Usual location: Denver, Colorado
Role: CEO of System76, a producer of Ubuntu laptops.
Carl is the CEO of System76, a company that produces laptops that run Ubuntu. System76 uses Launchpad to track bugs reported against their laptops, code hosting for their drivers and Answers for user support.
Carl's team of tech guys asked him to request:
- custom bug statuses
- the ability to edit bug comments -- they'd be happy with striking out the original comment
- multiple attachments -- presumably uploading multiple attachments to a bug report in one go.
System76 use Launchpad as it brings them closer to the Ubuntu community. Ubuntu is integral to their company and they think that doing things in an open way is best for their customers and best for them.
Handling bug reports from customers
Generally, their customers don't report many problems because System76 know what hardware will work before they ship it! They actually don't need to use LP much.
However, when customers do have problems with their computers, System76 ask them to report software bugs using Launchpad. Their customers vary greatly: some are people who use Launchpad regularly for their own work, others sign up only to post a bug report to System 76.
Launchpad can confuse customers and they often ask why they have to sign up to something that is apparenly totally unrelated to System 76. "Why do I have to sign up?" It would help them greatly if they could brand Launchpad: at the very least, system76.launchpad.net would help a great deal.
As System76 use standard hardware, a bug reported by a System76 customer almost certainly also applies generally to Ubuntu. So, the System76 team will add a bug task for Ubuntu and share any fix they have with the relevant Ubuntu team. Usually they do this by attaching a patch to the bug report.
They do a lot of work to ensure that a bug is easy to fix before they forward it upstream. They try to find patches etc get as much info as possible. Changes case by case.
It's rare that they find solutions by searching in Launchpad. Usually they find them in mailing lists, such as those of hardware providers. For example, they released a laptop with Realtek wireless. During testing, they didn't discover an issue that actually affected many of their customers. The solution was not available on Launchpad but rather on the Realtek site.
They will also use mailing lists and direct contact with the relevant developers.
It's much easier to collaborate in LP than other bug trackers. It'd be great to see Gnome and others in LP.
They want to restrict which tags people can use on bugs. They're only interested in the model number and Ubuntu version.
They use Launchpad to host the code for the System76 driver package: this checks which System76 machine it's running on, which Ubuntu version and then sets up the appropriate hardware drivers.
Carl says that the main way he interacts with Launchpad is through Bazaar.
Other similar tools
Carl cited SugarCRM as a tool that they use and consider to be similar to Launchpad. They use it to track customer support issues. Somtimes those issues are bugs that they then file in Launchpad.
They'd prefer to use Launchpad to track customer support issues but SugarCRM offers them privacy that Launchpad does not. They'd like to be able to post private messages using Launchpad because support requests can include private information, such as warranty details.
Their ability to communicate with developers is what would make it useful to use LP instead of SugarCRM.
The raw notes from which the above was compiled:
From: Matthew Revell Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 22:25:28 +0000 As before, rough notes. Carl Richell Uses bug tracking, code hosting and questions mostly. Tech guys want custom bug statuses, comment editing (strike-through is fine) and multiple attachments. People file bugs about their computers using LP and also use the Answers sytems. Ubuntu is such an integral part of their company, they think that doing things in an open way is best for their customers and best for them. Their customers are everything from consumers, developers, schools. Some are people who use LP regularly for their own work, others sign up for LP to post a bug report to System 76. Their bugs would apply to Ubuntu as well. So, a System76 bug probably applies to a bug in Ubuntu. They then send it to Ubuntu and if they have a fix the Ubuntu team can see it and vice versa. Usually they post a patch with the fix and the Ubuntu dev can pull it. they also use code hosting for System 76 drivers. They have a package that contains a driver that recognises the model of computer, the version of Ubuntu and pulls in the drivers needed. Primarily uses LP through and bzr. They use mailing lists and direct contact to get in touch with Ubuntu devs, too. Communication is good. Generally, they don't have many problems because they know what hardware will work before they ship it! They actually don't need to use LP much. They use SugarCRM, which partly overlaps as they use it to track support issues. Sometimes those are bugs and so they'll file that in LP. They'd like the ability to post a private message within a project. Sometimes a customer will post a bug report instead of a support request. Their support requests need to be private -- warranty info, etc -- and so they'd like to have a private conversation with customers. They'd probably use LP over SugarCRM for that if they could have private bugs. They'd rather just use LP. Prefer to have one tool. Their ability to communicate with developers it what makes it useful to use LP instead of SugarCRM. LP is bug tracking, code hosting, PPAs. Certainly collaborative. Receive email with bug status updates. They do a lot of work to ensure that a bug is easy to fix before they forward it upstream. They try to find patches etc get as much info as possible. Changes case by case. They don't find many solutions in LP when they're searching. They find most of them in mailing lists. E.g. realtek wireless driver problem. Can't put intel wireless in netbooks as it's too expensive. Have to use cheaper wireless cards. They released a netbook that didn't fit their testing profile. They discovered that when you get 40ft away from an access point, the wireless stops working! They had sent out hundreds of these machines, so quickly had to look for a solution and found it on the Realtek site. Managing tags: they really want to lock down what tags people can use. They want only ubuntu versions and computer model numbers, not just whatever anyone decides to use. He loves PPAs, like code hosting. PPAs are great for branching off a piece of software, make changes and delivering those to people for easy testing. Wouldn't use PPAs for production: was a problem that they weren't signed. They want something that's coming from System76 to have no ambiguity, particularly the domain name. Most customers don't know what Launchpad is! Launchpad can confuse customers. "Why do I have to sign up?" Quality of reporting is pretty poor. 9 times out 10, they figure out what the problem is and work with upstream to get the fix into the next version of Ubuntu. Be really cool if they could have system76.launchpad.net or something similar. It's much easier to collaborate in LP than other bug trackers. It'd be great to see Gnome and others in LP. Launchpad is easier than other similar tools he's used, he likes being able to do stuff from the command line. LP is really the tool he's mainly used.