This week in Oakland is the Ubuntu Developer Summit, a time for Ubuntu Developers from around the world to gather and plan the next release, version 12.10 codenamed “Quantal Quetzal”.

I’ve shuffled and reshuffled the sessions several times, looking for the “governing dynamic”, the thematic structure that holds the Quetzal together. I’ve settled, appropriately, on “quantization”. In general terms, quantization is a process of separating a continuous stream into significant values or “quanta”, such as image pixels from the continuous colors of real life, or discrete atomic energy levels. The theme applies on multiple levels. First, there’s the process attendees are going through right now (in person or remote), surfing the sea of sessions, determining how to divide their time for maximum value.

From a historical perspective, there was another UDS here in California not too long ago, where I recall the schedule was dominated by the desktop. We’re in a different world today, and what struck me reading through blueprints for Quantal is the segmentation of topics. Ubuntu has grown up, and while shipping a gorgeous desktop will always be important, other forms of hardware, both smaller and larger, have an equal (and sometimes greater) influence on Ubuntu’s direction into the future. How do you choose between cloud, metal, TV, and phones, when they’re all so interesting, and have so much potential as game-changers for Ubuntu (and Linux in general)? These different domains of use also lead to differentiation in design, development, and integration. Some significant quanta to watch are:

And like an atom that retains its fundamental structure at multiple energy levels, Ubuntu is still Ubuntu, unified at the core as a distribution and as a community, even across multiple “product” targets. Since this is the first release after an LTS, there’s more room than usual to re-examine the core at a fundamental level, with an eye to where we want to be by the next LTS.

And those are only the highlights. :) It’s going to be a great week, and a great cycle!