Ubuntu Studio 11.10 and the Goals for 12.04

Scott Lavender scottalavender at gmail.com
Mon Oct 24 02:08:10 UTC 2011

Ubuntu Studio 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" is released and I offer these
simple, direct reflections about it and the future. As usual, it seems
my tenor is positive and upbeat, despite the somewhat dismal context.

Epitomizing simple and direct statements: this is kinda a 'meh'
release and it's my fault.  Fundamentally I believe this to be a
stable and functional release. But it has an unfinished or unpolished
look due to the XFCE transition remaining incomplete.

The team suffered some difficulties this cycle, but it is still my
responsibility and, therefore, my fault.  However, reflections have
given way to some insight on deficiencies and yielded some plans to
action that should improve our state.

Among these deficiencies we experienced:
* our goals and scope were too large
* our efforts were unfocused and not efficient
* started late in development cycle
* most new contributors failed to have an impact
* code changes lacked follow through

So, how will we improve these concerns?

Goals/scope to large - We were trying to fix everything and ended up
almost completing nothing. We are narrowing our focus for the upcoming
release, focusing on what we feel are the minimal priorities in order
to yield a quality release.

Unfocused, inefficient efforts - It is hard to focus on what to fix
and how to fix it without a plan. Using blueprints, creating
specifications, developing and assigning a sequential plan of action
should help focus our attentions where they are needed and give us the
efficiency these goals deserve. This also provides the structure and
support for others to assist.

Late Start - This is easy...start earlier! And having a well thought
out and documented plan helps. The small scope and blueprints with
specifications and steps are inspiring and development has already

New contributor's lacking impact - This may have been the most
frustrating deficiency of all. Obviously the public solicitation of
contributors is working, but the tools are lacking to engage and
support them. Much like the blueprints, a wiki page for future
contributors is being created that includes a listing of topics
requiring contribution, background on those topics, and steps
necessary to complete them.

Code changes uncompleted - This could be summarized as the lack of
getting our bzr branch updates pushed to the repository. The fix is a
double pronged attack; working more directly with sponsors and
developing repository permissions for specific team members. The
former will yield results quicker and the later will allow more
control but take longer to acquire.

So what are our goals? There are few and they are prioritized roughly
in the following descending order:
* updating website [1]
* -lowlatency kernel shipped as default [2]
* completing the XFCE transition (including icons and theme)
* live dvd [3]
* updating the LightDM theme

Updating the website may be a surprise as the first item, but the
current website makes it seem like the project is abandoned. The
update is already in progress and should take a nominal amount of time
to accomplish.

Shipping a tuned kernel for audio work is befitting a multimedia
distribution, hence the second positioning. This one probably has the
most difficulty to it and will almost certainly take a lot of
navigating to complete.

Completing the XFCE transition should not require much explanation. I
imagine we will lean heavily on what the Xubuntu team has already done
so we can complete this task as efficiently as possible.

A live dvd has been a desire for a while. This would ideally include
dropping the alternate installation image but hopefully also include
Edubuntu's ability to allow the user to select specific components for
installation via a GUI. Think of the later as the ability to select
specific work flows [4] during installation, e.g. recording a band,
creating music with synths/sequencers, podcasting, DJ'ing, film making
and creating videos.

Updating the LightDM them should also not require much explanation.
The LightDM used by Ubuntu Desktop looks nice so I am once again going
advocating we steal as much as we can to make our efforts efficient.

This may seem like a straightforward, obvious, and diminutive list. It
is! That's the point. These are the goals that we think we can
accomplish that will make Ubuntu Studio 12.04 LTS release something of
which to be proud.

Lastly, I alluded to some team difficulties and attrition. We have
suffered that. But we have also gained some very talented assistance
as well. I hope to discuss them and their contributions next post.


[3] https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntustudio/+spec/livedvd
[4] https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuStudio/Workflows
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