Home / Linux / The Ubuntu MATE 19.10 ‘Paper Cut Release’ Is A Great Lesson In Developer Transparency And Community Impact

The Ubuntu MATE 19.10 ‘Paper Cut Release’ Is A Great Lesson In Developer Transparency And Community Impact

I’ve always praised the elementary OS team for its extensive and accessible release notes and overall transparency throughout the entire development process. Now it’s time to direct that same praise at Martin Wimpress, the Project Lead for Linux desktop distribution Ubuntu MATE.

Wimpress begins his release notes for the upcoming Ubuntu MATE 19.10 by saying “I have not been completely happy with the quality of recent Ubuntu MATE releases.”

You don’t hear that kind of honesty every day.

Wimpress calls out several minor issues in existing releases of Ubuntu MATE that “by themselves are not deal breakers, but in aggregate are frustrating and spoil the experience.” He goes so far as to designate version 19.10 a “Paper-Cut Release.”

For this release cycle, Wimpress and his development team focused their efforts on resolving a bunch of “niggling issues” around the window manager, panel and indicators as these are crucial elements that every user interacts with constantly.

But the laundry list of improvements is only a side-story.

In a conversation with me earlier this week, Wimpress calls out one key change in this development cycle that has resulted in what he believes is the best Ubuntu MATE release ever: two additional developers and a greatly expanded QA (quality assurance) team comprised of some dedicated community members.

“I contacted the most active people on Launchpad bugs and the ISO QA tracker for Ubuntu MATE and asked them if they’d like to join the team,” Wimpress says.

This larger team appears to be a well-oiled machine. Wimpress says they identify the “hot issues” and diligently communicate with him, allowing him to spend more time on fixes and improvements.

“Without doubt this is our best release because of them. They’ve also started writing a testing guide and engaging with the wider community; it’s brilliant.”

Martin Wimpress, Ubuntu MATE

In our chat, Wimpress echoes the same message I’ve been hammering home about how anyone in the Linux community can make a difference. “This demonstrates how a non-developer can make a big impact,” he says.

The lengthy release notes themselves are a breath of fresh air, infused with whimsical emojis (if you follow Wimpress on Twitter this will come as no surprise). Love them or hate them, they do serve to introduce some personality into a format that many consider quite boring, and also break up that wall of text.

And taking a page from the elementary OS blog, Wimpress is not only verbose about all the changes and improvements, but explains in detail why things like Compiz have been removed, and why Evolution gets swapped in to replace Thunderbird.

An entire paragraph is even devoted to a handful of creative ways the team reduced the size of the ISO to compensate for the addition of the proprietary Nvidia graphics driver, a change that affects all Ubuntu 19.10 flavors (don’t worry, it’s only installed if you choose to install it).

There are entirely too many notable improvements to summarize here, but the “paper cut” release notes are well worth a look. And if you’ve never dipped your toes into Ubuntu MATE waters, the distribution itself is worth a look too.

The Ubuntu MATE 19.10 beta is available now for adventurous testers. The final release drops in late October.


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