Well, the new project I was going to join was Guadalinex v6 🙂
If you don’t know, Guadalinex is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Ubuntu made by La Junta de Andalucia (Andalusian regional Government) for the citizens. It’s one of the main distributions in Spain and has a large amount of users. There are over 300.000 pcs on schools and over 600 internet centers in rural areas running Guadalinex.
This is very exciting for me because, although I’ve already participated on 3 versions of Guadalinex and I’ve helped to create the system in which was based the others first, this is going to be developed in another way.
The previous versions were developed by a few small companies working together. The way those companies were chosen was by a public tender.
This was a good way, I think. Letting to small free software companies work, learn and grown doing software useful for the people around. And the whole process was open. It wasn’t that kind of project that one company develop for few months and then put in a public server. It was always open from the beginning. Open and public wiki, mail lists, subversion, forums, bug tracking and so on. Which sadly is no very common on free software project from governments…
Anyway, this time it was also a tender, but not for making the whole distribution by the companies, just hiring separated groups of people for doing different tasks (design the distro, maintain the mirrors, take care of the users and forums, create a manual for human beings….) from inside. I mean, from the public installations.
Guadalinex always has been trying to collaborate with the upstream projects, like the distribution on which were based (first Debian, now Ubuntu). But it wasn’t easy at all.
We have our schedule, few resources, usually we start to work on an already stable version (which means we can not add or fix things for that upstream version) and too much burocracy some times. Also the upstream distro side was never clear and we couldn’t find a middle point to collaborate.
We actually did collaborate with Ubuntu with the first version of the live installer (Ubuntu Express, now Ubiquity), some fixes, translations and few things more. But there was a lot of interesting stuff we created for Guadalinex and never arrived to Ubuntu. That’s sad.
Also, since we got a huge amount of computers running Guadalinex and we must assure those computers work fine (because the child and teachers need them for the classes, for example), we have a lot of bugs and hardware issues notificated and we already have fixed lots of different kind of problem (hardware support, 3g support, digital certificates support, etc).
I know very well that all the people behind the project would like to push all those improvements to upstream and give to more people. But the time, the tools, the language and things like that didn’t let us doing properly.
But, good news, now we are getting close to a better collaboration. We have started to integrate subprojects from Guadalinex on Launchpad, so we can show to the Ubuntu community (and nearby ones) all the things we do. We are creating the projects on launchpad and importing the subversion repositories into bazaar branches registered on lp, as well.
We also add our bug tracker to the list of bug tracker connected to launchpad, so we can connect the bugs we share and give feedback from each other or even close our bugs and notificate the fixes to the related bugs or software in Ubuntu.
People from the launchpad team are helping us with this because the bug tracker we use since more than 3 years (mantis) is not the better supported by launchpad, so we are figuring how sort this out. We’ll see.
Also there is a Guadalinex distro registration about to finish, so we can manage the releases, milestones and subprojects as a normal distro in launchpad.
We are asking to the launchpad and ubuntu people how to doing better so they can take our work and we are open to any idea or recommendation.
Our initial goal is release the stable version between 30 and 60 days after Jaunty and for this version we don’t plan add much new features, like on earlier versions. Instead, we’ll try to help to fix bugs, improve translations, documentation and hardware support, so we can get a better, more stable and more secure upstream distro.
As said before, any help, advise, recommendation will be more than welcome.
I’ll keep posting about our progress and I hope it be just good news 🙂