What was your favourite comment in OpenWeek?

I’ve been trying to get to as much of OpenWeek as I could and have really enjoyed a lot of the sessions. Dustin Kirkland’s session on encrypted home folders and of course the Docs Day sessions were fantastic 😉

So I was wondering what everyone’s favourites so far were…

My favourite comment was from Mark Shuttleworth during his Q&A, I’ve seen similar questions asked so many times but I’ve never seen an answer as succint:

(12:24:03 PM) jcastro: <rabbit251> jcastro: QUESTION: Do you see Wine (and Windows-compatibilty in general)
or native Linux ports as the more important ingredient in the success of Ubuntu, or do they each play an
important role?
(12:24:18 PM) sabdfl: they both play an important role
(12:24:30 PM) sabdfl: but fundamentally, the free software ecosystem needs to thrive on its own rules
(12:24:41 PM) sabdfl: it is *different* to the proprietary software universe
(12:24:54 PM) sabdfl: we need to make a success of our own platform on our own terms
(12:25:08 PM) sabdfl: if Linux is just another way to run Windows apps, we can't win
(12:25:13 PM) sabdfl: OS/2 tried that

I’ve started using the last two lines as my email signature.

Docs Day


Ubuntu OpenWeek starts on Monday 27th April. The Documentation Team has five sessions starting on the 28th at 18:00 UTC which we’re referring to as “Docs Day”. Quite a change from Intrepid where I gave a single one hour session covering everything (the IRC log is available here)!

Our team has quite a high number of new people volunteering but seems to have have trouble converting these into long term members. Its difficult to identify why but in the Karmic cycle we have a couple of initiatives to announce:

  • Playbooks – we have written three playbooks. One for bugs in the docs, one for the wiki and one for more specific help with DocBook and creating new documentation.
  • IRC classroom sessions – covering step by step sessions on the main areas we work in, especially bug control and creating patches.
  • Doc Days: Much as bug days have done, we want to promote regular, weekly if possible, days where we target specific areas of the documentation.

Our first Playbook – “Fixing Bugs in the System Documentation” is available now and I encourage anyone to download a copy, make suggestions and have a go!

The Documentation Team is always looking for volunteers. You can apply to join the team on Launchpad – we just ask for an introduction on our mailing list. You don’t need to join to contribute, feel free to submit patches to the mailing list or on Launchpad.

Internet documentation for Jaunty – help!

Documentation string freeze is rapidly approaching (March 26th) and I’ve not managed to get as much feedback on NetworkManager as I would have liked in order to make some really useful documentation.

Connection is one of those things that if a new user hits it, it can be a major problem – especially when so much help is available on the Internet! This often results in frustrated users who can only look to the little blue circle with the question mark.

The thing is though, I’m to blame too. I know how to troubleshoot networking problems, so it’s unlikely that I approach the problem from the same aspect as a newcomer, so might be answering a question that no-one asked!

With only two of NetworkManager’s currently supported connections – the documentation is lacking in three areas: VPN, DSL and the one I’m most worried about, Mobile Internet. I’d also love to reach more of a consensus on how to document dial-up connections.

So, now I’ve got a feed to Planet Ubuntu, I can hit a much wider audience and who are likely to have overcome any issues they encountered.

I need your experiences connecting using NM:

  • Which of NM’s connection types do you use?
  • Was it detected automatically?
  • Did you need to take any steps that are not apparent from the interface – such as installing extra packages or manually configuring options?

Building PDF from Ubuntu Documentation

People frequently ask for PDF versions of the Ubuntu System Help. We have a toolchain to build them but why not do it yourself?

This is true of any DocBook – dblatex is in the Ubuntu repositories and can transform DocBook in to many formats, the default being PDF.

Usually it is as simple as:

dblatex filename.xml

To generate filename.pdf. Most errors are easy to rectify because dblatex calls other tools and you can step through some (such as pdflatex).

However if you get an error along the lines of:

Overfull @hbox (20.76302pt too wide)

Well that is a bit of a pain. The prescribed wisdom is that something (usually a ulink) is just really too long, such as one of those really long URLs. In the case of DocBook, more often than not it’s a table that it just cannot render – so keep them simple!