Ubuntu’s Hoary Hedgehog release; Mutual obligation

Ubuntu’s Hoary Hedgehog release

I upgraded from the stable Ubuntu to the development version (due to be released in April as, I believe, 5.04) on the weekend. So far I haven’t actually noticed very many dramatic changes. Booting is marginally faster. There are now suspend scripts that don’t work (well, for me, there’s positive feedback about them in general). The default fonts look different. Otherwise everything seems pretty much the same.

One thing I was reminded of, particularly when upgrading my workstation which has such a slow disk that the UML server that runs puzzling.org can install packages faster, is that desktop Ubuntu systems have all the Python development libraries installed. It’s nice that they’re all supported, but I’ve developed using Python as a primary language for four years or so and I’ve still used only five of those libraries (more once Twisted splits into packages…). I’d be happy to install them as needed, just like I would gcc.

Mutual obligation

Alignments of the stars this week have me going to a meeting at SLUG on Friday to try and organise a community program that tries to get local volunteers together to work on Free Software. Why add this layer between local volunteers and Free Software, given that most projects have open development communities?

Well, there are a couple of reasons. The first is that to receive unemployment benefits in Australia you need to fulfil a ‘mutual obligation’ requirement in which you seek work, train or give back to the community. Setting up a local community group/non-profit will allow people on the Newstart allowance to work on Free Software (and docs and bug triage and mailing lists and…) as part of their mutual obligation. The second is that there is a group of somewhat nebulous size who would ‘love to help out’ but aren’t for whatever reason suited to jumping into new communities and offering their work up. Having a group set up to specifically push them into projects may help here: it will be interesting to see.

This is something that’s been in the background of my thoughts for years now: working with people who aren’t used to the standard model where you just start doing stuff; or the other standard model where you hang out on IRC for a few months until people know you’re not an idiot, and then you start doing stuff. This third group is the set who ‘need an invitation’, if you like.