Party? Party!

Hey Ubuntu people! It's been too long since we've had a real party!

In Vancouver? Consider yourself invited!

photo by James Vaughan

Share the Story of Ubuntu in Your City

I am gathering stories about groups of Ubuntu enthusiasts, advocates, and contributors for an upcoming project.

If you are part of an active Ubuntu group that has formed in your city (or town) and that has regular face-to-face gatherings with the central theme of Ubuntu, I'd love to hear from you.

Examples of the types of things I'm interested in:

  • When did you first start meeting?
  • How often do you gather?
  • What do you typically do when together?
  • How many people are in your group?

... and anything else you'd like to share.

Either post to the comments or email me at randall at ubuntu dot com.


image by Tony Carr

Make Charm Debugging Easier, with DHX

Juju makes things really simple.

But, like you, I'm not content to stop at simple. I'm always looking for ways to make things even simpler so that I have more time to work on tough problems (e.g. spreading Ubuntu in my city.)

Today my colleague Corey Johns pointed me to DHX, a cool plugin for Juju that he developed. Even simpler!

I hope you find this useful.

Click to learn more!Click to learn more!

And please remember to thank Corey for his excellent work.


A while back, as part of my new role, I began looking for opportunities to:

  1. Challenge the status quo, and,
  2. Connect people together that want to solve big problems.

(Luckily, the two are closely related.)

Recently, I was introduced to some fine folks at SiteOx in Franklin, TN (that's just outside of Memphis) that happen to have some really fast POWER8 systems that provide infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).

I mentioned that previously unknown tidbit to some of my colleagues (who are are awesome Juju Charmers) to see if/how the service could be used to speed Juju Charm development.

As it turns out, it can! In case you missed it, Matt Bruzek of Juju Charmer fame, figured it all out and then wrote a concise guide to do just that. Check it out here, and then...

Click the button to feel the POWER!Click the button to feel the POWER!

Thanks Matt, and thanks SiteOx.

Why Smart Phones Aren't - Reason #5

The quotes below are real(ish).

"Hi honey, did you just call me? I got a weird message that sounded like you were in some kind of trouble. All I could hear was traffic noise and sirens..."

"I'm sorry. I must have dialed your number by mistake. I'm not in the habit of dialing my ex-boyfriends, but since you asked, would you like to go out with me again? One more try?"

"Once a friend called me and I heard him fighting with his wife. It sounded pretty bad."

"I got a voicemail one time and it was this guy yelling at me in Hindi for almost 5 minutes. The strange thing is, I don't speak Hindi."

"I remember once my friend dialed me. I called back and left a message asking whether it was actually the owner or...

...the butt."

It's called "butt dialing" in my parts of the world, or "purse dialing" (if one carries a purse), or sometimes just called pocket dialing: That accidental event where something presses the phone and it dials a number in memory without the knowlege of its owner.

After hearing these phone stories, I'm reminded that humanity isn't perfect. Among other things, we have worries, regrets, ex's, outbursts, frustrations, and maybe even laziness. One might be inclined to write these occurrences off as natural or inevitable. But, let's reflect a little. Were the people that this happened to any happier for it? Did it improve their lives? I tend to think it created unnecessary stress. Were they to blame? Was this preventable?

"Smart" phones. I'm inclined to call you what you are: The butt of technology.

We're not living in the 90's anymore. Sure, there was a time when phones had real keys and possibly weren't lockable and maybe were even prone to the occasional purse dial. Those days are long gone. "Smart" phones, you know when you're in a pocket or a purse. Deal with it. You are as dumb as my first feature phone. Actually, you are dumber. At least my first feature phone had a keyboard cover.

Folks, I hope that in my lifetime we'll actually see a phone that is truly smart. Perhaps the Ubuntu Phone will make that hope a reality.

I can see the billboards now. "Ubuntu Phone. It Will Save Your Butt." (Insert your imagined inappropriate billboard photo alongside the caption. ;)

Do you have a great butt dialing story? Please share it in the comments.


No people were harmed in the making of this article. And not one person who shared their story is or was a "user". They are real people that were simply excluded from the decisions that made their phones dumb.

Image: Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones (The Daring Librarian), CC BY-SA 2.0

We Are Not Loco: Ubuntu Vancouver Loco's Last Day

Greetings Ubuntu Vancouver, and friends from around the world. It is with no regret that I make this announcement today, an announcement that has been in the works for months, and on many Ubuntu Vancouverites' minds for much longer.

Today will be the last day of the Ubuntu Vancouver Loco.

November 15th seems a fitting day to pull the trigger on this. It's election day in Vancouver, which means new possibilities and hopefully a brand new mandate for our fantastic Mayor Gregor. You see, Mayor Gregor has challenged the status quo in Vancouver, and continues to do so every single day. With his vision, Vancouver is on its way to become the "World's Greenest City" and is steadfastly committed to ending homelessness once and for all in our city. You would think that all people would like those goals. You'd be wrong.

It's also the day after Jono Bacon's fantastic post on why Ubuntu governance needs a reboot. Jono is an eloquent writer, and it's really an amazing read. I can tell that it is very heart-felt. His thesis: The Ubuntu governing bodies (Community Council and Loco Council) are out-of-step with what Ubuntu is today. He offers a "reboot" proposition as a means to help reinvigorate the community. You'd be tempted to think that all Ubuntu people would like that goal. You'd be wrong.

It's been five and a half years since "Ubuntu Vancouver Loco" hit the scene. What started a year earlier as a small handful of Ubuntu enthusiasts (humans really) that loved to get together to celebrate Ubuntu grew into a proverbial tour de force. I am still amazed at what we have done. When I look back at all the blood, sweat, and tears and the sacrifices that that I and the other core members of the group have made to get us where we are today, I am truly amazed. And, I am thankful that such a lovely group of people exists in this world. My friends. My Vancouver.

But, before we toss the thing that was called "Ubuntu Vancouver Loco" into the Georgia Strait at English Bay (what a fitting location for a ceremony!), let's recap our history:

    Ubuntu Vancouver Loco
  • Founded: March 18, 2009
  • Members: 541 ubuntuvancouver-ites
  • Events: 145 (or 2 events/month, on average)
  • We have never been "Approved" (whatever that means), and have never sought or wanted to be.

You would think that we got to this size and activity level by following the path (rules) set for us by Ubuntu's governance bodies and with their assistance. You'd be wrong.

We got this way by chasing our own dream: To make everyone in this city aware of Ubuntu, to create the largest group of Ubuntu enthusiasts in the world, and to make Ubuntu and Vancouver synonymous. We got this way by choosing our own path. And ever so occasionally, we reached out gently to our friends at Canonical, and guess what? They helped. So much for the conspiracy.

In the past several years, I've been thinking *hard* about ways to spread Ubuntu in our city. Eliminating the problems that are introduced by legacy terminology seems an easy thing to fix.

  • Loco has a bad connotation in Spanish.
  • (Yes, words do set perceptions.)

  • Using the term Loco carries with it a bureaucracy burden.
  • The inclusion of the word Loco confuses people (outside the group).

None of these are helpful.

So, on this day of November 15th, 2014, I hereby announce with the support of our members the "Ubuntu Vancouver Loco" is no longer.

May you rest in peace. Vancouver, we are *NOT* loco.

It's time for a change.

On Building Intentional Culture, With Words - A Small Refinement

Earlier, I wrote about how words shape our thoughts, and our culture. (You can read the original post here:

In that post, I introduced a graphic that I have since needed to revise. After further thought, I realized that there are not only words that originated in the "Dark Ages of Computing" but also ones that are rooted in the "Good Old Days" of Ubuntu. Those days of yore when the project was smaller, simpler, and less diverse.

Here it is:

Words from the "Good Old Days of Ubuntu" are also worthy of a firewall. Those words (or phrases) have either lost their original meaning, have become irrelevant, or have been subverted over time. In some cases they were just bad choices in the first place. So, let's leave them in the past too.

Here are some examples:

  • loco
  • ubuntah
  • linux for humans
  • distro
  • newbies

Do you have suggestions for others? I'm happy to add to the list.

On Building Intentional Culture, With Words

Our languages and the words they contain help define us.

You don't have to believe me. You can go and convince yourself first. Here's an excerpt:

New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world...

  • Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue.
  • Some indigenous tribes say north, south, east and west, rather than left and right, and as a consequence have great spatial orientation.
  • The Piraha, whose language eschews number words in favor of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantities.
  • In one study, Spanish and Japanese speakers couldn't remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. Why? In Spanish and Japanese, the agent of causality is dropped: "The vase broke itself," rather than "John broke the vase."

So where are you going with this, Randall?...

I blogged about my strong distaste for the term "user" a few days back, and it generated a lively discussion (see the comments). It also triggered some further thinking and I have now realized that my initial post was just the tip of a large iceberg. Please allow me to describe what lurks beneath the water line.

We're building something new with Ubuntu. We're building a participatory culture adjacent to a place (the computer industry) that has been the antithesis of participatory. Think parched desert: a place where inclusiveness is forbidden. If that industry were to include all humans, it would break their business model. You see, the old model requires that more than 90% of humans be "obedient subjects" and "consumers". I call this the "Dark Ages of Computing".

Remember Mark's question and answer session this week at the Ubuntu Online Summit (UOS)? He opened with and emphasized these points:

  • We are a project for human beings, and that's a strong part of our ethos.
  • Ubuntu benefits our communities.
  • People care about helping humanity get over its challenges and griefs.

That's exactly what I admire about Ubuntu, and about Mark.

Yet, as we try to build this new world some of us are bringing elements of a language that forbids, or at least inhibits the realization of a dream. Words leak in.

So you might be asking, "What's to be done?" Here is my proposal:

The above diagram is meant to represent a flow (or transition) from the old to the new. See that block in the middle? That's a wall, a firewall to be precise. Imagine the language (words) from the "Dark Ages of Computing" (the cloud on the left) trying to get to the world we are trying to build, with Ubuntu (the cloud on the right). Think of the wall as the thing that keeps the language of the past firmly in the past. Words that at best are no longer useful, and at worst no longer helpful are blocked by default. Think of that wall as one that can help you select words that help build Ubuntu.

So, what words are part of the language of the past? here is my initial list:

  • user
  • consumer
  • permission
  • unapproved
  • linux (in certain contexts)

(Dont worry, I have many, many more... I'll share them soon. I may even pick on a few of them.)

As you talk about or write about Ubuntu, I hope that you will always remember my drawing. Are the words that you are using today helping or hurting the world that Ubuntu is trying to build?

Did you come from the cloud on the left? Don't feel bad. Many of us did.

But please, for the love of humanity, it's time to leave that world and those words behind. We are not there any more. Let's let words from the dark ages remain there.

Ubuntu Online Summit: Solving Big (Data) Problems With Juju

Amir Sanjar, our resident and charming big data guy, spoke to all humans today in his "Big Data and Juju" session.

Highlights? Why not?

  • We're generating data with everything we do.
  • The landscape of solutions is complex and becoming more so.
  • Juju vastly simplifies the deployment of big data solutions.
  • Juju extends the sidewalk of solutions, i.e. you can connect other (non-big-data) charms to your solution.
  • Amir presented a big data Charms status report and roadmap.
  • We need more help, especially charmers, to create solutions for missing pieces of the big data puzzle

Would you like to help solve big (data) problems? The team would love to hear from you.

You can reach out to Amir on his Launchpad page, or join the discussion on the Juju mailing list.

You can also contact me. (Consider me your concierge.) I can be reached at randall AT ubuntu DOT com

Check out the whole session here:


Banner cc-by-sa by author. Use it. Spread it everywhere.

It's All In The Name

Back in the dark days of computing (pre Ubuntu), people were referred to as "users" to essentially frame the industry into a small group that was in a position of power and privilege and one that was not. The vast numbers of unprivileged people could only consume or use. Great for industry and profit, but poor for creating an inclusive society.

I found this photo on a photo sharing service and it is evidently a photo of a user.

Note that when we call people that enjoy Ubuntu's products users, we run the risk of putting them in the same negative box. Why do some people insist on calling people that enjoy computers and technology "users"?

I'm sorry but people who enjoy and run Ubuntu are not "users". We're past that. It's over. Did you come from a proprietary technology company that called people users? You're past that. It's over.

Can we as a community agree to drop the term? It's predatory.

Here are some suggestions for replacement words:

  • Human
  • Person
  • Man
  • Woman
  • Fan

Try something like this:
"A person that enjoys Ubuntu."
"A human that runs Ubuntu."
"A fan of Ubuntu."



Image by nosferatu9000

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