Mere Code

Diverse Topics of General Interest to the Practicing Programmer

Still going

Last post, I talked about the top priorities for Launchpad development right now: performance, privacy, derivative distributions and desktop integration. In this post, I want to talk about the other things that we are doing, and why we are doing them at all.

In September last year, we decided that we needed to put a lot of work into something that is at the core of the very idea of Launchpad: bridging the gap between Linux distributions (specifically Ubuntu) and upstream open source projects. Launchpad has been intended from the very beginning to smooth out and accelerate collaboration between these two areas of endeavour.

Much of that work has already been done, but we have three initiatives still going: making links, daily builds and importing upstream translations.


Making links is all about making it incredibly to add useful, usable information about package / upstream relationships. Launchpad has always had the ability to store such information, but now it’s much, much easier to use because of a whole suite of changes: automatic suggestions for upstream / distro links; simplified project configuration; automatic linking to projects when marking a bug as upstream; just-in-time project registration etc. There are a few more bugs to go before we’re happy to call it done.

Daily builds are a very cool feature that’s still in beta. You provide us with a “recipe” that tells Launchpad how to combine branches into something resembling a source package, then we take that recipe, assemble the source package, build it and then publish it into a PPA of your choice. Then, if the branches change, we’ll provide a new build each day. The feature mostly works right now – Project Neon are using it to get nightly builds of Amarok – but the UI needs polish, there are a few system-level glitches and we’re asking questions about the recipe format. I’ll be posting later about how to get involved with the beta.

Importing upstream translations into Ubuntu makes it much easier for Ubuntu to be the best-translated Linux distribution ever. Right now it’s already possible to import translations from upstream projects into Launchpad. Soon those translations will be imported directly into the equivalent Ubuntu packages too, which means that Ubuntu translators can choose to use the upstream translation or instead provide a better one. Before we can do that, we’ll need to do some scalability work. After that’s done, we’ll also want to do some UI work to make it very easy to connect the Ubuntu package translations to the imported upstream translations.

All in all, three very neat initiatives to bring Ubuntu and its upstreams closer together.

So that’s it right? What with performance, derivative distributions, privacy and desktop integration as well as making links, daily builds and importing upstream translations, the Launchpad team must have its plate full? Indeed not! Stay tuned, and I’ll let you know what other things we are currently working on, as well as the future plans that are bubbling away.