Dev Week -- Q+A with Ubuntu Engineering Director -- rickspencer3 -- Thu, Mar 3rd, 2011

   1 [18:01] <rickspencer3> hello all
   2 === Guest60040 is now known as KKmos
   3 [18:02] <rickspencer3> I guess there's no intro or such, just dive in?
   4 [18:02] <rickspencer3> so, I'm Rick Spencer
   5 [18:02] <rickspencer3> I'm currently the director of engineering for Ubuntnu Engineering
   6 [18:03] <rickspencer3> which basically means that I help the teams that create Ubuntu, Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Arm editions, Ubuntu virtual images, etc...
   7 [18:04] <rickspencer3> I'm happy to take questions on any and all topics
   8 [18:04] <rickspencer3> please note that I don't typically have a lot of fine grained technical context on some things, so I may have to refer you to others for certain things
   9 [18:04] <rickspencer3> I guess I'll just hang out and see if I get any questions?
  10 [18:06] <ClassBot> mhall119 asked: What do you do as Engineering director?
  11 [18:06] <rickspencer3> well, the Engineering Managers, and the our release manager and our technical architect all report to me
  12 [18:07] <rickspencer3> so, there is a lot of my job that is typical people management
  13 [18:07] <rickspencer3> making sure people have what they need to do their jobs
  14 [18:07] <rickspencer3> signing off on holiday requests and expense reports, that kind of stuff
  15 [18:08] <rickspencer3> also, the Engineering Managers (as well as Kate and Allison - release manager and technical architect) and I are all a management team
  16 [18:08] <rickspencer3> so I have some leadership roles on that team
  17 [18:08] <rickspencer3> for instance, I try to herd this particular herd of cats through planning UDS
  18 [18:08] <rickspencer3> another part of the role is around product management
  19 [18:09] <rickspencer3> this involves a lot of working with folks in the Ubuntu community, upstreams, Canonical, etc... to understand what they need or want to do with Ubuntu
  20 [18:09] <rickspencer3> and I try to get everyone aligned to make those things happen
  21 [18:12] <rickspencer3> Director of Engineering sounds like a role with a lot of Authority ... but it's not really that kind of job
  22 [18:12] <rickspencer3> I do try to use the position to influence the project though in ways that I think are important
  23 [18:15] <rickspencer3> for instance, in Natty I wanted to see more work to enable community contributions to land easily, so I worked with the community team and engineering managers to make sure that Canonical engineers could do that
  24 [18:15] <rickspencer3> hmm ClassBot stopped working for me :/
  25 [18:15] <rickspencer3> I'll go copy and paste method
  26 [18:15] <rickspencer3> QUESTION: What challenges do you see in recruiting and keeping good people?
  27 [18:15] <rickspencer3> well, for Ubuntu Engineering, their are a couple of challenges
  28 [18:15] <rickspencer3> first, people do best when they are comforatable working in a transparent community minded manner
  29 [18:15] <ClassBot> jsjgruber asked: What challenges do you see in recruiting and keeping good people?
  30 [18:15] <rickspencer3> hmmm, freenode seems to be acting a bit wonky, please try to bear with me here
  31 === daker is now known as angeldaker
  32 === tubadaz_ is now known as tubadaz
  33 [18:16] <rickspencer3> so, finding engineers and managers who *like* to work on a community project can be difficult at times
  34 [18:17] <rickspencer3> like, we may find someone who knows a technical space really well, but is not comforatable working in the open
  35 [18:17] <rickspencer3> another aspect is that Canonical folks who get paid to work on Ubuntu work at home
  36 [18:17] <rickspencer3> but then that is punctuated with travel
  37 [18:17] <rickspencer3> personally, I love the lifestyle, but it's not for everyone
  38 === JayFo is now known as JFo
  39 [18:18] <rickspencer3> also, for my part, I am very picky
  40 [18:18] <rickspencer3> I really look for people who are "awesome" in multiple ways, so it can take longer to fill some roles
  41 [18:19] <rickspencer3> finally, we work really hard, but have high standards in terms of being easy to work with
  42 [18:19] <rickspencer3> so that's recruiting
  43 [18:19] <rickspencer3> in terms of retaining, this has not been so challenging, we don't get too much turn over
  44 [18:19] <rickspencer3> but when people do leave, they seem to become more like alumni than "ex-Canonical" folks
  45 [18:19] <rickspencer3> so it seems that in general people depart on good terms
  46 [18:20] <ClassBot> mhall119 asked: Do you have any specific goals for the Natty Cycle, and if so who are those going so far?
  47 [18:20] <rickspencer3> hey, classbot is working again!
  48 [18:20] <rickspencer3> anyway
  49 [18:20] <rickspencer3> YES!
  50 [18:20] <rickspencer3> hold on
  51 [18:20] <rickspencer3> so, there are goals that are project wide, then my personal goals
  52 [18:20] <rickspencer3> for the project wide goals, there was a lot of focus on the client
  53 [18:20] <rickspencer3> we had 5 primary areas for Canonical folks to focus on on the client
  54 [18:21] <rickspencer3> 1. Unity (natch)
  55 [18:21] <rickspencer3> 2. 2d experience
  56 [18:21] <rickspencer3> 3. software center
  57 [18:21] <rickspencer3> 4. contributors (as previously mentioned)
  58 [18:21] <rickspencer3> 5. testing
  59 [18:21] <rickspencer3> this last bit is new to us
  60 [18:21] <rickspencer3> for my perosnal goals, I wanted to see:
  61 [18:21] <rickspencer3> 1. more nurturing of new contributors
  62 [18:21] <rickspencer3> 2. more and better communication across the project
  63 [18:22] <rickspencer3> 3. more systematic release process with better quality
  64 [18:22] <rickspencer3> I think that #1 has gone pretty well thanks to the community team and the redoubled efforts of Canonical engineers AND Ubuntu engineers
  65 [18:22] <rickspencer3> for instance, the sponsorship queue hit a low of only 14 items earlier this week
  66 [18:23] <rickspencer3> #3 has gone well thanks to the efforts fo skaet and many others
  67 [18:23] <rickspencer3> #2, I'm not to sure we made much progress there, it's a hard problem
  68 [18:23] <ClassBot> chadadavis asked: Is there are hard line between Canonical employees and others, or does Canonical sponsor / support some developers part time as well?
  69 [18:23] <rickspencer3> well ...
  70 === AndrewMC is now known as Guest30896
  71 [18:24] <rickspencer3> to be a Canonical employee working in Ubuntu essential means that you get paid by Canonical to work in the Ubuntu community full time
  72 [18:25] <rickspencer3> so, the community of Ubuntu developers is a super set of the developers that Canonical pays
  73 [18:25] <rickspencer3> however, Canonical does, from time to time, outsource some development work on Ubuntu, but typically for projects for which Canonical is the usptream
  74 [18:25] <rickspencer3> for example, to finish off parts of Unity
  75 [18:25] <rickspencer3> normally, but not always, that will go through a company like Codethink, or Collabora
  76 [18:26] <ClassBot> fisch246 asked: i realize this is really early... but has there been any talk on 11.10 yet? any ideas being passed around? care to share any?
  77 === Guest30896 is now known as AndrewMC
  78 [18:26] <rickspencer3> it is early, but not really really early
  79 [18:27] <rickspencer3> allison (wendar) the Technical Architect on our team ... is going to work on getting all the great ideas from users and developers organized 11.10 UDS, and I think she's going to start that soon
  80 [18:27] <rickspencer3> so at the product level, what will ubuntu *be*, nothing really specific comes to mind
  81 [18:27] <rickspencer3> however, in terms of the project, I would like to see more nurturing of new contributors, but also
  82 [18:28] <rickspencer3> revisit if existing core contributors are being sufficiently and properly supported
  83 [18:28] <rickspencer3> also, the whole project wide communication part, I'd like us to take another whack at that
  84 [18:29] <rickspencer3> one area that does occur to me for the project is how users actually get Ubuntu
  85 [18:29] <rickspencer3> I'm wondering if having basically a set of CD ISOs should be the only way to get Ubuntu, or if there should be others
  86 [18:29] <rickspencer3> like should we have a tool for creating a USB stick
  87 [18:30] <rickspencer3> or maybe you we could use a net-install kind of thing
  88 [18:30] <ClassBot> mhall119 asked: Last I heard, Canonical doesn't run a private UEC cloud for their own websites (or community-run sites like loco-directory), why is that and is there any plans to change?
  89 [18:31] <rickspencer3> Canonical has an IS team that sets up all that infra structure and such
  90 [18:31] <rickspencer3> I very much trust that they make good decisions about how best to support Ubuntu, so I never really looked into this
  91 [18:31] <rickspencer3> so, I can't really answer your question
  92 [18:31] <rickspencer3> if you PM me, I can work to connect you with someone who could though
  93 [18:32] <ClassBot> gaberlunzie asked: when is going to get some love to make it into Banshee or other?
  94 [18:32] <rickspencer3> sorry, I have no idea
  95 [18:32] <rickspencer3> I would follow up with jasonwarned, he hangs out in #ubuntu-desktop
  96 [18:32] <ClassBot> darkdevil666 asked: Any thought of implementing gnome shell 3 in later versions?
  97 [18:32] <rickspencer3> sure
  98 [18:32] <rickspencer3> I look at it in 2 ways
  99 [18:33] <rickspencer3> first, Ubuntu should always offer the choices of the best in FOSS software
 100 [18:33] <rickspencer3> so, when we are able, it should be trivial to install a gnome-shell session on Ubuntu
 101 [18:33] <rickspencer3> secondly, if in the long run, gnome-shell turns out to be simply the best choice for users, we shouldn't hesitate to embrace it
 102 [18:34] <rickspencer3> currently, I think we are on a good path with Unity
 103 [18:34] <rickspencer3> but heck, who knows what things will be like a year from now, we shouldn't fear changing trajectory if it's the right thing for usres
 104 [18:35] <ClassBot> fisch246 asked: do you know how canonical plans to implement Wayland, in the next several years?
 105 [18:35] <rickspencer3> slowly and carefully :)
 106 [18:35] <rickspencer3> seriously, between bryce, RAOF, tselliot, and others, Ubuntu has a lot of graphics stack expertise
 107 [18:36] <rickspencer3> then there is the whole xorg-edgers community as well
 108 [18:36] <rickspencer3> so, a really large group of engineers who know this stuff up and down, backward and forward
 109 [18:36] <rickspencer3> I would expect that the first implementations that use wayland would be hardware specific, but that's a guess on my part
 110 [18:37] <rickspencer3> sorry I don't have more specifics there, but Ubuntu xorg community is pretty easy to find and discuss with
 111 [18:37] <ClassBot> mhall119 asked: Is Ubuntu going to target any other formfactors, tablets or phones or tabletop devices?
 112 [18:37] <rickspencer3> currently, I don't know of any specific plans for *Canonical* to do that
 113 [18:38] <rickspencer3> however, I understand that other companies are already doing this
 114 [18:38] <rickspencer3> I think that with Unity and the multitouch efforts, Ubuntu makes a good platform for this, though
 115 [18:38] <rickspencer3> I don't know of any community effort to make a derivative atm
 116 [18:39] <rickspencer3> I expect that some of the work that Linaro is doing in terms of supporting ARM architectures will really really help with this if someone wanted to go down that route
 117 [18:39] <ClassBot> darkdevil666 asked: We already have Ubuntu for netbook, for Tablet PCs with touch interface. I'd really want to see Ubuntu being operated by voice commands. Are there any teams working on it. I'd like to be a part of it
 118 [18:39] <rickspencer3> hmmm, none that I know of
 119 [18:39] <rickspencer3> darkdevil666, this sounds like a great opportunity for you to provide some leadership in our community if this is an area that you are passionate about
 120 [18:40] <rickspencer3> I bet there is technology out there that could be leveraged for this
 121 [18:40] <rickspencer3> and maybe you could be the instrument to make this happen
 122 [18:40] <rickspencer3> if you PM me I can try to connnect you with resources to get you started
 123 [18:41] <rickspencer3> ok, there are no questions in the queue, but there was a follow up question about USB creator
 124 [18:42] <rickspencer3> so, we do have that, and it's good
 125 [18:42] <rickspencer3> but I was thinking, what if you were using a proprietary operating system, and there was some Free software that you could install ...
 126 [18:42] <rickspencer3> and this Free software would download Ubuntu and create a Ubuntu USB stick for you
 127 [18:42] <rickspencer3> also ..
 128 [18:42] <rickspencer3> and this is pie in the sky ...
 129 [18:43] <rickspencer3> what if you could go to a web site or run a program, and point and click at feautres that you want, and have it create a USB stick for you, like that
 130 [18:49] <rickspencer3> maybe even in the language(s) that you want
 131 [18:49] <rickspencer3> that kind of thing
 132 [18:49] <ClassBot> abhinav asked: I don't know if it's stupid to ask. But I started with fixing bugs after the Ist day of UDW. Now, I am confused that if Feature Freeze has been called then will my patches be accepted or reviewed ?
 133 [18:49] <rickspencer3> they should all be reviewed
 134 [18:49] <rickspencer3> if they are bug fixes, well that's great!
 135 [18:50] <rickspencer3> if they are good fixes they will be accepted
 136 [18:50] <rickspencer3> however, if your patches add new features, they will not *automatically* be accepted
 137 [18:50] <rickspencer3> new features require a Feature Freeze Exception
 138 [18:50] <rickspencer3> so, the point of Feature Freeze is to say "from now on, focus 100% on fixing bugs"
 139 [18:50] <rickspencer3> so keep fixing those bugs, they will be most awesomely appreciated now
 140 [18:50] <rickspencer3> :)
 141 [18:50] <rickspencer3> hmm freenode seems to be lagging for me again
 142 [18:50] <ClassBot> gaberlunzie asked: what is the current opinion and status among engineers on pulseaudio integration?
 143 [18:50] <rickspencer3> I can speak for myself here
 144 === cmagina is now known as cmagina-lunch
 145 [18:50] <rickspencer3> first, I know the road was a bit rocky
 146 [18:50] <rickspencer3> but pulseaudio was an awesome contribution to free software
 147 [18:51] <rickspencer3> I am very grateful to the pulseaudio upstream
 148 [18:51] <ClassBot> There are 10 minutes remaining in the current session.
 149 [18:51] <rickspencer3> in terms of integration, well I think it's going well now
 150 [18:51] <rickspencer3> pulse itself is stable and we've had several cycles to accumulate quirks and such
 151 [18:52] <rickspencer3> fwiw, it works well for me, and I definately field fewer complaints about it

MeetingLogs/devweek1103/QAUbuntuEngineeringDirector (last edited 2011-03-04 05:04:06 by nigelbabu)