Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thoughts and worries about the proposed new Ubuntu processes

Today began in a virtual UDS session (Google Hangout) with the Xubuntu team. The video can be seen here: http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-1303/meeting/21666/community-xubuntu-contingencies/ . Xubuntu devels stopped by #kubuntu-devel and asked us to bring our list of concerns to share. The list we developed:

  • The new system will do away with releases for each upstream KDE release, which is a prominent feature of Kubuntu. One idea is to do releases of LTS+PPA with latest KDE but that's against policy and needs technical changes to make happen. Or will there be a way to create ISOs from PPAs?

  • Mir is a worry since KWin will clash with it (a compositing manager inside a compositing manager). How good will continued Wayland and X support be?

  • Where to put Beta releases of software? Testing is a huge part of quality. So while a PPA seems the obvious suggestion, but they'll get less testing there. Now we use a beta ppa only for backports. Consistent quality would require staging major changes somewhere else.

  • How will library transitions be handled outside of cadence?

  • Launchpad breakdowns. We are trying to automate more of our building tasks, but often the scripts must be run repeatedly because of Launchpad timeouts.

  • Weakness of unit & hardware testing. This is crucial for a successful rolling release.   

  • Security updates - who gets them? When, and how often? (LTS will get them as usual, but for rolling it seems the monthly snapshots don’t get any? you need to use rolling)

  • We will be more dependent than ever on syncing with Debian for rolling. We already import, and release, Debian packages with RC bugs. Colin Watson suggested checking Ubuntu-Critical bugs anyway. Scott Kitterman replied that this would recreate painful Debian transition. Beta/buggy software is often uploaded into Debian Unstable, and proposed changes mean even less prevents bad software  from getting into Ubuntu -release.

  • We need a policy for when to move packages from PPA to rolling.

  • PPAs for non-Canonical contributors have low armhf/powerpc ability.           
          * KDE doesn't compile in qemu (bug 1077116) [Philip Muskovac]
          * Fixing these might be an acceptable cost of rolling release according to Steve Langasek.

I wish I could say we got answers to all of our questions. On the other hand, it was good to have those advocating for a rolling release listen to our concerns. The discussion continues on the Ubuntu-devel list and in the IRC channels. Of course the Kubuntu developers will continue to voice our concerns, and listen as the proposals change over time. As Rick Spencer said, he made a proposal to Ubuntu developers, not a announcement from Canonical. As we heard in the session today, no proposal has been formally submitted to the Technical Board. It seems possible that 13.04 will be released as planned, with the beginning of new processes put off until more of the necessary supports are put in place.

I want to thank everyone involved who continue to work so hard to provide an excellent user experience, even when we disagree about how best to do that. And especially the Kubuntu and KDE communities. You rock!

PS: This mini-UDS was a good place to share our concerns, and perhaps do some planning. But it in no way compares to a real UDS, with actual face-time, and the essential "hallway track."