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LinuxCon: Shuttleworth's Three Methods to Improve FOSS Development

Article Source Community-cation
September 24, 2009, 11:28 am

Cadence, quality, and design were the core themes of Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth's closing keynote talk at LinuxCon.

Speaking before a combined session of LinuxCon and the co-located Linux Plumber's Conference, Shuttleworth drilled home the importance of these concepts in the Linux development ecosystem, particularly cadence.

Shuttleworth has long maintained that if free and open source software projects can begin to sync their development cycles with each other, then both upstream and downstream developers (and, ultimately, users) will benefit. This is large part of the strategy behing Canonical's strict six-month release for the Ubuntu distribution and the 18-month Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) cycles.

It won't be easy, he told the crowd, but already quite a few projects are seeing the value of cadence (Shuttleworth cited recent moves in the KDE Project). Shuttleworth empasized, as he has in the past, that it doesn't matter what pattern of cadence projects take, just so long as that pattern is predictable.

Quality is another core component of how development projects can improve. Shuttleworth described how Canonical continually applies bug tracking data to improve Ubuntu. This seemed to strike a chord in attendees--several of the post-talk questions dealt with perceived lacks of response from the Ubuntu bug reporting system. Shuttleworth replied that even though bug fixes weren't going to be immediate, the more people that report a given bug, the higher the priority that bug would gain.

On design, Shuttleworth emphasized how important user testing of interface and function can be. Canonical uses daily testing for Ubuntu and other oper source projects--information that is fed directly back to the developer (sometimes with the developer in the room when testing occurs). "Developers always learn a lot from these tests," he said.

This was a strong day for Canonical, and it showed in Shuttleworth's delivery. Earlier, Dell and Intel made a joint announcement with Canonical at the Intel Developers Forum about the new Dell Inspiron 10v netbook, which will run the Canonical's Moblin Netbook Remix.

On the same day, IBM and Canonical introduced "a new, flexible personal computing software package for netbooks and other thin-client devices to help businesses in Africa bridge the digital divide by leapfrogging traditional PCs and proprietary software," according to a press release.

Part of IBM's Smart Work Initiative, the new package targets the rising popularity of low-cost netbooks to make IBM's industrial-strength software affordable to new, mass audiences in Africa. This program appears to be the first major deployment of the Microsoft-Free PC technology both companies announced in December 2008.

 

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