I, Allison Randal, apply for MOTU. (Though I'm equally happy to have this reviewed as a PPU application for parrot, nqp, and rakudo.)


Allison Randal

Launchpad Page

Wiki Page


Who I am

I am a C, Python, Perl, etc developer, and was the Chief Architect of the Parrot project until I semi-retired to take a job as Technical Architect at Canonical. I am still a core developer of Parrot. At various points in the past (in no particular order) I have been on the language design team for Perl 6, Project Manager for Perl 6, president of the Perl Foundation, chairman of the Parrot Foundation, board member of the Python Software Foundation, conference chair of OSCON, a web developer, a system administrator, a designer, a linguist, and an employee of Canonical. I'm currently an Ubuntu Member, a Debian Maintainer, a board member of the Perl Foundation, and own two profitable companies: Onyx Neon Press and Eigenstate, Inc.

My Ubuntu story

I first started using Ubuntu in 2005. Before that, I was primarily a Debian user, though I tried out various other distros along the way, starting with Slackware in the '90s. My first UDS was 2006 in Mountain View (Feisty), where kees got me started on how Ubuntu packaging was different than Debian packaging, dholbach wore my name tag most of the week, and I kept accidentally sitting through private meetings (I didn't realize they were private) because everybody in the room thought I was there with somebody else. I had an absolute blast, and was totally hooked.

My involvement

  • Ubuntu packaging work on backuppc, gpsdrive, magics++, mailsyncdir, asterisk, various ARB packages, etc.
  • Application Review Board member from 2010-12
  • Debian Maintainer for Parrot package since 2011 (primary Debian packager for Parrot since 2007)

Examples of my work / Things I'm proud of

  • Ubuntu policy work on ExtensionRepositoryPolicy

  • Maintenance/support for Don Knuth's "custom distro" of FVWM on Ubuntu (I confess I'm tempted to make a "Knuth OS" derivative distro, but it would be primarily for the entertainment value, and I'm afraid it might actually get users)

Areas of work


Some recent examples:


This seems like a great opportunity to thank all the wonderful Ubuntu Developers I've worked with over the years, but I'm embarrassed that I've probably forgotten more than I've remembered. I'll try anyway: Colin Watson was my Debian mentor, and I still regard him as my "sensei" in many ways. Martin Pitt for sponsoring my turn on the +1 maintenance team in December 2011, and generally for wise counsel on desktop architecture. Scott Kitterman and Emmet Hikory I've consulted on various packages and packaging problems (I don't have specific notes, sorry), and also for general "community elder" advice. Martin Pool for advanced UDD tips (and bugfixes). Dustin Kirkland and Dave Walker for sponsoring backuppc uploads. Evan Broder for a detailed introduction to Ubuntu Backports. Kees Cook I mentioned above for general Ubuntu packaging, but he also gave me an in-depth introduction to CVEs and security package reviews that has been incredibly valuable. Daniel Holbach for guidance on mentoring green packagers/developers. Stéphane Graber, Andrew Mitchell, Jonathan Carter, and Bhavani Shankar, comrades-in-arms on the ARB.

I don't recall any bad experiences working with Ubuntu Developers.

Things I could do better

Emmet says I do too much of my work in Ubuntu quietly in the background. I suspect he's probably right.

Plans for the future


  • Continue with parrot package maintenance (due to the nature of parrot bytecode, parrot package updates require a rebuild and sometimes a version update on the nqp and rakudo packages)
  • Continue with universe package maintenance
  • Continue with main package maintenance (sponsored)
  • Sponsor and mentor others in packaging
  • Continue pre-UDS architecture summaries
  • I'd like to get more involved in Backports
  • I'll probably rejoin the ARB at some point

What I like least in Ubuntu

My only real complaint at the moment is that seeking sponsorship expands the time I spend on any packaging work from a few hours making the actual fixes to several days of chasing down sponsors. It discourages me from working on packages, because it seems so frustratingly inefficient. I know from experience on Debian/ARB that sponsoring an upload can take every bit as long as doing the work, so I always feel bad asking people for sponsorship, stealing their time from other packaging work. I don't have any systemic changes to suggest, because I view the sponsorship process as an absolutely essential part of mentoring new developers. I suspect it's more just that 6 years is too long to spend as a "padawan".


If you'd like to comment, but are not the applicant or a sponsor, do it here. Don't forget to sign with @SIG@.

Daniel Holbach

Going through the list of uploads, I could find gpsdrive, which I sponsored some time ago. Still I remember some of Allison's other contributions before and she does a great job as a developer. She also has a good understanding of Ubuntu's surrounding projects and is interested in long-term solutions which benefit everyone. Absolute +1 from here!

-- dholbach 2013-02-25 08:15:49

Emmet Hikory

While I haven't worked with Allison much on packaging, or at all on parrot, I am confident that her understanding of parrot as part of her long-time upstream involvement can only improve the package delivered in Ubuntu, and that her involvement in the Ubuntu community is sufficiently rooted that the concerns of the project would override upstream preferences in the unlikely event that she was unable to ensure they align before any discussion could begin.



I think I may have sponsored Allison once, but I can't recall for sure, so I'm making this a non-sponsor comment vice a sponsor endorsement. I have had a number of (both socially and technically) positive technical interactions with Allison both about and Ubuntu and upstream issues (she helped with an issue in a Perl package that I somehow ended up being upstream maintainer for despite not knowing any Perl).

I think she would be a great MOTU (or Parrot PPU, but MOTU is better). She knows enough to work effectively and I'm quite confident that she'll stop and ask if she has questions. She clearly gets Ubuntu values and her involvement with Debian will be of benefit in closing gaps between Ubuntu and Debian. Definite +1 one from me.

Stéphane Graber

I don't think I've directly sponsored anything for Allison. I however did a lot of review for packages she's been involved in while we were both on the ARB. During that time I can't recall finding anything obviously wrong with sometimes non-trivial packaging due to the weird restrictions the ARB had to deal with.

Allison has been involved in Ubuntu for quite a while now, she has plenty of Ubuntu and Debian experience, is a maintainer for a few packages there and always makes sure to minimize delta between the two distributions.

I think she'd be a great addition to MOTU and that will make it much easier for her to help with the increasing number of packages the MOTU team has to deal with.

-- stgraber 2013-02-05 19:28:30


Bhavani Shankar

Allison has deep technical insights and was very helpful on the ARB while reviewing python related packages and her expertise on python and perl related stuff really amazes me. +1 for her MOTU application and her python expertise.

-- bhavi

Martin Pitt

General feedback

I sponsored 4 non-trivial package uploads for Allison which looked fine. She has been very active in the ARB for a long time and has shown a lot of passion for that and Ubuntu in general. Unfortunately I never sponsored a parrot update for her, so I do not have first-hand experience about that particular package. But given her upstream background in it, and her sufficient packaging knowledge I am still in favor of her application. Thank you!

Specific Experiences of working together

-- pitti 2013-01-04 09:32:06

Jonathan Carter

General Feedback

I've worked with Allison on the ARB before and she's extremely diligent and helpful and have provided a huge amount of packaging mentoring to many people where it helped them get their packages to the state where it could even enter Debian and Ubuntu archives directly. Her work on the automated packaging tools and automating parts of the ARB process is immensely valuable, she provides a deep level of insight to the problems and usually with great solutions as well.

-- jonathan 2013-01-04 15:41:42

Dustin Kirkland

General Feedback

I have the utmost respect for Allison, as a developer, packager, and leader within Ubuntu. Her diligence and precision has served Ubuntu very well over the past few years. I have complete confidence that Allison would be an outstanding MOTU, mentoring new packagers and developers, as well as maintaining the packages of projects that she already maintains upstream. By all means, Allison is a deserving MOTU.

-- kirkland 2013-01-08 19:41:42


=== General feedback ===
## Please fill us in on your shared experience. (How many packages did you sponsor? How would you judge the quality? How would you describe the improvements? Do you trust the applicant?)

=== Specific Experiences of working together ===
''Please add good examples of your work together, but also cases that could have handled better.''
=== Areas of Improvement ===


AllisonRandal/MOTU (last edited 2013-02-25 08:36:39 by 71-212-111-100)