main mozilla tech

Thunderbird to become the default in Ubuntu!

Great news from Budapest where Ubuntu project is holding their version of our All Hands 😉

According to Michael Larabel Thunderbird will become the default choice for Ubuntu’s mail/newsgroup client! That’s a strong prove of progress that Thunderbird has made, and trust me, Ubuntu does not swap the defaults that easily.

Well, it now seems that we’ll have two of our products used as pretty important defaults in this most popular Linux distribution – Firefox and Thunderbird! (although we do have a strong competition for the browser slot).

Congratulations to the team working on Thunderbird!

main tech

Ubuntu 8.10 released

Congratulations to Canonical and Ubuntu community on release of Ubuntu 8.10!!!

I’m proudly using Ubuntu 8.10 on my mbp (it works great) with a beautiful Dust theme, and even more beautiful GDM theme WillWill. (there’s also Willbex theme available).

The most interesting thing from my POV in this release is a great community riot around the theme for the new Ubuntu release which was strengthen by this set of mockups promoted at and digg.

I find it a good sign of the community health how strong reaction this topic received and I’m a bit disappointed by lack of public discussion between broad community and people in charge of the project. I believe we’re doing a better job on this in Mozilla and I hope it’ll be a lesson for Ubuntu project similar to what we got with Firefox 1.0 Theme switch issue.

Bottom line is that I believe this energy motivated Mark to hire designers, usability and user experience experts. It’s always good to see community getting so energetic around something *they* think is important, and I believe open projects model makes it especially effective in a longer run.

Once more, congrats on the release guys! 🙂

main mozilla tech

Ubuntu Developer Summit in Prague

I’m at the UDS Intrepid 8.10.

I’ve joined a group of over 150 people from all around the world (including reed) at the Ubuntu Developer Summit. The schedule is stuffed, and they’re very modularized for me, but I’m learning fast 🙂

I’m watching Ubuntu project pretty close because they seem to be definitely one of the most promising open source projects, with a clear vision and huge community network. I believe there’s a lot we can learn from them, and at the very same time we can guide them through nasty traps we’ve been facing with our project several years ago.

It’s amazing how many overlaps there are between what’s going on in Ubuntu and the atmosphere in Mozilla project around 2003 or 2004… they feel the potential they have, they know they need to polish before exposing themselves and they do see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The difference is that they have who to look at for a case of successful hybryd of open source and market success 🙂

p.s. weather report. prague. rain. pitty.

main tech

PulseAudio in Hardy by default!

Woa! That’s a news! I’m a huge fan of PulseAudio, it really seems to be the Compiz of sound.

I dream about the day when I’ll be able to move audio streams live between my 5.1 sound system and headphones without restarting apps.

I dream about the day when I’ll be able to use 2 laptops to emulate dolby surround by setting one laptop as a front speakers and another as rare speakers.

I dream about the day when I’ll be able to make browser not play sounds (flash ads!) while Amarok is loud. Until Skype is calling of course, when Amarok goes down to 5% 🙂

PulseAudio promises that, and I’m happy my next Ubuntu will go this path.

main tech

Will companies start exploiting linux packaging systems?

Today I was working on some yet_to_be_announced project for a KnownCompany.

I was also updating my flash player basing on the latest releases from Adobe, and realized that this company, and many others will have to exploit packaging model of modern distributions in order to achieve what they want.

See. Modern, user-oriented linux distros like OpenSuSe, Fedora, Ubuntu, are preparing set of packages for the release, and then “half-freezing”. When I use Ubuntu 7.04, I use a set of software that was ready by April 2007. There are two exceptions – security patches, and community contributed backports of the newer packages , but for the latter, I have to manually select that I want to get them.

It means that being a company, that wants to upgrade users browser, mail client, game, or office package, I should claim  that it’s a security release. It’s not an issue right now, since linux is not popular enough to be on most product managers radar, and the releases happen pretty often (half a year in case of Ubuntu), but as Linux will become more popular, I’m more than sure that it will start to happen. All companies I was working for would like their latest versions to be deployed for all users soon after the release. Not half year later. Also, what about users who will not upgrade?

Look at the browsers. Browser X ver 3.5 has been released on Sep 2010. The Ubuntu (by the time used by 35%  of end users on Earth!) release 10.10 uploads it and uses in their release. Users are happy, confetti is everywhere and We Are The Champions can be heard in the background. Win-Win.

Then, the vendor of Browser X prepares release 4.0, and they’re ready on Apr 2011. Unfortunately  the release cycle of Ubuntu says that Ubuntu is already freezed and will not use ver 4.0 in Ubuntu 11.04. So this release is delivered to the users with Ubuntu 11.10, 6 months after original release!

At this point, many can say “Yea, Mark is calling for synchronizing releases”, but that’s not a solution. What if 11.04 is so great, that people don’t want to migrate to 11.10? If it’s a LTS and majority will want to stick to it for a loong time? (see XP-Vista migration rates) or if it’s simply not good for some reason, and journalists advice to stick to 11.04 and wait for 12.04?

I think that the only proper solution is a vendor controlled backporting highway. A process that would allow a vendor (or vendor licensed volunteers) to backport apps (usually the more front-end user oriented ones) and deliver them with the updates to all users of a release.  Otherwise, vendors will start pretending that such a release is fixing some Scary and Serious Security Vulnerabilities  that might kill your cat or grandpa.

Business is business… :/