(USBSD #1: Goals) Inaugural Ubuntu Server Bug Squashing Day!

As posted on the ubuntu-server mailing list we had our first Ubuntu Server Bug Squashing Day (USBSD) on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. While we may not have had a large community showing, the event was still a success and their is momentum to make this a regular event going forward (more on that below…). This post is about the goals behind USBSD.

[Throughout the following I will probably refer to users by their IRC nicks. When I know their real names, I will try and use them as well at least once so real-person association is available.]

The intent of the USBSD is two-fold:

  1. The Server Team has a triage rotation for all bugs filed against packages in main, which is purely an attempt to provide adequate responses to ‘important’ — ensuring we have ‘good’ bug reports that are actionable and then to put them on to the Server Team’s queue (via subscribing ~ubuntu-server). The goal for triage is not to solve the bugs, it’s simply to respond and put it on the ‘to-fix’ list (which is visible here. But we don’t want that list to just grow without bound (what good is it to respond to a bug but never fix it?), so we need to dedicate some time to working to get a bug to closure (or at least to the upload/sponsorship stage).
  2. Encourage community-driven ownership of bug-fixes and packages. While Robie Basak (rbasak), Christian Ehrhardt (cpaelzer), Josh Powers (powersj) and myself (nacc) all work for Canonical on the Server Team on the release side of things (meaning merges, bug-fixes, etc), there simply is not enough time in each cycle for the four of us alone to address every bug filed. And it’s not to say that the only developers working on packages an Ubuntu Server user cares are us four. But from a coordination perspective for every package in main that is ‘important’ to Ubuntu Server, we are often at least involved. I do not want to diminish by any means any contribution to Ubuntu Server, but it does feel like the broader community contributions have slowed down with recent releases. That might be a good thing ™ in that packages don’t have as many bugs, or it might just be that bugs are getting filed and no one is working on them. By improving our tooling and processes around bugs, we can lower barriers to entry for new contributors and ideally grow ownership and knowledge of packages relevant to Ubuntu Server.

That is a rather long-winded introduction to the goals. Did we meet them?

To the first point, it was a positive experience for those of us working on bugs on the day to have a dedicated place to coordinate and discuss solutions (on IRC at FreeNode/#ubuntu-server as well as well on the Etherpad we used [requires authentication and membership in the ~ubuntu-etherpad Launchpad team]. And I believe a handful of bugs were driven to completion.

To the second point, I was not pinged much at all (if at all) during the US business day on USBSD #1. That was a bit disappointing. But I saw that cpaelzer helped a few different users with several classes of bugs and that was awesome to wake up to! He also did a great job of documenting his bugwork/interactions on the Etherpad.

Follow-on posts will talk about ways we can improve and hopefully document some patterns for bugwork that we discover via USBSDs.

In the meanwhile, we’re tentatively scheduling USBSD #2 for April 5, 2017!

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