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My first Ubuntu Developer Summit

May 17, 2011

I’ve just spent the best part of a week in the beautiful city of Budapest attending the Ubuntu Developer Summit (henceforth, UDS), an event which brings together lots of different people involved in the Ubuntu community. This has been a really good experience, so I wanted to talk about it a bit.

I traveled to Budapest with my wife and baby daughter, arriving on Sunday evening. Almost immediately upon arriving things started happening as I needed to attend a Canonical pre-event session. I got to meet up again face to face with the people on my team who I interact with every day. This is one of the most important things about these events I think, as no amount of IRC and VoIP contact can replace good old fashioned human interaction.

The event kicked off the next morning with an introductory session hosted mainly by Mark Shuttleworth himself. As is well documented on the blogs and tech sites, he outlined the goal of reaching 200 million users for Ubuntu. This will be a difficult goal to reach anytime soon, some kind of huge breakthrough notwithstanding, but everyone loves a challenge so it’s good to have something to aim for! Of course he also talked about the short-term goals of this release, mainly the theme of stability and minor enhancement (Natty was the real jump, so time to take a breather). Of course my team doesn’t deal directly with the platform, so this could well be just as chaotic a cycle for us as the last one.

Immediately after the introductory session I had my own session to host. I was given the responsibility of owning the topic ‘Desktop Certification Scope’, which is basically a theme around enhancing the certification test suite to have greater coverage and clearer definitions of which tests are the most important and which are less so. The session went well, with a lot of input – most of it good. One lesson I learned though was that there will be people who come to these things with their own agenda and you need to steer them a path so that they don’t take the session off track.

Since I want to make this a short post, I’ll summarise the rest of the week by saying that it was very hectic! I participated as a contributor in a number of other sessions (both sessions run by my team and by others, such as one about revising the UI for Ubiquity, Ubuntu’s installer application), and learned most of the same lessons again! One thing that was really encouraging was reports by colleagues who had been to a number of UDS’s before that our sessions drew a lot of interest compared to previous years. It’s good to know people are starting to care about what we’re doing.

Since my family was with my I took advantage of the evenings to explore Budapest, which has lots of amazing locations to see. I’d heartily recommend anyone to visit, particularly the Castle District on the Buda side of the river (our hotel was in Pest, so it was a tiny bit of a hike to get there). Well worth it and primarily free (as in beer) to see.

UDS is basically a planning session for the next release, so I’ve got lots lined up for Oneiric Ocelot. I’ll keep my progress up-to-date here and perhaps intersperse it with a few topics of my own interest…

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