Location: Novosibirsk, Russia
IRC Nick: LucidFox
How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro?
My first attempt to use Linux was back in 2001 or 2002, called something like WinLinux 2000 – it was a version of Linux that ran from under Windows, with very old software like KDE1. But I prefer to count my Linux experience from 2004, when I first installed Debian Woody into a dual boot to test-build Colonization Too (an open source 2D video game I was contributing to, now dead).
By then, many of the distribution’s packages were very outdated, and, not knowing about testing and unstable releases, I started manually compiling and installing many core components. I ended up with quite a mishmash of a system, more LFS than Debian, with software from old .debs and manually from tarballs, and it was a pain trying to make the system do what I wanted, but I was so excited at having a working GUI environment that was not Windows, and having a working C/C++ compiler, that I was willing to forgive it many major flaws. Plus all the tweaking, up to and including building custom kernels, taught me a lot of knowledge about Linux internals that came very useful in the future.
How long have you been using Ubuntu?
Since late 2005. Ubuntu Breezy was my first Linux distribution to Just Work (although even it required a considerable amount of tweaking by modern Linux standards), so I never installed any other OS on my home machine except on virtual machines, and deleted Windows shortly thereafter.
When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how?
Like many open source involvements, it began with an attempt to scratch a personal itch, in August 2007. I wanted to update the Psi instant messenger, which was then outdated in Ubuntu. I was curious about the process of creating .deb packages to begin with, so I read the packaging guide, read about uploading to REVU, and uploaded my first package. (Don’t do this at home, kids – REVU is not for updating existing packages!) My first packaging attempts were really ugly, but quickly improved thanks to both the packaging guides and the feedback from MOTUs.
What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work?
Mostly the packaging guides on the Debian and Ubuntu websites, and first-hand experience with contributing new and updated packages to Ubuntu. When I needed to learn about some obscure packaging features, I usually looked at packages where they were already implemented.
What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU?
The knowledge that you have achieved something. Watching the changes land in the archive, and knowing that in the span of a few hours, they will be there on mirrors around the whole world, for the benefit of thousands of Ubuntu users.
Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU?
Be bold. The developers aren’t a cabal cult worshiping the Dark God of Ubuntu, they’re friendly people willing to help. If you have questions and a web search doesn’t answer them, come to IRC and ask! Along the way, you can learn something new from the conversations that go there all the time.
Learn by example, learn the typical solutions to your problem and try to follow the conventions. Don’t forget that Ubuntu gets most of its packages from Debian, and consider also contributing to Debian so that your effort benefits two distributions at once.
Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups?
So far, my involvement has been limited to one presentation I gave at Ubuntu Global Jam here in Novosibirsk, at the request of one of the LUG organizers. I explained how Ubuntu development worked, some technical details about packaging, then logged onto Launchpad, wrote and uploaded a bugfix for a package in front of the eyes of the interested ones.
What are you going to focus on in Maverick and Maverick+1?
In Maverick, I have been mostly focused on patching software to interoperate with the indicator menus, including the still-in-development global menu, and pushing my non-Ubuntu-specific changes into Debian. In Maverick+1… Well, I’d like to get Pinta into a condition when it can go into the default install, since I think it neatly fills the niche of a general-purpose image editor, a “GIMP for casual users”. The final decision is with the desktop team, though.
What do you do in your other spare time?
Watch movies with my sweetheart, contribute to other open source projects, try my hand at speculative fiction. Occasionally post bileful rants about $personal_annoyance in my blog. But that’s rare. Sort of.