Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shaping the Future

Discussing leadership and quite possibly some of the biggest changes to Ubuntu Studio in a single release cycle, in more than 144 characters but in less than or equal to one blog post.

Take Me To Your Leader
Last night was an unusual night on #ubuntustudio-devel.  Usually the channel is pretty quite but we had continuing discourse for approximately seven hours.

Several times during the conversations Cory intimated that I should or was leading the project.  Other times some indirectly referred to me as the "leader".

It reached a climax when Troy asked who _was_ the lead and I said that I had volunteered as acting lead since no one else had stepped up.  This was the first time to make such a statement in a related public forum.

Aside from a few ominous statements ("Then the project's fat rests in your hands") that sprinkled the remainder of the discussion, the announcement seemed to be palatably received.

I don't feel much of a leader at the moment as I currently do not have a definitive "vision" of what the project should be, although I do not feel daunted or intimidated by the absence.

Originally I had considered that I might perform as a steward, just providing stability, organization, and direction, until someone more appropriate was identified.

Now, however, I do not think this is probable, so if no one were to object I would accept the responsibility of Project Lead for the indeterminate future.

When Seeing is More Than "Vision"
Although the discussion started with updating the website, Troy and Emmet directed the topic into trying to define Ubuntu Studio, its mission statement, and its audience.

It quickly became obvious none of these had been defined before.

One thing that *did* become obvious was that we probably would reduce the scope of the project.  This might be important, so I'll say it again: we probably would reduce the scope of the project.

However, all this is speculative discussion without basis until we clearly and definitively define our audience, their needs, and our goals to meet those needs.

But, it is possible this could be a very, very pivotal period in Ubuntu Studio's history.

Who knows, next release we might have an stripped down audio-centric distribution, with extremely limited video/graphical applications, that fits onto a CD, and is distributed as a LiveCD!  Oh, and Pulse Audio completed removed and using JACK as the sole sound server which starts automatically when logging in.  And the coup de grace would be installing Network Manager as so many users have asked.

There you go, this could be the next version of Ubuntu Studio.  Or not.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Do We Get There From Here?

Starting to follow Troy Sobotka's advice from IRC and discuss openly what I've kept pretty quite starting with Ubuntu Studio's leadership and how it effects me.

But before I get started I should mention that I think Troy should go to medical school.  To me, his name just sounds like a doctor's name.  Try it, say it out loud...Dr. Troy Sobotka.  Sounds Hippocratic to me.

Disclaimer: The things I state are my opinions based on my perspective and I'm probably wrong on most, if not all, accounts.  Enjoy!

Leadership, It Does a Project Good
For some time, those with a keen eye and quick wit should have noticed the implosion of the Ubuntu Studio team leadership.  And not to point the Finger of Blame at someone, but it started when Cory needed to step down originally as project lead.

Cory had to do what he had to do, but that was the demarcation of when the project transitioned from involved, decisive project leadership into something different.  Even when Cory returned, he couldn't commit the necessary time and was ineffective.

But that was better than suffering with a token leader, which we did.  And again, I don't fault someone for not having time, but in this case I can be critical for some not being forthcoming with their involvement status.  I feel that courtesy (or respect perhaps) for the others involved would demand it.

Nonsupporting Cast?
Slowly other supporting members have fallen away.  Like unnamed cast members from a science fiction show that join the away party on the unknown and unavoidably hostile planet, they were not destined to stay with us long apparently.

Luis has effectively not been involved for some time, even when he was.  Luke is now leaving, a great blow in my opinion and his leaving castrates the project rendering it far less potent.  Heh, how's that for a metaphor?  Probably not the one you wanted.

The three already mentioned were the core team at one point.  No more.

Others have limited involvement, although some might have more involvement behind the scenes that I am aware.

I don't think I've ever seen Andrew Hunter directly involved with Ubuntu Studio (but he could be managing packages for all I know), Jussi is around and offers opinions and gives suggestions but I don't know what else he does, and I don't even know what crimsum's real name is, much less what he does.

But no one has been really that visibly active that I have seen.  Except Eric.

I Will Not Repeat Myself Again.  I Said...
When I joined the project, Eric was Getting Things Done.  Yes, I used capitalized words because he was really doing things.  Visible things.  And lot of them.

Me for my part, I like when Things Get Done.  That's means something is Being Done Right.

So now that I've got my feet under me a little more and I can be a little more effective, it's a little frustrating that he is also beginning to minimize his involvement.  I was hoping he would assume the mantle of leadership and we could Really Get Things Done.  I added another capitalized word to the original sentence, that makes it even more impressive, and disappointing.

Again, this is not meant to be accusatory, I just unreservedly prefer to state my views directly and openly.  But to see the same cycle repeat itself is like an unfriendly kick in the groin, as opposed to a friendly one.

* insert history aphorism here *

History, The Lesser of Two Evils?
I like history, it offers great lessons.  I just don't like it when those lessons are repeated on me.  And now I'm part of that lesson.  But what can I take from it?

Warning:  Direct and Over Simplistic Discourse Follows!

With strong leadership Ubuntu Studio progressively makes improvement.  Devoid of strong leadership it meanders at best, flounder at worst.

The former statement is applicable to Cory's first tenure when the project first started.  He was direct and forceful but tractable strides of progress were achieved.

I believe the later statement applies to everything since.

So here we see a good history lesson and we can choose to learn from it.  Or not.

Please note that the statement, "Or not." does not mean to choose not to learn from it but rather not to choose to learn from it.  There is a distinction. 

To Lead or Not To Lead, That is the Question
I think Ubuntu Studio is important, perhaps even the premier media creating distribution.

So, this is an interesting situation.

I've thought about it for almost two months and Ubuntu Studio is holistically important to me, too important for me to stand impotently by and watch it succumb to entropy.

So, I will step up and conduct myself as acting project lead.

Why "acting lead"?  Because, while I do not believe that I am the best choice, I am certainly better than no one.  If some suitably capable person should desire to be project lead then I will support them and the project as I can, but just as another developer.

But until that time Ubuntu Studio is too important to me to allow it wander course without anyone at the helm looking to the future with seeing eyes and steadying the present with firm, guiding hands.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

of Whats and Wheres

I've been busy, really busy, and at length I plan to talk about it.  I shan't do it all at once and it probably will be parsed between several posts over several weeks.  So, let's begin.

Back in February I embarked upon the RPM Challenge for the second year in a row.  The goal of the challenge is to record ten songs, or thirty-five minutes of music, during the month of February.  Writing the material during February is encouraged but not required and music that has been recorded previously is explicitly prohibited.

My name for the project is wirblewind and my page can be found here:

Although I did not quite reach the ten song or thirty-five minutes of music goal, I accomplished several other goals.  Given that I only managed a single "song" last year, I am quite pleased by the progress, which was a goal.

Everything was recorded in Ubuntu Studio.  I'm proud of that as well.

Of all the songs, I'm quite pleased with Werewolf Baby for several reasons.  Specifically, I'm happy with the production of the song and believe it to be the best sounding of all the songs.  Also, this song was specifically written with a genre and subject matter in mind.

Normally, most of my songs are developed organically and I usually cannot direct their development.  In a very Zen matter, they are and I am only discovering them rather then creating them.  This one germinated from an idea and developed as a result and stayed rather true to it's roots.

The last topic I will discuss in this blog will be a conversation and its implications that I had with someone in the #ubuntustudio-devel channel on IRC.

Troy_S told me I should write, really write, about my thoughts on Ubuntu Studio instead of using this blog as a notepad to record technical minutiae of some accomplishment for future reference.

Troy is an interesting guy and comes from a very different place than I.  That's not a bad thing and I don't think we clash with each other, we are just different shades of color.  If I was Black Sabbath then he would be Joy Division.

I'm working my way through a couple of books he suggested to me about graphic arts and design.  Bloody good books they are!  I'm learning loads of new stuff, things I never considered or was aware of before.

Anyway, I'm going to do what he said.  I'm going to open up more about my thoughts on Ubuntu Studio and where it's heading as I've held those very close to the vest for the most part.  And hopefully no one gets upset about some of the things I might write :)

But just not at this particular juncture in time.  But soon, as I plan on writing more frequently here.