Last week I flew out to the east coast to attend the very first Fossetcon. The conference was on the smaller side, but I had a wonderful time meeting up with some old friends, meeting some new Ubuntu enthusiasts and finally meeting some folks I’ve only communicated with online. The room layout took some getting used to, but the conference staff was quick to put up signs and directing conference attendees in the right direction and in general leading to a pretty smooth conference experience.
On Thursday the conference hosted a “day zero” that had training and an Ubucon. I attended the Ubucon all day, which kicked off with Michael Hall doing an introduction to the Ubuntu on Phones ecosystem, including Mir, Unity8 and the Telephony features that needed to be added to support phones (voice calling, SMS/MMs, Cell data, SIM card management). He also talked about the improved developer portal with more resources aimed at app developers, including the Ubuntu SDK and simplified packaging with click packages.
He also addressed the concern of many about whether Ubuntu could break into the smartphone market at this point, arguing that it’s a rapidly developing and changing market, with every current market leader only having been there for a handful of years, and that new ideas need need to play to win. Canonical feels that convergence between phone and desktop/laptop gives Ubuntu a unique selling point and that users will like it because of intuitive design with lots of swiping and scrolling actions, gives apps the most screen space possible. It was interesting to hear that partners/OEMs can offer operator differentiation as a layer without fragmenting the actual operating system (something that Android struggles with), leaving the core operating system independently maintained.
This was followed up by a more hands on session on Creating your first Ubuntu SDK Application. Attendees downloaded the Ubuntu SDK and Michael walked through the creation of a demo app, using the App Dev School Workshop: Write your first app document.
After lunch, Nicholas Skaggs and I gave a presentation on 10 ways to get involved with Ubuntu today. I had given a “5 ways” talk earlier this year at the SCaLE in Los Angeles, so it was fun to do a longer one with a co-speaker and have his five items added in, along with some other general tips for getting involved with the community. I really love giving this talk, the feedback from attendees throughout the rest of the conference was overwhelmingly positive, and I hope to get some follow-up emails from some new contributors looking to get started. Slides from our presentation are available as pdf here: contributingtoubuntu-fossetcon-2014.pdf
The day wrapped up with an Ubuntu Q&A Panel, which had Michael Hall and Nicholas Skaggs from the Community team at Canonical, Aaron Honeycutt of Kubuntu and myself. Our quartet fielded questions from moderator Alexis Santos of Binpress and the audience, on everything from the Ubuntu phone to challenges of working with such a large community. I ended up drawing from my experience with the Xubuntu community a lot in the panel, especially as we drilled down into discussing how much success we’ve had coordinating the work of the flavors with the rest of Ubuntu.
The next couple days brought Fossetcon proper, with I’ll write about later. The Ubuntu fun continued though! I was able to give away 4 copies of The Official Ubuntu Book, 8th Edition which I signed, and got José Antonio Rey to sign as well since he had joined us for the conference from Peru.
José ended up doing a talk on Automating your service with Juju during the conference, and Michael Hall had the opportunity to a talk on Convergence and the Future of App Development on Ubuntu. The Ubuntu booth also looked great and was one of the most popular of the conference.
I really had a blast talking to Ubuntu community members from Florida, they’re a great and passionate crowd.