I haven't seen a story of this week's best demo posted on Planet yet, so let me be the first to do so.
This week, Mark Shuttleworth and a bunch of fine Ubuntu and Canonical folks were in Paris for the OpenStack Developer Summit. I know what some of you might be thinking. "So what, Randall. What's that got to do with Ubuntu? And by the way, clouds are hype anyways! I'm going to fill your comments engine with the vitriol that you deserve."
Wait! Please let me explain.
Back before I first got excited about Ubuntu (in the dark ages of the mid 00's) I was a skeptic about Ubuntu too. Admittedly, I used to think "What could Ubuntu possibly offer that [insert random OS here] couldn't?" Then one day it hit me, quite by accident and probably after one-too-many attempts to replace the OS on my computer with something better. Ubuntu was accessible and made no apologies about it. Almost anyone could install and enjoy Ubuntu. It knew no prejudice. It didn't claim or try to be the OS for the 1337's. It respected humans. It gave people an easy on-ramp to a better computing experience. It gave people like you and I a means to make our world (and the world) a little better.
And so, almost 10 years later, here we are again. Except the world has become more complex and so has its problems. More than ever, humans need computers to solve big, important, world-changing problems, or simply to run their businesses and earn a living. But they don't just need one computer (like the old days). They need several, or dozens, or even hundreds of computers all working together. The means by which these computers work together is in this over-hyped term called "the cloud". Think of the cloud as a collection of computers grouped together to solve specific problems in an efficient way. We all can't afford hundreds of computers, but maybe if we all share them intelligently, we can use them to solve our problems without breaking the bank (or the bitcoin.)
So, enter the cloud. It's here. It's needed. And, it works! It's *not* hype. But, there's a problem: Confusion and complexity. Lots of it. To make use of the cloud one has to dive into a bottomless pit of arcane "kernely" "computer-sciency" concepts and commands mixed with a perilous collection of marketing buzzwords and obfuscation. It's brutal.
For the love of humanity, we don't have time for this! People need, want, and deserve a simple on-ramp to get their problems onto the cloud and solved. People need a simple tool and a simple language to describe what they want done.
A few years back, the people behind Ubuntu got involved in a big way in this thing called OpenStack. OpenStack was meant to make sharing lots of computers easier and to do so using tools (operating systems like Ubuntu, languages and technologies) that were open. Early on, the cloud ran the same risk of being all locked up in proprietary knot (just like Bug#1). Judging by the size of the OpenStack community in Paris this week, they made good progress in preventing that bleak outcome. Now more people could use Ubuntu on clouds to solve problems. But, we still couldn't claim that everyone could.
Or could we? Enter Mark, stage left. Enter Juju, stage centre.
Mark, in his predictably excellent style (but with unconventional tactics) gave the demo by enlisting a random (chosen by paper airplane) and uninitiated (never heard of or seen Juju) audience member to set up a "workload" (i.e. a problem to be solved) on OpenStack without any assistance at all. The trick? None. The mechanism? A tool called Juju. Juju is to the cloud what Ubuntu was to arcane and frustrating operating system installs a decade ago. Juju is to the cloud what the graphical user interface (GUI) was to dinosaur operating systems before that. You know the ones... the ones that Dad used, with command lines.
This is the beginning of a new era. With inspiration from Mark, I'm calling this "Ubuntu's Second Act." Lest you think that Ubuntu's story ended when the desktop became democratized once and for all, I encourage you to tune back in and see what it is doing for the cloud.
Last Wednesday, I was thinking of ways to spend an evening in San Francisco. Can you guess what I did? (Hint: It had nothing to do with male millionaires chasing a ball around a field... or did it?)
Admittedly, of all the personal heroes I have in my life, I've met very few of them. Last week, I was lucky enough to be able to meet one more. That's right! Doctorow! *The* Cory Doctorow himself.
I had the honour of meeting Cory and listening to his excellent lecture loosely structured around his new book, "Information Doesn't Want to Be Free".
I've just begun digging into the content of the book, but from what I have read so far, it's going to be one that will potentially resonate with a lot of people that are attracted to Ubuntu.
His trojan horse thesis: It's *people* that want to be free. Information isn't really the point and it never was.
I hope you'll also give it a read as there are some great ideas and lessons in it for not only the people that are making Ubuntu... but for everyone.
photo by Randall. cc-by-sa.
Do you make software that solves real-world problems? Do you want your software to be instantly available to everyone that's building cloud solutions? Did you know that Ubuntu powers most of the cloud?
Some fun Ubuntu folks will be with their IBM and OpenPower friends just south of San Francisco, California next Wednesday (Nov. 5th, 2014) to talk about the future: Ubuntu on Power.
The event is free, but you'll have to register in advance.
Click the power button to get more information and to register!
Ubuntu Community Manager
Ubuntu on *Power*
Questions? randall AT ubuntu DOT com
I used to believe that computer mediated communication made the world a better place...
Have you ever noticed a couple sitting together not being "together"? Or perhaps a group of friends eating in a restaurant or enjoying drinks in a bar, but largely not interacting with one another? In these situations, the people that seem to be the centre of the event are the people that aren't there.
"Smart" phones, you make me ill. You are incentivizing human disconnection. You are weakening the bonds between people that inhabit the same space.
You are the ultimate expression of design fail.
You see, computer mediated communications should not have a distance bias. Why only mediate conversation between people that are challenged by distance separation? By doing so, you are creating, or at least accelerating, a culture of "not being there."
You see, the most important aspect of being beside another human being is enjoying that person in the moment, with full attention. Phone, you are just too dumb to realize it. Or are you simple conveniently ignoring it for the sake of a sociopathic business model?
Guess what? You know the two people in the photo are beside each other. You also know that they are in each other's contact list. You may even know that they're on a beach. It's a romantic place. Put two and two together, please.
Figure it out, phone! For the sake of humanity, this is not the 80's. It's time to wise up. Prince Ea and I and our posse are on to you...
Our best chance at a phone that repects humanity is here:
More reasons "smart" phones aren't are here:
image by Leo Reynolds
In a previous blog post, I hinted at a recent happy development in my life/career that I would like to share with you today...
Many of you know me from my involvement in building local communities that are passionate about Ubuntu. I've been at this for nearly 7 years now as a volunteer and it's something I'm very passionate about. (Note: Friends and family sometimes use different adjectives.)
Over this time, I've had the privilege to meet and to work with many brilliant people in Vancouver BC, the community-at-large and also in the part of the community that is Canonical. (Yes, it's all community.) I've met rock stars, both literally and figuratively. They've encouraged and inspired me and finally opportunity knocked, and I answered.
I am happy to announce that I am Ubuntu's newest Community Manager.
My focus (at least initially) will be growing a large and thriving community around the architecture that powers the world's fastest computers. Think really big iron. Think Watson. Think chess. But more than that, think solving real-world problems the fastest way possible, with Power!
Ubuntu already has the beginnings of a great story on Power. I am tremendously excited about the potential of the "magic" that is Ubuntu with Juju and MaaS to launch solutions on Power hardware nearly effortlessly. I'm here to help the community that wants to change the world make that happen.
Please join me. If you're a Power advocate, developer, architect, systems administrator, researcher, or anyone who's just interested in Ubuntu on Power, please send me a note and introduce yourself. Let's work together!
randall AT ubuntu DOT com
image by Thom Watson
and modified by me.
Ubuntu is 10 today! That's reason to celebrate.
I encourage everyone who's ever enjoyed or contributed to Ubuntu to find the most fun, outrageous, and outlandish birthday photo you can and show it to three people you know who have never heard of (or tried) Ubuntu. Then post it to Planet Ubuntu (or to your favourite place if you can't post here). (If you're not a Planet Ubuntu author, please link to your post in the comments so others can find it here.)
Here's my favourite birthday photo:
10 years may seem like an eternity in the tech world, but I like to remind people that we're only part way along the journey to create technology that respects humans, doesn't treat them as "users", and gives them a voice in the decision-making process. Look around you. Is your technology serving you, or are you part of a predatory business model? Are your friends and family enjoying Ubuntu yet?
I once heard that the path to widespread Ubuntu adoption would be a 20-year journey. I can't remember who to attribute this to, but if you're reading, please chime in, and please accept my thanks for setting realistic expectations. This is a struggle that won't be over soon, but we're well on our way.
I am honoured to be part of the Ubuntu family, and I'm looking forward to the next 10 years. When we have our 20th, the world will be a *much* better place, thanks in part to the wonderful people who make Ubuntu.
And, finally, no Happy Birthday message for Ubuntu would be complete without thanking Mark "sabdl" Shuttleworth. Thank you Mark for being the change you want to see in the world and for inspiring so many (myself included) to work on something meaningful.
image by Bart
I spent a few minutes this morning writing the comprehensive Ubuntu Contributors' Guide.
Here it is in all its glory:
Yes, that's really all there is to it. It's simple.
As obvious as this seems, there are people (names withheld) that will want you to believe otherwise. I'll elaborate in a future post.
When you encounter them, please forward a copy of this flow chart. Tell them Randall sent you.
A friend of mine sent me a link from her "+" account last night, publicizing a fundraising effort...
Admittedly, I've never been impressed with "+", so I rarely (if ever) look at it. Because she was a friend, and I like to help friends, I decided to go in and see what the link was about. I ended up staying longer than I originally planned and took a look around.
What did I see? I saw a lot of people who used to make Planet Ubuntu a lively, exciting, and vibrant place writing prolifically on "+" instead. Sadly and disappointingly, they rarely post on Planet these days.
Are you one of these people?
Friends, do consider the effect of the following:
When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services ...
Something smells wrong with this.
Friends, it's really not that difficult to host a blog and to use a more respectful service. I hope you'll consider that one small step in the sprit of not becoming the product, or even better, in the spirit of making Planet Ubuntu *the* place for Ubuntu happenings.
image by Terry O'Fee
I love movies. I especially love seeing movies in an old-fashioned movie theatre. The smell of popcorn. The immersiveness. The whole sensory experience. Well, almost...
Why oh why must I, my friends, and my family be subjected to nonsense warnings that precede every movie shown in a theatre? You know the ones: "Silence your phone", "Silence is golden", "It only takes one phone call to ruin a movie", etc, etc.
Even with all that preamble, there is inevitably someone at the theatre that ignores it, or is too distracted by their phone to see the warning. So, the messages are largely ineffective. Oh, the irony!
Let's think about this for a minute. According to the MPAA, "More than two thirds of the U.S./Canada population...227.8 million people went to the movies at least once in 2013"
Let's take the most conservative view of this statistic. Assume that the total number of person-movies that year was 227.8 million. And, let's also assume that each one of these movies was preceded by a 10-second "Silence your cell phone" message.
That amounts to over 632,000 hours , or 26,365 days, or 72 years of lost time, in one year. "Smart" phone manufacturers, this is a problem you could have solved years ago. For just how many years has this been a solvable problem? My guess is 10.
"Smart" phone manufacturers, you are wasting my time. You are forcing theatres to air useless reminders and distractions. In economic terms, that's called an externality: pushing the costs onto others so you don't have to incur them yourself.
That's right. 720 years lost, in North America alone.
Stop this nonsense. Humanity has better things to do.
I'm sorry "smart" phones. You are as dumb as the day you were born. Think about it. It's really not that hard. Don't be fooled by the name. Movie theatres don't move. You know when you're inside one. Maybe it's time to pay attention?!
With the upcoming Ubuntu Phones, perhaps we, the people that believe in our shared humanity, can give back humanity this precious time it needs to get on with life and perhaps the chance to use this time to solve just one problem to make the world a better place...
Our best chance at a phone that respects humanity is here:
More reasons "smart phones aren't are here:
image by daniel
I ride public transit, a lot. This gives me the "privilege" to (too often) overhear important matters that are being discussed over the phone.
Can you guess the most common use case for "smart" phones? Apparently it's to obtain the answer to the world's most important question: "Where are you?"
Really? We can send a rover to Mars but we can't solve this problem. Is the world engaged in one giant game of "where's Waldo?" I have yet to meet a phone that is smart.
Phones have GPS, wifi, and of course cellular signalling. They also are programmable. One would think that an off-the-shelf "smart" phone would eliminate the "Where are you?" call once and for all. Or, could it be that the mobile carriers love to prey on people by forcing them to consume and be billed for lots and lots of extraneous voice minutes? Hmm...
So, I'm sorry phones. You are *not* smart. You are still as dumb as the first feature phones.
I remain optimistic that the Ubuntu Phone will overcome this issue. In my lifetime, I hope to be riding a bus, a subway, or a streetcar never to hear the words "Where are you?" uttered again.
"Where's Waldo" image by William Murphy