According to https://wiki.ubuntu.com/AppReviews the Application Review Process is good both for upstream software developers and Ubuntu packagers. The point seems to be that the upstream developers have the advantage of getting their apps into the Software Center sooner and easier, while they help the Ubuntu package managers by preparing their application for packaging.

This seems to be a great deal. The instruction on wiki states that a developer fulfills some steps listed there, including uploading the application to a PPA, and requests review, and after some time it is reviewed, and accepted & included to Ubuntu repositories, or not accepted at all.

Although this looks like a simple, fair way to quickly add an application to the Software Center, I think I am missing something. I have noticed, that while there are some requests pending, there is no (or barely any) activity there. Everything seems as if it was frozen about 5-6 months ago, and it smells a bit abandoned.

Did I understand anything wrong, and everything is okay (maybe for example they are being reviewed only at the UDS?), or did something change? Could anyone explain me clearly, how exactly this process of reviews (and inclusion in repositories) works?


Current Situation

The ARB was a session topic (Tues 6th Sept) in the recent Ubuntu App-Developers Week (5th-9th Sept).

Summarising the IRC classroom (transcribed as the lesson unfolded hence the brevity and that it reflects the order of the lesson!):

  1. In future, just like paid for applications, free/libre apps will be submitted through the MyApps portal (see blueprint below)
  2. The ARB is a 4 community member group responsible to allow small standalone apps into a stable distro (i.e. has been released)
  3. Board offers assistance for packaging and ensures apps meets standard ubuntu packaging rules.
  4. Two apps have gone through the process - 'News' and 'Suspended Sentence' - both made available to Maverick (10.10)
  5. Confirmed that Launchpad will be dropped in favour of the MyApps portal.
  6. Ways to get free/libre apps into ubuntu - through debian and sync to ubuntu before feature freeze, via a backport or through the ARB
  7. Ways to get paid for apps into ubuntu - Canonical partner apps (case be case basis) or via Purchase Apps through Software Center
  8. If submitted via ARB - you are the maintainer and are responsible for submitting for every new release of Ubuntu. Hence the preference for packages from upstream since they are automatically sync'd.
  9. ARB accepted apps are added to extras.ubuntu.com repository
  10. If there is a critical bug or security issue in an ARB package a board member will attempt to fix on a best effort basis - then contact the maintainer. Where the maintainer is not responsive - app will be removed and an empty package is pushed.
  11. ARB members recognise the length review process. Looking to use Arkose to containerise apps - similar to Android app with a list of actions that an app is allowed to perform. Should allow faster review without having to do a full code-review (this is the key reason for the current length delay). It is also the reason cannot accept complex apps or apps written in certain languages
  12. Also looking to produce a debhelper script to automatically package a app to meet ARB rules.
  13. Long-term - submission via MyApps as tarball of source code with a build recipe. This will generate a Arkose or Apparmor profile etc. ARB process should be then reviewed in hours (rather than as now weeks) before being pushed to Software Center.

ARB Blueprint

The Oneiric ARB blueprint was raised in May this year and is targeted for Oneiric.

The review tag-line is "We want to socialize how people can get their apps in Ubuntu, and we want to review how well the ARB is working.

  • Which things work well?
  • Which are the areas that need improvement?"

Some progress has been made in achieving the blue-print's goals:

  • New app-review mailing list (app-review-board@lists.ubuntu.com)
  • checklist of steps for uploading apps to the live extras repository
  • Progress towards talking towards stakeholders on how to simplify the process on merging and incorporating changes
  • Preparing and article for publishing on Ubuntu Planet
  • New beta web-page for developers to guide through the process of submitting (although currently for commercial developers)

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As the notes in the blue-print indicate - Canonical's own developers need "motivating" to get the ARB process working. There is talk of recruiting someone to primarily to move the process forward.


So to answer the question - the ARB is working for Commercial developers (just), with plans for the ARB to be fully working within Oneiric timeframes.

You could however speculate, given the number of outstanding items in the blueprint - maybe 12.04 would be a more safer bet.

  • Great thanks. This explains everything I needed! :) – Rafał Cieślak Sep 7 '11 at 13:30
  • Can you slightly update your answer :) – Tachyons Nov 13 '12 at 12:19
  • @Tachyons - absolutely - feel free - let me know what specifically you want me to add :) – fossfreedom Nov 13 '12 at 12:23

In May, there has been ARB review and assessment session meant to improve the way ARB works: http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-o/meeting/16441/community-o-app-review-board-review-and-assessment/

From these notes, it seems it is not abandoned, however not really working well as of now.

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