Posts tagged “ubuntu”.

MUG Sponsorship

[tl;dr: The Michigan LoCo team is going to sponsor a MUG meeting! Help us raise money by contributing to on Paypal!]

Background / About MUG
As many of you may know, one of the best linux related groups in Michigan is MUG, or Michigan!/usr/group. They hold monthly meetings in Southfield, Michigan. Many Ubuntu LoCo team members have been attending MUG meetings for a long time and I highly recommend checking them out if you have a chance. In fact at their last meeting, March 8th, our very own Craig Maloney (snapl on IRC) presented on how to create a podcast. As many of you know, Craig and Rick Harding are the co-hosts of the awesome Lococast. And the Ubuntu Michigan LoCo/MUG intermingling doesn’t stop there. Many other LoCo members have presented in the past include Jorge Castro, Rick, and myself.

MUG also brings in amazing out of town speakers and can do that because they help pay the travel costs as much as possible. The room they use for the meetings is also something they have to pay for each time. Thus, to put on such great events with such great content requires some money. This is why they have yearly membership dues of $35. I know that some LoCo members are also paying MUG members.

The Proposal
MUG has also recently started a new program where a business or group can sponsor a meeting.

Basically, what this means is that we could, as a group, raise the $150 to sponsor a MUG meeting where we could then have an Ubuntu-themed meeting and any member of the Michigan LoCo will be considered a full member for 2011.

Really, the best part is contributing to the success of MUG and having an Ubuntu-themed MUG meeting.

The How
Lets raise that required $150 as fast as we can! We’re already about half-way there, but the deadline is May 1st. I will be accepting contributions to my Paypal account ( When we hit $150 I’ll send a note to our team’s mailing list, my blog, and let the MUG Board know.

Also, in case anyone has any reservations about giving money to me to then give to MUG, I will log into my Paypal account for any LoCo member who attends a MUG meeting and show the contribution information.

The next part is the best: Our sponsored meeting.

Our Meeting
We shooting to have our sponsored meeting in either June or July. Since it’ll be Ubuntu-themed we should have one or two great Ubuntu-related talks. These can be anything from a how-to to a case study of your use of Ubuntu in some really interesting situation (run 1000 Ubuntu servers in a cluster? Tell us about it!).

Let me or the list know if you have a topic that you would like to present!


Let me know if you have any questions about this fundraiser or MUG in general.

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Michigan Natty Global Jam

I had a great time at the Michigan LoCo team’s event for the Natty Ubuntu Global Jam. We had about 20 people show up, including the famous Jason Smith. We all gave Natty a spin, made things crash, reported bugs, triaged others, and gave user testing feedback (loosely).

Also, a big thanks to Ben Rousch for bringing the Founders, Arcadia, and New Holland beer from the west side of Michigan; we loves those breweries!

The rest of my photos, some from Jorge Castro, and more from Craig Maloney. If you were there and took photos, let me know!

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Ubuntu Global Jam – Natty Narwhal

I just sent out the email announcement to the relevant local mailing lists about the upcoming Ubuntu Global Jam for Natty Narwhal. Below is a copy of the announcement.
Ubuntu Global Jam Banner

Ubuntu Global Jam for Ubuntu 11.04 – Natty Narwhal
April 3rd, 12noon – 5pm
SRT Solutions, 206 S. Fifth Ave in Ann Arbor

The next release of Ubuntu will be one of the most ambitious releases yet. By replacing the default interface with Unity, changing to the newly released LibreOffice Suite, and upgrading the default python version to 2.7, this version of Ubuntu promises to be a spectacular upgrade.

Because of all these major overhauls, it is important to get as many people as possible testing, reporting bugs, triaging, and bug fixing before final release day. Come to the Michigan LoCo’s Ubuntu Global Jam to help ensure this release is the best it can be.

We will be doing test installs and upgrades, hardware compatibility checking, along with some bug reporting and triaging. No prior experience is required; we’ll be working together and in teams to help get everyone up to speed and contributing.

Bring your laptop(s), netbook(s), and USB disks for test installs. Snacks will be provided.

If you can, stay after the Jam for some post-event revelry at a local establishment (location TBD).

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The Kerfuffle

Today Jono, as well as Gabriel, announced that the new deal for the Banshee developers regarding the referral money would be a 75/25 split. To show good faith, Canonical will also be donating 25 percent of the proceeds from the UbuntuOne Music Store. As could be predicted, there was a lot of commentary about the relative merits of this outcome. Here are my thoughts on those comments.

A choice withdrawn
First, Gabriel’s blog post. As you can read from the language Gabriel uses, this was a one-sided decision where Canonical withdrew their previous offer. Reminder: that was where they gave the Banshee maintainers a choice between on by default and a 75/25 split and a not on by default and 100% GNOME Foundation. The maintainers choose the second. Some may say “but Canonical is now offering 25% of U1 Music Store revenue, which is more than they offered before.” Yes, that is true, but the Banshee maintainers specifically did not choose a revenue sharing deal. To then respond with a statement that their previous offer was a “mistake” and that this new plan devised by Canonical is the way they are going to go, nevermind the decision previously made, is bad form.

Money supports FLOSS development
This next part surprised me. And I have to preface this with that I respect [openly ;)] the work that Jono does for the Ubuntu community. The Ubuntu community is lucky it has such a devoted person working on their behalf. I’ve always been impressed with the quality of team leadership/management I have seen from Jono. But, his comments on Twitter following this announcement did not reflect the Jono I know.

Jef Spaleta asked if Jono could see the difference between legal and ethical (we all know it is permitted by Banshee’s license to change the source code, and thus the referral code, but ethics are separate from legalness). Jono responded with “my view is that it is all going to FLOSS, so it is fine.” Sandy Armstrong correctly pointed out that Canonical does not only do FLOSS development. They also produce Landscape and UbuntuOne, where the bulk of the code (my guess), the server/web interface portion, is proprietary. Jono ignored his previous statement and responded with “that’s why I said ‘most.’” Sandy correctly pointed out that he indeed said “all.”

Yes, that whole previous paragraph of “he said/she said” was only to point out, in exruciating detail, that Jono slipped up on his wording in a tweet – something I’m sure none of us have ever done. But this is a very delicate matter and should be handle accordingly.

So, it was especially disappointing to see that slip-up followed by another sloppy post: If Canonical put 100% of the money into non-Free software then he’d see the problem, suggesting that anything less that 100% is just fine.

Then his last comment (on Twitter) about the issue for the day suggested that if the Banshee maintainers didn’t want their referral code to be changed they should have licensed their app that way. This is either a suggestion to create a non-Free software license or a statement that “as long as it is legal it should be OK with everyone.” The first is just ridiculous. And the second exemplifies the world where ethics do not enter a decision making process. Something can be both legal and unethical.

(I’m making this a separate section because I want to bring attention to the idea, and I hope it happens.) One of the suggestions by Jef was to open up the financials of Canonical to prove where the money is going. I’m a huge fan in open book financials for companies I support. The Wikimedia Foundation does this, along with Creative Commons (PDF). They are non-profits in the US and make their 990 tax fillings public. Bradley Kuhn has even started a gitorious project collection those fillings for various FLOSS non-profits.

Aaron Bockover, another Banshee maintainer, wrote an open letter to Canonical suggesting another route. Basically, let the server handle the revenue sharing/affiliate code managing. This not only allows a more transparent audit trail but also has many technical benefits. I’ll let you read them on his post. They are very sound and well thought out.

The decision process
This kerfuffle brings one very important part of the Ubuntu project to the fore: the governance and decision making process. Reminder, the decision to switch the default media player from Rhythmbox to Banshee was a community decision at an Ubuntu Developer Summit. This was a community-led decision. This is in stark contrast to some other decisions in the Ubuntu project that are not made by the community, an example of which is, of course, this revenue sharing decision, and another is the changes made by the design team, Ayatana.

Because of today’s developments, I decided to relisten to this interview with Phillip Schmidt (of P2PU) and Mako on my walk home from work. The interview was about, generally, governance in Free and Open projects. Obviously, much of the interivew focuses on Debian and Ubuntu governance. I HIGHLY recommend listening to that interview if you are at all interested in the governance structue of Ubuntu, Debian, Wikipedia, etc. Mako’s insights into those communities, especially Ubuntu’s, is greatly worthwhile. One thing of note is the way decisions are made regarding Ubuntu. Mako brings up the point about recent changes made by the Ayatana team and how they are presented to both the community (including the Community Council) as done deals with recommendations to “keep people on message” if they disagree with the changes.

I wanted to bring this governance aspect up because I think it really gets to the core of the issue for me. This decision was made by people not accountable to the community. The relative merits of an organization running a FLOSS project that has people and decisions that are not accountable to the community is up for debate, but not here. I’m just noting it and saying that it is something to be extremely aware of. The conclusion you make about its morality is your own. I might write more on it later, but this post is already getting to be too long.

My Opinion
My opinion is simple: This decision was made in a very bad way. No community involvement without any course for a real dialog. It disappointed me.

It reminds me, all too clearly, of the decision to name the file sync cloud service UbuntuOne instead of CanonicalOne (or similar). Some of you might remember the intense debate that happened on the topic. I watched the Community Council meeting where Mako and others talked with Mark about not only the name but also the issue that UbuntuOne was, and is, not a Free Network Service. I remember the conversation not being a true discussion with open minds. The decision had been made by Canonical people (including sabdfl) and no amount of discourse from the Council could change that. It disappointed me.

In addition, the communication of this decision was made poorly. Things could have been said better on Twitter. Things could have been more openly discussed on mailing lists. But none of those open channels of communication were used effectilvely (if at all). That disappointed me.

So I guess that’s my opinion of the matter: I’m disappointed.

This post has agonized me the entire time I wrote it. I don’t like these posts, but I feel they need to be written from time to time. I don’t mean to offend anyone, I only mean to share my thoughts on an important issue. I could have written more, because this kerfuffle brought up some problems that will need to be solved to prevent future kerfuffles. I didn’t write more because those issues deserve their own post and it is getting late.

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Michigan Maverick Release Party

Another great release, another great release party here in Michigan.

And for the second time in a row we had 2 simultaneous parties on the East and West sides of Michigan. Thanks especially to Ben Rousch for planning the West Side party. Check out his summary of that party

The East side party at a pub in Plymouth, Michigan had about 15 people in attendance who RSVP’d. In addition to that we had 4 (four!) Ubuntu users who were just randomly in the pub come over and join the party. This wasn’t the first time someone has seen us or overheard us and came over but this was definitely the first time 4 people did so at the same event.

And one of the big winners was Scott Moser showing off the free 1 hour trial of Ubuntu Server using Amazon’s EC2,

Thanks to everyone who showed up and shared their stories! I, as usual, had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new friends.

(More photos are available in my flickr set.)

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Novacut – FLOSS ideals for Video editing

Novacut is a new Free/Open Source project that aims to create a new type of video editor, one that embodies the ideals of the FLOSS community and makes collaboration easier. Basically, it will enable a team to collaboratively edit a video from where ever they are while working on the same version of the source files. It will be able to do this by using a combination of couchdb, Amazon S3 (and EC2 for rendering), GStreamer.

Why am I excited about this and telling you about it (and aside from them seeking donations via Kickstarter)? Because in their video (embedded below) they sold me with the promise that not only will artists be able to share their final product, but Novacut will also allow others to see the process that the creator took to make that product. In effect, the source files of the video. We have this for code, most definitely. We also are starting to have this more often for music with people uploading the individual tracks to community sites like But aside from really awesome projects like the Blender Foundation, there isn’t much of this for the video world.

Also, this is of special interest for those of you in the Ubuntu community because the developers for this project will be at the next UDS for Natty.

So, if you have the ability and the inclination, helping with this project is probably a worthy endeavor. Check out their Launchpad project and join the mailing list.

PS: Check out this great note from the lead developer about the response from the FLOSS community.

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Primates, Humans, and Ubuntu

(Note: This is the first of a series of blog posts which will be written in conjunction with the Peer2Peer University (P2PU) course on Open Governance I am participating in this fall.)


First was an interesting case (PDF) dealing with the culture of 2 troops of baboons in a National Park in Kenya and how it changed after some very special circumstances were brought on them. Some background: Baboons are not the nicest species of primates. In fact, they are very similar to chimpanzees in that the males fight a lot and there is some very strict hierarchy. Though for a male to keep his high rank he needs more than just violence, he needs to make prudent social connections, especially with the females in the troop.

The troops of baboons in question, the Forest Troop and the Garbage Dump Troop, lived pretty close to each other; one in the forest and one very near a garbage dump (it was put in their home by a newly developed tourist lodge). After the Forest Troop members find out about this new found gluttony of food (which was making the Garbage Dump Troop fat and lazy) some members of that troop decided to go over every morning and fight the Garbage Dump Troop for access to food. The members that did this had special qualities as explained by Robert M. Sapol­sky who studied the two troops.

The Forest Troop males that did this shared two traits: they were particularly combative (which was necessary to get the food away from the other baboons), and they were not very interested in socializing (the raids took place early in the morning, during the hours when the bulk of a savanna baboon’s daily communal grooming occurs).

This wasn’t the end of the odd-luck of those two troops. One fateful year tuberculosis broke out in those troops, spread by contaminated food in the garbage dump. Most of the members (male and female) of the Garbage Dump Troop died along with all of the males from the Forest Troop that fought every morning for the food. This left the Forest Troop with a very unique group of baboons: a 2-to-1 female to male ratio and the males who did remain were much more social and much less violent. There still was hierarchy, but it was much looser than before. “And rates of affiliative behaviors, such as males and females grooming each other or sitting together, soared. There were even instances, now and then, of adult males grooming each other — a behavior nearly as unprecedented as baboons sprouting wings.”

Now, this is all well and good, but what happens when new baboons enter the Troop? Baboon males leave the troop they were brought up in when they reach puberty and since it has been over 20 years since this peculiar selection bottleneck occurred there are no original (ie: less violent and more social) males in Forest Troop. Many new (average) males had entered the Troop but the same loose hierarchy, less violent, and more social culture endured! Basically, when new males join a traditional troop, it takes 63 days before the females will have sex with them and 78 before they will groom them. In the Forest troop, the time span is 18 and 20 days, respectively.

Living in a group with half the typical number of males, and with the males being nice guys to boot, Forest Troop’s females become more relaxed and less wary. As a result, they are more willing to take a chance and reach out socially to new arrivals, even if the new guys are typical jerky adolescents at first. The new males, in turn, finding themselves treated so well, eventually relax and adopt the behaviors of the troop’s distinctive social milieu.


Part of the “reading” assignment was a Radiolab show (“New Normal”) that interviewed Dr. Sapol­sky about the baboon case. While the rest of the show was not assigned, I listened to it anyway.

The segment after the baboons was about Silverton, Oregon, your typical small town where everyone knows everyone else and is about even politically (2004: 54% to Bush, 45% to Kerry, 2008: 48% to McCain, 50% to Obama). To over-generalize, the kind of place we all used to live in before we started moving to big cities. Silverton had a cinema owner that was known by everyone. Not just because everyone knows everyone, but also because when this cinema owner took your ticket to see the movie you noticed his painted fingernails. Stu Rasmussen is no longer just the city’s cinema owner. He is now the mayor (and was a 3 time city council member). Additionally, Stu is the first openly transvestite mayor of a US city.

The part of this story that really affected me was when they recounted what happened after he was elected mayor. A group from Kansas (I presume the Phelps) took it upon themselves to go to Silverton and make their disgust known. The usual signs were waved around (“God hates Fags” “God hates Stu” etc). A few members of the city took it upon themselves to do a counter-protest on the other side of the street. A few guys came back wearing dresses and had signs saying “God Loves Stu.” But it wasn’t just a few guys. After a while many more people showed up, and many in the “wrong” gender of clothing. Grandmas, blue collar workers, and young children all showing their support of someone they have known their hole life. That is all. These people don’t see Stu as “that transvestite.” They see Stu as the guy they went to High School with. The computer nerd who would fix people’s computers for them. The guy who takes their ticket stub at the movie theater on the weekend. They weren’t protesting in support of someone being a transvestite, they were protesting in support of Stu, the guy they all knew as well as they knew their own brother.

Under the right circumstances, a small can be the most progressive place on earth …. And it is exactly because everyone is all up in your grill, you are forced to know people.


The writing assignment for this week is to discuss the social norms around a community that I participate in. I have chosen Ubuntu.

It is interesting to try and think of the social norms that affect governance in the Ubuntu community. This is mostly because I see much of the governance in the community as process based not norm based. I could have an odd view of this as I am a member of the Membership Review Board for the Americas. But, I think the process in our community is there to reward the social norms we want to encourage (and disincentivize the norms we don’t, hopefully). And if we aren’t doing that, then we need to re-think our processes.

The process that I am most familiar with, and is (luckily) probably most related to the above cases is the membership process. The membership review board accepts new applications for official Ubuntu membership from community members. These applications are normally wiki pages that outline the persons involvement with Ubuntu (in whatever fashion) and (hopefully) include some testimonials from current members of the community. The first thing they must do, before we even consider their application, is to sign the Ubuntu Community’s Code of Conduct. This document outlines in plain language what it means to be a member of the community with main highlights such as “Be Considerate,” “Be Respectful,” and “Be Collaborative.”

Then, we take a look at their recorded involvement with the community. Really, any useful and sustained (more than a couple months) involvement in the community is rewarded; everything from forum assistance to leading a LoCo team to writing documentation. This is, however, where many members of the Review Board make a point to ask about the applicant’s involvement with their Local Community Team. Why? Because we know that members who are active in their LoCo team not only feel a greater sense of belonging themselves, they also share that sense of belonging to new members of the community who are just starting to get involved. This is a first step among many in our community’s social grooming process. Going to Release Parties, other conferences, and just hanging out on IRC are all great ways to be introduced to the community and how it works.

After we have discussed their involvement we look at their testimonials. We look especially for testimonials from other Official Ubuntu Members and people we know personally and trust. This makes sense. If you can’t know everyone in the community (I know I can’t, our community is HUGE!) then someone who you trust telling you that someone you don’t know is doing good stuff really helps us make the membership approval decision. I could probably talk about this method of growing a community for a while and dive into a ton of research on social network graph theory, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that I believe that our community is a very welcoming one, more closely related to the new Forest Troop than the old troop.

All of these above requirements for membership are outlined on a wiki page so that new members of the community are able to know from the beginning what is expected from them if they wish to be rewarded with official membership. And a similar process is outlined for LoCo teams as well where we, again, try to encourage good social norms while discourage negative ones.

I think that our explicitly stated membership requirements and idealized norms (CoC) actively encourage new members to learn about how our community works, what social norms are really important, and how they can learn to act within those norms productively. And the observing aspect (learning from doing) is probably the most important part.

Because then, if we all get to know how the community works along with the members of our local community area (either physically or topically) then we will be a part of something more akin to Silverton, Oregon where we appreciate our colleagues not because of what makes them different, but because of our shared experiences.

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Other Launchpad intalls in use?

I’ve been wondering about this for a while: Are there any other installations of (the wonderuflly AGPL’d) Launchpad in use by a project (or group of projects)? And, if so, are they doing any fancy distributed bug tracking awesomeness like the bug comment import feature with bugzilla? It would be great to see how other groups use the power of Launchpad in their own way.

What might even be more interesting is if a development company was using Launchpad as their internal dev platform (because they either didn’t want to pay Canonical to let them host a proprietary project or they simply wanted all their development to be hosted on their own servers); how are the features of LP either used or not used in that case?

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Michigan LoCo Jam – Another Success!

Another Ubuntu Global Jam means another Michigan LoCo success.

Michigan LoCo Global Jam
From left to right is: Gib, Craig, Bob, myself, Rick, and Jim.

I think we hit every single proposed topic during the Jam. We talked about how to use the Ubuntu area of StackExchange and even had a few members post answers and gain some reputation points. We did some ISO testing (and ran up against bug 608382). We reported some bugs (bug 625989 and bug 626003). And we even played with some new toys (Gib’s 16 megapixel(?!) $10(?!) digital video camera).

And of course, since the two awesome co-hosts of Lococast (Rick and Craig) were in attendance, we chatted a bit about the future of their podcast including ideas for interviewee guests. If you have any ideas/suggestions for interview subject for Lococast, send them along to Rick and Craig at But I would highly recommend you to check out Lococast right now because they already have some great features like the Lococast Screencasts with 2 on VIM already and the always enjoyable Rick’s Rants.

AND! If you listen to Lococast you’ll notice they utilize really awesome CC-licensed metal for their intros/outros/transitions. If you want more of that, check out Craig’s Open Metal Cast. He just released the first episode. If you have some suggestions for Craig of great CC-licensed metal, send him a message at (yes, Severed Fifth has already been highlighted :) ).

With all the talk of podcasts and Ubuntu we got a bit hungry and ordered some pizzas. There was only one problem; we needed to report a bug against Papa John’s! All of our pizzas and even the cheese bread weren’t sliced!
Unsliced Pizza
Does anyone know if there is a Launchpad project for Papa John’s?

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Jamming in Michigan!

I'm going to Ubuntu Global Jam

That’s right, the Michigan LoCo Team will again be participating in the Ubuntu Global Jam.

We’ll be at the always welcoming SRT Solutions location in downtown Ann Arbor (map) graciously provided by Jay.

We’ll be jamming from Noon to 5pm. Afterwards we’ll probably hit up one of the many nice beverage establishments close by.

What will we be working on? TONS! We’ll be testing, we be reporting bugs, triaging them, talking about StackExchange/Shapado/Launchpad Answers, and generally having a grand time with new and old LoCo members.

Remember, if you are coming, PLEASE REGISTER! (log-in and click on the “Register for this Event” link).

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