Let’s test Ubuntu NOW!

Making Ubuntu better, if possible

Archive for November 2009

Upgrade testing. Planning ahead

with 6 comments

As you may already know, next Ubuntu release, Lucid Lynx (10.04) is an LTS release.

For testers this means one important thing: upgrades should be smooth from either Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) or latest Ubuntu LTS release (8.04, Hardy Heron).

As we all know, nowadays, computer storage is very very cheap, but bandwidth is not. Later in the cycle we are going to need to test as many upgrades from Hardy and Karmic as possible. So, why not planning ahead and start downloading today Hardy and Karmic images? The unstoppable Shane Fagan has started doing so already! You rock!

Later in the cycle you will be able to easily install Hardy or Karmic in a spare machine or a virtual machine and upgrade from there. You will have part of the work done. And you can start contributing to your beloved distribution just now 🙂

Other releases from Ubuntu derivatives can be found at:


Written by Ara Pulido

November 26, 2009 at 12:37 pm

In a distributed environment? Don’t use LDAP for email

with 11 comments

Well, I think the title of this post is a bit strong, but let me explain you my point.

I work for Canonical, a 100% distributed company where the majority of employees work remotely. We meet every once in a while to work together for a week, but, normally, we don’t see each other.

I joined the company a year and a half ago and, even back then, the people who had been there for more than 3 years stated “It is big now!! Do you remember when we knew the name of everybody?”. Well, Canonical is not THAT big, but it is getting harder and harder to remember people’s name and, because it is a distributed environment, people’s faces. Even harder, we rely a lot on IRC communication so you have to match a real name, with a face, and with an IRC nickname. For me this is almost impossible to achieve.

When I wrote an email I relied too much on email addresses auto-completion and this was making the problem bigger. “I think his name started with an M, and it might continue with an E, no, wait, an I. Here he is!”. I don’t do that any more. I write a good amount of emails, but not too many to not be able to spend one minute writing down the addresses it goes to.

Canonical has an internal web tool called “Directory” where you can quickly search a person (by team, name, IRC nickname, town, manager, email address, etc.) and you will soon find the record with a picture, real name, email address and IRC nickname. Then I copy and paste the email address to the “To:” field. It does the trick for me. It helps me visualizing who I am writing to and helps me matching the face with an IRC nickname, so the next time I get a ping from someone I can see the face behind.

Does your company has such a web tool? I really recommend it.

Written by Ara Pulido

November 11, 2009 at 10:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Ubuntu Testing Team

with 8 comments

If you think that testing software is an unskilled activity that “even a two-year-old can perform”, keep reading, I’ll try to change your mind. If you do not agree with that sentence, keep reading, you may be interested in joining us.

Software testing is generally seen as the poor cousin of programming. While the bad reputation of testers happens in all software environments, this is more common in free software communities, probably because the “show me the code” motto is too deeply attached to the open source communities. This, unfortunately, is too often translated in unreliable software released with a lot of bugs (some of them critical).

Testing software, as any human activity, is a task that almost everybody can perform to some sort of proficiency. However, that does not mean that it is an unskilled activity. You have to know what to do. You need to have (or to develop), among others, excellent communication skills, technical writing skills, software architecture knowledge, technical research expertise, a critical mindset, etc.

We cannot leave quality to good luck. We cannot rely in having millions of users who will find bugs as they use the applications. Our users want to use the software, not to find bugs and report them. FOSS projects in general and Ubuntu in particular need a new way of rethinking testing as a skilled activity and an opportunity to contribute to the project.

We want to build a Testing Team in Ubuntu to try to minimize the impact of bugs in the released versions. This team would have a mailing list and regular meetings on IRC. Activities will be diverse and will include things like: formal manual testing, exploratory testing, writing new test cases, organize and conduct community testing days, automated testing and developing new tools (yes, if you like to code, there’s also a place for you).

We would love you to join us and make it happen.

We are having a session at UDS Lucid to discuss this topic (scheduled for Wednesday). You can subscribe to the blueprint as well.

Written by Ara Pulido

November 10, 2009 at 4:13 pm