Ubuntu Developer/Online Summit (UDS/UOS)

In light of the impending Ubuntu Enterprise Summit, I’m reminded of the Ubuntu Developer Summit which, much to the chagrin of many, into the Ubuntu Online Summit. This was something that was motivated through the efforts of the Ubuntu Community Team, which ultimately no longer exists. That said, I’m left wondering what we should do.

I personally feel that if Ubuntu doesn’t express the desire to connect with its community as much if not more than it does with capitalism, then it’s going to leave a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Not that I don’t appreciate the infrastructure that Canonical provides and not that I don’t wish it well in its financial endeavours so it can continue to do so, but if that’s all that Ubuntu is, how different are we than Microsoft (see bug 1)? This is not about market share, it’s about being entirely different and focusing on community. I mean, ubuntu does refer to humanity, right?

That said, as far as the state of the UOS project is concerned, it seems dead, but perhaps not intentionally so. Round about the time that the loss of Unity was announced, we saw the loss of several key community leaders and right about that time would have been the next UOS. It just didn’t even happen, as you can tell by its blank page (it doesn’t even have a Launchpad sprint page).

In the past, I have found UOS a nice way to get people together, open things up to the community, present new ideas, and to just coordinate. I found it useful.

What do you folks think? Should we continue this?

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UDS and UOS are very different animals. I think we need to be specific about what we’re looking to re-invigorate here. A bit of background might be helpful here. I am articulating below my perspective of how UDS/UOS went. Sadly many of my co-workers who worked heavily on this no longer work for us, but if invited, may indeed chime in.

For anyone joining this party late, UDS was an in-person event which happened every six months, just after a release. It involved moving a lot (500+) of people to a different city/country to plan out the next release of Ubuntu. This was super expensive, and disruptive. It was also productive and tremendous fun!

The way we deliver software has changed, and while we continued to do 6 monthly releases of Ubuntu, the engineering teams behind those projects were often not in ‘sync’ with UDS. It didn’t make sense to take a week out to discuss planning for things they’d already discussed weeks/months previously.

UOS was a response to these issues. We switched to doing “virtual” (hangouts) instead of in-person events. This saved money in that we didn’t have to transport bags of meat around the world, but it didn’t fix the issue that UOS wasn’t in sync with what engineers were actually doing on a daily basis. Their planning cycles didn’t line up with UOS cycles.

There were also further issues with UOS. Firstly, taking time out to physically go to a place (UDS) means you can justify to your boss/teacher/family and expense that you’re “at an event”, and as such you’ll be afk for the week. It’s harder to justify being afk for a few hours each day for a week, especially (in the UK) where that’s half way through the working day. People got interrupted, didn’t turn up or forgot that sessions were on. That’s harder to do at an in-person event. In addition, some had philosophical objections to us using Google Hangouts.

For those, and other reasons, UOS was never /super/ successful. Looking at the video conversations there was often little evidence of tasks logged, or activity done after the event. Very few people took part in sessions, most of the (hour long) videos were not watched at the time by many people (fewer than 20 or 10, and sometimes single digits) and often not watched much after the event either.

Adjustments were made to improve UOS, such as reduce duration of the event, and have shorter individual sessions, different styles of sessions such as lightning talks. We tried a few things, but it was often like getting blood from a stone to get people to commit to taking part either running a session or indeed participating. It often felt like we shouldn’t even bother as nobody seemed interested in participating.

Right, that’s all the background and bad news out of the way :slight_smile:

What is it you want to do? Have an in-person UDS style event, or an online virtual event? Or both? What’s the goal? A social gathering or some form of presentation style event? Will there be cake? :slight_smile:

We recently had an in person event “Ubuntu Rally” in New York. It had a lot of the UDS of old vibe. We invited (a very limited number of) community people to come along and help. Indeed this very website we’re using is one of the outcomes of that event! :). While I’d love to have more of these, they’re incredibly expensive to run (as mentioned).

If there’s anything we can do to help, I’d love to hear it :slight_smile:


I think it boils down to what kind of goals you have:

  • Recapturing much of the in-person community energy, fun, and recruiting can be done fairly inexpensively at Ubucons.

  • The UOS infrastructure is still in place to hold open decision-making and roadmapping projects.

  • The Ubuntu-On-Air infrastructure is still in place for training workshops, project sprints, and Q&A sessions.

A great desciption of an ongoing problem for many organizations.

In the many other organization I have been in, one way to address the problem is simple repetition of the goals and the common talking points. In one, we reiterate our annual goal every month. Bit of a ritual…but it’s less annoying than it might seem, and everybody knows what the goal is.

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I guess I hadn’t realized how unsuccessful UOS was. I guess I may have been doing more than shouting into the wind after all. That bigger picture knowledge was not something I had and in light of it, I can see why UOS got dropped. Apparently with little fanfare from anyone else, either, eh? :wink:

That said, I do think that the value of both events, as I see it, was to gather people together and learn about what was going on across multiple teams. This had the effect of providing opportunities for new contributions from both regular contributors and otherwise. I think that something like this would be nice, but I guess we already have it on two aforementioned fronts.

One thing that was true, at least in theory, about UOS was that it was open invitation. Anyone could come be a part of the community, even if they knew nothing about it or were just curious and they could actually participate in it. The democratic nature of the system, I think, was particularly enticing, even if there were other issues. This is something UOA could certainly be. The CC has been using it to regularly host online Ubuntu Hours. It could use some more promotion, including on the actual Ubuntu Hour page.

Of course, there’s the contention with Hangouts. Which, I understand. Sadly, I know of no solution that works as well for people with bad connections. I’m not sure technically why this is, but I have to imagine it’s better caching. Maybe we could get this integrated into Matrix and/or Riot. Maybe YouTube Live integration, too? Of course, I’m sure people have issues with YouTube, too. Same owner, after all. Do we really need YouTube Live?

tl;dr in light of more information, I’ve changed the trajectory of my original post to “How can we make Ubuntu on Air” better? Maybe make a new post?