Future of Ubuntu Community

I don’t think it’s fair to draw this conclusion. You said yourself earlier in the same post:

Seems to me that these posts are intended to fulfill the community liaison function, and therefore what is going on is the exact opposite of what you fear. Mark and/or Canonical are taking community needs seriously and are putting money towards necessary improvements. There were people employed before to do this, and as those roles got diluted (eg. towards snap community), more people are being hired to make up for that. I just don’t see how you infer “replace his role in governance and alter the way governance functions” from this.

Edit: I see that my Canonical badge is showing, but note that I can’t speak for Canonical on this. I don’t have any inside knowledge. I’m just wearing my Ubuntu community hat here, making an observation on publicly available information.

If you mean that Ubuntu matured enough to transition from open source community to Microsoft support forums, yes I totally agree.
Is this something bad? No.
Am I feeling motivated to contribute? No.
Do I wish the best to Ubuntu and his new contributors? Yes, totally.

I tend to believe that the proof is in the pudding. I don’t really see any steps being taken, any resources being allocated, or more people being hired. What are the specifics here?

Furthermore, if Mark/Canonical care so much about the community, why isn’t Mark and/or someone who can speak for Canonical replying to these concerns, which have been raised multiple times not only across the forums but in many other venues? I’m not trying to imply that this isn’t a point of concern, but the optics of non-response is not good.

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I don’t think we need Mark or Canonical in this discussion. I very much believe in do-ocracy: If we want an organized community effort, then why don’t we just create one? I would be happy to help out but it’s just not clear to me what is needed exactly. I think this discussion is a great place to figure out what we actually want and need as a community.

What kind of governance are we looking for? What are the concrete problems we want solved? I don’t see why we need to wait for Canonical’s approval. On the contrary, I think an initiative created by the community will be a lot more successful and sustainable. Bottom-up instead of top-down.

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The Community Council’s primary purpose was to serve as an avenue for dispute resolution, among other things. We could probably make this up on our own but it’s hard for it to serve this purpose if all parties involved do not consider it a reasonable authority. For that matter, in the event that a dispute requires some sort of punitive action, Canonical’s IS team needs to recognize it as a reasonable authority in order to take action. So it does need Canonical.

I would also like to think that the Community Council, at least without any community liason in place (like the aforementioned Jono Bacon), served to sort of steer the direction of the community, inspiring and encouraging, and networking people together to solve larger problems. This is probably easier to implement, but in the event that something required resources (funds or otherwise) from Canonical, again, the question of authority comes up.

@bkerensa2 linked to posted job openings in his original post. That’s evidence of resources being allocated in terms of more people being hired.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that further steps will be taken specifically by those new hires once they are hired.

Again - I think that’ll become evident once the new hires being hired specifically for this purpose are onboarded.


Ok, your initial post made the response sound a lot more extensive than a couple job postings. I guess that is a reasonable action, though.

Still, community is kept going through communication. Not everyone who is concerned about this issue is searching job postings. Making it really clear to everyone what Canonical’s goals/direction for the community is would be incredibly wise and do much to help support whoever these new hires are.


I wonder how many times the Community Council actually needed to use their “hard power” in order to do this dispute resolution. I haven’t really kept up with what the CC did over the years but I think many issues can be solved simply by having a respected third party help out.

I also think that the issue of “hard power” is one we can solve if/when we get to that point. Canonical still clearly cares about the community, so it’s very likely that Canonical would help this initiative if/when their help is needed.

I agree that we need Canonical to use the funds, but many resources such as Launchpad are already freely available to anyone in the community. I also think we could achieve a great deal without any funds whatsoever. As you said it yourself, I think inspiration and encouragement are some of the most powerful tools. Take KDE as an example of how powerful inspiration is.

Moreover, I think that Canonical would be happy to support such an initiative. But I think the first step is to create the initiative. Canonical’s support is not the first step.

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I brought all that up from having experienced both of those needs firsthand. They were never a problem because the Community Council was an established thing. Now, it’s decimated.

And I will most certainly say that disputes can rage quite dramatically. I would not underestimate the collateral damage that can be caused if such situations are not handled delicately and swiftly. Having an impromptu Council that a fraction of folks acknowledge to make decisions isn’t really going to work in those situations. They don’t happen every day, but they are also not uncommon.

Oh, and with regards to Launchpad, the Community Council pretty much owns every team in the Ubuntu community but since no one has access to that except Mark (and IS), that makes for a bit of a problem, too.


It was meant for a lot more than dispute resolution it also existed as the oversight of all other bodies. It’s like the congress whereas the boards below it were like the committees.

True enough. Where other boards struggled to make decisions on their own, they would check in with the Council. Those cases were, in my experience, extremely rare. I can only really think of one, and it ultimately had to do with a far reaching dispute.

It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day Mark is the project leader and he literally has been absentee for more than a year.

This isn’t how a project lead runs any open source project they don’t just abandon the community, governance etc without so much as peep.

This is negligent at best on his behalf and frankly it’s a code of conduct violation as leaders in the Ubuntu Community are supposed to gracefully step down and not just abandon things. Since he the chair of the community council he’s basically sending a message he doesn’t care about the community by disrespecting the very guidelines he helped create for leaders including himself.

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What your proposing is acting like the Ubuntu Governance system and processes haven’t mostly collapsed due to leaders of the CC neglecting to step down gracefully and transition things.

Systems and structures exist for a reason and nobody is in any position to just decide they can fill those roles without Mark’s approval.

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As a side note, my proposal is not to replace the community council with an impromptu one.

I’d like to have a broader discussion about what initiatives we want, how to create them as a community, and what kind of support we might need from Canonical.

If the last council stopped because the leaders were neglecting it, then we might need to re-think whether the CC is the best approach to solve the issues we want solved.

I was on the last Council. I personally reached out to the other members (Mark included) ahead of expiration several times and offered to run the election to establish a new Council. It wasn’t for wont of trying that it expired.


Maybe you don’t understand how Ubuntu works as a project but there’s structure and a project leader and that structure still exists it’s just unfilled and the project leader is silent and unresponsive.

We can’t actually proceed without anything without Mark’s blessing that’s how this project works and this is why a safety valve such as the leadership code of conduct existed to prevent scenarios where there would be no transition and the system would be frozen.

Ultimately if Mark doesn’t want to revive the structure and governance there’s nothing the community can do. You can see countless past discussions on how to improve things if you’d like to start yet another discussion on this topic feel free but in terms of this being a community driven project it’s pretty much dead until something changes. As it stands the community has no input. It can push contributions and I’m sure Canonical will accept them as it still needs to ship releases but the community governance side and boards are pretty much defunct until Mark decides to be a benevolent dictator again or pass the torch to someone else which frankly might be the better option. I’m certain their are community members who exist today who could be a better project leader than what the community currently gets.

The sad part is this really is like Mark disrespecting the community. As project leader he could pass the torch or even issue a statement saying where things stand or what the future is but he’s done neither and there’s no doubt in my mind he is aware of this thread and past threads.

I think the community deserves at least a statement from him.

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Well, yes and no. I recognise the frustrations being expressed, but disagree with the picture being painted.

I’m not absent. In fact, for the past few years I have set aside all other interests and concerns to help Ubuntu get into a position of long-term sustainability. That has been an amazingly difficult job, but I set my mind to it precisely because I care that Ubuntu as a community has a backbone which is durable. So I am in fact more present than ever, and just as concerned with our community’s interests, and just as appreciative of the great work that many people continue to lead under the banner of Ubuntu in all its forms.

I am rather frustrated at my own team, because I have long allocated headcount for a community lead at Canonical, a post which has not been filled.

It’s necessary to have a dedicated lead for this, not so much because the community needs leadership, but because its self-motivated leaders need support. Think of the role more as community secretary than community advocate, helping to get complicated pieces lined up to empower others to be great. The project has continued to grow in complexity and capability, there are more people than ever working on it, more people than ever making demands on it, so getting things done requires patience and coordination. Helping motivated community leaders to be effective in driving their work forward is important to me.

I care that Canonical conduct its business in such a way that allows other motivated, inspired open source leaders to ride the wave. We run the archive in such a way that other projects can focus just on the piece they are excited about, but still produce a platform for their users which has all the energy and quality that goes into Ubuntu. We have the things we care to get done, but we leave room for other singular leaders and motivated members to get their things done, too.

Fortunately, despite the absence of a community secretary/lead/facilitator/factotum, I have continued to see great people getting great stuff done in the community. People who have energy and a vision have a knack for overcoming obstacles, and those people are very effective in Ubuntu; our processes work, and collaboration works too. Occasionally things have been ropy, but that’s normal in any large organisation, and working nicely together gets things done.

I think it’s important to expect community leaders to be hard working, effective, and collaborative too. I am happy to be of service to others who think of themselves as being of service, too. Occasionally, someone comes along who thinks that the entire project should serve them, and that’s just not how we roll. This is a place for collaboration, that means labouring together. It’s just not all prizes and credits.

So as much as it irks me that we don’t have someone to help you in place, I also don’t think things have fallen apart. I have stepped in whenever I thought there was a real issue that needed addressing. Those have been few and far between, thankfully.

And that’s part of the problem with the CC. As a body, it exists to solve real interpersonal tensions. Over the years, we have had a few difficult things that needed working out. In the early days of Ubuntu we were bringing together wildly different, even constitutionally divergent communities (are there any more implacable frenemies than GNOME and KDE?) and we kept the CC busy with regular questions and disputes. But today, we have lots of established patterns for collaboration between the big parts of the community. Disputes or antisocial behaviour are relatively infrequent, and when they happen, they can be traumatic. Dealing with mental illness in public is awful, but occasionally that’s been the job of the CC. So the CC is weirdly caught between having nothing to do, and having very difficult things to do.

I watched how CC members stopped coming to meetings, stopped organising their meetings, stopped driving activity. This is obviously not a universal picture, there have been harder working and less hard-working CC bodies, and there have been more effective and less effective CC members. I understand it’s hard to put a lot of effort into something that doesn’t seem to correspond directly to a specific project or outcome. But I also saw the CC paralysed when actual tensions flared up, because it is difficult to draw a line on bad behaviour when you are not used to holding people accountable. It would be nice if saying yes to everybody made things effective, but it doesn’t. It would be nice if everybody was constructive and collaborative, but they are not.

Now, it’s indefensible that we haven’t actually put forward candidates for the CC. That’s on me, it’s my responsibility, and I haven’t done it. Partly that’s because I asked someone else to professionalise this work, something I cannot realistically do, and they have let me down. Partly it’s because it’s just not the biggest problem I have to solve for right now. None of that is me being absent, or uncaring, or indifferent. Partly, it’s me being unsure how to restructure a community leadership function that can perform real, satisfying work that requires dedication and judgement, but also generates a reward for those who put in the effort. If the work on the CC were so rewarding, more CC members would have shown up to their meetings. I think we can do better, but we probably need to do it differently.

By all means, continue this thread, I think its interesting to see what others might come up in terms of how we improve community representation and coordination. I don’t think the dispute-resolution function is sufficient to attract high quality people with dedication and focus to the work, so the question is, what will?


Get John Mcafee to lead. It will be fun.

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I never attended a physical UDS but they looked like so much fun, and I really think that’s something that has seeped out of the community in the last few cycles.

Now, I know 300 developers and community liaisons getting together isn’t going to work right now, but it’d be nice to aim for one when we can.

I guess the other side of this is Desktop. We fall back on Gnome Shell a lot these days. I personally think that’s a good thing but it’s meant community discussion on its development has also moved upstream. Ubuntu users (and Members) might feel a little more empowerment from having UX steering conversations. Like there used to be.

(Needless to say those are just my opinions. I’ve been pretty distracted the past five years with kids, so that’s probably contributory)