Well, here we are, getting close to the release of Ubuntu Studio 11.10 aka Oneiric Ocelot and a few topics come to mind for immediate discussion.
Sadly, development is crawling forward in between periods of stark inactivity. Our goal was to transition to XFCE during this development cycle. Unfortunately, it seemed that almost everyone of those actively involved were busy outside of Ubuntu Studio. Development stagnated for several months but I think we are building momentum again and making progress.
Therefore it seems that while we may make a transition, it will not be the thorough or complete transition for this release. It is embarrassing, but it is also true.
So, it would seem that two development cycle will be required to complete the transition to XFCE.
We are currently testing the Beta 1 image. You can help test as well (please do!) by going to the QA Website and choosing the appropriate architecture to test. And be sure to report your results!
I tested (and reported) the image last night and I will forewarn you that it currently is not aesthetically pleasing at this point. Our main concern at this point is to make sure everything works, then we can make it pretty.
Currently the current theme and settings are still the default XFCE settings but Cory is still working on this. So, "pretty" is still in the plan ;)
We still need help for almost everything. But this time I want to be slightly more selective in my solicitation.
We certainly need people for almost every aspect but one quality (well, perhaps two actually) I would like to highlight: self-reliance and initiative.
People who can take a general direction (i.e. "find out how to set the background for the new lightdm greeter"), find answers/solutions with minimal input from the team (i.e. go find other code that has already done it, ask the lightdm developer, or just play with it), and yield a results (i.e. "I figured out how and this is how you do it...") are greatly needed. We appreciate anyone who wants to help, but if the team spends time to walk someone else through it then other major changes will not occur. It's a paradox and it sucks but that is where are at.
I knew practically nothing about development and no one directly mentored me. I asked lots of questions, did a lot of research (all hail the mighty Google), and experimented/tested a lot. It can be done, even if you don't know much currently, but you need to have tenacity.
Also I want to state that internally we have shifted from using the term "developers" to "contributors" for the team. This may seem like semantics, but it is more than just that. There truly isn't that much "developing" going on as we don't write a lot of code within the team...but we do a lot of other things like creating themes, creating packages that adjust settings, testing, artwork, yadda, yadda, yadda.
The fear was that the term didn't accurately reflect what we did and it seemed to hold exclusive connotations. People shied away from help because they weren't "developers". But everyone (and I really, really mean that) can contribute :)
Probably the best way to really get into the mix is to visit us on Freenode IRC at #ubuntustudio-devel. Be sure to stay there for a while and don't leave after three minutes because no one says anything back. We are all busy and in different time zone so you may need to wait several hours before you receive a coherent reply.
Of course, IRC visits aren't absolutely required to help because there's always monthly QA testing and documentation that needs to be created and maintained.
A confluence of activities yielded an interesting result....the majority of the active team feels that we should define our audience as musicians who are new to Linux. This is still a continuing process so we might refine or adjust this definition.
But the general feelings was that other multimedia distributions are addressing other areas of the user space spectrum and Ubuntu already has a connotation of being accessible for users new to Linux.
Therefore, Ubuntu Studio could directly support those who are new to Linux. They might either have used a multimedia OS or may be transitioning from Windows or Mac.
Unsurprisingly, articulating an audience and a goal suddenly gave a clearly defined direction to the project that had been lacking and many of the questions we had simply had answers. Troy predicted this phenomenon to me over a year ago.
We would certainly appreciate any feedback on this subject.