Future of Ubuntu Community

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?

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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)

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This may be less of a concern than it seems. Certainly there was the problem (as there has been across other councils/boards, too) of some members either not participating very much or not participating at all. I think one could set policies in place to deal with this (something that was discussed during the last council’s tenure from what I remember), essentially having processes in place to replace what are effectively vacant seats.

However, I don’t think that the issue was that it wasn’t rewarding. I mean, I enjoyed my time on the council. It was hard work at times, but it was really interesting. I would certainly do it again if the opportunity presented itself. But I have to say I had no preconceived notion of what the work was going to be and I had an open mind to whatever it was.

If you look above, you’ll see some discussion about what the council was and wasn’t. There’s a lot of struggle going on trying to define it. That is where the problem may actually lie: candidates do not know what the council does exactly. So maybe that’s where the problem lies. Maybe it needs better definition. Maybe nominees need some sort of interview/vetting process ahead of time? It’s possible folks might have expected something more technical or something that involved steering the whole direction of the Ubuntu project.

Of course, the explanation for the lack of participation could even be more simple than that: real life getting in the way.

It’s hard to say for certain. But, I think in relation to having nothing, having something that didn’t work as well as we would like is much preferable. I would think that at least implementing a transitional council to get us through to when we do have all the right people in place would be a wise idea. I mean, we have a technical example of this right in Ubuntu itself (and kudos to the developers for it!).

I offered to run the election before and I’d offer to do it again, even if just for the aforementioned transitional council.

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Oh-Kay; in respect to the accusation that our sabdfl is neglectful of Ubuntu at large; Be aware he even takes the time to monitor such a small thing as the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. In my capacity in producing the publication he personally gave an atta-boy to those of us who took up the responsibility to produce our community newsletter.
Now consider if he is responsive in the small things, how much more so is he in the larger things ?

We could all use a little more help in making the future of Ubuntu. Those who can step forward.

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Having considered it over the weekend, with @wxl’s offer to help run the process, let’s go ahead and call for nominations to the CC. If folks could direct those nominations to @wxl during the rest of September, I will review and put forward the shortlist as usual in the second week of October, and that means we could have a new CC in place by the middle of October.

Which would be great.

Thanks for reminding me @wxl that it’s worth having the group in place even if it isn’t particularly active, it’s a good opportunity for those who do want to drive things forward to do so. There are is a great deal of good work being done, and it would be nice for people to have the CC in place to support that.

Apologies again for having dropped the ball.

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Thanks, Mark. I’ll dig up the details on putting out a call for nominations and get that going shortly.

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You might consider throwing your name in the hat as you were the only member of the last CC that actually seems to have stayed involved in the project and conversations. Others just stopped coming to meetings but you stuck around as the leadership COC requires.

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Hi everyone,

it’s been a while since I didn’t participate to the community. Lack of time, and interests change. I’m less ans less interested by tech things, more and more by how people collaborate together. Thx to Ubuntu I became an agilist (Maybe I take the concept of Ubuntu to much at a first degree :p).

There’s few things I learnt during my journey.

First, to have enthousiasm, we need a vision. We need to know where we want to go, why we want to go. I remember the old days when @sabdfl published, the very day after a release, a blog post about the were, the why, the purpose of the next release journey, and the name of the release that which carried this objectives. This kind of stuff help me very much to say “Hey Hoy, I’m following you Captain!”.

Unfortunately, I find blogpost on your blog Mark, for few years.

I know your job as a CEO must be very hard, and Canonical does a very good job on Cloud, and IoT side, that allow Ubuntu to be a platform of choice for lots of workload, but if our Captain doesn’t share the vision, you know, People will always imagine the worst (The Johari’s Window model explain us that more an entity is open self, better is the communication).

Somewhere, I miss Jane, because she lets you be more present for us during the time when she was the CEO.

An other thing that’s missiong this days is the lack of Ubuntu’s summit. It was some great events to share the vision, had some feedback, and create engagement.

Leading an Open Organization like Canonical is difficult, but Canonical and Ubuntu’s Community need each others to grow, even if the community has changed, from desktop users and developers to platform users and developers.

To be brief, I think that our “Product Owner in chief” talk to us more often and reassures us :slight_smile:

And thx to still be concerned by this wonderful project you found even if you’re more discret this days. This impact is so positive

Cheers
Winael

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Hey can someone (@popey?) give me access to post on #announcements or at least tell me how I can have somenoe else post there? I’d like to put out an official call for nominations.

Also, if anyone is interested in putting a name in the hat, please send your nominations to the Community Council mailing list at community-council@lists.ubuntu.com. I have access there, so will be able to see it. The name and Launchpad ID of whomever your nominating should be included in that email. (also don’t forget Ubuntu Membership is a prerequisite)

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Can a person nominate themselves ? I am not too familiar with the CC processes so wanted to know that for sure.

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Absolutely. Just make sure you’re an Ubuntu Member. I’m going to get an announcement going soon with all the details but you can look at some old calls for nominations to get an idea of how this all works:

https://fridge.ubuntu.com/2017/07/02/looking-for-community-council-nominations/
https://fridge.ubuntu.com/2015/09/16/community-council-call-for-nominations-2/

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Done.

I have created a group here called “community-council” which (currently) contains @sabdfl as owner, and @wxl as a member. Granted that group access to post to the Announcements category on the site. Hope that’s suitable.
(no, we don’t have any kind of automatic sync between launchpad groups and here, yet).

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This is very good news, thanks for moving forward with CC nominations.

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Ok, we got an official call for nominations:

I also posted this to a variety of relevant (community/news-related) Ubuntu mailing lists. Unfortunately, I got flat out rejected by ubuntu-announce. Is that something you could help with @vorlon?

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@wxl posting to ubuntu-announce requires a specific header. However, the audience for ubuntu-announce is quite loosely connected to Ubuntu as a community, and I don’t think you would get any good nominations from that list that you wouldn’t already get from posting to other lists. Do you want to post this to ubuntu-devel-announce instead?

Well, the description for the list makes it seem pretty vague (essentially “announcements related to Ubuntu”), so I figured it would be more appropriate. ubuntu-devel-announce, being specific to developers, seems like it wouldn’t be.

Right but if you look at the history of posts, it’s basically just announcements of new Ubuntu releases and their end-of-life. So if you are getting your information about the Ubuntu release cycle via that mailing list, you’re…probably not a good candidate for the CC?

I certainly see what you’re saying and for my purposes, I’ll just consider it irrelevant. However, it may be good for other folks for the description of the list to more clearly define what it’s about.

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My offer to post this to the Fridge still stands :slight_smile: (though we might want IS to force https)