[ubuntu-studio-devel] Some thoughts, frustrations, and considerations.

Ross Gammon rosco at ubuntustudio.org
Fri Sep 21 21:03:14 UTC 2018

Hi Erich,

On 09/21/2018 05:55 PM, Erich Eickmeyer wrote:
> Hi everybody,
> As many of you know, Eylul stepped-down from the core leadership of
> Ubuntu Studio on Saturday. With Eylul's departure, we lost one of our
> key developers. She had planned on stepping-down, so this was not
> completely unforseen, and she isn't the only one who wishes to depart.
> He can correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that Len was
> looking at stepping-down when the timing was right as well.  This has me
> rethinking some of the ideas we've had with the less-than handful of
> people we have working on this project.

Thanks for taking the time to write this. I was not aware of any of
this. Probably because like everyone, I don't have a lot of spare time
these days. If it didn't appear here, it didn't happen ;-)
Anyway, that is a shame. Both will/would be missed.

> When Ubuntu Studio was born, it started as an add-on to the existing
> GNOME-based Ubuntu install. Those that were there can correct me if I'm
> wrong, but as I understand it, the first ISO came about with Xfce as the
> desktop when Ubuntu went to Unity. With Unity no longer a major factor,
> I asked the team to explore other desktops, and, with Len's
> recommendation, Plasma was chosen as a viable alternative to Xfce.
> Unfortunately, getting an ISO spun-up with Plasma as the desktop has
> proven to be more of a pain than previously thought because we'd
> essentially be creating a new "flavor" of Ubuntu which has to go through
> all of the steps necessary to make that happen. With our dwindling
> numbers and lack of time to dedicate to a project that got too tedious,
> I recommend we abandon this project.

Why is it a new flavour? I thought it would just involve updating the
seeds and meta packages to use the kubuntu defaults instead of xubuntu.

> Also, creating Ubuntu Studio Welcome and the boutique to replace
> -installer have proved to be nearly impossible without help that I
> simply don't have.
> Another frustration is that it is nearly impossible to get packages
> updated, and if they're synced from Debian it is even more difficult.
> For example, I worked on and got the new version of Calf (0.90.0 which
> has been out since November with a point release to 0.90.1 in July)
> updated, and since it gets pulled-in from Debian, I had to go to the
> Debian Multimedia Team to get it updated, only to find that there was
> someone already working on it without the point release (0.90.0), but it
> hadn't yet made its way into Debian Testing or Unstable. The upstream
> developers had released it in November and it's STILL not in Debian
> Testing or Unstable. It shouldn't take 10 months to update a major
> release of a project. Fedora doesn't have this problem because they
> don't have an upstream project from which to pull as they ARE the
> upstream, and already have the 0.90.1 package! Updating a project
> shouldn't have so many hoops through which to jump!

I am a member of the Debian Multimedia Team. The activity in the team is
pretty low at the moment. Especially Jaromir who was the last person to
start updating Calf. Everyone is pretty busy. Unfortunately, the
packaging uses CDBS instead of debhelper, which I am not very familiar
with. Have you pinged Jonas if he has time to upload the latest?
Otherwise, I will try and learn CDBS and give it a go over the next few

> The biggest roadblock we have is the lack of active MOTUs on the team. I
> would apply, but I don't feel as though I'm qualified since I've had
> nobody to mentor me in package development. Additionally, we've been
> unable to attract any dedicated MOTUs.

Yes - this has been a pain. At least in the past Kai had upload rights
for the ubuntustudio-* packages. I have tried twice to get upload rights
to some limited number of packages (not MOTU), but no developer will
endorse me, because I have not had enough sponsored uploads. My
sponsorship request for ubuntustudio-look has been sitting there since
the 4th August.

I suppose I should be sitting on IRC pinging people, but I don't have
time for that. Like I don't have the time to prepare lots of other
uploads. :-)

If we have the packages ready, but nobody to upload them, why don't we
put them in a team ppa, and put some instructions on the wiki for users
to install manually? In the meantime, the packages can sit in the
sponsorship queue until they get a sponsor.

> If Ubuntu Studio is to survive, I believe it might be time for another
> approach which would bring Ubuntu Studio closer to its roots. My
> proposal is to keep Ubuntu Studio's ISO as Xfce, but to develop
> metapackages that bolt Ubuntu Studio on to an existing install of
> another flavor. There are a couple of different approaches to this: 1)
> the metapackage pulls-in the required configureation files to simply add
> some essential configuration such as the lowlatency kernel selection in
> GRUB, or , or 2) pull-in said configuration and rebrand the install to
> Ubuntu Studio. The other day, I took an afternoon and packaged something
> to demonstrate the #2 option above on a default Ubuntu (GNOME) install
> and it worked perfectly. This would require at least one MOTU to be
> dedicated to this project.

This has been a goal for some time. It would be great to apt install
ubuntustudio-<metapackage> and covert a standard Ubuntu to US. Have you
pushed that package somewhere so we can give it a try?

> There is yet another option, one that I don't like, but it was proposed
> from outside this mailing list when I first got involved. Perhaps Ubuntu
> Studio, as a downloadable flavor, has run its course. We're no longer in
> a world where people have to download whole ISOs to get the software
> they need quickly since it's all available in the repos and most people
> have a high-speed connection. This world no longer requires that every
> single piece of software be included in an ISO. Additionally, community
> support is dwindling, and Ubuntu Studio has gone from the premiere
> multimedia distribution to the one people are staying away from, with
> referrals to what are now arguably more successful projects for audio
> (KXStudio and AVLinux). Perhaps it's time to sunset the flavor.
> I'd appreciate your thoughts. Overall, I understand now why there has
> been so much burn-out in the Ubuntu Studio development community.

As long as someone is around to do the ISO testing for the release
milestones, and the release announcements, I don't see why we can't keep
the flavour going with whatever Debian gives us, and with support from
the Xubuntu team as required. We can tackle the improvements one little
step at a time, as time permits.

Personally, I like the fact that I can grab an ISO, install it on a PC
or spare hard disk/partition, and just start recording music without
worrying about what I have to install, and what configuration files to
change. And as I am already using normal Ubuntu on other machines, I
don't need to join more mailing list and bug tracker systems. Losing
Ubuntu Studio for me would be a real shame.

I had such high hopes when you and all the other potential helpers
stepped up to try to help. It had been a lonely year or so for me,
turning up on IRC to do each release milestone, and not knowing who
would be around to help. Sometimes I was lucky, and after a hard days
work, I got home and someone else from the Ubuntu Release Team had done
all the tests and pressed all the buttons. Then I only had to do the
release notes.

Please don't get disheartened. And please, anyone willing to help,
please sing out. We will probably be very slow to help you get started,
but please persist if you want Ubuntu Studio to continue.



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