More on QA, Ubuntu, trust, etc.

Heard from Ubuntu this morning (in comments and via email, neither official) so I figured I owed an update, having slammed them fairly thoroughly here :) So some notes from email and comments:

  • I didn’t see an official Ubuntu announce about this because I didn’t look in the most obvious place of all- ubuntu.com. Looking there points you to this message, with more details in a subsequent linked page. Good on Ubuntu for discussing the issue in the most highly visible place they can, and promising (albeit all the way at the bottom of the second page) that they are investigating the problem. Given that one of the most valuable things any distro has (especially Ubuntu) is the trust of its users, I would probably have given the ‘we are researching the problem’ statement much more prominence, but it is there, at least.
  • To be very clear: I don’t expect Ubuntu to have researched the cause of the procedural problem and fixed it in 48 hours. That would be nice but unreasonable. I just expect them to very publicly say what they are doing about the problem, in terms of research, etc.
  • To also be clear: I’m surprised I’ve seen nothing on planet ubuntu (not planet gnome), because I assume that at least some developers blog about what they are thinking about/working on, and if no developer blogs about this Very Big Fuckup, then… that ain’t good :)
  • The negatives: apparently the problem was there for 17 hours. Not a good sign, but again, that is partially because I have high standards for Ubuntu.
  • Apparently the reason I didn’t know about dapper-proposed is that it isn’t fully deployed yet. That is mixed news, I guess- good that there is a reason I didn’t know about it; bad that something like dapper-proposed was not fully tested and in place before the LTS release. (Note here that again I’m holding Ubuntu to a very high standard; as far as I know no other distro has such a queue for their long-term distros yet either. Of course, every distro should. If I’m wrong, and other distros do have it, I’d love to know- please let me know in comments.)
  • James: I’ve not considered an LWN article on distro QA because for quite some time (really since around when I left Novell) I’ve been pondering writing the definitive serious white paper on the subject. As dobey is about to find out, writing anything of that length is hard :) We’ll see if these blog posts coalesce my thinking enough to get something LWN-length out, though.
  • error27, others who have discussed enterprise distros: Enterprise distros have substantial resources directed at identifying stable upstream versions, and stabilizing them even more. So of course we should expect that at this point enterprise distros are very stable; more so than their more bleeding-edge community counterparts. However, traditional enterprise distros can only be resourced from within the company that produces them, and their users are explicitly paying not to worry about it- the payment is mostly in lieu of other forms of contribution. In contrast, a community distro like Fedora or Ubuntu should be virtually unlimited in terms of the amount of testing, feedback, triage, etc., that it receives from community members. Given that, if coordination and communication problems are solved, community distros should be of at least equal quality to enterprise distros. (It should be of no surprise, given that coordination/communication problems are perhaps the biggest stumbling block to this, that I think everyone needs a bugmaster.)
  • Go read the comments in last night’s post for more comments on the Edgy/Unstable differences. They are all dead on; no need for me to repeat them, except to say that obviously there are a lot of various layers to the disparity. Still, the basic question stands: how do you get more people onto unstable, and get them contributing?

I swear I’ll write something about law school soon :)