I love dog food.
Nothing helps to improve the quality of software quite so much as when companies dive right in and live, day to day, in the software they create. This forces them to see, and understand, the pain their customers go through...and fix those problems.
And the team behind Ubuntu Touch (aka “Ubuntu for Phones”) understands that. They have committed to pushing forward to a “dog food-able” state by the end of May.
What that means: Over the next few weeks, the team behind Ubuntu Touch is going to be attempting to implement enough functionality to make it possible to use Ubuntu on your phone (such as the Nexus 4) on a day-to-day basis. At which point their development team will be doing exactly that.
So what features are they going to be working on? Making and receiving calls and SMS messages. Using the web browser on both 3G and Wi-Fi. And the ability import, add, and edit contact data, with contacts retained even after updating the handset OS (something pretty critical when we're talking about an early “in development” system that is likely to be updated on a pretty rapid basis).
The team definitely has a lot of work ahead of them, but this is a truly worthwhile goal. And I applaud them for diving in and tackling it. Many in the Linux and Open Source world don't, so this sets a great example for others to follow.
"Wait. Other Linux developers don't eat their own dogfood?"
That's right. If you've ever been to a Linux conference you may have noticed the large number of glowing white Apple logos. While using “competing technology” can certainly help to give developers (and designers, etc.) a great insight into what they can do better in their own software, it can become a real problem when they don't spend the bulk of their day living in the tools they build.
Luckily, this situation seems to be improving dramatically lately. At the last Linux conference I went to (Linux Fest NW), there was not a non-Linux laptop in sight. And with the Ubuntu Touch team diving in and living in their own system, that's a good sign for all of us.