Ubuntu needs a new development model - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 05-05-2010, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Ubuntu is very controversial among Linux devs as Canonical backports new code and features into old versions of applications. This causes a crapload of bugs that can be solved by just upgrading the software to the latest versions.

Furthermore, Canonical actually expects developers to portion out the new code and bugfixes for them and expects the original developers to support their half-working backported software for them. This is exasperated by the fact that Ubuntu contributes very little back to the original code, mostly because they are spending so much time backporting code. A lot of Linux developers are rightly pissed about this.

Backporting code is great for security fixes, but it isn't a solution for every problem under the sun. In Ubuntu's case, it definitely creates more problems than it fixes.

Ubuntu needs a change in direction. I propose that Ubuntu adopt a development model where only the core operating system, userland, core libraries, and desktop environment are frozen every 6 months. The applications would then be freely updated to the newest versions at all times. Package maintenance and support for the end-user applications would be provided by the developers themselves.

This new release system would be very similar to the semi-rolling release system I implemented in infinityOS.
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post #2 of 30 Old 05-05-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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This is yet another reason why I still prefer Gentoo, but it would be a nightmare to manage updates across a large number of systems with it. Perhaps Arch would be better suited for this, but I haven't had the opportunity to work with it yet.
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post #3 of 30 Old 05-05-2010, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkphoenix22 View Post

Ubuntu is very controversial among Linux devs as Canonical backports new code and features into old versions of applications.

Most major Linux distros do that and it does make sense to keep the software stable within a release cycle. That said Mandriva's approach to this is more pragmatic, they try to back-port fixes but if that's too complicated because of major changes, then they simply provide the newer version instead.

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Originally Posted by darkphoenix22 View Post

Furthermore, Canonical actually expects developers to portion out the new code and bugfixes for them and expects the original developers to support their half-working backported software for them.

If that's really true then they have forgotten how open source software works, they have no right whatsoever to expect anything from the devs.


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Originally Posted by darkphoenix22 View Post

I propose that Ubuntu adopt a development model where only the core operating system, userland, core libraries, and desktop environment are frozen every 6 months. The applications would then be freely updated to the newest versions at all times.

This would be even messier since often new versions of apps require new versions of libraries with all sorts of dependency issues with other apps.


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Package maintenance and support for the end-user applications would be provided by the developers themselves.

Huh? Sorry but this makes no sense at all. You can't ask or even less so force any app dev to do that.
Also not every dev uses Ubuntu or provides prepackaged Ubuntu packages!
Many don't provide packages at all just source and possibly binary tar-balls.

IMHO the pragmatic approach that Mandriva uses works best.

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post #4 of 30 Old 05-05-2010, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
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It seems to me like the traditional release model is better suited to servers. However, desktop users want and need (in the case of video and games) the latest applications.

Package quality will not be an issue as Launchpad will be a decent filter. It is an endeavor to sign up for a Launchpad upload privileges as you need several layers of GPG signing, in addition to configuring your computer to sign the damn packages. There is also considerable effort required to get something to even build on Launchpad, as everything is built using pbuilder in a chroot environment.

------

Below is an outline of the semi-rolling release system in infinityOS.

The packages, like Debian, will be segregated into stable, testing and unstable repositories. "Stable" is software that has been well-tested and proven to work, "testing" is software that is expected to work but needs a bit more testing, and "unstable" is beta software or software is completely untested and unsure of working. These repositories will be completely binary compatible with each other, though "testing" will be dependant on "stable", and "unstable" will be dependant on "testing". As an aside, there will also be a "testing-drivers" repo where the latest hardware drivers will always be available. The newer drivers are in a different repo so you don't have to restart your computer after an upgrade, unless you enable the "testing-drivers" repos and have an updated driver (with the exception of updating the kernel). Only the "stable" repo will be enabled by default, though the "testing" and "testing-drivers" repos will be listed (but not enabled) in Synaptic.

Each major release would serve as a specification for the libraries these packages would be built against. Minor versions will seamlessly upgrade to one another ala a traditional rolling release system.

------

The above system is the one implemented in infinityOS. As the major versions will correlate with the Ubuntu releases, infinityOS will be 100% binary compatible with Ubuntu and will be able to use Ubuntu packages and PPAs. This compatibility will be conserved at all cost for the foreseeable future.

As infinityOS is based on and is binary compatible with Ubuntu, any packages on Launchpad to can be added to the infinityOS repos. There are more updated packages then you would expect on Launchpad. There are packages from around 20 different repos/PPAs in the infinityOS repos at the moment and this will only increase. There will also be a new Live CD release every two weeks, with the latest packages in the Ubuntu and infinityOS stable repos.

Note: It seems like Ubuntu has declined my development model. However, as it has been proven to provide greater stability and functionality in terms of multimedia then upstream Ubuntu, it is staying in infinityOS. :P
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post #5 of 30 Old 05-07-2010, 07:04 AM - Thread Starter
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I have serious concerns about the release system employed by Ubuntu and feel that the sound system it uses is inadequate for the needs of the average user (it can stream music to your kitchen but can't play games...).

The proposals I posted on the Ubuntu developer mailing lists were rejected so I will be taking infinityOS in a different direction then Ubuntu. infinityOS will remain 100% binary compatible with Ubuntu. My goal is for infinityOS to become the Firefox to Ubuntu's Mozilla.

https://launchpad.net/infinityos/+announcement/5779
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post #6 of 30 Old 05-07-2010, 08:48 AM
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Why don't you base infinityOS directly on Debian, what's the point in staying with Ubuntu which is just a Debian spin-off anyway?

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post #7 of 30 Old 05-07-2010, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post

Why don't you base infinityOS directly on Debian, what's the point in staying with Ubuntu which is just a Debian spin-off anyway?

Ubuntu has Launchpad and I don't have the resources ATM to track Debian. Ubuntu is a slower moving target.

I also want to be able to use Launchpad PPAs.
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post #8 of 30 Old 05-07-2010, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post

Why don't you base infinityOS directly on Debian, what's the point in staying with Ubuntu which is just a Debian spin-off anyway?

I tried switching to Debian Testing last month and as much as I'm really annoyed at the direction that Canonical is taking with Ubuntu, trying to use Debian sure made me appreciate all the little tweeks that Canonical makes to fix dozens of issues in Debian (And I still can't understand why the heck Debian never seems to roll up those bug fixes).

OTOH, Debian doesn't have the Pulseaudio installed, so that's a big check mark in it's favor.
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post #9 of 30 Old 05-07-2010, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I can understand the tweaks they make on the core stuff. But I find the tweaks on stuff like MPlayer, the Radeon drivers (like removing 3D support in Karmic), and the fact that they make a PulseAudio a dependency of everything for stupid ambient sounds highly annoying (I mean gnome-settings-daemon, c'mon).

The fact that they also just plain copy over most of Debian Unstable and don't touch any of it for 6 months is annoying as well. Most people I know who use Ubuntu on a daily basis have a list of around 15 PPAs they use to keep their software up-to-date. The packages on these PPAs are usually untested as well (though most of them are good, a simple install it and see if it works is enough testing really).

There is a lot of possible improvement to be made to Ubuntu's release/development model.
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post #10 of 30 Old 05-08-2010, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkphoenix22 View Post

I can understand the tweaks they make on the core stuff. But I find the tweaks on stuff like MPlayer, the Radeon drivers (like removing 3D support in Karmic), and the fact that they make a PulseAudio a dependency of everything for stupid ambient sounds highly annoying (I mean gnome-settings-daemon, c'mon).

The fact that they also just plain copy over most of Debian Unstable and don't touch any of it for 6 months is annoying as well. Most people I know who use Ubuntu on a daily basis have a list of around 15 PPAs they use to keep their software up-to-date. The packages on these PPAs are usually untested as well (though most of them are good, a simple install it and see if it works is enough testing really).

There is a lot of possible improvement to be made to Ubuntu's release/development model.


Yeah, that's a bunch of the things that really irk me about Ubuntu too.

And yeah, I have a page long list of PPAs that I'm subscribed to.

Unfortunately, I'm finding it to be more work than I care to take on to recreate all the Ubuntu tweeks to Debian that I want.
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post #11 of 30 Old 05-08-2010, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Ya I'm going to need a much bigger development team before I even think about moving to Debian Testing.

-----

I will be working to decentralize the maintenance and control of infinityOS a little bit in the next week. I'm looking to move my PPAs/repositories over to a trusted team, with about 3 people having the ability to push and upload packages.

I want the development of infinityOS to mirror that of the development of the Linux kernel. E-mail me (or a member of the core team) a notification of your package update, and I (or a member of the core team) will push it to either the "testing" or "unstable" repos, depending on the libraries it depends on and the stability of the code reflected in our testing. If it is pushed to "testing" and no major problems appear in a week, it will be pushed to "stable" and all infinityOS users will be notified of the update.
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post #12 of 30 Old 05-08-2010, 05:09 PM
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(And I still can't understand why the heck Debian never seems to roll up those bug fixes).

Because neither testing nor unstable are meant for production use. Ubuntu essentially just fills that gap, doing whatever work needs to be done to make testing suitable for production use.

It's pretty simple, really. New versions of software go in unstable. If they work well, they go into testing. If they work really well, they will get pulled into stable when the new release is cut. Yes, this means stable is always several versions behind (aside from security backports), but it also means that unexpected behavior is rare.

Personally, I prefer the Debian model to any of the others. If you want to run something that almost certainly won't break, you've got stable. If you want to run something that probably won't break, but has newer packages, there's testing. If you want the latest packages regardless of stability, that's what unstable is for.

The best part is that APT makes it pretty easy to mix and match when you need to (presuming there's not an ABI break in any libraries the particular package depends on). A lot of the servers I run pull a few packages from testing and have everything else at stable.

Gentoo, at least when I last used it (about the time they were switching from named releases to dated releases) was a fracking nightmare. Portage makes it tolerable, but that's about as far as software could take it. They needed a lot more policy work. The worst part is that if you forgot about a machine for too long, you'd get your build profile deleted on you and spend an hour or two downloading the recovery profile (I forget what it's called) and doing a bunch of junk to make the new profile work. Even if you did keep up with updates, it wasn't at all unusual for a completely broken package to be uploaded, making even more work to keep things running.

I didn't so much mind the build times, but Gentoo was a complete mess organizationally.
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post #13 of 30 Old 05-08-2010, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
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My goal is to provide the stability of Debian with the flexibility of Gentoo. I feel my release system has a good chance at filling the gap between traditional release systems and rolling release systems.
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post #14 of 30 Old 05-08-2010, 07:53 PM
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Good luck. May your new model be one that catches on everywhere.
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post #15 of 30 Old 05-09-2010, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.

------

BTW I now have a core dev team of 3 people, the other two have quite a bit of experience with Linux as well. Only the core dev team will be able to push updates. Interestingly, they are both 10 years older than me. I wanted people who I could trust but could also call me out on my screwups. :P

However, only will I be pushing packages to "stable". The other members will just be testing them and pushing them to "testing" or "unstable".

https://launchpad.net/~infinityos-core

Note: Mods, feel free to merge this thread with the "infinityOS" thread.
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post #16 of 30 Old 05-09-2010, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wierdo View Post

Because neither testing nor unstable are meant for production use. Ubuntu essentially just fills that gap, doing whatever work needs to be done to make testing suitable for production use.
.

And testing and unstable is where bug fixes should be posted first. My point being that they NEVER seem get posted. Not the some things are broken, I expected that.


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.... If you want to run something that almost certainly won't break, you've got stable. ....

Actually, if you want something that almost certainly won't work because it's so old it doesn't support your hardware then Stable is the perfect choice. The only realistic use of Stable is a server running in a VM environment where the 'hardware' is very old, very limited, very simple and never changes.
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post #17 of 30 Old 05-09-2010, 10:00 PM
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And testing and unstable is where bug fixes should be posted first. My point being that they NEVER seem get posted. Not the some things are broken, I expected that.




Actually, if you want something that almost certainly won't work because it's so old it doesn't support your hardware then Stable is the perfect choice. The only realistic use of Stable is a server running in a VM environment where the 'hardware' is very old, very limited, very simple and never changes.

Weird. I see a lot of updates to unstable. I guess it just depends on which packages you're using.

As far as hardware support in stable, it's rarely been an issue for me, because I run it on servers, which almost always use relatively tried and tested hardware, rather than odd ethernet chips or sata controllers. The exception was when etch was taking forever to get done and sarge was getting super long in the tooth, and even then it was only some stupid onboard network chip. Grabbing a 3c905 from the box next to my desk solved that problem PDQ.

I had a lot harder time getting any modern distribution to work on these Jetway boards I recently used for a few routers. The old stuff (Etch and older, as well as Ubuntu pre-9.04) worked fine, new stuff not so much. Turned out to be a broken BIOS.

It's always a crapshoot if you're not specifying the hardware based on what the software is known to support. In any event, nearly all Linux distributions beat the pants off my Windows installation experiences. (save Windows 7, which just worked as Linux installers have for me all the way back to RedHat 5)
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post #18 of 30 Old 06-24-2010, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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post #19 of 30 Old 06-24-2010, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by darkphoenix22 View Post

Ubuntu has decided to implement my ideas.

https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ub...ne/011671.html
https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubu...stable-release

Congrats, although that's the easy one, since other distros (certainly Mandriva with its "backports" repo) do that already.

What about getting rid of Pulseaudio? That's the tough one...

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post #20 of 30 Old 06-24-2010, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tux99 View Post

Congrats, although that's the easy one, since other distros (certainly Mandriva with its "backports" repo) do that already.

What about getting rid of Pulseaudio? That's the tough one...

http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24144

I tried for 500 posts. BTW quite a few of the PulseAudio devs replied on that thread. I would recommend sticking to first page and the last 20 pages though. :P
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post #21 of 30 Old 06-24-2010, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkphoenix22 View Post

http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24144

I tried for 500 posts. BTW quite a few of the PulseAudio devs replied on that thread. I would recommend sticking to first page and the last 20 pages though. :P

Well, I'm not going to read a 50 page thread, not even the last 20 pages, I don't have the time for that.

What I wonder is, did you manage to change the mind of those that are in a position to decide about getting rid of Pulseaudio in Ubuntu (or any other distro)?

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post #22 of 30 Old 06-24-2010, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tux99 View Post

Well, I'm not going to read a 50 page thread, not even the last 20 pages, I don't have the time for that.

What I wonder is, did you manage to change the mind of those that are in a position to decide about getting rid of Pulseaudio in Ubuntu (or any other distro)?

Think about how I feel. I contributed a good portion of the posts.

In the end, I did demonstrate to them that game developers are not going to recode their games to fit PulseAudio's all buffer or nothing approach and forced them to discuss the issue directly with the game developers instead of ignoring it altogether.

I planted quite a few seeds in that thread. Here's hoping they sprout.
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post #23 of 30 Old 06-24-2010, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by tux99 View Post

Well, I'm not going to read a 50 page thread, not even the last 20 pages, I don't have the time for that.

What I wonder is, did you manage to change the mind of those that are in a position to decide about getting rid of Pulseaudio in Ubuntu (or any other distro)?

I did read about the last 10 pages and from what I gather is that nothing is resolved and all that really happened is that there's a lot of wing flapping and finger pointing going on.

There's a lot of talk about there being an issue(s), a lot of talk about technical things that I don't understand, a lot of speculation and subsequent disagreement about who's responsibility the problem is, some very high level discussion about how the problem could potentially be fixed, and even some speculation that no problem exists (or at least some skirting of the fact that any issue exists anywhere withing ALSA or PA), but not so much as a hint of resolution is to be found. It was much like a rocking chair in that lots was happening but no one was going anywhere.

Oh, and lots of attempts to hurt feelings. You know, the usual "my e-dicks bigger than yours and everything you say is baseless and menial because you agree with X".

I'd actually like my click back. Can I have my click back?
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post #24 of 30 Old 06-24-2010, 11:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lackskill View Post

I did read about the last 10 pages and from what I gather is that nothing is resolved and all that really happened is that there's a lot of wing flapping and finger pointing going on.

There's a lot of talk about there being an issue(s), a lot of talk about technical things that I don't understand, a lot of speculation and subsequent disagreement about who's responsibility the problem is, some very high level discussion about how the problem could potentially be fixed, and even some speculation that no problem exists (or at least some skirting of the fact that any issue exists anywhere withing ALSA or PA), but not so much as a hint of resolution is to be found. It was much like a rocking chair in that lots was happening but no one was going anywhere.

Oh, and lots of attempts to hurt feelings. You know, the usual "my e-dicks bigger than yours and everything you say is baseless and menial because you agree with X".

I'd actually like my click back. Can I have my click back?

Welcome to the world of open source development.
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post #25 of 30 Old 06-25-2010, 06:55 AM
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To be brief- I don't think Ubuntu needs a different dev model. If anything, I wouldn't mind them going to Spring only major releases with maybe one major "Service Pack" in between somewhere in the Fall.

It's important for Corporate/commerical users to have a set schedule for releases. Plus, in my experience, it's also important to set a hard release date for the sake of the developers.

Programmer/CS types tend to tweak without end, and continually abstract newer/grander models of how an app/framework/API "ought to be". They need to be reigned in and locked down on a timetable or nothing will ever be "done".

NO piece of software is EVER "perfect"- it needs to be functional and stable enough for release. How functional is functional? How stable is stable? These are the gray areas that distinguish the good distros from the great distros and good apps from great apps.
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post #26 of 30 Old 06-25-2010, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I think leaving maintenance of the end-user applications to the developers will free up a ton of resources so the Ubuntu developers can focus on making the core OS stable.

In addition, it also removes the major reason for having a new version of Ubuntu every 6 months. This will give the developers of Ubuntu more time to test the OS.

Basically, I think that having the applications updated and distributed separately from the core OS releases will result in a more stable distribution.
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post #27 of 30 Old 06-25-2010, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkphoenix22 View Post

I think leaving maintenance of the end-user applications to the developers will free up a ton of resources so the Ubuntu developers can focus on making the core OS stable.

In addition, it also removes the major reason for having a new version of Ubuntu every 6 months. This will give the developers of Ubuntu more time to test the OS.

Basically, I think that having the applications updated and distributed separately from the core OS releases will result in a more stable distribution.

Agreed- I hadn't read the entire thread, so if apps/OS separation was the point, then nevermind my last comment
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post #28 of 30 Old 06-25-2010, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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More info on the testing and approval for the new application approval system:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PostReleaseApps/Process

It doesn't cover application updates, only *new* applications. It seems also a bit process and red-tape heavy ATM, but that stuff can be moderated later on.

It's a step forward to say the least, but I'm disappointed that it doesn't cover application updates.

----

I wrote a response to the mailing post I linked above, detailing my criticisms of the proposed application review process.

https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ub...ne/011714.html
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post #29 of 30 Old 06-26-2010, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Some interesting articles:

Ubuntu Is A Poor Standard Bearer For Linux - http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/04...dard-bear.html

How Canonical Can Do Ubuntu Right: It Isn't a Technical Problem - http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/04...ubuntu-ri.html
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post #30 of 30 Old 06-30-2010, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Happily, Ubuntu has updated the proposal wiki for the new application approval process and have addressed some of my criticisms.

They are reducing the role of the Application Review Board and have removed the paragraph saying that the new process would apply to only new applications, effectively opening it up to application updates as well.

They are looking into setting up a process where users will vote on a package for 2 weeks. If no problems are found, it will be vetted by the board and uploaded to an optional repository.

Needless to say, I'm really happy with the direction the Ubuntu Team is taking and hope them the best. I think this will address many of the problems in Ubuntu and wish to see it succeed.

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PostReleaseA...ess#Discussion
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