My job title is "Director of Engineering, Ubuntu". This means I am the directory of the Ubuntu Engineering team, all the people employed by Canonical to roll Ubuntu and Ubuntu Server. This comprises the Ubuntu Kernel Team, Ubuntu Foundations Team, Ubuntu Server Team, Ubuntu Desktop Team, Ubuntu QA Team, and Ubuntu Community Team. The team that makes Unity is a separate team that does not report to me, but of course we work with them closely. I report to Jane Silber, Canonical's CEO.

Obligatory Proof: My launchpad page:

My twitter feed:!/rickspencer3

Canonical management team:

I am officially based in Seattle, but I am spending a year (or so) in France. I've been working in Open Source for 4 years, but I previously worked at Microsoft for almost 10 years. I love working for Canonical, and I love working on Ubuntu with the Ubuntu Community.

Ask me anything

EDIT: Hello everybody. So, I obviously completely lost control of this thread and simply can't keep up anymore! I've been at it for 5 hours, but I need to stop for the night. Thanks so much for your questions and your time. It reminds me again of how fortunate I am to work with such a cool bunch of people with such a cool project. I'll check back later and/or tomorrow to see if there are any juicy questions to answer.

Edit 2: I'm sorry I'm not better at answering all your desing questions, it's just not quite my area.

Comments: 1016 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

bigbearh130 karma

what is your feedback to pepole saying they hate unity and want gnome back?

moephan42 karma

Couple things here.

  1. Gnome the upstream moved on from Gnome 2.x. Unity did not take it away, it's simply that the sun has set on Gnome, at least for the upstream developers and maintainers.
  2. I don't know how you can hate Unity. I find it highly efficient and a pleasure to use on my netbook and my workstation.

yomahjig51 karma

I don't know how you can hate Unity. I find it highly efficient and a pleasure to use on my netbook and my workstation.

Really? How can you ignore all the valid criticism of it all over the internet? It's an inelegant disaster. The sun has not set on gnome, but looking at distrowatch's most popular list, it appears to be setting on ubuntu.

moephan22 karma

To be clear, when I said, "the sun has set on gnome" I was referring specifically to GNOME support for the 2.x serious that Ubuntu was based on before Unity. It's simply a fact that the GNOME upstream has moved onto gnome-shell.

milossh98 karma

Who and how decides on stuff like using Unity instead of Gnome(for Ubuntu), and what were the primary reasons to abandon using Gnome to use something not nearly as much tested and arguably reliable?

moephan60 karma

There wasn't a single moment when sabdfl suddenly annonuced to us "we are making Unity". These things evolve slowly. Unity started during the netbook craze. Canonical's OEM team started a project called "Ubuntu Netbook Remix" because OEMs wanted something with more consumer appeal than GNOME offered. Slowly over time, we realized that we could create something better than GNOME. Obviously GNOME upstream came to the same conclusion because they went on to create gnome-shell.

[deleted]50 karma

Not so much a question, but I'd just like to thank you and Canonical for injecting what is needed into the Linux desktop: a vision. Even better, you're actually taking positive steps (introducing Unity, branching out to other devices, etc) to make that vision a reality. While I'm not a Ubuntu user (at least not on my primary machine), I very much admire the direction that Canonical is taking the Linux desktop world (and we'll see what my primary machine is using after 12.04 is released - who knows!)

moephan20 karma

I hope you find 12.04 easy to adopt. We are working hard to ensure this!

Zaydene50 karma

Can I have a free copy of Ubuntu?

moephan96 karma

Yes, if you send $5 I will send you a free copy/

moephan54 karma

I just occurred to me that maybe you weren't being snarky. Just in case my sarcasm detectors were overly sensitive, Ubuntu is free to use and share, and always will be. You can download it from

Upvote_for_username48 karma

Do you think all Android smartphones constructors will embrace Ubuntu for Android and produce smartphones running Android and Ubuntu? How is the process going for now?

moephan67 karma

Yes, I believe that Ubuntu for Android will be pretty standard on higher end phones in the coming years.

HookDragger34 karma

Please get your power management under control... otherwise people are going to be complaining about battery life.

moephan52 karma

Ubuntu has done a ton of work to improve battery life for 12.04. Working systematically to measure, tweak, remeasure, etc...

Summary here:

tahakki44 karma

What do you think about Android?

moephan76 karma

I have an android phone that I use daily. I like the openess of it relative to iOS (I will never by an iPhone under the current circumstances). However, I really don't want to learn another application programming stack, so I haven't bothered to write any apps for it. I really only enjoy platforms that I enjoy writing apps on.

I can't wait for Ubuntu For Android.

bl4kd3th15 karma


moephan148 karma


Sealbhach43 karma

So does sabdfl brag all the time about "when I was in space"?

moephan100 karma

haha! This is sooo not his style. To be honest, considering his financial situation, I find him astonishingly, sorry to say it this way, "down to earth".

Feelings_Are_Gay40 karma

Can you give us some of the major differences you noticed immediately in the environment between working for Microsoft and Canonical?

Is it almost like going from working in a corporation to a small office environment?

Thanks for your time.

moephan83 karma

The differences between the environments could not be bigger. On the whole, I find Canonical engineering staff to be smarter than Microsoft engineers. Canonical engineers are, as a group, the most humble group of engineers I've ever encountered. Microsoft thrives on conflict, Canonical thrives on mutual support.

The Ubuntu Engineering team is a home-based work force, so my office is small indeed (part of my bedroom)! :) Working from home is much different than working in an office, in ways that would take too long to go into.

Feelings_Are_Gay44 karma

I find Canonical engineering staff to be smarter than Microsoft engineers. Canonical engineers are, as a group, the most humble group of engineers I've ever encountered.

As someone who has been part of the open source community for the better part of 10 years, you could not be more correct.

Ubuntu may not be my cup of tea (Fedora!), but I wholly support what you do and making Linux a possibility for everyone.

Working from home is much different than working in an office, in ways that would take too long to go into.

I know exactly what you mean, but it's impossible for me to work from home; I can't do it.

moephan43 karma

First "yeah for Fedora", my first distro back when I still worked at Microsoft. I used it until Warty came out :)

Second, I personally love working from home, but I have seen it almost drive people crazy. Some people can't stop working, and some people can't start working. I think it really helps to love your job, so you don't crave the separation as much.

RazerMackham35 karma

How does one profit from providing free software?

moephan47 karma

Canonical strives to make money from Ubuntu by "providing services in and around Ubuntu". I have friends who earn a living providing training for free software. Many Free software vendors provide support and consulting (see for example). However they do it, apparantly Red Hat now pulls down $1billion a year! So, it can be done.

Dan_Pat11 karma

Do you see potential for smaller open source projects to make a profit? As a student of computer engineering, I am very interested in digital audio and signal processing as well as Free software. However, I fear that a product such as an audio workstation would have a much more difficult time generating profit than an operating system would. I see a particularly large gap in music software for Linux and I would love to try to give back to the OSS community that has been so generous to me. Do you think that there is any way I could devote my career to such a project and still be able to eat and pay rent?

By the way, I love Unity and am very excited for the release of 12.04! Keep up the good work!

moephan8 karma

I am not going to give you business advice! However, I know a lot of folks who have small companies that write or support free software for a living. With some pluck and luck, I think you could achieve your dreams.

GhostAceHJ34 karma

What do you think is holding back any Linux (including Ubuntu) from being on more desktops for home users? I personally think its due to not being easy to get certain tasks done as easily as in Windows since half of the time you have to enter the terminal to do what you need. What do you think Ubuntu can learn from Windows (which everyone uses)?

moephan79 karma

I think that people are used to Windows and there are misperceptions that Linux based systems are harder to use.

For example, you don't, in fact, need to use the terminal in Ubuntu to do normal things. There are GUI ways to do anything. Similarly, there are some tasks on Windows that require their command line. I think Ubuntu is easier to use than Windows.

I also think that Microsoft and Apple have marketing budgets that are orders of magnitude larger than Canonical's entire budget.

[deleted]29 karma


moephan64 karma

I haven't used Mint myself, but Mint users seem really passionate about it. Clearly they are doing something right. The maintainers seem like really good people too, I hope they see continued success.

LeoSloane21 karma

What would you recommend to someone who wants to get into programming/software development who has little to no prior knowledge?

moephan59 karma

I would suggest learning Python, the language and the libraries. One way to get started is the free MIT course.

Think of an app that you would like to have, or a version of one that you would like, and start writing it. To do this, get Quickly from the software center, and look at the tutorials.

Ask questions when you get stuck.

Mostly, have fun!

PanaceaSupplies17 karma

I have been using Ubuntu on the desktop for years, and have had patches applied to Ubuntu (as well as to Ubuntu upstream, thus they found their way into Ubuntu).

I think one of the main problems with Ubuntu is the one Greg Kroah-Hartman has been talking about for a while ( ). Canonical just seems to have trouble for some reason with working with the rest of the community. A recent example that has been discussed on the net has been a sentence on the Precise Pangolin technical overview ( ). Previously the sentence said "Beta-1 includes the 3.2.0-17.27 Ubuntu kernel which is based on the v3.2.6 upstream stable kernel." Thankfully, Ubuntu has now put the word Linux between stable and kernel. But the first version fits in with how some people view Canonical's and Ubuntu's attitude. Ubuntu kernel? And of course, there's the Gnome/Unity fork. And other things I could go into but won't, Banshee revenue etc.

Different people have different views about this, and I suppose there are different levels to view this on. But even putting social aspects aside, I think there are striking technical aspects to the problem. And the technical problem is Canonical just does not have the staff to be able to handle doing forks as it has been doing.

Here's an example vis-a-vis the Gnome/Unity fork, with this Unity bug ( ). A bug is discovered on October 16th. The bug was reported three days after Oneiric was released (October 13th). It was a hugely annoying bug, where a big semi-translucent orange overlay would appear on the screen after switching workplaces. It affected me. 124 other people marked that it affected them, and considering the limited number of people who do bug reports, that number can be certainly be multiplied by a variable. As well as the over 25 duplicate bug reports of it. The bug was not fixed until January, which meant people had over two months of this annoying desktop experience which had me to the point of wishing for Windows. On November 5th, someone posted a very rough work-around, which I managed to implement, but I have over 20 years of Unix experience, I have no idea how an amateur would have fared with that fix.

And the problem with the two and a half months to fix that widespread, very annoying bug, is really the only people who could fix it were Canonical engineers. I, and some others, if we have the time, might dive into the code and try to figure out all the Gnome/Unity library interactions that might cause this. One factor dampening this spirit is knowing that Gnome 3 users are not having the problem, so doing the work to fix it will only help the Unity fork, not the whole Gnome/Ubuntu universe. And in a way, one feels like one is helping problems which come out of that fork. So once a quick fix is posted, one stops caring about doing a fix-fix, a quick hack just fixes it for my desktop and I'm off.

Or another example - Gnome uses the Clutter toolkit library, Ubuntu dumped this and started using one called Nux. Well, anyone can browse through Launchpad's bug reporting database for nux ( ) to see how that has gone, what issues arise, how serious they are, how long they get fixed etc. Again, the problem is when you move from a toolkit like Clutter, supported by many distros, to "Nux", which AFAIK only Ubuntu and perhaps its spinoffs are using, a situation develops whereas Canonical will need to have the staffing to fix almost all of the problems which come up for it.

And someone such as myself, who if they have the time, and especially if they're affected by it, might feel the motivation to go into the code and see if they can come up with a patch for Nux. Not particularly because it's a fork. There's plenty of instances of a fork becoming the de facto standard over an original project. It's this insular kind of feeling around it. There's a feeling that something like Nux is for Canonical and Ubuntu, not that this is a "better Clutter" that all the other distros might turn around and start using.

Some annoyances have been fixed - like a full-screen Firefox having the close button on the top left by default, yet the sidebar popping out and covering it when I move the mouse there - the sidebar now does not cover the top menu - which is good. But a smaller insular team doing UI design is what missed this in the first place.

So aside from social aspects, I really question whether Canonical has the personnel to be able to handle forks like Nux, Unity etc...

All these things aside, I still use Ubuntu on my desktop - I'm typing from my Ubuntu desktop right now. A lot of the innovations to make Ubuntu user-friendly, easy to install etc. I'm happy about. I think Launchpad is a great resource for bug tracking and other things. Friends and family members whose Windows machine have crashed I have fixed by installing Ubuntu over it, showing them how to use Firefox and LibreOffice Writer etc., and it has worked for them beautifully. My concerns are mostly around Canonical trying to bite off more than it can chew with these forks, and the ill will the insularity of Canonical and Ubuntu has sometimes generated. Hopefully these things can be remedied. If you look at Wikipedia stats, Android aside, Ubuntu is clearly the most used Linux desktop, by a factor of multiples. I hope some of these things are straightened out as Canonical and Ubuntu learn and grow as projects.

moephan28 karma

sorry tl;dr

thr33pwood17 karma

First things first: THANK YOU for working on this great OS and thank you for making this AMA.

I have a question about Ubuntu for Android. Which of the new and upcomming SOCs would you recommend for Ubuntu for Android? Tegra 3, Qualcomm S4, Huawei K3V2, OMAP5, the new Exynos?

Or maybe is there one of them which will likely be not performant enough or not well supported?

And a second Question. Will it be made easy for the open source community, I think about the great devs at XDA here, to port Ubuntu for Android on devices without official manufacturer support?

moephan18 karma

I simply don't know enough to reasonably answer your first question, sorry.

For your second question, Ubuntu for Android will be Open Source, so if you want to use it all the code will be there. I think there was some initial confusion about this because Canonical is not making a "Ubuntu for Android Edition", because there is so much handset specific work required that an Eiditon would not make sense.

stonemanhero16 karma

What do you think about Nvidia Optimus technology, bumblebee project and solving problem with ubuntu users who have notebooks with optimus techology?

moephan28 karma

I wish we could provide perfect support for all hardware. However, if you choose graphics hardware for which the vendor only provides proprietary graphcis support, we can only do so much to help you.

The Ubuntu Desktop team has some top notch xorg talent though.

You might want to check this thread:

tahakki16 karma

How do you think we can help Ubuntu's market share to grow?

moephan32 karma

Just realized that I didn't answer your question. How can we help Ubuntu's market share?

I would say, using Ubuntu is a good start :) Share Ubuntu. Share your knowledge. Most of all follow the Ubuntu Code of Conduct. I think the CoC is one of the strongest things that Ubuntu has going for it. If people know they can participate in the Ubuntu community without fear, more people will take the plunge.

moephan16 karma

I think Ubutnu's market share will grow noticably with 12.04. The Ubuntu desktop is a polished jewel, and Ubuntu Server is the most innovative server OS ever!

I feel that my top responsibility is to continually drive improvements to how we build and deliver Ubuntu so we can meet and exceed user expectations for quality and robustness.

codeghar9 karma

Ubuntu Server is the most innovative server OS ever!

What features, in your view, make it more innovative than others? In other words, what features do you like in Ubuntu Server that are missing in others?

moephan10 karma

In a nuthsell, everything that make Ubuntu Cloud. Maas, Micro-clouds, OpenStack clouds, and the ability for juju to target all of these in addition to public clouds. Add in the juju charm store, and you have a simple to use, but incredibly powerful system at your fingertips.

lan3y15 karma

A charge often levelled at Canonical is of a lack of "giving back" to upstream communities.

What responsibilities would you say that companies such as Canonical have to the wider Free Software community and do you think that Canonical does enough in this area?

A bit relatedly, an issue for third parties is how they can make money out of products in the Ubuntu archive. Canonical has shown with the Banshee Amazon move that it is willing to take a slice of this kind of revenue for itself. Do you think there are/should be any boundaries to this kind of activity on Canonical's side? How can upstream projects be sure that they will be able to make money from products in the Ubuntu archive when Canonical reserves the right to divert this away from them? (Is this just a part of the deal that you accept when writing free software?)

moephan22 karma

When one chooses to write Free software (in the sense of the 4 freedoms) one does so for the benefits that accrue to the users of the software, not themselves. In other words, we make our software free to bestow freedom upon those who use our software. There are responsibilities encoded in the licenses for users of Free software though, and those are pretty simple, keep the software Free.

In terms of making money from the Ubuntu Archive, there are lots of ways to do that. Affiliates codes, as in the Banshee case, are a good example of how you can do that. You can also straight up sell your software. For all of the money that Canonical spends on Ubuntu, I think it's only logical that they claim a slice of revenue to continue to support it.

In terms of diverting, this is, indeed part of writing Free software. People can and do choose to use it to make money. For commercial projects, such as Firefox, there are different approaches, like reserving the trademark, etc...

iamapizza15 karma

How do you gather community feedback aside from user-submitted sources? What I'm specifically getting at is, do you occasionally read blog posts or articles or reviews to see what critics/reviewers/users think, and is that feedback taken in?

For example, this usability article was doing the rounds a few days ago. Does anyone at Canonical get to see this and add it to a 'feedback list' somewhere?

moephan17 karma

I personally spend a part of every day reviewing what users, press, and the community is saying. I We have internal mailing lists where we occasionally discuss things like that article, including that article.

thr33pwood14 karma

So many questions in my head :D

Do you think there will be a Gnome version of Ubuntu (Gnobuntu, Gnomebuntu, whatever) like there is Kubuntu with KDE, anytime soon?

I am a big fan of Gnome with Compiz Fusion and Emerald windows manager. Not a big fan of Unity - sorry.

moephan15 karma

tbh, I had expected a gnome-shell based flavor community to quickly emerge. I've seen it's been talked about, though.

Having flavors of Ubuntu (Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, etc...) is a big part of what makes Ubuntu Ubuntu.

gyaani_guy13 karma

A new version of ubuntu is released every 6 months. Even though there are LTS releases, AFAIK in order to install new applications a user must have the latest version of ubuntu. LTS only means updates for OS and security. So practically speaking , if a regular user wants the latest applications from the repos , he will have to have the latest ubuntu. This means upgrading every 6 months.

Compare this with windows, I am using a OS released in 2006 (xp sp3) and still using all the latest applications, drivers etc.

Isn't this kind of a deal breaker for regular users? Unless I am missing something OR woefully wrong about something.

Edit: I don't want to sound like I am criticizing . I want, really want linux to do well.

moephan18 karma

Upgrading Ubuntu is not like upgrading Windows. It's easy to upgrade to get the lastest and greatest every six months. Also, Windows is an OS that runs apps. Ubuntu is an OS comprised of apps. They are different.

However, if you want to stick with your current version of Ubuntu, except for one app, that is pretty easy to do. You can enable backports and see if the app has been backported, or you can find the app in a PPA, perhaps.

gyaani_guy6 karma

It's easy to upgrade to get the lastest and greatest every six months.

but what about the potential boot problems. like this bug .

moephan24 karma

There are bugs

kamyarGh12 karma

What was you duty in microsoft before joining ubuntu community and if it was about developing any part of windows os,what do you think about microsoft/windows as an former employee? if a windows/os X user ask you "why is ubuntu(or linux) better than any other os" what would be you answer?

moephan26 karma

I started as a Usability Engineer on Visual Studio, then Usability Manager there. Then I was a User Experience Manager for Microsoft Virtual Eatrth (only for a year). Then I finished up as a Lead Program Manager in the Windows Tablet Division, just as Vista was shipping.

What do I think about Windows? To be honest, I don't think about it much. I never use it, it has almost no impact on me personally.

Compared to Windows and OS X, I think Ubuntu 12.04 is better in every way. It's faster, more up to date, prettier, easier to use, easier to write apps for, easier to find and install apps, more secure, etc... Ubuntu is also a Linux based system. Therefore, the kernel and the plumbing are very well designed, and are constantly improved.

rugga8710 karma

I have a Lenovo Y570 with a hybrid intel HD3000/NVIDIA Geforce 555M graphics card. Will 12.04 be able to do the software switch between the cards. Also will 12.04 have the advanced features such as screen mode selection, battery optimization features such as those that come standard with winbloze?

moephan13 karma

I don't think Hybrid graphics on Linux will be easy any time soon. I mean, it fundamentally works, but the driver support will take a while until it's easy to do the things such as you are mentioning.

h00k310 karma

I recently applied to Canonical, but my application was responded to as "unsuccessful." Any protips if someone is looking to work there on what types of information is looked for? Thanks in advance.

moephan10 karma

There are so many engineering groups with different requirements in Canonical, I can't be decisive.

I look for resumes that match the requirements, of course. I look for something that makes a person look like they may stand out as a leader (yes even for solely technical positions).

I get turned off when someone "spams" the jobs (applies for every available technical position, for example).

chrisccoulson9 karma

Are you enjoying the French wine? :-)

moephan20 karma

Well, I was enjoying it a little too much to start. So, I'm off the wine, cheese, and pastries until a lose another kilo or so :)

kajkavski9 karma

Your thought about the "Linus Torvalds" persona?

moephan31 karma

Well, I really like his attitude about how people can and should use the kernel. I don't agree with his technique of using public humiliation to influence people. However, from what I've seen, he appears to be an exceptionally generous person.

kruczek19 karma

How about Wayland? Can we hope that there will be some preview in 12.10? How it will affect to unity and apps?

Do you plan to focus on Qt or GTK library?

PS. Thank you for great OS and impressive progress with Unity in 12.04!

moephan17 karma

There is a preview of Wayland in 12.04!

apt-cache search wayland
libwayland-dev - wayland compositor infrastructure - development files
libwayland0 - wayland compositor infrastructure - shared libraries
libwayland0-dbg - wayland compositor infrastructure - shared libraries (debug)
libxkbcommon-dev - library interface to the XKB compiler - development files
libxkbcommon0 - library interface to the XKB compiler - shared library
weston - reference implementation of a wayland compositor

For my own application development, I am focusing on HTML5 atm. Canonical develops apps in both Qt and Gtk.

Mraedis9 karma

Where do you see gaming on Ubuntu/Linux going in the next couple of years?

moephan15 karma

I don't really have a clear view on this. For my part, I gave up using a PC for anything but casual gaming 15+ years ago. It seemed every new game required newer hardware than I had, even if I just bought by computer.

sastrone8 karma

  • What is your day-to-day schedule?
  • How do you bridge the gap between people working in your offices and those contributing from home?

moephan26 karma

My schedule is:

  • 7:10am wake up, wake up the kids, make coffee
  • 7:20am review email, make sure everything is ok by reviewing precise_probs and daily smoke tests
  • Rest of morning: If things are not okay, work with people awake in Europe to see what are the problems, get them resolved. Have calls with people in Australia (it's end of the day for them). As Europeans and English folks wake up, have regurlarly schedule calls with them. Paper work, maybe a bit of programming, etc...
  • noon: Lunch and exercise
  • 4pm - 8pm+: calls with people in Europe and the US

As you can see, I take up to a 4 hour break in the middle of the day, and I spend a lot of time on "the phone". In point of fact, these days most of my "calls" are on Google Hangouts.

Which brings me to your bridging question. All of Ubuntu Engineering is home based, but spread out from Portland, OR, USA, to Sydney Australia. So there is a lot of timezone jugglling, and every now and then, someone has to take it in the teeth and do a call in the middle of the night. We have become very heavy users of Google Hangouts, as it works so reliably.

Sealbhach3 karma

It's interesting you use Google Hangouts for work. Is it getting to be a thing in the industry?

moephan4 karma

I don't know about the industry. The thing is, we've tried so many other desktop-based video conferencing systems, and this is the first one that "just works". I would love it if there were a Free system that worked as well. Canonical sunk some money into bringing one into being, but it didn't work well in the end.

felixnigh77 karma

what do you think about a steam kind of gaming for ubuntu? Gaming is the only thing stopping me from running full on Ubuntu.

moephan18 karma

Something like steam would be really nice. Of course, we already have the Software Center, which delivers a lot of software, but we don't really have the games like a Steam would have.

Jinzodefiler5 karma

Why is there no option to revert to a classic environment? I personally don't like unity at all. Its too convoluted to use. Would it at least be reasonable for y'all to at least have the option to install it via the package manager...

moephan5 karma

there is such an option. The name escapes me at the moment, I think it's called gnome-panel or something.

cshaps5 karma

are you hiring/looking for interns?

moephan4 karma

Sorry, Canonical does not have an intern program.

[deleted]5 karma

I have noticed a recent trend with smaller distributions basically becoming platforms for various desktop environments. In other words, there is only one distribution, but any of the major desktop environments can be installed.

It seems like out of all of the distributions out there, Ubuntu could gain the most from this philosophy. They could capitalize on being being the ubiquitous distribution, but cater to the various tastes as far as workflow and desktop organization. Unity might be awesome for some people, but for others (myself included) it has been enough to make me reluctantly switch to lesser distributions.

Is Desktop Agnosticism a possibility for Ubuntu's future?

moephan16 karma

I think this is by and large already achieved in Ubuntu. You can install all kinds of desktop environments and choose them at login time.

firexq5 karma

I notice you drive the development of Quickly. How do you see (or want to see) the experience of app developers changing in years to come? An IDE? New language or toolkit? An entirely different framework?

Are there any major changes you're seeing in Ubuntu that haven't gotten the visibility they deserve?

Oh, also: Vim or Emacs?

moephan19 karma

also: gedit ;)

moephan8 karma

Thanks for noticing Quickly. This is a project that I work on more as a community member than a staff member. Frankly, I don't do so much work with it anymore due to time constraints, but, fortunately, the rest of the quickly team, like mterry, carry on doing a stellar job.

I think that as Ubuntu starts to run on more form factors (TV, tablets, phones, etc...) there will be a lot of changes, in terms of a lot of interesting apps to write! I, personally, suspect that there will be multiple technologies that are well supported for this. I think QML and HTML5 are going to be good choices. Personally, I am currently working on a new Quickly template to make it easy to write HTML5 front ends, with Python backends.

In terms of major changes ... I think it will take a while for it to sink in for people just how rock solid the Ubuntu client has become. On the server, I think Ubuntu Cloud is so innovative and such a radical simplification of an otherwise complex space that it will take a while for the world to catch on.

uparrow4 karma

I saw some numbers yesterday that indicate that Ubuntu staff contribute very little to the development of LibreOffice. Do you feel that Ubuntu should be better supporting OSS that are an integral part of the desktop environment and that determine to a very large degree whether users will use a given platform or not?

moephan24 karma

We spend a lot of effort making LibreOffice work with Ubuntu. Consider how many packages are an "integral" part of Ubuntu. Then calculate how many engineers wold have to working on those packages for Ubuntu to be on the top contributor list for those projects. We'd never have time to write Ubuntu!

Anyway, that misses the point. What Ubuntu brings to Free software is critically important. Every six months Ubuntu allows you to access the latest and greatest Free software in an integrated user experience. We make Free software matter to people who would never otherwise consider using it. That's our role. It's an important role. It is a role that I am very proud to be part of.

krondor3 karma

What process does Ubuntu use to decide if a package is in the main repository versus another? I'm thinking specifically of the way security is handled with things like the recent nginx exploit and the changes in how Oracle Java has been handled.

Do you think there are things that can be improved to insure popular packages outside of main improve the consistency of updates?

Also I LOVE Juju so far. Very awesome and can't wait to play with MaaS. Nice work on Ubuntu!

moephan6 karma

The most common reason for a package to be in main is that it is on the CD.

Thanks for the Juju love! I am digging it too. Maas + juju is going to fundamentally change the way we interact with our servers, clouds, and apps. I don't think the degree of innovation being delivered in 12.04 Server has really sunk in yet for most people.

Shoune3 karma

How's France treating you? Do you notice any differences in general mentality between there and the US?

moephan26 karma

France is treating me very well, in fact. I find the people to be surprising tolerant of my incredibly poor French, for example.

I am in Southern France, so I can't speak for the whole country. But, I would sum it up as "The French are casual about things you should be causual about, and serious about things you should be serious about."

For example, the health care here is excellent, and the public transportation is reliable and affordable. People really take their time and chill out when they eat and drink. You don't see people walking around eating too much, you're supposed to take your time and enjoy. People don't seem to work as much in France, but they seem to work harder when they do work.

To be honest, I think if Americans knew how the French lived, there would be wide-spread rioting in America ;)

ZeMilkman3 karma

So why do I have to apply a kernel patch to install aircrack-ng?

moephan3 karma

I don't think that cracking wireless networks is really a core use case for the kernel team, so I wouldn't expect them to prioritize carrying this. I'm glad you got it working though.

assi90013 karma

How much support does Canonical lend to further developing Debian?

moephan6 karma

Canonical provides full time employment to many Debian developers. Many Ubuntu community members become Debian community members over time. We support debconf, etc...

To be clear, Ubuntu would not exist without Debian. Canonical has a lot of history with Debian, and a lot of gratitude toward Debian. Canonical has vested interest in Debian's continued success.

I don't know if these are the kind of answers you are looking for.

acabal3 karma

One of Ingo Molnar's recent posts highlight an issue that I think is one of the biggest ones facing widespread Linux success:

I personally find it surprising that in 2012 the best distro model Linux (not just Ubuntu) has come up with is "package every single application you could possibly need along with the OS, then update every single thing all at once every X months." What are your thoughts on the milestone-distro model for the desktop environment? Do you think it needs fixing? If so, are there any plans for Canonical to take the lead? If not, why?

moephan9 karma

I think there is a reasonably expectations for users that when they have a version of Ubuntu, there will be fresh content available for it. Also, some developers want to easily update their applications for their users without going through all the distro beauracracy and technical difficulties with packaging.

I actually think the difficulty packaging is itself one of Ubuntu's biggest challenges. I've seen so many folks write an application, then they couldn't manage, or didn't want to bother, packaging the application because it is so annoying compared to writing it.

Ubuntu has started addressing this. Check out this blueprint, and also myapps.

This represents a 2 pronged approach. Prong 1 is to make it so that applications are much safer to run. Prong 2 is to automated to the degree possible the packaging of applications. After these are achieved, developers and users should be able to connect and create a much more dynamic environment.

DaGoodBoy3 karma

Can you describe your build, test and deployment infrastructure and talk about what you want to improve?

Also, I tried the 12.04 beta to see what the new OpenStack cloud infrastructure looks like, but couldn't get it running. Are you guys doing another dead simple cloud setup like Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud did for Eucalyptus?

moephan7 karma

First question is long and deep. I'll skip the improvements part, and touch on that briefly. I want to see: * deeper and broader automated tests * testing before packages land in the development archive * more rigorous change control around our milestone releases, including final release * parallel development archives so development can continue during archive freezes * automated testing of key upstream projects in the same manner we currently provide testing for openstack. * More frequent and rigorous test-case based manual testing by skilled community members

Second question, I promise you that it will dead simple to deploy OpenStack in 12.04. You will: * get a set of computers, 1 for a maas controller at least 8 for a cloud * install Ubuntu Server and them Maas on the 1 computer * enlist the other computers into the Maas cluster using the Ubuntu CD * configure PXE boot, or if you don't have control of your DNS because you are skunk works, for example, create a USB key with a special image Maas will provide * on the Maas server, go "juju deploy open stack" * wait 15 minutes * bask in your OpenStack cloud

fapfapagenieappears3 karma

This means I am the directory of the Ubuntu Engineering team, all the people employed by Canonical to roll Ubuntu and Ubuntu Server.

So how does one become a successful directory like yourself?

moephan6 karma

Attentiont o detail