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Virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit 1305

Since I left for my wedding and honeymoon a bunch of things happened! Ubuntu 13.04 was released, 13.10 was given the code name “Saucy Salamander” and Debian 7.0 Wheezy came out. Plus lots of exciting OpenStack development discussion that came out following the Summit (I left right after it). When I got back into the country on the 12th I had a lot to catch up on! I did my best to cram before sessions and certainly had to limit involvement to a handful of sessions that I was particularly keen on attending and so could get up to speed with quickly.

This was the first virtual UDS I was able to participate in, so it was all new to me. Essentially the the “fish bowl” (as seen here, I took this photo from my spot in the wider attendee seating) is replaced by a Google Hangout and the “wider attendee seating” is an IRC channel. For the 4 sessions I participated in this worked very well, session leads were pro-active about asking who wished to participate in the Hangout so everyone who wanted to was able to. A great deal of attention in all these sessions was given to the IRC channel, which is a contrast with in person UDS where the channel can sometimes get a bit left behind (even though it’s being projected, it was easy to forget once you get talking). I didn’t use the summit.ubuntu.com page for anything aside reference, preferring to pop out the etherpad and use my standard IRC client, but I appreciated it all being there as a resource (and I’m sure it was super helpful for newcomers to follow along!).

Cheri Francis and others in the Ubuntu Women session

I found the sessions I participated in to be productive and focused and when applicable resulted in a solid list of action items. I hope that the event also lessened the experience gap that was always present for in person vs. remote participants, we all got the same experience. Now I have to admit to not being a fan of using Google Hangouts for this (I like Google, but it is still a proprietary, closed-source tool that we have no control over), but I understand that the ease of use and immediate availability of videos on YouTube makes a compelling case. Perhaps my only other complaint is lack of cohesiveness that comes from an online event, I didn’t watch the introduction or the wrap up. I also didn’t participate in the “beer hangout” – I didn’t even know it was happening, and sitting in front of my computer with a beer in the middle of the day wasn’t particularly interesting to me. I only attended a few specific sessions and there was no “wandering into something that looks interesting” (instead I just went back to work) or the regular social down time we get to relax or sit down to hack on things. I do hope we can find some kind of replacement for the in-person events, it would be great to see something on the LoCo team level at conferences where we seek to have an expanded Ubuntu presence focused on contributors (perhaps an Ubucon with a participant track?).

And the venue… it was at home! In order to participate in the hangout I did feel the need to leverage my multiple monitors.

My desk is a bit chaotic

Now the sessions themselves…

– Planning for Ubuntu Community presence on the Ubuntu Website –

This was not a particularly productive session as far as action items were concerned, but it turns out that while I was gone the removal of the “Community” link from ubuntu.com took on a life of its own (and boy was I surprised to see my name end up in a recent Datamation article about it). Personally I was satisfied with Daniel Holbach’s blog post on the subject a day after the change was made, but it was nice to speak with with some folks from the Design team and allow everyone to confirm that no ill will was intended and that plans for a new and improved community site were moving forward. The session was kept short given the more structured session about the community site specifically planned for the following day.

YouTube video of the session here

– Ubuntu Women UDS-1305 Goals –

Huge thanks to Silvia Bindelli and Cheri Francis for doing all of the leg work for this session while I was gone, I felt very comfortable reviewing their pre-session notes and found a really great, collaborative environment upon joining in. The discussion began talking about an information scavenger-hung competition that the team will be doing in the coming months, seeking volunteers to assist. It then moved into a topic that I was really happy to see on the agenda – a user poll to see how the team could be most effective in serving our audience of women interested in Ubuntu. I find that the project needs a bit of an adjustment every couple of years to refocus on our current targets as Ubuntu and the open source ecosystem evolves, so I’m excited that we’re doing this. Finally, much of the session was spent discussing our intention to further collaborate with other groups seeking to encourage women in open source (and in technology in general).

YouTube video of the session here and I uploaded session notes here

– Revamping ubuntu.com/community –

Picking up from where discussion left off the previous day, this session was a focused on on concrete things that need to be done to get the proposed community website that was under development reviewed and published. I admit that job change + wedding planning had my attention diverted this past cycle so I wasn’t able to contribute to this project, but I made sure to spend time the night before to do a review of the content so I’d be prepared. I was able to go through some of my suggestions during the meeting and took a few action items to continue with a more thorough review and to collect some quotes and photos from the community to make the site more personal and approachable.

YouTube video of the session here and I uploaded session notes here

– Shaping a plan for the future of Ubuntu Documentation Team –

I can’t begin to say how pleased I was to see this session land on the agenda. The Ubuntu Doc team has been a very small team for a long time, and new contributors have struggled to participate as the docs for writing the docs got stale to a point where they were not useful. We’re at a very exciting time now where we have limited support from a couple of the (very busy!) former drivers of this team and at least two strong contributors who have committed to moving the project forward. The first thing on the agenda was addressing the updating of docs so that more contributors can get on-boarded. I was able to pitch in with a couple action items to nudge things along a bit, but I’m hopeful that this is the beginning of an exciting new phase for the team.

YouTube video of the session here and I uploaded session notes here

Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus)
A Slimy Salamander (wait, you said Saucy?)

– Xubuntu –

Since the event was online, the Xubuntu team took advantage of the flexibility and ended up pulling their sessions from UDS proper and scheduling our sessions for the hour after UDS each day to tackle a series of blueprints designed for the coming months. I was able to use my YouTube account + Hangouts to replicate that portion of what main UDS was doing.

Discussion of most interest to me centered around our testing+release plans (should we do alphas? betas? which ones?) and documentation, but discussion of our limited developer force (want to grow it!), a proposal for a shortcut overlay and default applications also were discussed. A much better summary was posted on the Xubuntu website yesterday: Looking towards Xubuntu 13.10. Pasi Lallinaho also wrote bullet-point style summaries of Night 1 and Night 2 which include links to their respective YouTube videos.

In all, a productive UDS for me, I have a lot of work to do… :)


  • John Kim

    Thanks for your reflection. I really only attended one session and I thought it was nice and comfortable, but reading this helped me understand the big picture feel of the vUDS.

    I can’t help but admire your chaotic desktop. How big is the monitor?

    • pleia2

      Thanks! They’re 21 and 21.5 inches. Just put in an order for a third, 22 inch, to connect to my laptop so it is no longer precariously perched on the edge of my desk :)

  • Jono Bacon

    Thanks for the feedback on vUDS, Elizabeth; it was a throrough, frank, balanced, and fair account of the event. :-)

  • brian

    I wish your dinners / local events had a bigger turnout. It saddens me when I see things like, “7 people showed up”. (Although, that is, to me, a pretty decent gathering for dinner.)

    • pleia2

      The ones at UDS or the local ones I have here in San Francisco?

      The UDS ones are tricky because there are always multiple events per night, so people have team dinners, employer dinners, or other social plans that overlap with others (several women couldn’t attend the last Ubuntu Women dinner I held due to conflicts). Often times it was the only time in 6 months you could meet with certain people in person so the evenings were quite valuable.

      Locally in SF… well it’s actually a similar problem :) We’re such a heavy tech city that you could go to a tech event every single night of the week and still not get to everything. I joked that when I moved here I got a “LUG Hangover” from going to so many events in one month. Even our Ubuntu Hour+Debian Dinner conflict with a weekly Linux meetup. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid this and so people need to make choices about what they’ll attend and how much they’ll attend.