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

ttoine ttoine at ttoine.net
Sun Sep 23 13:51:11 UTC 2018


Thank you for your message. Reading it hurts a bit, but I agree with you on
most points. That's actually a common issue in open source: if you have a
team with project manager, UX designer, documentation writer, or beta
testers, at some point, your project can't exist if there is no coder,
committer, or packager involved (MOTU and other people like that for
Ubuntu). More, in some open source projects, only committers can vote on
strategic decisions, and it's bad when they ignore theirs users or don't
understand a specific emerging use of their project. That's why many open
source project have bad UI/UX, and often, bad communication. I can't
remember how much time someone answered to me in IRC "learn how to code and
do it"...

In the case of the Ubuntu Studio distribution, the lack of involved
developers has been a regular issue. But developers and maintainers are
most often focused on servers, workstations for big corporations, IoT,
robotics, ... and that's their job. Even the low-latency or real-time
kernels have been designed for industry, not for audio recording. Producing
content like audio, video, movie effects, is actually done on a lot of
Linux workstations in today big studios: recently, the lack of powerful
stable Mac computers attracted many companies, individuals and vendors to
Linux (eg, Blackmagic Design, Harrison, ...). But they usually don't
choose/recommend Ubuntu Studio...

Engineers and technicians don't care that much about their operating system
look and feel: they have the head in their applications. They are just
looking for a very stable operating system and good devices drivers.
Providing a slick dark theme and some nice backgrounds, a setup assistant,
and too much pre-installed applications is not anymore what people want.
The current need is a lightweight, clean install, and then they just add
the few applications they use in their workflow. This is where AVLinux,
KXStudio, or even a vanilla Ubuntu with a few modifications (my current
choice) are good enough for those who can follow a howto :-)

By the way, let's speak a bit about the beginnings of the Ubuntu Studio
journey. At the origin (I was there...) Ubuntu Studio was a wiki page for
vanilla Ubuntu, with howtos and guidelines to setup low latency, firewire
(important at the time), alsa-firmware and other backports for the
restricted codecs and devices drivers, a list of interesting packages
(audio effects, important applications). PPA didn't exist and we had to
create custom repositories or collaborate with some third party like
Medibuntu (who remember them?). Back in 2005, the team also tested and
debugged Alsa, Ffado, Ardour, low-latency kernels, ... I even purchased
many expensive devices (RME, Echo audio, M-Audio, some DV Cam, ...). The
most difficult part was to convince packagers and maintainers to fix their
work, in order to get everything working well together. With everything
fixed, between 2006 and 2008 it has then become possible to create
metapackages and even a distribution with an install CD. Far behind
original expectations.

Regarding the project name, sometimes, I have the feeling that the name
"Ubuntu Studio" was a good idea and a bad idea at the same time. In the
past, it gave a lot of visibility in the Ubuntu ecosystem. But, it's also a
constraint regarding branding, in particular when it comes to get
donations, use the logo, or when we needed more freedom of action for the
websites. It is not about being profitable, but for example, it would have
been possible to use a solution like Bounty Source to get help on
packaging, bug fix, and other stuff like that. Maybe, also we could have
done more communication, too. And, one of my dream at the time, a dedicated
forum or Q&A.

The name of Linux Mint, Elementary OS, AVLinux or other more specific
distribution based on Ubuntu is clever: they are independent of Canonical
and in some case, there is now a sustainable model for a few passionate
people. Some of you might remember that I proposed some time ago to change
the project name on this mailing list, and see if it could help to boost
the adoption again.

I stepped down from the project after Ubuntu 10.04 for two reasons: I
became a father (and it means less time available), and I disagreed with
the direction of the project at the time (particularly, the will to add as
much packages as possible and focus energy on changing the desktop
environment, instead of improving drivers and overall stability).

In my humble opinion, an active website, with a dedicated forum, with
section like "Audio", "Video", or "3D", welcoming any users of any
Debian/Ubuntu derivative, would have been a key to create an active
community. But because of the Ubuntu Studio name, it was not possible to
create this. People need a place to exchange, get help, feel that they are
part of something. Today, there are groups on Facebook about Harrison
Mixbus were people get help on recording music with Linux. I am active in
one of them: no one is using Ubuntu Studio, but most of them use Ubuntu
based distributions.

There is something we must not forget: nowadays it has never been so easy
to install a Debian based Linux distribution like Ubuntu, and then
add/change a few things to use it as a very good audio or video
workstation. Most people actually don't remember, but this is the work
around Ubuntu Studio that made it possible. For that, I would like to thank
all people involved at any level, including users, from the very beginning
of the project. We must be proud, and stay proud of what has been

Whatever is the decision of the current team, to continue or to stop the
project, be sure there is no bad decision. Projects start, live, and die.
Even if you would choose to stop Ubuntu Studio, parts of it will be used
each time someone record music with a Debian based Linux distribution. This
is a big legacy :-)


Le ven. 21 sept. 2018 à 17:55, Erich Eickmeyer <erich at ericheickmeyer.com> a
écrit :

> 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.
> 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.
> 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!
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> Erich
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