Location: Cape Town, South Africa
IRC Nick: highvoltage
How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?
I’ve been using Linux since 1999, I started out with Red Hat Linux and did lots of distro-hopping. After that, I settled on Debian in 2003.
How long have you been using Ubuntu?
I was working for the Shuttleworth Foundation at the time and my manager dropped a CD on my desk and said something like “This is the new Linux distribution that Mark is working on, it’s called Warty” and it was a pre-release of Ubuntu 4.10 which I installed on a server the first time, I’ve been an Ubuntu user since.
When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how?
I was in London in 2005 for the Edubuntu Summit where I met Oliver Grawert, he was my first MOTU mentor, although work got in the way a lot with my MOTU progress. Before Ubuntu existed, it was one of my aspirations to one day be a really good Debian contributor, and hopefully one day I will be, but universe seems like a real good place to start.
What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work?
I initially looked at the Debian New Maintainers Guide, but I found paging through the Debian Policy Manual to be much more useful. I’ve always had good experiences asking questions on the #ubuntu-motu IRC channel. Even the most experienced developers and packagers there are always friendly and welcoming.
What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU?
I enjoy learning, the MOTU team is very open and they never mind sharing information or knowledge. I’ve worked in corporate environments where people are afraid to share knowledge because it may make them seem less valuable if other people had the same knowledge as they did. The MOTUs are great at solving problems and helping others do so.
Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU?
Be patient. Packaging can be tricky sometimes whether it’s just making a bug fix or getting a whole new piece of software into the archives. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, even experience packagers are also human and make mistakes. I’ve never had a MOTU yell at me or be impatient for not knowing anything, so just get in there and try not to stress.
Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups?
Yes, I’ve been on the Cape Town Linux Users Group committee for a few years and I’m the co-leader (we have two leaders who share responsibilities) of the Ubuntu-ZA team. I’m stepping down from both soon since I’ll be working a lot in other countries next year. I’ll still be involved in both and may take leadership roles in them again in the future.
What are you going to focus on in Lucid and beyond?
For Lucid I’m going to focus on Edubuntu and I’ll also do upstream work on LTSP Cluster. There are many things that are currently unpackaged that would be useful in an Ubuntu Educational environment and I’d like to get as much of it as possible into Ubuntu.
I’m interested in a lot of server related things. I have lots of ideas so one day when Edubuntu becomes a bit more boring I’ll shift a bit more to the server side.
What do you do in your other spare time?
Nothing spectacular, I listen to music, go to the gym to try to counter all the time I spend sitting in front of a computer and spend time with friends. I always wanted to start a band so when I have to time I play around with Garage Band (eek, yes that’s on a Mac). I often spend some time playing with all kinds of gadgets, last Sunday I spent a good part of the day installing all kinds of free software on my Wii using the Homebrew Channel.