Introducing the Xubuntu Council

At the beginning of 2016 the Xubuntu team started a process to transition the project to become council-run rather than having a single project leader. After careful planning, writing and approving the general direction, the team was ready to vote on for the first three members of the council for the project.

In this article we explain what the new Xubuntu Council is and who the council members are.

What is the Xubuntu Council about?

The purpose of the council is very similar to the purpose of the former Xubuntu Project Leader (XPL): to make sure the direction of the project stays stable, in adherence to the Strategy Document and be responsible for making long-term plans and decisions where needed.

The two main differences between a council and the XPL, both favoring the council approach, are:

  • The administrative and bureaucratic work of managing the project is split between several people. This means more reliability and faster response times.
  • A council, with a diversity of views, can more fairly evaluate and arbitrate disputes.

Additionally, the council will stay more in the background in terms of daily decisions, the council does not have a casting or veto vote in the same way that the XPL had. We believe this lets us embrace the expertise in the team even more than we did before. The council also acts as a fallback to avoid deadlocks that a single point of failure like “an XPL gone missing” could produce.

If you wish to learn more about the council, you can read about it in the Xubuntu Council section of our contributor documentation.

Who is in the Council?

On August 31st, Simon Steinbeiß announced the results of vote by Xubuntu project members. The first Xubuntu Council contains the following members:

  • Sean Davis (bluesabre), the council chair and the Xubuntu Technical Lead
  • Simon Steinbeiß (ochosi), the Xubuntu Artwork Lead and a former XPL
  • Pasi Lallinaho (knome), the Xubuntu Website Lead and a former XPL and former Xubuntu Marketing Lead

As the titles alone can tell you, the three council members all have a strong history with Xubuntu project. Today we want to go a bit deeper than just these titles, which is why we asked the council members a few quick questions so you can start to get to know them.

Interviewing the Council

What inspired you to get involved with the Xubuntu project?

Sean: I started using Xubuntu in 2006 (when it was first released) and used it all throughout college and into my career. I started reporting bugs to the project in 2012 and contributing to the Ubuntu community later that year. My (selfish) inspiration was that I wanted to make my preferred operating system even better!

Simon: When Dapper Drake saw the light of day 10 years ago (I know, it’s incredible – it’s been a decade!) and I started using LInux my first choice was – and this has never changed – Xfce and Ubuntu. At first I never thought I would be fit to contribute, but the warm welcome from the amazing community around these projects pulled me in.

Pasi: When I converted to Linux from Windows for good in 2006, I started contributing to the Amarok project, my media player of choice back then. A few years later my contributions there slowed down at it felt like a natural step to start working with the operating system I was using.

Can you share some thoughts about the future of Xubuntu?

Sean: Xubuntu has always taken a conversative approach to the desktop. It includes simple, effective applications on top of a traditional desktop. That said, the technologies that Xubuntu is built on (GTK+, GStreamer, Xfce, and many many others) are undergoing significant changes and we’re always looking to improve. I think we’ll continue to see improvements that will welcome new users and please our longtime fans.

Simon: Change is hard for many people, however based on a recent psych test I am “surprisingly optimistic” :) While Xubuntu – and this is heritage from Xfce – has a what many would call “conservative” approach I believe we can still improve the current experience by quite a bit. I don’t mean this change has to be radical, but it should be more than just “repainting the walls”. This is why I personally welcome the changes in GTK+ and why I believe our future is bright.

Pasi: As Sean mentioned, we will be seeing changes in Xubuntu in consequence of the underlying technologies and components – whether we like them or not. To be able to be part of the decision making and that Xubuntu can and will feel as integrated and polished as it does now, it’s important to keep involved with the migration work. While this will mean less resources to put into Xubuntu-specific work in the near future, I believe it leads us into a better place later.

So that people can get to know you a bit better, is there an interesting fact about yourself that you wish to share?

Sean: Two unrelated things: I’m also an Xfce developer and one of my current life goals is to visit Japan (and maybe one day live there).

Simon: My background is a bit atypical: my two majors at University were Philosophy and Comparitive Religious Studies.

Pasi: In addition to contributing to open source, I use my free time to play modern board games. I have about 75 of them in my office closet.

Further questions?

If you have any questions about the council, please don’t hesitate to ask! You can contact us by joining the IRC channel #xubuntu-devel on freenode or by joining the Xubuntu-devel mailing list.

Additionally, if this sparked your interest to get involved, be in touch with anybody from the Xubuntu team. There are a lot of things to do and all kinds of skills are useful. Maybe someday you might even become a Xubuntu Council member!

Integrating releases to the website

During 2016, the Xubuntu website team has been working on integrating the releases better to the website. What this essentially means is that the maintenance is easier for the team in the future, but also that the release information is presented in a more concise and central way for each release.

Release pages

We finally have a one-stop page for all currently supported releases – the Releases landing page. You can find the page at any time under the About menu. From this page, you can easily access individual release pages.

The new individual release pages (for example, see the 16.04 release page) lists the basic information for the release, appropriate release links (downloads and documentation), all articles on the release as well as the press links and finally, all screenshots related to the release.

We hope our users find the new release pages useful – we definitely do!

Automatized links

In addition to the release pages, we’ve worked how some of the common links are stored internally. With these changes, we’re able to build dynamic link lists for the downloads, the press links (including the press archive) as well as the documentation links for supported releases.

These changes help with the maintenance and we hope to put the time freed from running the maintenance routines into finding more useful content for the press links and improving the site content otherwise.

Presenting the Xubuntu status tracker

Status tracking is useful for all kinds of projects, including Xubuntu. Amongst other things, it allows contributors to quickly see what’s left to do and what others are working on. When the tracking data is kept up to date, the resulting data can be immensely helpful.

Until 2015, the Xubuntu team had been using the common status tracker for Ubuntu teams. For a reason or another, it suddenly stopped working as tracking data from Launchpad didn’t make it into the tracker database. That was unfortunate, but on the other hand, it helped the team make an important decision which had been floating around for quite some time already; we need our own status tracker that is ideally better than the common one used this far.

Today, we want to present you the Xubuntu status tracker. For the impatient, head down to dev.xubuntu.org to see what it looks like.

For the rest of us (and the impatient when they come back), continue reading to get an idea what the tracker can do and how it can help the Xubuntu team – and potentially, motivate people to start contributing to Xubuntu.

The views and the benefits

In the current state, the status tracker has four main views. The first one of them is the overview, which lets contributors see how different specifications are coming along. This view also allows the visitor to look at the whiteboards of each specification easily and quickly without visiting Launchpad.

The other view is all about the work items and their details. In this view, you can filter the work items with various filters, as well as sort them by assignee, work item status or specification. The filtering is a new feature specifically built for the Xubuntu status tracker and has already proven useful for the team members.

For example, if you wanted to see all work items related to GTK, you could simply type gtk in the Text filter – the results are shown to you immediately. If you further wanted to filter the results, you could select any assignees, specifications and statuses. Yes, that’s right, you can select multiple values for all of the filters.

As another example that has a more useful real world use case, you could show only all of the open work items by selecting To Do, In Progress and Blocked from the Status dropdown. Finally, you can create a handy shortcut for this view by dragging the Permalink into your bookmarks. Following this link you can always get to the same filter state.

The third view is the burndown chart. This view shows the history for the work item statuses. In the Xubuntu status tracker, the burndown chart also shows events that the team considers important during the cycle, mostly different freezes.

In addition to showing the team whether we are in good pace to finish all work items in time, it can also point out useful and interesting information for the testers and end users; for example, the amount of work items closed between Beta 1 and 2 is huge. While this means that the quality of the product should have gone up, it also means that tests ran against Beta 1 do not have any validity during the Beta 2 testing – it all needs to be ran again to make sure the fixes are actually working and that there are no regressions.

The final view – the timeline – simply shows which work items have been completed and when. This is also a new feature for the new tracker. The timeline is useful for the testers – when they can see what has been changed and when, they’ll know what they need to test. It also helps the contributors to gather the release notes for the releases, especially the milestones, which has previously been laborious work digging through changelogs and much more.

Finally, it serves as an automatic team updates chart for the team itself as well as other teams. This way we can let everybody know what we have been working on without actively needing to take extra effort.

In addition to the main views, the tracker has an menu that is integrated with the Xubuntu wiki and additionally links to the team calendar, IRC channel, mailing list and the new contributor documentation.

The future

As the common Ubuntu status tracker, the Xubuntu status tracker gets most of the data from Launchpad blueprints. While this means we don’t have to take on some of the maintaining burden, it has it’s problems. It’s possible that we start storing the work items internally to avoid a lot of API calls and the caching issues related with them.

There are also some plans for the future to start digging more information to the tracker from other tools like the QA trackers and Jenkins to get an overview of how the quality assurance is running.

If you are interested in contributing to the tracker, be in touch with us via the developer IRC channel (#xubuntu-devel on Freenode) or the Xubuntu developer mailing list.

Xubuntu 16.10 Released

The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 16.10. Xubuntu 16.10 is a normal release and will be supported for 9 months.

This release has seen little visible change since April’s 16.04, however much has been done towards supplying Xubuntu with Xfce packages built with GTK3, including the porting of many plugins and Xfce Terminal to GTK3. Those GTK3 ports can, if one wishes to test them, be installed from one of the team’s development PPAs

The final release images are available as Torrents and direct downloads from
http://xubuntu.org/getxubuntu/

As the main server will be very busy in the first few days after release, we recommend using the Torrents wherever possible.

Support

For support with the release, navigate to Help & Support for a complete list of methods to get help.

Known Issues

  • Thunar is still the subject of a few bugs, though they all appear to revolve around similar issues. A further patch has been applied since 16.04.
  • On some hardware the password is sometimes required twice when returning from suspend.

For more information on affecting bugs please refer to the Release Notes.

Thanks to all who have contributed to Xubuntu, not least those who test for us when called upon, and generally anyone can do that for us all. We will name you all in time – you deserve one last mention. Thank you on behalf of all installing Xubuntu – you all rock!

SRU for 16.04: Intel cursor bug fix released

When we announced the release of Xubuntu 16.04 back in April there were a few known issues, but none has been more frustrating to users than this one:

When returning from lock, the cursor disappears on the desktop, you can bring the cursor back with Ctrl+Alt+F1 followed by Ctrl+Alt+F7

Most of the other bugs were fixed by the time 16.04.1 was released in July, but this one lingered while developers tested the xserver-xorg-video-intel package that had the fix in the proposed repository in August.

Thanks to the work of those developers and the members of our community who tested the package upon our request in August, we’re delighted to announce that the fix has been included as a Stable Release Update (SRU)!

This update will be applied to your system with all other regular updates, no special action is needed on your part.

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