It serves both users and 
the QA process.  Checkbox in Hardy/Intrepid (it was renamed from hwtest) 
populate Launchpad with basic hardware information and test results, 
although LP currently does very little with the data (not even 
presenting it nicely).

Want to try it yourself?  If you haven't already done so, go to:

System > Administration > Hardware Testing

"That will submit your data to LP, ready for when they do start 
presenting the information.  Checkbox in Jaunty will be able to speak to 
both Launchpad (for general hardware information) and the QA testing 
site (still in development, for test results).

For Launchpad: the final piece is presentation of the data already 
collected, along with linking it to bugs, answers, packages etc.   
Alongside the presentation aspects, we've also started (yet another) 
wiki - http://testcases.qa.ubuntu.com. Our target for Jaunty is to get 
all the pieces out there, and for Jaunty+1 we're going to really pushing 
the idea of contributing tests so the platform can be tested in every 
possible way.

For QA purposes: the final piece is converting our internal application 
into a public facing one (in progress)

Side Note: Matt, from the sound of things, this might be replacing or 
upgrading/updating "http://hwdb.ubuntu.com/" <http://hwdb.ubuntu.com/>

Unfortunately, I agree with him that there are two sides to the hardware 

 - making it work, and making sure it works.

While the QA team is responsible for "making sure it works", the only 
place that exists on "how to make it work" is either a 'fly-by-night' 
article in the wiki, a posting in the forums, or a quick Google Search.  
Other than that, there really isn't a clear place within the Community 
for that information to reside.  As I was explaining, that is kind of 
the main issue I'm trying to help resolve as part of this cleanup process.

According to him, this type of information "should be in a Launchpad 
Hardware Database", but that's in the 'long term plan', not the short 
term one.  Eventually the two WILL BE quite tightly coupled in terms of 
hardware information.  Unfortunately, even though it IS planned, until 
it goes into Launchpad and they choose to address it, the timetable is 
quite a ways out there.
As per our mailing list discussion, I did present him with the site 
"http://www.ubuntuhcl.org/" as something that we were looking into as a 
possible alternative, and to help give him some understanding of what we 
"kind of" had in mind.  When he asked me what our plan B/C was, I 
mentioned that I might propose extending an invitation to the 
owner/developer of that site, but that would be at the discretion of the 
rest of the team and only as a last resort because it's rough to have 
information in too many places instead of a centralized location.  I 
explained that we would much rather work with the QA and Dev team to 
keep it all centralized so it will play nicely with each other.

While he is quite busy preparing for the next launch, he did inform me 
that he would bring the topic of the hardware documentation up with a 
few people and let me know what he finds.

When I have more information, I will pass it along.  Until then, I 
recommend that we hold off on organizing, cleaning up, and updating any 
hardware related documentation that is associated with specific 
manufacturers or parts.   There is plenty of other stuff to clean up and 
organize in the meantime.

Marc K.

[1] https://launchpad.net/~schwuk
[2] https://launchpad.net/checkbox

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