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Dimitri John Ledkov: What is net neutrality?

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 08/02/2014 - 21:30
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David Tomaschik: Weekly Reading List for 8/2/14

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 08/02/2014 - 19:02

This has been missing for a few weeks, but it's back!

Why is CSP Failing?

Why is CSP Failing? Trends and Challenges in CSP Adoption. Despite being an "academic" paper, this actually has a lot to offer about why one of the most effective defenses against XSS isn't yet getting widely implemented, and what the implementation costs and strategies are.

Safari Bites the Dust

Ian Beer of Google Project Zero recently popped Safari and then proceeded to pwn OS X. This post dives into exploiting a WebKit unbounded write bug, and makes it obvious just how many hoops an attacker needs to go through compared to the 'buffer overflow to overwrite EIP' bugs of the 'good old days'. It's a great read, especially if you're new to browser/client exploitation.

Blackhat & DEF CON Tips

It's that time of year again -- the annual Las Vegas pilgrimage for hackers. As usual, Chief Monkey over at Toolbox.com has some protips for first time attendees. (Or reminders for seasoned vets!)

Xubuntu: 5 Things to Do After Upgrading from 12.04 to 14.04

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 08/02/2014 - 06:43

The first point release of 14.04 just came out a few days ago and many LTS users waited for this to upgrade from 12.04 – in fact do-release-upgrade only offers the LTS to LTS upgrade after the first point release for stability reasons. So we thought this would be the perfect time to do a quick writeup of a few things to do after upgrading your system. User configuration isn’t updated and installed applications aren’t removed when upgrading and that’s a good thing: Upgraders will not have to restore their customizations and their system will mostly look as before.
However, for those of you who want to get closer to the default setup of Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr, here go five easy steps you can quickly follow to that end.

  1. Light Locker has replaced XScreenSaver. Light Locker uses LightDM to lock the screen, merging the functionality of the login screen and the lock screen. Having both applications installed at the same time may produce bugs or regressions, so it is recommended to remove XScreenSaver. To remove it just run the following command in a terminal window: sudo apt-get remove xscreensaver
    If you would rather see a screensaver instead of an improved screen locker, you can alternatively remove Light Locker and keep XScreenSaver. 
  2. MenuLibre, an advanced menu editor that provides modern features in a clean, easy-to-use interface, with full Xfce support, replaces Alacarte for menu editing. To remove Alacarte open a terminal window and run the following command: sudo apt-get remove alacarte 
  3. Due to a duplication of functionalities, the Xubuntu Team decided to favor Ristretto for photo viewing, and drop gThumb. To remove gThumb from your system run in a terminal window: sudo apt-get remove gthumb 
  4. As Whiskermenu is now the default menu in Xubuntu, swap out the old application menu with it. Just right click the top panel and navigate to Panel > Add New Items, then select “Whisker Menu” and click “Add”.
    After that, and to remove the old application menu, just right click on its icon and choose the “Remove” option.
  5. All PPAs are automatically disabled when you upgrade, so you’ll have to re-enable release-independent PPAs manually, taking in consideration that you’ll have to check if the old PPAs work with the new Xubuntu version.

Lubuntu Blog: Lubuntu Utopic Unicorn α2

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 08/02/2014 - 05:17
Second alpha for Lubuntu Utopic Unicorn released. This is just for testing, don't use it as a stable system. This snapshot includes the 3.15.0.6 Ubuntu Linux kernel which is based on the the upstream v3.15 Linux kernel. The 3.15 release includes mixed mode UEFI support, as well as improvements to suspend and resume times, open-source graphics drivers, newer laptop support ACPI and power

Raphaël Hertzog: My Free Software Activities in July 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 14:13

This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you’re among the people who made a donation to support my work (548.59 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

Distro Tracker

Now that tracker.debian.org is live, people reported bugs (on the new tracker.debian.org pseudo-package that I requested) faster than I could fix them. Still I spent many, many hours on this project, reviewing submitted patches (thanks to Christophe Siraut, Joseph Herlant, Dimitri John Ledkov, Vincent Bernat, James McCoy, Andrew Starr-Bochicchio who all submitted some patches!), fixing bugs, making sure the code works with Django 1.7, and started the same with Python 3.

I added a tox.ini so that I can easily run the test suite in all 4 supported environments (created by tox as virtualenv with the combinations of Django 1.6/1.7 and Python 2.7/3.4).

Over the month, the git repository has seen 73 commits, we fixed 16 bugs and other issues that were only reported over IRC in #debian-qa. With the help of Enrico Zini and Martin Zobel, we enabled the possibility to login via sso.debian.org (Debian’s official SSO) so that Debian developers don’t even have to explicitly create their account.

As usual more help is needed and I’ll gladly answer your questions and review your patches.

Misc packaging work

Publican. I pushed a new upstream release of publican and dropped a useless build-dependency that was plagued by a difficult to fix RC bug (#749357 for the curious, I tried to investigate but it needs major work for make 4.x compatibility).

GNOME 3.12. With gnome-shell 3.12 hitting unstable, I had to update gnome-shell-timer (and filed an upstream ticket at the same time), a GNOME Shell extension to start some run-down counters.

Django 1.7. I packaged python-django 1.7 release candidate 1 in experimental (found a small bug, submitted a ticket with a patch that got quickly merged) and filed 85 bugs against all the reverse dependencies to ask their maintainers to test their package with Django 1.7 (that we want to upload before the freeze obviously). We identified a pain point in upgrade for packages using South and tried to discuss it with upstream, but after closer investigation, none of the packages are really affected. But the problem can hit administrators of non-packaged Django applications.

Misc stuff. I filed a few bugs (#754282 against git-import-orig –uscan, #756319 against wnpp to see if someone would be willing to package loomio), reviewed an updated package for django-ratelimit in #755611, made a non-maintainer upload of mairix (without prior notice) to update the package to a new upstream release and bring it to modern packaging norms (Mako failed to make an upload in 4 years so I just went ahead and did what I would have done if it were mine).

Kali work resulting in Debian contributions

Kali wants to switch from being based on stable to being based on testing so I did try to setup britney to manage a new kali-rolling repository and encountered some problems that I reported to debian-release. Niels Thykier has been very helpful and even managed to improve britney thanks to the very specific problem that the kali setup triggered.

Since we use reprepro, I did write some Python wrapper to transform the HeidiResult file in a set of reprepro commands but at the same time I filed #756399 to request proper support of heidi files in reprepro. While analyzing britney’s excuses file, I also noticed that the Kali mirrors contains many source packages that are useless because they only concern architectures that we don’t host (and I filed #756523 filed against reprepro). While trying to build a live image of kali-rolling, I noticed that libdb5.1 and db5.1-util were still marked as priority standard when in fact Debian already switched to db5.3 and thus should only be optional (I filed #756623 against ftp.debian.org).

When doing some upgrade tests from kali (wheezy based) to kali-rolling (jessie based) I noticed some problems that were also affecting Debian Jessie. I filed #756629 against libfile-fcntllock-perl (with a patch), and also #756618 against texlive-base (missing Replaces header). I also pinged Colin Watson on #734946 because I got a spurious base-passwd prompt during upgrade (that was triggered because schroot copied my unstable’s /etc/passwd file in the kali chroot and the package noticed a difference on the shell of all system users).

Thanks

See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

No comment | Liked this article? Click here. | My blog is Flattr-enabled.

The Fridge: Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) alpha-2 released!

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 10:57

– The Unicorn looked dreamily at Alice, and said "Talk, child."
– Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: "Do
you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I
never saw one alive before!"
– "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the Unicorn, "If you’ll
believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.

The second alpha of the Utopic Unicorn (to become 14.10) has now been released!

This alpha features images for Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, UbuntuKylin and the Ubuntu Cloud images.

Pre-releases of the Utopic Unicorn are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavor developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this release ready.

Alpha 2 includes a number of software updates that are ready for wider testing. This is quite an early set of images, so you should expect some bugs.

While these Alpha 2 images have been tested and work, except as noted in the release notes, Ubuntu developers are continuing to improve the Utopic Unicorn. In particular, once newer daily images are available, system installation bugs identified in the Alpha 2 installer should be verified against the current daily image before being reported in Launchpad. Using an obsolete image to re-report bugs that have already been fixed wastes your time and the time of developers who are busy trying to make 14.10 the best Ubuntu release yet. Always ensure your system is up to date before reporting bugs.

Kubuntu

Kubuntu is the KDE based flavour of Ubuntu. It uses the Plasma desktop and includes a wide selection of tools from the KDE project.

Kubuntu development is now focussing on the next generation of KDE Software, Plasma 5. This is not yet stable enough for everyday use, so we are still shipping the Plasma 1 desktop on our image which has been updated to the latest version in the alpha.

The Alpha-2 images can be downloaded at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/kubuntu/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

More information on Kubuntu Alpha-2 can be found here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UtopicUnicorn/Alpha2/Kubuntu

Lubuntu

Lubuntu is a flavor of Ubuntu based on LXDE and focused on providing a very lightweight distribution.

The Alpha 2 images can be downloaded at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/lubuntu/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

Ubuntu GNOME

Ubuntu GNOME is a flavor of Ubuntu featuring the GNOME desktop environment.

The Alpha-2 images can be downloaded at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-gnome/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

More information on Ubuntu GNOME Alpha-2 can be found here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UtopicUnicorn/Alpha2/UbuntuGNOME

UbuntuKylin

UbuntuKylin is a flavor of Ubuntu that is more suitable for Chinese users.

The Alpha-2 images can be downloaded at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntukylin/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

More information on UbuntuKylin Alpha-2 can be found here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Ubuntu%20Kylin/1410-alpha-2-ReleaseNote

Ubuntu Cloud

Ubuntu Cloud images will shortly be available. These images can be run on Amazon EC2, Openstack, SmartOS and many other clouds.

http://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

Regular daily images for Ubuntu can be found at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com

If you’re interested in following the changes as we further develop Utopic, we suggest that you subscribe to the ubuntu-devel-announce list. This is a low-traffic list (a few posts a week) carrying announcements of approved specifications, policy changes, alpha releases and other interesting events.

http://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-devel-announce

A big thank you to the developers and testers for their efforts to pull together this Alpha release!

From the steps outside GUADEC in Strasbourg, and on behalf of the Ubuntu release team,

Originally posted to the ubuntu-devel-announce mailing list on Fri Aug 1 08:50:23 UTC 2014 by Iain Lane

Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) alpha-2 released!

The Fridge - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 10:56

– The Unicorn looked dreamily at Alice, and said "Talk, child."
– Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: "Do
you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I
never saw one alive before!"
– "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the Unicorn, "If you’ll
believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.

The second alpha of the Utopic Unicorn (to become 14.10) has now been released!

This alpha features images for Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, UbuntuKylin and the Ubuntu Cloud images.

Pre-releases of the Utopic Unicorn are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavor developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this release ready.

Alpha 2 includes a number of software updates that are ready for wider testing. This is quite an early set of images, so you should expect some bugs.

While these Alpha 2 images have been tested and work, except as noted in the release notes, Ubuntu developers are continuing to improve the Utopic Unicorn. In particular, once newer daily images are available, system installation bugs identified in the Alpha 2 installer should be verified against the current daily image before being reported in Launchpad. Using an obsolete image to re-report bugs that have already been fixed wastes your time and the time of developers who are busy trying to make 14.10 the best Ubuntu release yet. Always ensure your system is up to date before reporting bugs.

Kubuntu

Kubuntu is the KDE based flavour of Ubuntu. It uses the Plasma desktop and includes a wide selection of tools from the KDE project.

Kubuntu development is now focussing on the next generation of KDE Software, Plasma 5. This is not yet stable enough for everyday use, so we are still shipping the Plasma 1 desktop on our image which has been updated to the latest version in the alpha.

The Alpha-2 images can be downloaded at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/kubuntu/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

More information on Kubuntu Alpha-2 can be found here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UtopicUnicorn/Alpha2/Kubuntu

Lubuntu

Lubuntu is a flavor of Ubuntu based on LXDE and focused on providing a very lightweight distribution.

The Alpha 2 images can be downloaded at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/lubuntu/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

Ubuntu GNOME

Ubuntu GNOME is a flavor of Ubuntu featuring the GNOME desktop environment.

The Alpha-2 images can be downloaded at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-gnome/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

More information on Ubuntu GNOME Alpha-2 can be found here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UtopicUnicorn/Alpha2/UbuntuGNOME

UbuntuKylin

UbuntuKylin is a flavor of Ubuntu that is more suitable for Chinese users.

The Alpha-2 images can be downloaded at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntukylin/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

More information on UbuntuKylin Alpha-2 can be found here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Ubuntu%20Kylin/1410-alpha-2-ReleaseNote

Ubuntu Cloud

Ubuntu Cloud images will shortly be available. These images can be run on Amazon EC2, Openstack, SmartOS and many other clouds.

http://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/releases/utopic/alpha-2/

Regular daily images for Ubuntu can be found at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com

If you’re interested in following the changes as we further develop Utopic, we suggest that you subscribe to the ubuntu-devel-announce list. This is a low-traffic list (a few posts a week) carrying announcements of approved specifications, policy changes, alpha releases and other interesting events.

http://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-devel-announce

A big thank you to the developers and testers for their efforts to pull together this Alpha release!

From the steps outside GUADEC in Strasbourg, and on behalf of the Ubuntu release team,

Originally posted to the ubuntu-devel-announce mailing list on Fri Aug 1 08:50:23 UTC 2014 by Iain Lane

Harald Sitter: Porting to KDE Frameworks 5

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 05:44

Porting to KDE Frameworks 5 is so easy even I can do it.

Almost all Kubuntu software is ported already. Some of the applications even managed to go qt-only because of all the awesome bits that moved from kdelibs into Qt5. It is all really very awesome I have to say.

Harald Sitter: Kubuntu Testing and You

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 05:44

With the latest Kubuntu 14.04 Beta 1 out the door, the Kubuntu team is hard at work to deliver the highest possible quality for the upcoming LTS release.

As part of this we are introducing basic test cases that every user can run to ensure that core functionality such as instant messaging and playing MP3 files is working as expected. All tests are meant to take no more than 10 minutes and should be doable by just about everyone. They are the perfect way to get some basic testing done without all the hassle testing usually involves.

If you are already testing Beta 1, head on over to our Quality Assurance Headquarters to get the latest test cases.

Feel free to run any test case, at any time.

If you have any questions, drop me a mail at apachelogger@kubuntu.org, or stop by in #kubuntu-devel on irc.freenode.net.

kitten by David Flores

Ubuntu GNOME: Ubuntu GNOME 14.04.1 LTS

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 05:41

Hi,

Ubuntu GNOME Team is happy to announce the first point release for Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS.

  • Q: What are point releases for LTS versions of Ubuntu family?
  • A: Please, see the answer.

Get Ubuntu GNOME 14.04.1

  1. First of all, kindly do read the release notes.
  2. Download from here.

To contact Ubuntu GNOME:
Please see our full list of contact channels.

Thank you for choosing and using Ubuntu GNOME!

 

Ubuntu GNOME: Utopic Unicorn Alpha2

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 05:02

Hi,

Ubuntu GNOME Team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu GNOME Utopic Unicorn Alpha 2.

Please do read the release notes.

NOTE:

This is Alpha 2 Release. Ubuntu GNOME Alpha Releases are NOT recommended for:

  • Regular users who are not aware of pre-release issues
  • Anyone who needs a stable system
  • Anyone uncomfortable running a possibly frequently broken system
  • Anyone in a production environment with data or workflows that need to be reliable

Ubuntu GNOME Alpha Releases are recommended for:

  • Regular users who want to help us test by finding, reporting, and/or fixing bugs
  • Ubuntu GNOME developers

To help with testing Ubuntu GNOME:
Please see Testing Ubuntu GNOME Wiki Page.

To contact Ubuntu GNOME:
Please see our full list of contact channels.

Thank you for choosing and testing Ubuntu GNOME!

Kubuntu: Utopic Alpha 2 Released

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 02:21
Alpha 2 of Utopic is out now for testing. Download it or upgrade to it to test what will become 14.10 in October.

Adam Stokes: Ubuntu Openstack Installer – upcoming ui enhancements

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 23:34

In our next release of the Openstack Installer we concentrated on some visual improvements. Here are a few screenshots of some of those changes:

We’ve enhanced feedback of what’s happening during the installation phase:

Services are now being displayed as deployment occurs rather than waiting until completion:

An added help screen to provide more insight into the installer:

We decided to keep it more Openstack focused when listing the running services, this is the final view with all components deployed:

And if you don’t care about the UI (why wouldn’t you?!?) there is an added option to run the entire deployment in your console:

We’ve still got some more polishing to do and a few more enhancements to add, so keep your eye out for a future announcement!

If you are interested in helping us out head over to the installer github page and have a look, the experimental branch is the code used when generating these screenshots. Some of our immediate needs are end to end testing of the single and multi installer, extending the guides, and feedback on the UI itself.

Adnane Belmadiaf: Ubuntu Touch session in Morocco

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 15:05

Next November I'll be speaking at JMaghreb conference, i'll be giving a talk about the Ubuntu Touch platform and the Ubuntu development story, together with a live coding session and a Q&A round at the end.

In this session i'll be covering :

  • System architecture
  • Security model
  • QML/HTML5 SDK
  • Platform APIs(udm, push notifications, webview, etc...)
  • Writing & testing apps on the device & the emulator
  • Publishing apps to the store

The exact time & date of the session will be announced soon, so if you're going to be in or near Morocco this November, make sure to attend!

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S07E18 – The One with the Flashback

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 11:30

We’re back with Season Seven, Episode Eighteen of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope is sill MIA, Mark Johnson is still in quarantine but talking to us using Skype, and Tony Whitmore and Laura Cowen are drinking cold squash (it’s really quite hot out there!) and eating Jamaican Ginger cake in Studio L.

 Download OGG  Download MP3 Play in Popup

In this week’s show:

We’ll be back next week, so please send your comments and suggestions to: podcast@ubuntu-uk.org
Join us on IRC in #uupc on Freenode
Leave a voicemail via phone: +44 (0) 203 298 1600, sip: podcast@sip.ubuntu-uk.org and skype: ubuntuukpodcast
Follow us on Twitter
Find our Facebook Fan Page
Follow us on Google+

Elizabeth K. Joseph: A Career in FOSS at Fosscon in Philadelphia, August 9th

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 10:05

After years fueled by hobbyist passion, I’ve been really excited to see how work that many of my peers and I have been doing in open source has grown into us having serious technical careers these past few years. Whether you’re a programmer, community manager, systems administrator like me or other type of technologist, familiarity with Open Source technology, culture and projects can be a serious boon to your career.

Last year when I attended Fosscon in Philadelphia, I did a talk about my work as an “Open Source Sysadmin” – meaning all my work for the OpenStack Infrastructure team is done in public code repositories. Following my talk I got a lot of questions about how I’m funded to do this, and a lot of interest in the fact that a company like HP is making such an investment.

So this year I’m returning to Fosscon to talk about these things! In addition to my own experiences with volunteer and paid work in Open Source, I’ll be drawing experience from my colleague at HP, Mark Atwood, who recently wrote 7 skills to land your open source dream job and those of others folks I work with who are also “living the dream” with a job in open source.

I’m delighted to be joined at this conference by keynote speaker and friend Corey Quinn and Charlie Reisinger of Penn Manor School District who I’ve chatted with via email and social media many times about the amazing Ubuntu deployment at his district and whom am looking forward to finally meeting.

In Philadelphia or near by? The conference is coming up on Saturday, August 9th and is being held at the the world-renowned Franklin Institute science museum.

Registration to the conference is free, but you get a t-shirt if you pay the small stipend of $25 to support the conference (I did!): http://fosscon.us/Attend

Ubuntu Scientists: Backport spyder 2.3 to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 08:26

News from Ghislain Vaillant:

The recently released Spyder version 2.3 introduced the much awaited Python 3 support. Debian already has a working package in testing/unstable for both Python 2 (spyder) and Python 3 (spyder3). I have proposed a backport of this version of Spyder to the current LTS in the following bug report: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/spyder/+bug/1347487 For those who are interested, please back this proposal up by adding any additional comments up in the bug report or simply marking yourself as affected.


Filed under: News Tagged: spyder

Dustin Kirkland: Ubuntu OpenStack on an Orange Box, Live Demo at the Cloud Austin Meetup, August 19th

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 03:49


I hope you'll join me at Rackspace on Tuesday, August 19, 2014, at the Cloud Austin Meetup, at 6pm, where I'll use our spectacular Orange Box to deploy Hadoop, scale it up, run a terasort, destroy it, deploy OpenStack, launch instances, and destroy it too.  I'll talk about the hardware (the Orange Box, Intel NUCs, Managed VLAN switch), as well as the software (Ubuntu, OpenStack, MAAS, Juju, Hadoop) that makes all of this work in 30 minutes or less!

Be sure to RSVP, as space is limited.

http://www.meetup.com/CloudAustin/events/194009002/
Cheers,
Dustin

Martin Albisetti: Engineering management

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 19:02

I'm a few days away from hitting 6 years at Canonical and I've ended up doing a lot more management than anything else in that time. Before that I did a solid 8 years at my own company, doing anything from developing, project managing, product managing, engineering managing, sales and accounting.
This time of the year is performance review time at Canonical, so it's gotten me thinking a lot about my role and how my view on engineering management has evolved over the years.

A key insights I've had from a former boss, Elliot Murphy, was viewing it as a support role for others to do their job rather than a follow-the-leader approach. I had heard the phrase "As a manager, I work for you" a few times over the years, but it rarely seemed true and felt mostly like a good concept to make people happy but not really applied in practice in any meaningful way.

Of all the approaches I've taken or seen, a role where you're there to unblock developers more than anything else, I believe is the best one. And unless you're a bit power-hungry on some level, it's probably the most enjoyable way of being a manager.

It's not to be applied blindly, though, I think a few conditions have to be met:
1) The team has to be fairly experienced/senior/smart, I think if it isn't it breaks down to often
2) You need to understand very clearly what needs doing and why, and need to invest heavily and frequently in communicated it to the team, both the global context as well as how it applies to them individually
3) You need to build a relationship of trust with each person and need to trust them, because trust is always a 2-way street
4) You need to be enough of an engineer to understand problems in depth when explained, know when to defer to other's judgments (which should be the common case when the team generally smart and experienced) and be capable of tie-breaking in a technical-savvy way
5) Have anyone who's ego doesn't fit in a small, 100ml container, leave it at home

There are many more things to do, but I think if you don't have those five, everything else is hard to hold together. In general, if the team is smart and experienced, understands what needs doing and why, and like their job, almost everything else self-organizes.
If it isn't self-organizing well enough, walk over those 5 points, one or several must be mis-aligned. More often than not, it's 2). Communication is hard, expensive and more of an art than a science. Most of the times things have seemed to stumble a bit, it's been a failure of how I understood what we should be doing as a team, or a failure on how I communicated it to everyone else as it evolved over time.
Second most frequent I think is 1), but that may vary more depending on your team, company and project.

Oh, and actually caring about people and what you do helps a lot, but that helps a lot in life in general, so do that anyway regardless of you role 

TurnKey Linux: No Juju for you! Ubuntu's Not Invented Here syndrome

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:49

Today Brian emailed me to share his enthusiasm for the Ubuntu Juju project, developed by Canonical, the company that makes Ubuntu.

Brian is a good friend that has been advising us on all matters TurnKey practically since the project began. His advice and feedback is always well informed and insightful so even when I already have my own opinions on the matter, I still take the time to look into his suggestions carefully. Thanks Brian!

This time, Brian wrote in to share that he's been enjoying his (impressive) Juju experience and sent a few links for us to look at. He also asked:

Have you guys ever thought of creating Juju Charm's for all of the TurnKeyLinux apps?

The first thing I looked at was whether I could use Juju without using Ubuntu. Not really, and that's a major dealbreaker because TurnKey is based on Debian. It used to be based on Ubuntu but a few years after we started TurnKey it became increasingly clear that we made the wrong decision. Debian was superior on so many levels: community, security, stability, packaging quality and most importantly - the fundamental driving values. So we bit the bullet and moved over to Debian in 2012.

I figured a somewhat expanded version of my answer to Brian could start an interesting discussion so I'm posting it to the blog. In a nutshell, I'm trying to explain why I think many in the free software community are not terribly enthusiastic about building on top of Canonical's work and why Ubuntu seems to have lost so much ground as the world's favorite Linux distro.

In 2008, when Alon and I started TurnKey, Ubuntu was at its height. Here are the Google Trends for Ubuntu since:

Ouch. What happened? My response to Brian tells a small part of this story.

Brian, thanks for prompting me to take another look at Juju today. We are evaluating several directions for TurnKey 14, which we will be re-engineering to work as a collection of modular services built on top of Core rather than monolithic system images. We're going to try and avoid reinventing the wheel as much as possible by leveraging the best components.

Juju is an option but to be honest it's probably not the leading horse in the race, and sadly that has more to do with the track record of the company backing it then any technical fault. In the context of the free software community, getting the answers right at the technical level is almost never enough. Collaborating successfully with the broader ecosystem and winning over hearts and minds matters. A lot.

At this point, Juju doesn't seem to support Debian at all. Debian have even removed the Juju client from sid for some reason. Not sure what the story behind that is. Given the growing divergence between Ubuntu and Debian, we can't expect to be able to leverage the Juju Ubuntu charms without some serious forking.

More importantly, we don't want to back the wrong horse. Canonical have a bad case of not-invented-here syndrome and a tendency to not really listen to the community. They're like the Apple of the FLOSS world except that Shuttleworth is no Steve Jobs and I mean that both in a good way (not as much of an asshole) and a bad way (not as good a leader/visionary).

Brian responded by defending Canonical and explaining that from his perspective working with the world's largest service providers Canonical was making impressive in-roads, especially in the enterprise and cloud arena.

Brian is the expert here so I'm in no position to argue, and to be honest rereading the email I sent him it did come off as a bit more anti-Canonical / Ubuntu than I intended. But my main point wasn't that Canonical is a bad company or that Ubuntu sucks, just that what happens in Ubuntu stays in Ubuntu. Maybe that's great for Canonical in the Enterprise space, but it makes building on their work a shaky proposition.

Canonical: boldly going where no one wants to go after

Canonical has a special talent for either backing the wrong horse, or breeding it.  A few examples of Canonical's track record:

  • UEC vs OpenStack
  • Bazaar vs Git
  • Upstart vs systemd
  • Launchpad vs github
  • Unity vs gnome
  • mir vs wayland

Given this track record, a Canonical backed project is an unlikely winner in any race for widespread adoption. You'd think they would win some battles just by chance. What's going on? 

My pet theory is that it has to be a mix of reasons: They don't listen. They don't inspire. They don't make the best stuff. They don't have the best people. They don't have the most money or the best business.

They do good work, and provide nice solutions, but for some reason we never seem to see those solutions adopted outside of Ubuntu by the wider Linux community. If you aren't already in the Ubuntu camp it seems short-sighted to back their projects. 

I don't think that Canonical is bad at what it does. It's just that they're rarely the best and being mediocre (or even second best) isn't good enough when the tournament effect is at work. The winner takes home the pot (e.g., becomes the new standard) and Canonical isn't winning.

I'm not even sure they want to. I mean, does Apple want Firewire to become a standard? But Apple can afford to create its own standards. Can Canonical?

If companies were text editors, Canonical would be Emacs

Canonical is not a company driven by the Unix philosophy of doing one thing and doing it well. If companies were text editors, Canonical would be Emacs.

It's easy to lose count of the many different  directions they seem to be trying to go in at once: Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Cloud, Ubuntu Phone, Ubuntu Tablet, and Ubuntu TV. Oh my! I'm waiting for them to announce the Ubuntu gaming system and Ubuntu car. 

I'm impressed (and slightly fearful) by the way companies like Google have expanded their business, but Google waited until they were wildly profitable with their core product to do that. I'm no expert but having your fingers in so many pies when your company is still losing money a decade after its creation doesn't seem like sound business strategy.

And then there are the various community antagonizing fiascos that left me wondering how they didn't see it coming:

  • Sending Unity search results to Canonical (they've since fixed that)
  • Inserting Amazon product referrals into the desktop experience (they've since made it opt-in)

Sure they've since come to their senses, but as the old saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

How much does Canonical really care about free software values?

Here's another thing that bugs me. It's unclear how much Shuttleworth/Canonical genuinely cares about the underlying values of free software. From the outside it looks like Canonical is firmly rooted in the "commercial open source" camp as opposed to the "free software" camp (what's the difference?). This is reflected in a tendency towards technical isolation and the design of solutions that encourage dependence on Canonical services.

The focus is on utility and convenience, not values. And to clarify what I mean by that - a value is a principle you would hold onto even if you get penalized for it by the marketplace. If you give lip service to a value but are willing to give it up to make more money that's not a value - that's marketing.

I'm not saying Canonical's focus on convenience and utility are bad. It's just not inspiring. And you need to be inspiring to lead.

Still, they do a lot of good work and have done much to popularize free software. We should congratulate them for that and be thankful that Shuttleworth decided to invest his millions to create the company. There's definitely a useful place for a company like Canonical in the ecosystem. Ubuntu provides a gentler introduction to the sometimes harsh world of free software. It's especially useful to the vast majority of "human beings" who aren't aware that free software has anything else to offer beyond the magic of getting stuff for free. Who knows, some of them may eventually pull back the curtain.

But it takes more then being useful to lead and Canonical's take on free software is just not very inspiring for developers and would-be contributors, many of whom, like myself, do care deeply about values. There's what you do, and there's why you do it.

Free software is more than a better way to develop software, and more than a way to get stuff for free. Free software is about freedom. The more technologically dependent our society becomes, the more free software values matter because technology is a double edged sword. It can be used to strengthen our freedoms, or take them away.

We need utility as a measuring stick, and the right values as our compass. We need both.

Which reminds me of a pearl of wisdom I came across that keeps reverberating in my head:

Develop people, not products.

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