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UDS-L, Dallas Day One

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Well, I finally made it to a Ubuntu Developer Summit. It’s been great to put some faces on the names I interact with on mailing-lists and read in changelogs.

I don’t really have much to pontificate on so this will be quick, but there are a couple things to share.

My roommate ending up being Daniel Fore, designer of the elementary icon set that the Humanity icons are based on. So I was able to help get them up on a PPA.

You can grab packages based on the latests Bazaar trunk for Karmic.

I mostly focused on attending sessions on bug management and distributed development today. I saved copies of the gobby notes for each session I attended:

The plenary session demoing Quickly made me excited to dive back into python. The videos aren’t up yet, but there are previous screen-casts showing it off.

Written by andrewsomething

November 17, 2009 at 4:56 am

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U.K. National Lottery Winner!

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Well, not really….

For some reason, my spam folder doesn’t contain the usual Viagra, porn, and Nigerian prince emails.  The most frequent spam I receive generally is letting me know that I just won £1,000,000 in the U.K. National Lottery. As I’ve only been in the U.K. once, and I certainly never played the lottery while there, I assume they are a scam. (Although, there might actually be some lottery official out there who doesn’t understand why I don’t want to collect my money.)

Well, the other day I opened an email from a British company that began: “Congratulations!” This time I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a scam. The good folks at Canonical accepted my sponsorship request for UDS Dallas! As this will be my first UDS, I’m incredibly excited. I just booked my tickets, and can’t wait to finally meet you all in meatspace.

See you in Dallas!

Written by andrewsomething

October 5, 2009 at 8:43 pm

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Ubuntu 9.10 Countdown Banners

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As I’m sure you all know by now, Ubuntu (and friends) 9.10 Beta images were released yesterday. What you might not know is that the countdown banners have also been released. You can grab them here.

Option 1 – “Stars” by Thorsten Wilms (thorwil)

<script type=”text/javascript” src=””></script&gt;

Option 2 – “The spotlight” by Andrew Higginson

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

Option 3: Simple image (for those who can’t use javascript)

<a href=""><img src="" width="180" height="150" alt="Ubuntu: For Desktops, Servers, Netbooks and in the cloud" border="0" /></a>

P.S. Dear lazy web. How does one go about properly posting code on a free blog where you can’t install any plugins?

Written by andrewsomething

October 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm

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Congratulations Launchpad Team!

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lp-logo I am sure you’ve all seen this already, but I just wanted to add my congratulations every one involved in the open sourcing of Launchpad!

After the friendly and inclusive nature of the Ubuntu community, Launchpad and Bazzar really are responsible for deepening my involvement in development. I find LP much more welcoming and user-friendly than Debian’s BTS (though I really love and depend on PTS), Bugzilla, or Trac. It’s cross-project intregration is really a killer feature. Bazzar both introduced me to DVCS and convinced me of its supriority to Subversion. I also just find it so much more user-friendly than other solutions such as GIT (although admittedly I have no experience with Mercurial).

I’m glad that the platform that has encouraged me to contribute to open source has finally become open source itself (soyuz included!).

Written by andrewsomething

July 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm

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GNOME-Colors in Karmic

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With hundreds of thousands of downloads on GNOME-Look, GNOME-Colors (and its friends Shiki-Colors and Arc-Colors) is with out a doubt one of the most popular themes around for the GNOME desktop. It’s no surprise with  six different color themes and the ability to match you icon theme, GTK+ theme, GDM theme, and wallpaper. Victor (aka perfectska04) has put together a wonderful set, and it’s about time that they are in the Ubuntu archives.

I’m pleased to announce that they are now all just a simple apt-get install away in Karmic.

The meta-packages gnome-colors, arc-colors, and shiki-colors will pull in all six color variations. For those with low bandwidth or expensive connections, you can also just install single variations: gnome-{brave, dust, human, noble, wine, or wise}-icon-theme, shiki-{brave, dust, human, noble, wine, or wise}-theme, and arc-{brave, dust, human, noble, wine, or wise}. There’s also a Xfwm/Xfce4 theme: shiki-colors-xfwm-theme.

For those still running Hardy, Intrepid, or Jaunty, we’re also running a GNOME-Colors PPA where you will always be able to grab the latest versions.

So much thanks to Victor for the themes and being so open to making changes upstream that made things easier for us to package and Benjamin Drung for all his work to make this happen.

Written by andrewsomething

July 8, 2009 at 6:59 am

Posted in Ubuntu

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Ubuntu NGO Kicking Off!

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Ubuntu NGO will be having its first meeting this Friday, 26th June 2009, 15:00 UTC in #ubuntu-ngo on


A little over a month ago, Daniel Holbach asked who was using Ubuntu in their NGO? In the time that’s passed, a group of Ubunteros has coalesced around the idea of making Ubuntu a great platform for NGOs, non-profits, and charities. Whether they’re using Ubuntu in their back office, their web server, or giving out refurbished computers loaded with Ubuntu, we want to focus on the specific needs they face and how Ubuntu can help meet them.

I’m especially excited about this new initiative as over my life I’ve been involved with a number of non-profit and advocacy organizations. I see this project as a way to tie together two things I’m involved with that seem separate but come from similar motivations, making the world a better place and give back to community. It’s a natural fit for the Ubuntu community as well. The same things that motivate so many of us to contribute to Ubuntu motivate others (and some of us) to work for and volunteer at NGOs.

There are a lot of possibilities with this, and it’s just starting to take shape now. It’s a great time to join in and help shape the group and our goals. Come to the meeting. Join the team. Check out the wiki page and see some of the things we’ve already started working on.

Some of the things we’re interested in are:

  • Finding out about NGOs that are using Ubuntu right now and sharing their stories.
  • Studying different use cases.
  • Documenting of best practices.
  • Looking at work that some LoCo teams have already done and encouraging connection between NGOs and LoCos.
  • Investigating ways to deal with regions without Internet access.
  • Packaging a CRM solution for non-profits.

That last point is something that I’ve already begun working on. We’ve started packaging CiviCRM, an open-source constituent relationship management solution designed specifically to meet the needs of advocacy, non-profit and non-governmental groups. Our packaging branch is host on Launchpad: lp:~ubuntu-ngo/civicrm/ubuntu If you’re interested in pitching in, there’s a TODO file in /debian and a watch file to pull the upstream source. I’d be particularly grateful if someone with experience packaging with dbconfig-common took a look.

This is a great opportunity to get in a the beginning of an important project! Our first meeting is this Friday, 26th June 2009, 15:00 UTC in #ubuntu-ngo on

Got any ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Written by andrewsomething

June 24, 2009 at 10:50 pm

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A Few Ubuntu-related Ubiquity Scripts

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Awhile back I hacked up a few Ubuntu releated scripts for Ubiquity. No, not the Ubuntu installer. The Firefox add-on.  Now that I have one of these fancy blog thing-a-majigs, I figured I’d share them with all of you. Hopefully some one else will find them useful.

To make a long story short, Ubiquity is GNOME-Do for your browser.

I’ve got a number of simple scripts that you can use with it to do Ubuntu related tasks in Firefox:

  • AptURL – Install a package using AptURL. If you’re reading a post about a package, just highlight the package name and call Ubiquity. No need to open a terminal or package manager. Usage: apturl [package]
  • Debian Package Search – One of the sites I end up using the most in my MOTU work is This brings it just a keystroke away. Usage: debian-packages [package]
  • Launchpad Ubuntu Package Search – You guessed it. Search Ubuntu packages on LP. Usage: lp-packages [package]
  • Launchpad Team and People Search – What do you think it does? Usage: lp-team-and-people [team or person]
  • Launchpad Ubuntu Bug Search – Simular to the two above…  lp-ubuntu-bug [bug # or description]
  • Ubuntu Man Page Search – Read the man page! Usage: ubuntu-man [package]
  • Ubuntu Package database searcher- This one searches It was written by David Futcher (bobbo), and it was what inspired me to make all the others. Usage: ubuntu-packages [package]
  • Report Ubuntu Bug – Report a bug in a Ubuntu package on Launchpad. (Although, chances are you should really be using Apport.) Usage: ubuntu-report-bug [package]

You can grab them with:

bzr branch lp:~andrewsomething/+junk/ubiquity-commands

Written by andrewsomething

June 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm

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PPAs and Daily Builds

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So earlier today I was throwing together a script to publish bzr snapshots to a PPA. My use case was pretty simple. It’s a debian native package. So the packaging and upstream are one and the same, so no need to merge branches or make sure patches apply cleanly. Basically just pull, build, and publish with a little bit of magic to set the versions correctly.

But as I know there are a number of PPAs publishing snapshots of upstream sources, I wanted to take a look around and see what others are using. Unfortunetely, there doesn’t really seem to be a location pointing to a list of projects or with general information on how to go about doing this. So here are some of the things I came across, just to put it one place. Maybe it’s time for a wiki page?

First of all, James Westby is up to something really exciting with bzr-builder (a plugin for bzr written in python) and Daily Debs. The basic idea is to make doing nightly builds of upstream projects almost trivial by using simple recipe files while bzr-builder does all the heavy lifting. A recipie file could look as simple as this:

branch lp:foo
merge lp:foo/debian-pkg

I can’t wait to see where this is going and to hear more about the discussions around it at UDS.

You can find the spec here:

The code for bzr-builder is here:

And a PPA of bzr-builder made with bzr-builder is here:

Some of the most used daily build PPAs are probably the Mozilla Daily Builds and  Chromium Daily Builds. Along with the gwibber-daily PPA, these are run by Fabien Tassin. The bash scripts he uses to produce them can be found here:

Project Neon has a PPA delivering nighly builds of Amarok and other KDE goodies. The build scripts are written in Ruby and hosted on KDE’s svn:

Anyone else doing something cool? Know where to find some more examples?

Oh, ya. Might as well post this too….

Just because everyone else is doing it...
Just because everyone else is doing it…

Written by andrewsomething

June 10, 2009 at 5:46 am

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Reflections on being an Ubuntu Universe Contributor

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Last week I made the big leap from “contributor” to “developer.” At the most recent MOTU-Council meeting, my application to become a Master of the Universe was approved!

Now, I want to take a minute and think about the Ubuntu Universe Contributor (aka Ubuntu Contributing Developers) program, how we can better utilize it, and ultimately encourage more people to get involved in Ubuntu development. But first of all, what is the UUC program anyway?

On the wiki page, Ubuntu Contributing Developers and their roles are described as:

  • Are members of the universe-contributors team in Launchpad
  • Are collectively responsible for the maintenance of most of the packages in Ubuntu (the universe and multiverse components)
  • Merge new versions from Debian, work on bugfixes and new packages
  • Continue with sponsored uploads
  • Participate in technical discussions with other Ubuntu developers, providing ideas and feedback

That’s pretty vague. A lot of people who aren’t UUCs do merges, work on bug fixes, and get uploads sponsored. The qualifications for joining are even more so. You have to meet the requirements to be an Ubuntu Member and submit an application to the the MOTU-Council.

We need to be more clear on both the goals of the team and what it takes to join. But this becomes a bit of a sticky issue. We shouldn’t be placing hard metrics on the requirements for joining. Joining should be about the quality not quantity of uploads and connecting contributors to the development community not quizzing them on technical aspects. Becoming an UUC doesn’t give you upload rights, but it does make you an Ubuntu Member. So while it is a development centered path to Ubuntu Membership, its really a community designation not a technical one.

So how about who is an UUC? Looking at the UUC members list, you see that there are 16 individuals on the team. Including Chow Loong Jin (hyperair), who just joined, congrats! Of those, nine of us have gone on to make MOTU. So there are only seven proper Ubuntu Universe Contributors. So, it seems that becoming a UUC is a good step to becoming a MOTU, but still not all that many people are using the program. In fact, more people have become MOTUs this year so far than have become UUCs.

According to Ubuntu Top Uploaders list, 395 people uploaded at least one package in Jaunty (although it’s not a completely accurate count as some people have more than one listing due to using more than one email address). Of those, only about 100 people uploaded more than 10 packages. The top 25 all have over a hundred uploads. The level of involement is amazing, but it is also extremely top heavy. We need to shift that curve down.

For me, the main goals of the UUC program should be to draw reoccurring contributors further into the community and acknowledging them for the work they have already done. It’s about both retaining contributors and increasing their involvement. The more connections someone has with a project the more likely they will continue to contribute and increase their level of commitment. Someone who gets a few patches sponsored into Ubuntu but doesen’t get involved in the community may well switch distributions when they have an issue and take their contributions with them. Someone who becomes engaed in the community will stick around and help solve the issue.

We also need to be making it easier for contributors to navigate the sometime bureaucratic processes involved with getting patches sponsored into Ubuntu. Dan Chen has already talked about some of the plans coming out of UDS Barcelona, including a new Launchpad group to take on this issue, ubuntu-reviewers.

As every one who went to UDS is now home, I expect we’ll hear alot more about the discussions that went on there. I’m looking forward to it, and hope to find ways that I can help make the plans made there a reality.

So, if you’ve read this far, what are you’re thoughts? Have you contributed to Ubuntu? What was the most annoying part? Have you considered joining the Ubuntu Universe Contributor team? What’s stopped you?

Written by andrewsomething

June 1, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Ubuntu

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“Because humans need Oxygen.”

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Breathe Icon Theme

Breathe Icon Theme

The Ubuntu Artwork community just made the first official beta release of the  Breathe Icon Theme. It’s a refresh of the Human icon theme using Oxygen as a base. The idea is to create as modern a set as Oxygen but with that distinctly Human feel.

You can grab the 0.43 release on the GNOME-Look page or on the Ubuntu wiki. You can also check out the source on Launchpad.

It’s being developed by community members over on the Artwork Team list-serve. Drop by, join in and share your ideas.

Creative Commons License
The Breath Icon Theme is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Written by andrewsomething

May 30, 2009 at 6:53 am

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