Quality has a new name

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

This quirky scheme of adjectives and animals presents a pretty puzzle every six months. What mix of characteristics do we want to celebrate in the next release? Here we are, busily finalizing the precise pangolin (which was a rather perfect product placement for a scaly anteater, all things considered) and before one realises it’s time to talk turkey, so to speak, about Q! Our code names may raise a quizzical eyebrow here and there, but they capture the zeitgeist of a cycle and shape our discussions in surprising ways. The quest for a name has no quick answer unless, of course, you jump to the last paragraph ūüėČ

12.04 being an LTS we’ve been minding our P’s and Q’s, but many of our quality-oriented practices from 12.04 LTS will continue into Q territory. We’ll keep the platform usable throughout the cycle, because that helped hugely to encourage daily use of the release, which in turn gives us much better feedback on questions of quality. And we’ll ratchet up the continuous integration, smoke testing and automated benchmarking of the release, since we can do it all in the cloud. We have, so to speak, stacks and stacks of cloud to use. So quality is quotidian rather than quarterly. And it is both qualitative and quantitative, with user research and testing continuing to shape our design decisions. The effort we put into polishing Unity and the rest of the platform in 12.04 seem to have paid off handsomely, with many quondam quarrelsome suddenly quiescent in the face of a surge in support for the work.

But the finest quality is that without a name, so support for “quality” as a codename would at best be qualified. Every release has quality first these days – they all get used, on the server, on devices, and while the term of maintenance might vary, our commitment to interim releases is just as important as that to an LTS.

Our focus on quality permeates from the platform up to the code we write upstream, and our choices of upstream components too. We require tests and gated trunks for all Canonical codebases, and prefer upstreams that share the same values. Quality starts at the source, it’s not something that can be patched in after the fact. And I’m delighted that we have many upstreams using our tools to improve their quality too! We have awesome tools for daily builds from branches, continuous integration support in Launchpad, the ability to provide a gated trunk with tests run in the cloud for projects that really care about quality. Rumours and allegations of a move from Upstart to systemd are unfounded: Upstart has a huge battery of tests, the competition has virtually none. Upstart knows everything it wants to be, the competition wants to be everything. Quality comes from focus and clarity of purpose, it comes from careful design and rigorous practices. After a review by the Ubuntu Foundations team our course is clear: we’re committed to Upstart, it’s the better choice for a modern init, innit. For our future on cloud and client, Upstart is crisp, clean and correct. It will be a pleasure to share all the Upstart-enablement patches we carry with other family friends as soon as their release is ready and they can take a breath, so to speak.

From a styling point of view, we think in terms of quadruples: this next release starts a cycle of four, which will culminate in 14.04 LTS. So there’s an opportunity to refresh the look. That will kick off with a project on typography to make sure we are expressing ourselves with crystal clarity – making the most of Ubuntu’s Light and Medium font weights for a start. And a project on iconography, with the University of Reading, to refine the look of apps and interfaces throughout the platform. It’s amazing how quaint the early releases of Ubuntu look compared to the current style. And we’re only just getting started! In our artistic explorations we want to embrace¬†tessellation¬†as an expression of the part-digital, part-organic nature of Ubuntu. We love the way tessellated art expresses both the precision and reliability of our foundations, and the freedom and collaboration of a project driven by people making stuff for people. There’s nothing quixotic in our desire to make Ubuntu the easiest, steadiest, and most beautiful way to live digitally.

On the fauna front, the quotable campaign for the Queer Quokka is quorate but, it must sometimes be said, this is not a democracy. One man’s favourite furball is another’s mangy marsupial. No, the quintessential stories of Q will be all about style on the client, with a refresh of our theme and typography, a start on new iconography and perhaps even a new form factor taking flight. So brown is out and something colourful and light is called for.¬†On the cloud front, the new virtualized network madness called Quantum will make its appearance. Being a first cut, it’s more likely to be Folsom than wholesome, but it’s going to be worth calling out, and the name is reminiscent of our package-oriented practices, where goodness is delivered one piece at a time. And so the stage is set for a decision: ¬†I give you the Quantal Quetzal, soon to be dressed in tessellated technicolour, now open for toolchains, kernels and other pressing preparatory packages.

164 Responses to “Quality has a new name”

  1. Sorry Says:

    UK Metro 26/04/12 page 17. ‘Extinct bee is to make a comeback. A BUMBLEBEE extint in Britain for nearly 25 years is making a comeback. The short-haired Bombus subterraneus was last recorded in Kent in 1988. But with large numbers found in Skane, southern Sweden, conservationists plan to move some queens here and ‘restore a lost piece of the jigsaw for our countryside wildlife.’

  2. Ubuntu 12.10 ser√° “Quantal Quetzal” Says:

    […] Leemos el anuncio en la web del m√°ximo representante de la distribuci√≥n, Mark Shuttleworth (http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/1121). […]

  3. Stephan Says:

    Thanks for all the work. I am very happy with the current state of ubuntu and thank you and the ubuntu team for all the very great work you are doing. :-)

  4. Numele Ubuntu 12.10 a fost stabilit: “Quantal Quetzal” | Mannius Tirman Says:

    […] Quetzal“. Anun»õul a fost fńÉcut prin intermediul unei postńÉri pe blogul lui Mark Shuttleworth (creatorul […]

  5. Numele Ubuntu 12.10 a fost stabilit la “Quantal Quetzal” | Mannius Tirman Says:

    […] Quetzal“. Anun»õul a fost fńÉcut prin intermediul unei postńÉri pe blogul lui Mark Shuttleworth (creatorul […]

  6. Ryan Says:

    SO excited about Ubuntu 12.10! Precise is awesome, now what is in store for 12.10? “For God so loved the world in this way: He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 HCSB

  7. Linux – are we desktop ready for the ‘normal’ user? » Bradley J. Gibby Says:

    […] After researching this a little further, I found a blog entry that suggests that my thoughts about Linux are shared by people who influence […]

  8. Canonical names next Ubuntu OS "Quantal Quetzal" | AspenIT.co.uk | Computing & Technology News Says:

    […] founder Mark Shuttleworth revealed in a blog post that 12.10 has been handed the tongue-twisting moniker Quantal Quetzal, with the latter moniker […]

  9. Ubuntu 12.10: roadmap e aggiornamento grafico | Indipedia – Indipendenti nella rete Says:

    […] quello che possiamo evincere dal lungo post scritto da Mark Shuttleworth, patron di Canonical, in occasione dell’annuncio del nuovo […]

  10. Liz Says:

    Awesome bird! Art can’t be democratic otherwise the vision would become blurred. Thanks again for clear statements – and congrats to Precise.
    btw. watching this video about the status of the *nix-world proves that Ubuntu is on the right track to make it a better place. I’ve started with Hoary and never regret it.


  11. Bautizan Ubuntu 12.10 como “Quantal Quetzal” | Web Site de Prueba Says:

    […] deje atr√°s el est√°ndar marr√≥n por ‚Äúalgo m√°s colorido y luminoso‚ÄĚ. El directivo sudafricano tambi√©n explica que habr√≠a sido redundante recurrir a la palabra ‚Äúcalidad‚ÄĚ (escrito ‚Äúquality‚ÄĚ en ingl√©s), […]

  12. Dougie Says:

    What happens after “Zany Zebra” or whatever we get for zed?

    I’ve been running Pangolin since beta2, apart from losing a few Perl packages and screwing up my replacement of MySQL with MariaDB it’s been rock solid. When I pulled todays updates there was a new kernel that needed a reboot – so I’m now up to date with the official release.

  13. mark Says:


    The number of test programs and the number of tests are totally unrelated. Dig a little further.

  14. mark Says:


    Ah yes, thank you for correcting me, I’ve fixed the post to use the preferred capitalization for systemd. Of course, I was more concerned about the megalomaniac ambition to absorb a vast array of functionality into process 1 (which nukes the system if it ever crashes), and the spaghetti code, combined with the absence of any significant test suite, but I’m delighted to hear that the systemd crowd at least are pedantic about capitalization. Great things may come of that, and we’ll review the decision after 14.04 LTS in the spirit of always staying open to goodness regardless of pedigree.