Sunday, February 18, 2007

Values to live by

One of the major themes that I spend much of my time reflecting about is the theme of Freedom. This is a bit odd for a dormitory dean who needs to lock doors and enforce rules. But fortunately my freedom is not quite the kind of Freedom that Freddie Mercury sings about when he says, "I want to break free!" (although, I think that Queen does in fact grapple with Freedom on a deeper level than we would sometimes care to admit).

Have I mentioned that I am an ardent fan of open source computer technology and the philosophy behind it? One of the open source operating systems based on GNU/Linux is called Ubuntu.

I have version 6.10 of this operating system installed on my computer and as far as I am concerned it is much better than Windows XP or even Vista.

I like the philosophy of Ubuntu. I found this code of conduct for Ubuntu developers. I think they really do reflect the values that I find important in my life. I think this is a useful list of values with which to manage a dormitory as well. (Credit to Christer Edwards for posting a blog about these values)

  • Be considerate. Your work will be used by other people, and you in turn will depend on the work of others. Any decision you take will affect users and colleagues, and we expect you to take those consequences into account when making decisions.
  • Be respectful. The Ubuntu community and its members treat one another with respect. Everyone can make a valuable contribution to Ubuntu. We may not always agree, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behaviour and poor manners. We might all experience some frustration now and then, but we cannot allow that frustration to turn into a personal attack. It’s important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one. We expect members of the Ubuntu community to be respectful when dealing with other contributors as well as with people outside the Ubuntu project, and with users of Ubuntu.
  • Be collaborative. Ubuntu and Free Software are about collaboration and working together. Collaboration reduces redundancy of work done in the Free Software world, and improves the quality of the software produced. You should aim to collaborate with other Ubuntu maintainers, as well as with the upstream community that is interested in the work you do. Your work should be done transparently and patches from Ubuntu should be given back to the community when they are made, not just when the distribution releases. If you wish to work on new code for existing upstream projects, at least keep those projects informed of your ideas and progress. It may not be possible to get consensus from upstream or even from your colleagues about the correct implementation of an idea, so don’t feel obliged to have that agreement before you begin, but at least keep the outside world informed of your work, and publish your work in a way that allows outsiders to test, discuss and contribute to your efforts.
  • When you disagree, consult others. Disagreements, both political and technical, happen all the time and the Ubuntu community is no exception. The important goal is not to avoid disagreements or differing views but to resolve them constructively. You should turn to the community and to the community process to seek advice and to resolve disagreements. We have the Technical Board and the Community Council, both of which will help to decide the right course for Ubuntu. There are also several Project Teams and Team Leaders, who may be able to help you figure out which direction will be most acceptable. If you really want to go a different way, then we encourage you to make a derivative distribution or alternative set of packages available using the Ubuntu Package Management framework, so that the community can try out your changes and ideas for itself and contribute to the discussion.
  • When you are unsure, ask for help. Nobody knows everything, and nobody is expected to be perfect in the Ubuntu community (except of course the SABDFL). Asking questions avoids many problems down the road, and so questions are encouraged. Those who are asked should be responsive and helpful. However, when asking a question, care must be taken to do so in an appropriate forum. Off-topic questions, such as requests for help on a development mailing list, detract from productive discussion.
  • Step down considerately. Developers on every project come and go and Ubuntu is no different. When you leave or disengage from the project, in whole or in part, we ask that you do so in a way that minimises disruption to the project. This means you should tell people you are leaving and take the proper steps to ensure that others can pick up where you leave off.

For those that feel I have at any time fallen short of this code I apologize. I try as best I can and I am going to continue as best I can moving forward. I try to remember this standard in my day to day and hope we can pass on these ideals to those around us.

I try to remember the words of Desmond Tutu in describing what Ubuntu means:

“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in No Future Without Forgiveness

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh great,now our dormitory rules are going to be based on principles formulated by a bunch of hackers>>>>
What is this world coming to?