Reflections On Ubuntu 13.10

Ubuntu 13.10 is out, get it here!

This release packs some significant punch – we have the first version of Ubuntu for phones, Mir is shipping on the phone images, a new Ubuntu SDK, an entirely new app developer upload experience, new version of Juju, Juju GUI, smart scopes integrated into the desktop and phone, and more.

The build-up to 13.10 has been intense. Although our core values have remained unchanged, Ubuntu has evolved over the years as we have worked to solve the larger scale challenges facing a consumer and cloud Linux operating system. Interestingly, it feels like we have also changed in the intensity and ambition of how we build Ubuntu. Maybe this is hindsight lying to me, but release cycles seem more intense, more focused, and more ambitious than they have ever felt before. When I compare 13.10 with 11.10 it feels like two different beasts in terms of the goals, opportunities, and challenges we are looking to solve. I feel we are more ambitious in approaching the real challenges we need to focus on.

From a personal perspective, release day is always a mix of emotions. We all put our heart and souls into what we do. For most of us Ubuntu is not just a job or a hobby…it is a passion and a lifestyle; we are not just building software here, but building technological change. My passion for Ubuntu has always been connected to making Open Source available to all; Free Software code is interesting and important, but a lot less valuable if regular people can’t use it to enrich and improve their lives. Accessible, easy to use, safe, and secure Free Software helps people to learn, be creative, be productive, and live better lives. At the heart of this opportunity are communities with a shared sense of identity, mission, and belonging. Communities bring out the best in human beings…they teach us to share, to inspire, and to create together.

More than anything, communities make having a passion fun. Working together with others who share your passion is inspiring and motivating, and the Ubuntu community is a wonderful source of inspiration. I feel blessed to work with so many wonderful people every day, all over the world. Thank-you.

As such, release day always feels to me like the world is peeking into our fishbowl to judge how colorful our fins are. I have a pretty thick skin, but I can’t help feeling a little exposed when it comes to feedback about a new release. I care what people think about Ubuntu…I care that people feel as connected and inspired by it as I do. Conversely, given that a global community of volunteers feed into making Ubuntu, I feel somewhat accountable that those looking into our fishbowl appreciate the efforts of everyone who has contributed.

We should never forget that Ubuntu and Open Source is a gift culture. People take time away from their families, friends, and Grand Theft Auto V to help bring their passion to our community via the gift of their contributions. I always want release day to be a celebration of our wider set of efforts. This is one of the things I love about Ubuntu: it is fueled by fundamentally good people. We don’t always agree…but we all share the same gene that makes us want to make the world a better place with Free Software. The only difference is where we draw the lines in the sand about how we do that.

In Ubuntu 13.10 we have delivered the first major milestone in our convergence story of the future…that milestone is Ubuntu for phones. I am hugely proud of the team for what they achieved here. This was a ballsy and ambitious goal and everyone hit it with aplomb. We have work to do, but the core foundation is stable, secure, and very usable as a daily phone. I have been using my Ubuntu phone since May and I love it.

Some have felt that the desktop release of Ubuntu 13.10 feels a little thin on the ground in terms of features apart from smart scopes and a revised set of versions of the software we ship. This is a fair assertion, but remember that everything that went into the phone will ultimate hit the desktop: Unity 8, Mir, image-based updates, the developer platform, SDK, developer portal and more. This was a significant amount of engineering, all of which is laying the groundwork for a single, converged Free Software platform that runs across the phone, desktop, tablet, and TV. As such, while you might not see the technology applied to the desktop yet, we moved the needle significantly forward in achieving this.

On the server and cloud side we have seen significant improvements with Ubuntu 13.10 too. Ubuntu continues to be the most popular guest OS on the cloud and Juju has become more powerful and efficient than ever before. Our charm store has grown significantly in terms of the available charms as well as the capabilities of existing charms, and Juju makes it simple and easy to spin up a complex deployment and scale up and out where needed. This has been eased by Juju GUI which makes transitioning from the service topology on the office white-board to an active running service devilishly simple.

Our community has been at the core of all of these efforts. Just as one example, we had over 140 community members contribute to building the core apps for the phone (Calculator, Calendar, Clock etc). We have also had significant numbers of contributions of auto-pilot tests, countless Juju charms, hundreds of translations, documentation brought up to date, and many events organized to help our community grow and prosper.

Some people have wondered why I have focused members of my team so much on app developers and growing our charmers community. The reason is simple: for Ubuntu to be successful we need awesome content. We need great apps, services, music, videos, search results and more. People don’t use devices, systems and clouds because the shell looks nice, they use these systems to consume, create, and share things. Ubuntu is all about a focus on content, and apps and charms are a key part of this. Every app and charm enriches Ubuntu that little bit more, and as such we need to build a new community of developers who are passionate about Ubuntu being able to deliver their creative ideas and visions.

This work has not just been building buzz on Google+. My team architected much of the new app upload process, we ran the Ubuntu App Showdown to hammer the details out of the developer platform, we built developer.ubuntu.com and our support resources, , ran the core apps programme, have been running the Juju charm contest, coordinating charm schools, and working with upstreams and developers to deliver their content. Our goal has been to make the developer experience on Ubuntu world class. We still have work to do, but I am so proud of the efforts of the team so far.

Where this counts strategically is that all of this work will ultimately feed into LoCo teams and elsewhere that may not currently feel we are spending too much time on (although rest assured in 14.04 we will focus on LoCos some more). By building an awesome content community it will give our LoCos a better, more fulfilling platform to share, advocate, and promote. In a world of limited resources, this is how I feel I can best use my team’s time.

Well, today is Thursday 17th October 2013 and we just shipped Ubuntu 13.10 for phones, servers, desktops, and clouds.

Tomorrow is Friday 18th October 2013 and we start work on Ubuntu 14.04. This is going to be our biggest LTS yet. You can join us to help us shape Ubuntu 14.04 at our next Ubuntu Developer Summit on 19-21 November 2013 from 2pm-8pm UTC. Everyone is welcome, our summit is open to all and takes place online.

We have tremendous opportunity on the road ahead of us. We are laying down the foundations for a new future of convergence and cloud service orchestration. Today was an important check-point on our journey. Together as a community we have the opportunity to bring more and more technological change to people than ever before. So, go out tonight, celebrate, and tomorrow, let’s get the Ubuntu 14.04 train on the track and make it roar.

Thank-you everyone for all of your contributions.

  • http://erielookingproductions.info Stephen Michael Kellat

    Is “content community” being used instead of “ecosystem” as a term?

  • Anonymous

    Both are inter-changeable. :-)

  • http://metin2wiki.ru CSRedRat

    Great release, but i’m have lot of bugs :)

  • Cristian Ramos

    +1

  • http://erielookingproductions.info Stephen Michael Kellat

    That’s what I figured but I thought it best to ask now.

  • Woodz

    Sorry to say but Unity in 13.10 just isn’t for me anymore, I appreciate what you guys are trying to do, but I just can’t stand the smart scopes and the dash apps, even removing them isn’t as straightforward as it was prior to this.

    Will be switching to the GNOME flavour from now on, I want an app launcher that is happy respecting my privacy.

  • Dennis Shimer

    When things started to change a lot I went with the flow, gave Unity and the HUD a chance and now I really love them. When things settled down and performance and refinement were the order of the day I didn’t complain that there wasn’t something on the desktop that was “huge”, “exciting”, or “groundbreaking”. I appreciate that Canonical and community are working behind the scenes to make Linux better and more ubiquitous using a paradigm that to me fits those words. Each release sees my laptop and workflow getting faster, more efficient, and more elegant, not to mention shiny new versions of all my programs. Thanks to all

  • Ubudubu

    Will the guidelines for desktop+convergence QML applications be available in the near future?

  • Seed

    Touch ubuntu is useless on smartphones with small displays. It at least makes sense on tablets, but not any smaller appliance where Android and Tizen will consistently kick Canonical a**.

  • Anonymous

    What makes you say that?

  • Anonymous

    Maybe the widgets are too large for low pixel or inch phone screens?

    I do not see how the design of Unity 8 is bad for small phones at all.

  • Prithviraj Nag

    You know…you should really stop using the internet, it spies on you all the time…ever noticed that Ads on websites inside widgets labelled “Google Ads” (and others) are related to your previous searches or e-commerce purchases? ;)

  • Tushar

    You cannot stop the ads watching you on web sites! But when you know you will be tracked with your location, searches and habits that’s not acceptable and specially if you have option. Fears of google are slowly but surely coming true. Recently google announced, your photo and review, recommendations will be shown to people during search! damn! Day will come when google and other companies will be able to show you the search result that they want you to buy products of… and not the one you want to search. Because they will have your profile created and that profile will make your life monotonous. Like it or not but this is the truth.