We Are *All* Making Ubuntu

(Updated)

Yesterday, an internet opinion snowstorm ensued over the Canonical's treatment of search queries that are entered into Ubuntu's Dash.

RMS, Jono, then a gerjillion others: dog-piling, re-reporting, thrashing, re-hashing... This (fun?) will continue for days, probably weeks, and maybe even years. Generations will look back at this as the moment in time when free software ceased to be free, or the world ended, or both, or worse.

Or will they?

Full stop. Did we forget somewhere along the line that we are all making Ubuntu? It does no one any good to sit at the keyboard and rant, bicker, blame, name-call, etc. That isn't how software is built. That isn't Ubuntu.

Good software begins with a spec. Do you have a better way to build Ubuntu's search feature? You can (and should) participate.

The best search feature in the world begins here:
http://pad.ubuntu.com/4OnwYN3HVT

Please click and contribute. Yes, even you, Richard Stallman.

--

Important Technical Note: "You need to login with Ubuntu SSO, and also be a member of the ubuntu-etherpad[1] team on Launchpad. When we first started user Etherpad, we had some problems with people vandalizing existing documents, so we created this step to prevent that problem." (Michael Hall, from comments)

[1] https://launchpad.net/~ubuntu-etherpad

 #

For some annoying reason I am not authorized to access the pad. Could you help me out with this? It says "Either you have not been granted access to this resource or your entitlement has timed out. Please try again."

 
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Hi, in order to edit the Pad, you'll have to join the ubuntu-etherpad team on Launchpad. Join here: https://launchpad.net/~ubuntu-etherpad and then try again.

 
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You do realize core devs have already pointed out solutions and Canonical blocks them

 
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Please include links to solutions in the Pad so we can parse them and determine as a community which ones are blocked and why. Thank you.

 
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I can assure you that if you think contributors have a say in the desktop spec well your confused because this feature is dictated by Canonical Product strategy. Every cycle community pitches dev ideas but Canonical drives the Ubuntu Car. Ubuntu is a meritocracy and non-canonical devs are the smallest voice.

 
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If the community builds a better car, then others ignore it at their peril. I haven't seen the better car yet, but I'm certain if we all put our heads together constructively then it shall be built. Thanks for your comment.

 
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The community made it very clear how it wants this feature to be implemented, and our opinion is very well presented in here: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/10/privacy-ubuntu-1210-amazon-ads-and...

So the community, the EFF, RMS, and others have jumped into this issue proposing solutions but they have been all but ignored, so please don't pretend we had any saying in this.

 
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You are welcome to contribute to the specification. I'm not here to argue who was right, who did what, etc, etc. This is about writing better *code* than a single entity can write alone. Thanks for participating.

 
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You're being dismissive. Ubuntu didn't even need a piece of code to make one of the most easy requests: make the internet search on dash be opt-in, instead of opt-out.

And even if it DID need to change code to have that, it wouldn't mean that Canonical would accept some patch.

Or would you accept a patch (made by me) that removes this feature?

I thought not.

 
 #

A nifty little app for the community perhaps? Either way, if you have the code, it's a useful contribution. Please provide a link in the Pad. Thank you.

 
 #

Sorry Randall. karo has it right.

We've been around this a few times before. Canonical implements feature without asking the community, community calls for a time-out and rethinking, canonical says "too bad, this is a meritocracy, and we're doing it".

Pretending that the community can do whatever it wants is foolhardy at best.

You should instead perhaps say:
The community can do whatever it wants, as long as Canonical wants that too.

That seems to be more realistic, given the history.

 
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If the community comes up with a compelling enough solution I have no doubt in my mind that it will be implemented.

 
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The community did propose a solution, see the french association remix. It does exactly what people asked, ie place the system as being opt-in. Now, of course, to be compeling to canonical, they should spell out their requirements without hiding behind excuses.

And of course, if Canonical had followed the normal process of discussing during UDS before to collect feedback, this whole issue would have been avoided. The timing was bad, the execution was bad ( seriously, no ssl in 2012 ? ), the feature was incomplete ( since the switch to turn it off was rushed after the initial "feedback" from community, according to people I know at Canonical ).

It take a long time to establish trust, and from what I know, the SABDFL is the one responsible for breaking it with this move, since he is the one who pushed for the feature ( as seen in launchpad https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/unity/+bug/1053470 "This is a sabdfl driven project", the answer from Iain Lane, the speed of the review and the inclusion in less than 1 day ).

There could be several way to mitigate this issue and get back some trust. For one, ask to people what online shopping lens should be added ( etsy, oxfam, etc, all seems more suitable for the core principle of ubuntu than Amazon, for a start ), and add them somehow. The community is already working on having lots of scopes added ( https://code.launchpad.net/onehundredscopes ), even for adult videos sites, but almost none for shopping.
Maybe that mean there is no demand, maybe that's something that could serve as a common ground between Canonical and the rest of the users.

Another idea could be to give the code on the server side, with details on the infrastructure and the access ( puppet/chef recipes, or similar stuff ) so people can audit, or better, show the access logs to the logs, so people know they can check nothing wrong happens ( after all, one point of free software is that transparency ).

A third idea could be to have more financial transparency. If lots of people feel that the move is done for financial reason, showing that Canonical need that money would make it more acceptable. Canonical added some way to give money, but without any accounting, this is just gonna be useless ( and even Linux mint manage to do better on this point of view, as they publish monthly reports ).

The ideas are not missing ( at least for me, and I do not consider myself so creative ), but as long as Canonical managers will think people who disagree are spreading FUD and will focus on answering to that instead of taking more concrete step to fix the root cause, this will not stop.

 
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I agree that none of this will stop until the blame-game stops. I encourage you and everyone else reading this to contribute concepts, ideas, wire-frame, prototypes, and anything else that will help build "The Best Search in the World" feature :)
Thanks in advance for helping.

 
 #

I don't agree. A broad section of the community, including Ubuntu Members, Ubuntu users, and outside observers, have asked for it to be made opt in. This would be trivial to do, has obvious privacy benefits, and would allow people who want to use the feature to continue to use it. This has not been done.

 
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There may be other ways to solve this problem. Check the Pad. Things are getting interesting :)

 
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There are plenty of ways to solve this problem. My point is that a blindingly obvious one that was widely requested by the community when this antifeature was released hasn't been implemented, and I have no reason to think that anything off this pad thing will be. It's obvious to everyone who isn't shilling that Canonical made this opt-out because they think it will make them more money, and that they're not particularly concerned with the community's opinion on the matter.

 
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@Robert:
That's not consistent with what I heard in the session at UDS-R. Do you have a source for the "it will make them more money" comment?

My thoughts: Somewhere between opt-in and opt-out there is a nice middle ground called "opt-intelligently." Some of the nuances to this are beginning to appear in the Pad.

 
 #

It looks like a problem between pad and SSO - when you log in from your ubuntu account, does it look like http://snag.gy/UClPZ.jpg ? the next page I see is http://snag.gy/VYG4o.jpg

 
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Thanks. Please see Michael Hall's comment. You'll need to join the ubuntu-etherpad team on Launchpad.

 
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The adware was launched after feature freeze without any community consulting.
"This is a sabdfl driven project, apologies for being late."
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/unity/+bug/1053470

 
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@karo:
What is in the past shall remain in the past. We all have the chance to make Ubuntu. I hope you'll join the Pad and contribute. Thanks.

 
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Except that it being pushed through like this has direct relevance to the point at hand: whether or not Canonical cares about community contributions. They pushed through a major anti-feature without prior discussion past the usual community-backed deadlines for such things. And you wonder why people are skeptical of Canonical's commitment to community involvement.

And people whitewashing the past and saying that we don't need to discuss it and calling criticism of it FUD are actively harming Ubuntu's reputation amongst the wider Linux community.

 
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We have a choice. We can dwell on the past, get bitter, blame Canonical, sabdfl, Jono, Colonel Sanders, ... etc etc. OR we can get to the task of fixing this in a way (with code) that creates the best search in the world.

"Code is law", so let's start writing code.

 
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Repeating the comment I'm replying to without addressing anything I said isn't particularly useful.

 
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I'm focused on the future. Sorry.

 
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Well this has backfired somewhat : When I click on your link, I get "Either you have not been granted access to this resource or your entitlement has timed out. Please try again."

Is this pad actually open to the public, or do I just have an OpenID issue? Cos if it's not, your invite to RMS is going to attract some hostility!

 
 #

You need to login with Ubuntu SSO, and also be a member of the ubuntu-etherpad[1] team on Launchpad. When we first started user Etherpad, we had some problems with people vandalizing existing documents, so we created this step to prevent that problem.

[1] https://launchpad.net/~ubuntu-etherpad

 
 #

I think you have an OpenID issue. Please try again and let me know. There are people in the Pad typing away already.

 
 #

Hi Randall,

I'm seeing the same issue (Either you have not been granted access to this resource or your entitlement has timed out. Please try again.)

Could you point me in the direction of a ressource that would help me with this?

 
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Thanks. Please see Michael Hall's comment. You'll need to join the ubuntu-etherpad team on Launchpad.

 
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I'm having this exact same issue, and I already had this during UDS-R. I guess it's a bug. Maybe because I changed my primary e-mail address (and, thus, my login ID) since I created my Launchpad account?

 
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Thanks. Please see Michael Hall's comment. You'll need to join the ubuntu-etherpad team on Launchpad.

 
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Same issue here as Neil reported - do we both have an OpenID problem?

 
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Thanks. Please see Michael Hall's comment. You'll need to join the ubuntu-etherpad team on Launchpad.

 
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What about moving the pad to one that doesn't requires registration nor being added in a specific team, because that's a clear contribution preventer that would be perfect in the art of community 2.0. So unless you want to restrict to a few people, and want to contradict somehow the title of this blog post, i do not think this is wise to use this etherpad for now.

There is a vast choice on https://github.com/ether/etherpad-lite/wiki/Sites-that-run-Etherpad-Lite

 
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Thare are no restrictions inherent in using the existing Pad. Anyone can log-in and join the team.

 
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The issue is not that this is restriction per se or even hard, this is just that if you lost X% of each contributer at each step, then with the 2 added steps ( open a sso account, and joina team ), you have lost around ~ 2*X% of potential contributors. If X is 10%, then you have lost 19% of the total ( 100 - 10 - 9 ). IE, around 1 out of 5. Now if X is 1%, you just lost 2%, which is not much of course.

 
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I think the barrier is already pretty low. Some team-joining and accountability is a good thing too, for preventing vandalism, etc.

 

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