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Author Archive

Soren Hansen

November 26, 2007 1 comment

Continuing our Server Team theme again this week we are talking with Soren Hansen. Soren is working in Canonical’s server efforts (most notably he’s working on getting ebox ready for Ubuntu Server) , and is the latest addition to the Ubuntu Core Developer ranks.

Soren’s Pic

Age: 26
Location: Nørresundby, Denmark
IRC Nick: soren

How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?
I started running Linux back in 1996, I believe. I bought a CD set called “Infomagic “LINUX Developer’s Resource CD-ROM” which had a few different distributions on it. I knew nothing about the various distros, so I just went with whatever they had put on the first disk which was Slackware. After a few years I switched to RedHat, then Debian (around 2000, I think), and now finally Ubuntu.

How long have you been using Ubuntu?
I’ve been running Ubuntu since a few months after Hoary came out.

When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how?
I’ve been involved in free software for quite a few years now, so it felt natural to take active part in the development of the distribution I used, so I got involved pretty much right away. I had my first self-made package included in Breezy a few months later, and I’m quite sure I must have contributed a few patches for other packages during Breezy as well, but Launchpad doesn’t have that on record.

What helped you learning packaging and learning how the Ubuntu teams work?
Being a Debian user before, it took a bit of reading to work out the differences between Debian and Ubuntu, and while reading up on what the different components (main, restricted, universe, and multiverse) were for, I also read about the MOTU team etc. I had previously worked on some packages used internally in the company I used to work for, and I also contributed a couple of packages to Debian (for which I never found a sponsor, though), so the technical bits of packaging weren’t that alien to me.

Favorite part of working with MOTU?
I love hanging out in the Ubuntu IRC channels :) People are friendly, helpful, and we have lots of fun. The presence of all the more experienced people is also an infinite source of inspiration to me.

Any advice for people wanting to help with MOTU?
Just realise that it’s really not that hard. We’re a friendly bunch, and even the smallest contribution is very welcome. You don’t have to start out with packaging a new complex package.

You are the latest MOTU to join the Ubuntu Core Developer ranks how would you compare working in Universe and Main?
Well, personally, I’ve felt that I requires a more holistic view of Ubuntu. A lot of the stuff I’ve worked on in universe was “safe” to fiddle around with. Nothing huge would break if it didn’t work out as planned. Recently, I’ve found myself patching the kernel and I needed to do make a tiny change to module-init-tools as well. I think I stared at my two-line patch for 5 minutes trying to convince myself it wouldn’t break anything. AFAIK, it hasn’t. Yet. :)

Any Plans for Hardy Heron?
Oh yes, plenty! :) We’re discussing a lot of different things here at UDS. Integration into existing networks is going to be a big thing, simplifying various system management use cases, virtualisation. It’s a bit too soon to say what we’ll actually be doing, but there’s certainly a lot of ideas, and I’m really excited about the Ubuntu server edition.

Favorite quote?
There is one that cracks me up every time:

“It has been said that XML is like violence; if a little doesn’t solve the problem, use more.”

If you’ve ever been pulled into a project using XML, you’ll know what this is all about :)

What do you do in your other spare time?
Sleep. :)

Pic of you, your work area, and/or your screen?

You realise of course, you’ve forced me to clean my office now, don’t you? :)

Soren’s Desk

Categories: Uncategorized

Mathias Gug

November 14, 2007 Leave a comment

Today we’re talking to Mathias Gug, a member of Canonical’s Server Team.

Mathias Gug

Age: 28
Location: Montreal, Canada
IRC Nick: mathiaz

How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?

The first time I saw linux was in 1997, Redhat IIRC.  The first time I downloaded it was in September 1999, Debian. But I gave up after a couple of weeks. I came back during summer of 2000 with Mandrake Linux and the 2.4 kernel. I’ve never left since then.

How long have you been using Ubuntu?

I installed Ubuntu one and half year ago, it was Xubuntu 6.06 IIRC.

When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how?

I was hired by Canonical as the first member of the Ubuntu Server Team last May. I started packaging AppArmor and other server-related software which lead me to become a member of the MOTU team.

What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work?

I’m using the packaging guide from help.ubuntu.com, the Debian New Maintainer Guide and the Debian Policy. For processes, I just keep referring to wiki.ubuntu.com where they’re all outlined. And last, but not least, the irc channels (#ubuntu-motu and #ubuntu-devel), are great resources. I’ve always find someone to help me there.

Favorite part of working with the MOTU?

Being part of a great team trying to deliver the best of the free software world. There are lots of interesting challenges when it comes to packaging – you get to learn how things work under the hood.

Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU?

Start simple, start small. Pick one bug or one package and try to fix it. Ask for sponsorship and you’ll learn a lot of things in no time.

You have been working a lot in the Server Team, what can MOTU do to better the Ubuntu Server experience?

One of the project I’ll try to work one is a better packaging framework for web applications. So that such application can be added to the universe easily and in a consistent manner.

Any plans for Hardy Heron?

Most of them are in the server area – I’ll keep on working on security with AppArmor. Server hardware testing is another area I’m interested in.

Favorite quote?

“I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”
Plutarch quoting Socrates

What do you do in your spare time?

Among others things, I go swing dancing several nights a week, both in Montreal and in other places in North America. I’m also a big traveller: I’ve just returned from an eight month backpacking experience in Asia covering Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal and India.

Categories: Uncategorized

Andrea Veri

October 16, 2007 2 comments

Today we are interviewing Andrea Veri, fresh MOTU and eager Ubuntu volunteer.

Andrea Veri

Age: 18
Location: Udine, Italy
IRC Nick: bluekuja

How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?
I started using Linux at the end of 2005 using Red Hat and Fedora distros, contributing on writing several pages for Fedora documentation (mostly server docs) but mainly working on some packaging-related activities (introducing ctorrent, gtorrent-viewer and v2strip packages inside Fedora) for more than 3 months until the beginning of March 2006 when I decided to move definitely to Ubuntu after discovering it at a friend’s party. Was love at first sight that made me leaving every Fedora plan and project creating my first personal wiki page on wiki.ubuntu.com some days later.

How long have you been using Ubuntu?
In fact, I started using Ubuntu at the beginning of 2006, firstly getting involved inside the Edubuntu family making real the possibility to have an Edubuntu Italian support and website area inside the current Italian LoCo Team.

When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how?
Right after joining the Ubuntu brigade I started checking out MOTU documentation, mainly packaging guide plus debian new maintainer’s guide, trying to understand every single new word and applying directly to a source package every lesson learned during developer’s world “travel”. After getting introduced and fascinated from an active community, I had to left the project for a while for some small problems, restarting everything on May 2007 with my first sponsored upload inside the archive. My packaging passion increased right after meeting Alexander Sack inside #ubuntu-mozillateam irc channel some days later, deciding to work directly with him as my mentor for both Debian and Ubuntu distributions.

What helped you learning packaging and learning how the Ubuntu teams work?
I started with Debian New Maintainer’s guide and Ubuntu’s packaging guide moving then to package my first applications learning from already-packaged software and asking if needed to Alexander improving and learning every time from him or from other developers a new Ubuntu Team lesson.

Favorite part of working with MOTU?
Introducing a fix making tons of users happy is one of the best things I appreciate of being a MOTU. Mentoring, sponsoring, helping out new contributors or students is something special as well.

Any advice for people wanting to help with MOTU?
I always suggest to start with a package a new contributor cares about personally, that’s useful to improve/fix the package itself during its maintenance.
Reading MOTU and Debian documentation is a great starting point as well to avoid any strange question on our MOTU irc channel.

What packages/areas of Universe are you most interested in?
I’m currently working on a vast area of packages, but I’ll try to focus on p2p (Peer-2-Peer) applications both for Universe and Main. I planned to create a MOTU-p2p team really soon including it inside the existing motu-torrent team, but it will take some months to organize everything up; contributors (testers/packagers) are currently missing.

Any Plans for Hardy Heron?
I’ll keep working on a large number of packages but as I said before I would like to focus on having an updated situation of p2p applications, introducing libtorrent-rasterbar and its related clients like btg or linkage. Creating a working team with interested contributors and developers will be the first step to work on.

Favorite quote?

“As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.” — Socrates

What do you do in your other spare time?
I love going around with my motorbike, listening good music, playing basketball and meeting up with friends around the city centre.

Pic of you, your work area, and/or your screen?

Andrea Veri’s Screenshot

Andrea Veri’s Work area

Categories: Uncategorized

Travis Watkins

October 7, 2007 1 comment

 Travis Watkins recently became a MOTU after a long time in the Ubuntu community. He is best known for Alacarte, the Gnome menu editor. He also wrote a Bayesian content filter called willow-ng for Edubuntu and more recently has been working on 3D desktop with the Compiz community.

Age: 20
Location: Iowa, USA
IRC Nick: Amaranth

How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?
I started with Debian in 2003.

How long have you been using Ubuntu?
Since the very first release so around the end of October or start of November in 2004.

When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how?
I had created alacarte, my menu editor, and needed a package for it. This was probably around April or so in 2005.

What helped you learning packaging and learning how the Ubuntu teams work?
I started with the Debian New Maintainer’s Guide and then started looking at existing packages that were similar to what I was trying to do. I mostly learned how things worked in Ubuntu by watching what everyone else was doing.

Favorite part of working with MOTU?
Knowing people are having a better Ubuntu experience because of work I’ve done.

Any advice for people wanting to help with MOTU?
Start with a package you care about personally, that way you’ll learn all the tricks and techniques needed to make it the best it can be because it makes your life better too.

How do you see compiz/3D desktop changing Ubuntu and computing in general in the future?
With compiz and related technologies we’re reaching the point where our only limit to what we can do is our imagination. With this new power we can redefine the way you use your desktop for the better.

Any Plans for Hardy Heron?
My main goal is still getting compiz working better but along with that I want to package all the fun blingful things you can use once you have compiz like avant-window-navigator, screenlets, moonlight widgets, etc.

Favorite quote?

“The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner.” — Mark Twain

What do you do in your other spare time?
I enjoy walking/jogging and am trying to learn to play guitar.

Pic of you, your work area, and/or your screen?
My ‘work area’ is a reclining chair (laptop ftw) so it’s not very interesting.

Amaranth’s desktop

Categories: Uncategorized

Cesare Tirabassi

September 29, 2007 Leave a comment

In the next few interviews we will be talking with some of the newly minted MOTUs. Cesare Tirabassi (norsetto) is a familiar face to anybody in #ubuntu-motu and became a full-fledged MOTU on 2007-09-21.

Age: Approaching twice your average MOTU …
Location: Rome, home to the Coliseum and the permanent traffic jam.
IRC Nick: norsetto

How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?
It’s even more embarrassing than the age question. Since, hmm, like, hmmm, February, errr this year. The first try was Debian (a disaster). After a quick flirt with Knoppix I found Ubuntu. It was love at first sight.

How long have you been using Ubuntu?
Ever since and not looking back once.

When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how?
Almost immediately, you can find in the motu mailing list archive the email of “young” me, titled “Willing to help”, dated 7 March.

What helped you learning packaging and learning how the Ubuntu teams work?
Its a very good question because for me the two were strictly correlated, the more I learned about how the Ubuntu teams work, the more I learned about packaging. The biggest help was the feedback from MOTUs, either sponsoring my uploads, commenting in REVU or giving me suggestions or answers to my questions in #ubuntu-motu.

Favorite part of working with MOTU?
The community. Being part of this amazing collection of people whose work reaches millions of other people everywhere, its just overwhelming.

Any advice for people wanting to help with MOTU?
Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid, and the more you give the more you will be given.

What can be done to help new contributors become new MOTUs?
I really think we need somebody which is dedicated full-time to training, recruiting, coordinating sponsorship and mentoring, updating and making available documentation, organising lessons and Q&A sessions, being a point of reference that contributors can look at. Daniel is doing a tremendous job in this respect but there is only so much one can do when one has 4 or 5 full-time jobs.

Any Plans for Hardy Heron?
Learning packaging :-)
And helping new contributors as much as I can with the little I’ve learned up to now.

Favorite quote?
I’ve fortune set to give me quotes from Terry Pratchett books. Every one is a gem.

What do you do in your other spare time?
Sleep. Serious.

Pic of you, your work area, and/or your screen?
Attached. I’m the small white and red hairy one.

norsetto’s pic

Categories: Uncategorized

Steve Kowalik

September 10, 2007 Leave a comment

This weeks interviewee is Steve Kowalik. Steve is a MOTU, Ubuntu Core Developer, and Debian Developer amongst other things.

StevenK Mugshot

Age: 26
Location: Sydney, Australia
IRC Nick: stevenk

How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?
I started using Linux in late November, 1998, and started with an install of RedHat 5.0 that I later upgraded all the way until 6.2, until I heard about reports of RedHat 7.0 (which was in RC at the
time) being very bad, even for a RedHat .0 release, and decided to switch to Debian, and installed Slink (2.1).

How long have you been using Ubuntu?
I decided to finally look at Ubuntu just after Breezy was released. I’d kept a vague eye on it, being a Debian Developer, but didn’t pay much notice. After Breezy came out, I downloaded a Live CD, and gave it a try. And liked it so much that I left it running on my machine for two days, at which point I thought I should install it.

How long have you been a MOTU and how long did it take to become one?
I became a MOTU on January the 16th, 2006. I think I had been working on Ubuntu for about two months at that point.

Favorite packages?
I will always have a soft spot for xringd, since it’s the first package I maintained in Debian. Also:

  • quodlibet
  • crack-attack

Favorite part of being a MOTU?
The community — when I first joined #ubuntu-motu, I was collared by two regulars and set to work after a little bit of a chat. :-)

But the real answer is just that, the wonderful and clueful people out there that, like me, are working to make Universe in Ubuntu better.

Any advice for people wanting to help with MOTU?
Jump in, the water’s fine. If you’re interested in helping out, there are plenty of people who are happy to answer your questions on the mailing list or #ubuntu-motu IRC channel.

Can you briefly compare the development styles of Ubuntu and Debian?
Quite different — Debian is very centered around the idea of “Here is one guy, and the packages he looks after. If you need to do anything, file a bug, and wait for him.” Ubuntu on the other hand is a small team of people working together to solve problems in Universe. We may have people that ‘maintain’ a package in Ubuntu, but only because they know it better, or have a relationship with upstream.

Any Plans for Hardy Heron?
At this point, my only plan is getting a better about window in place, one that doesn’t use yelp.

Favorite quote?
It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” — it’s quite fun to apply this to random packages.

What do you do to relax after a long day of development work?
I am employed as a developer, so to relax after a long day at work, I work on Ubuntu. I guess that doesn’t answer your question. :-)

I’ll read a book, listen to music, or play crack-attack, or WoW.

Screenshot/Pic of work area?
My screenshot is very boring – the default Gnome settings don’t get my way, so I don’t change them. A bunch of terminals in tabs, Firefox, Wanderlust/Thunderbird for reading mail, and Quod Libet playing music on the other workspace.

StevenK Screenshot

As you can see from the photo, I’m a big fan of the mentality that a messy desk is a sign of a sane mind. Sound system, machine, laptop, lots of paper – all fairly normal.

Stevenk Workarea

Categories: Uncategorized

Stefan Potyra

September 1, 2007 Leave a comment

After a long hiatus, we are back and today we are talking with Stefan Potyra (sistpoty) who is a long time MOTU and sat on the first Motu Council.

Age: 28
Location: Poxdorf, a small German village near Erlangen/Nuremberg.

How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?
Back in 1999 at the university. First distribution I installed myself was DLD (Deutsche Linux Distribution – german Linux distribution), but I soon switched to SuSE and then to RedHat. Not too sure, but it must have been sometime in 2001 or 2002 when I switched again to Debian and stayed there until …

How long have you been using Ubuntu?
I installed Ubuntu late 2005.

How long have you been a MOTU and how long did it take to become one?
According to Launchpad, I got accepted as a MOTU at 2005-09-08, however since Launchpad didn’t manage upload rights there yet, it took me another two month until my key was finally in the keyring. I can’t really say how long it took me from my first direct Ubuntu contribution to becoming a MOTU, but I guess it took 3-4 month.

Favorite packages?
hm… not too sure, I guess konsole, zsh, vim, kvirc, mplayer.

Favorite part of being a MOTU?
I really enjoy hanging out on IRC and having fun there. I also like to review packages and help people with problems, however I unfortunately didn’t have much time recently to do this though.

Any advice for people wanting to help with MOTU?
Just come around to #ubuntu-motu and don’t hesitate to ask anything there.
There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers.

Can you talk a bit about REVU and your work with it?
My first point of contact with Ubuntu actually happened when initially developing REVU. Reinhard Tartler (with whom I’ve been in classes at university) asked me back then if I’d like to develop some webtool in python. Since by then python was my favorite programming language I immediately said yes, and we spent a few weeks to come up with a hacked up thingy we called
REVU. Incidentally I was then absorbed by the ubuntu community.

Of course, later on there were many good ideas how to enhance REVU, but it was clear for me, that the current code base for REVU would need to be entirely rewritten to make it actually maintainable. Hence the idea (and a spec) of REVU2 was created, which sadly was never finished. Parts of the new implementation can still be found at launchpad.

Right now, there are plans again to get REVU2 done, using python-django as a base framework. Actually, having fixed a few things in the current REVU codebase, I’ve also become interested in working on REVU2 again. Also the new infrastructure of Launchpad, like PPAs or the ability to store packaging
branches in bzr is something I’d definitely like REVU2 making use of. Actually Reinhard had quite similar ideas, which are to use a Package cache which can fetch/create source packages by different means, like pulling from an apt-gettable archive, getting something via bzr or from a local ftp directory.

How do you think the MOTU Council has affected the MOTU community?
I guess the main effect that MC has on the MOTU community is that we now have some kind of official voice of the MOTU’s. This means that with the foundation of the council, the MOTU community, was made an official part of Ubuntu, which is trusted to be responsible for themselves. Being able to handle applicants independently – which is the main work I’ve done as a MC member – underlines this.

Any Plans for Hardy Heron?
Getting REVU2 out the door would be nice. Also I’d like to finally get FAUmachine into Ubuntu, the project I’m working on at university.

Favorite quote?

Wenn man’s kann, ist’s keine Kunst, wenn man’s nicht kann, erst recht keine.

(Which unfortunately doesn’t translate to English)

What do you do to relax after a long day of development work?
Watch TV, drink beer and talk with my girlfriend. Or eventually play a game.

Screenshot/Pic of work area?

Stefan’s Work Area

Stefan’s Screenshot

Categories: Uncategorized
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