Appreciation for Michael Hall

Today marks another Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day, one of Ubuntu’s beautiful traditions, where you publicly thank people for their work. It’s always hard to pick just one person or a group of people, but you know what – better appreciate somebody’s work than nobody’s work at all.

One person I’d like to thanks for their work is Michael Hall. He is always around, always working on a number of projects, always involved in discussions on social media and never shy to add yet another work item to his TODO list. Even with big projects on his plate, he is still writing apps, blog entries, charms and hacks on a number of websites and is still on top of things like mailing list discussions.

I don’t know how he does it, but I’m astounded how he gets things done and still stays friendly. I’m glad he’s part of our team and tirelessly working on making Ubuntu a better place.

I also like this picture of him.


Mike: keep up the good work! 🙂


… was probably written across my face when I first got involved in Ubuntu and contributed my first patch. I wasn’t quite sure if I had followed the right procedure or if anything else was wrong, but luckily I found a lot of very friendly people who helped me out and got my contribution in.

That was almost 8 years ago. Today it’s a lot easier. There is good documentation, there are more consistent processes and better tools.

If you have pondered getting involved for a while, I’d like to invite you to check out our Bug fixing initiative. We singled out a number of issues in Ubuntu which we feel are appropriate to whetting your appetite and sorted them, so the most easy tasks are at the top.

Let us know how this works for you and ask all the questions you might run into on #ubuntu-motu on

Hanging out

I’ve been using Google+ Hangouts for a while and some of you might have seen that Jono posted some evidence of these. Mostly I just used them for team calls with a fixed agenda or to keep in touch with friends.

Yesterday I did a free-for-all hangout, using the new “named hangout” feature of Google+. It’s basically like a chat room with a fixed URL, where you can discuss whatever is on your mind. The idea was to create an opportunity to ask and answer questions in a more personal way without having the feeling of interrupting “more important” discussions.

This was a great experience! I didn’t count all nationalities, but I picked up we had people from South Africa, India, Taiwan, Bulgaria, USA at the same time. This was simply awesome.

Ubuntu Developer Hangout

Above it looks like I was hanging out with 35 people at the same time. This wasn’t the case. Unfortunately the hard limit is still 10 people at a time. There are “celebrity hangouts”, where you can record the event and have more people listening in, but unfortunately this takes away the opportunity to get involved.

Sometimes I did have to mute people whose microphone was not set up properly (one time I think heard a rooster in the background), but generally I feel we fared very well.

Many of the people in the hangouts were great Ubuntu fans and thanked for the work Ubuntu developers and contributors in general are doing. It was really heart-warming. Some had programmed before, even in Open Source projects and were keen to help out. So with the screen-sharing functionality I was able to demo how to fix a simple bug which was great.

Thanks also to Evan Broder and Andrew Mitchell who jumped in and answered a few questions as well.

I think I will keep these as an institution for now and announce events over the @ubuntudev twitter/ accounts. If you should ever want to do a hangout session, use the ubuntu-dev hangout, do it and let me know in advance, so I can post this more publicly.

If you have any experience with events like this and have some new ideas, please comment below!

Thanks again every one – this is just a great way to be in touch with the world-wide community of Ubuntu lovers!

Meeting friends in Morocco

One thing I love about Ubuntu is that Ubuntu fans and contributors are spread around the whole globe. So when I started planning holidays in Morocco it was almost certain that we’d meet somebody from the LoCo team there.

When I let everyone know about my plans, Adnane Belmadiaf immediately came up with dozens of ideas what I could go and visit in his country. For those who don’t know Adnane, he is one of the heroes behind many of our Ubuntu web projects, for example the LoCo Team Portal, Summit or Adnane is easy to work with, fun and as I found out in Rabat, he’s also a great tour guide.

We arrived in Rabat around noon, quickly found a hotel and got a text message by Adnane saying that he took off the afternoon off work to show us around. Walking around was loads of fun as we not only saw lots of the city, but also because Adnane explained to us a lot about what’s going on in the country.

The second person who contacted me was Hassan, who is member of the Moroccan and Swiss LoCo team. He said:

First, I wish you a Merry Christmas. I know that you’ll be in Morocco. You can have a look on my albums maybe you can see some good plans to visit.

Have a nice trip and in case of any help needed in Morocco you can inform me at <phone number> and I’ll take care.

The Ubuntu community are simply the friendliest bunch on the planet. Amazing, isn’t it?

Two weeks unfortunately isn’t enough to see everything, so we “just” visited Málaga in Spain, took the ferry to Tanger, went to Rabat and Marrakech, did a tour through the desert and flew home from Casablanca. We had a great great time.

Thanks again everyone for making these holidays even more enjoyable!

Big big hugs! شكرا بزاف!

(I still haven’t looked through all the pictures yet, but I’ll upload a few quite soon.)

Stories and saying thanks

Don’t you love it when you get contributions to your project when you didn’t expect them at all?

By reaching out to contributors, thanking them and welcoming them to the Ubuntu community you do a lot to encourage them and help them integrate into your team more quickly. Generally I feel this is part of our culture already.

Discussions at UDS indicated what we probably could do better is:

  • do this even more, try to be more personal,
  • talk about it more, because it encourages others and motivates others who might still be a bit unsure about getting their feet wet,
  • generally talk more about what we’re doing and what’s going on, to explain where you need help.

To help with this, we set up a team of people who work on weekly development news to get the word out. The only thing you need to do is send a quick mail to ubuntu-news-team AT lists dot ubuntu dot com with “[dev]” in the subject if it’s about Ubuntu development.

Feel free to send a just few lines about

  • what you (or your team) is currently working on and where you might need help
  • a new contributor who just helped your team out

In addition to this, this will give your work the publicity it deserves.

You can also tweet/dent/google+ with the hashtag #thxubuntu.

Thanks in advance! 🙂

It’s human beings who make Ubuntu!

Ubuntu Community Appreciation DayToday is Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day, which is excellent. It’s the first time we do it and from now on 20th November will be a day to remind ourselves that Ubuntu is put together by humans and not “fabricated somewhere”.

The human aspect of Ubuntu was what instantly won me over in 2004. This comes in multiple facets: From a product point of view, that computers stopped being dull and grey boxes, but devices I use to interact with the people I care about. The vision of Ubuntu, that it would always stay free and empower millions of people out there.

I care a lot about the points above, but the most important point to me is “Ubuntu” itself, the recognition that “I am what I am because of who we all are“, which always at the center of all we did. Since day 1 of my participation in the Ubuntu community I was surrounded by people who became friends and it amazes me to see through how many ways I benefited: the amount of encouragement I got, the positive vibes, the uncountable learning experiences, the common feeling of making the world a better place together is something that still drives me and even on some of my slower days will bring an involuntary smile on face.

The list of people I should thank is very very long, I can’t and won’t try to list everyone. I know that I will leave people out, but I can only hope I thanked you all enough in our conversations already. Big hugs to you all, you know who you are! 🙂

First I’d like to thank our mustachioed leader. A lot of you will probably know Mark as the founder of the project and somebody who is involved in some of the difficult decisions. I admire the vision and energy with which he has been driving the project for seven years now, especially staying focused after all the shouting and swearing on the internet. Mark gets much less credit than he actually deserves. On a more personal note, I got lots of encouragement from Mark over the years, which I appreciate. Also I’m still glad Mark gave me the opportunity to come to Sydney and do much more.

Also would I like to thank everybody who is involved in making more Ubuntu community happen. This obviously not only this bunch of hippies, but many many more who put a lot of work into organising meetings and events, thinking about how to get more people involved, dealing with conflict, getting the message out there and loads loads more. It often is a thankless task, it doesn’t come with fortune and fame, but is still rewarding to see if your part of the community is thriving and awesome things happen. If you are not there already, make sure you join #ubuntu-community-team and get a hug! 🙂

Another group of people I deeply appreciate and would like to thank is: first-time contributors! I know how hard it is to get involved for the first time. It’s not only the steep learning curve, but also that you don’t know anybody in the project yet and you might be worried that you make a fool of yourself. Still there is lots of new contributors and their level of excitement about having gotten their first contribution into Ubuntu is just fantastic. It never ceases to make me smile if I get a mail where people write about their experience. Thanks for sharing your energy and being awesome!

A big big hug to everyone who helps to make Ubuntu happen. You rock!

Remarkable people

You don’t see me blogging about things outside the Ubuntu world very often. OK, an occasional mixtape every now and then or some holiday pictures, but I generally try to stay away from topics such as politics or things that happen in the world elsewhere. This is not because I don’t care or don’t have an opinion – it’s quite the opposite. I just prefer to not get drawn into huge arguments about who’s right and I try to avoid writing about and singling out particular events and miss to mention others.

By now most of you will have heard about the horrible events in Oslo. As my girlfriend is from Norway, I paid even more attention to the news. The reason I’m writing about this is that among all the usual suspicions and noise in the news a few people stood out and truly impressed me.

We will stand by our democracy. The answer to violence is more democracy, more humanity.

Jens Stoltenberg, Norwegian PM

I don’t think security can solve problems. We need to teach greater respect.”

Oslo Mayor Stang when asked whether Oslo needs greater security

We had been discussing on the island, how to tackle extremism and racism. We will continue this.

Youth leader who escaped Utøya

If you haven’t read much about Oslo and Utøya in the last days, read these two chilling first-hand accounts of people who survived Utøya: from Khamshajiny Gunaratnam and Debian contributor Tore Sinding Bekkedal.

After all of this, it would have been very much understandable to show any signs of knee-jerk reactions. The people I mentioned above reacted remarkably to the situation. It’s very inspiring how they chose to stand with their humanitarian values. It’s unfortunately very uncommon nowadays, especially for politicians, who in situations like this are under a lot of pressure. These leaders have my deep respect for choosing to do otherwise.

Interviewing Jani, Michael and Oliver

As part of the Ubuntu Development videocast, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jani Monoses, Michael Vogt and Oliver Grawert yesterday. We are all together here in Dallas and I successfully managed to drag them out of meetings and away from work and talk to them about Ubuntu Development and how they got involved.

Unfortunately we kind of messed this up. Up until 8 minutes, 10 seconds you will only be able to see us gesturing, there’s no sound. So at 8 minutes 10 seconds into the video we figured out the problem and started from scratch.

What I’m really happy about is that Jani, Michael and Oliver all are great friends of mine and I all got to know them early on when I got involved in Open Source development. They all supported me and helped me out.

Go here to watch the video.