Testing Ubuntu+1 and the Fourms

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Ubuntu+1 has an active user based which needs to be better utilized. Over at the Ubuntu Forums, there is a Karmic Koala Testing and Discussion sub-forum. While it’s mostly users helping each other through the bumpy adventure of running the development release (along with some people engaged in seemingly never ending complaining about the default theme), it’s a great opportunity for engaging users in the testing and development process. Some people are there simply due to a desire to be running bleeding edge packages, but most truly care about making Ubuntu better.

One attempt to get people involved is the reoccurring sticky thread at the top of the forum:Contributing to Karmic Koala.It appears in each development release’s Testing forum. The guide originally was produced by 23meg in the Gutsy cycle, and I refreshed it for the Intrepid one. Nullack has gotten it together for the last two cycles, and a number of others have contributed. The thread attempts to familiarize users with the Ubuntu Development process, and points out ways for people to contribute, from filing bugs and testing ISO images to contributing documentation and fixing bugs.

Yet, I think there is more that can be done from the developer side in order to engage these intrepid users (and I don’t mean 8.10). Most discussions and calls for testing new features in Ubuntu+1 happen on ubuntu-devel, and I’m not proposing moving it to the forums. Yet, the habits of most developers are quite different than those of most users. There’s a reason that more people seek support on forums than on mailing lists. Over on the forums, we have an audience of users running Ubuntu+1 who love running the most recent packages and love to let you know what they think about them. It’s the perfect audience for calls for testing new features, ect. I’ve seen a few devs pop up there with such requests, but there’s a lot of missed opportunities.

During the Jaunty cycle, I was able to get helpful feed back on a number of my uploads by asking users in the forum to test a package in my PPA before submitting it for the official archive. Additionally, just by lurking around, I caught a few packages that almost sneaked into the release broken due to the python transition.

While I don’t expect developers to hold the user’s hand and provide support for running the development release, simple things like cross-posting call for testing to the forums could go a long way to better taking advantage of an under used resourse.

A big thank you to all those brave enough to run the development branch!

P.S. Always remember, the is no guarantee that Ubuntu+1 will not eat you babies, destroy all your data, or make your computer explode.

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