I, Brian Thomason, apply for MOTU (general development in Ubuntu)


Brian Thomason

L.P. Page

Wiki Page



McDonough, GA, USA

Who I am

I first tried Linux back in 1998 with the release of Red Hat 5.2, but actually started using Linux in 2000 with the release of Mandrake 7.1. I switched to Debian Potato in late 2000 and have been using Debian or derivatives ever since. I began work for Linspire (then Lindows) in 2003 as a member of the Services Team maintaining packages. In 2007 I began working for Canonical maintaining the technical side of the Canonical Partner Program.

Examples of my work / Things I'm proud of

VMC (Cloud Foundry Client)

I recently packaged The Cloud Foundry Client from VMWare dubbed VMC and uploaded it to Oneiric, along with a few Ruby deps it needed. This was my first foray into Ruby packaging which was quite educational and allowed me to learn a bit about gem2deb.


In working with the new SI Team in Canonical, I have done work packaging rabbitmq-stomp, which in turn required the packaging of rabbitmq-erlang-client and the creation of a .d config structure for RabbitMQ which I created with the rabbitmq-plugins-common package.


I contributed a patchset for a number of CVE related security fixes for the Asterisk package in Hardy, Intrepid, and Jaunty. This was one of my first projects under the mentorship of Jamie Strandboge who has provided invaluable help along my MOTU way.


The now defunct music player that I did some work on at Linspire, so it held a special place in my heart. The package in Edgy (also now defunct, of course) was in a horrible state, so I fixed it up. I have since switched to Banshee and LSongs has died, but it was an early contribution I am proud to have made at the time.

Partner Repository

Much of my work lies in the Partner repository. Often, I feel, this is overlooked as a contribution as most of the packages there are proprietary, but some are not; Openbravo, Alfresco, and the recently added Jonas are examples of free software that the community can now more easily use thanks to the Partner repository. Even commercial applications benefit a large subsection of the community who can now more easily access Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, and Oracle's Java 6. The packages I maintain and/or have packaged and maintained in Partner include:

acroread, adobe-flashplugin, adobeair, adobereader-deu, alfresco-community, arkeia, centrifydc, convirt2, convirture-tools, db2exc, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-partner, jonas-full-5.2, nuxeo-dm, openbravo-3, skype, sun-java6, swftools, uex, wasce-server, zarafa

Software Center: For Purchase

I also manage all "For Purchase" applications in the Software Center. Again, these are proprietary, but hundreds and hundreds of users in our community have found value in the games, codecs, and applications provided there. The packages I maintain in Software Center include:

braid, bcs, brukkon, bcperfect, crossover-games, crossover-standard, crossover-pro, darwinia, family-farm, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-wmv, fluendo-dvd, illumination, irukandji, monster-rpg2, spacechem, steelstorm-episode2, theclockworkman, theclockworkman2, uplink, vendetta-online, volleybrawl, worldofgoo

Areas of work

Under Jamie's tutelage, I worked on quite a few security bugs, ranging from the more difficult, in Asterisk, to the more trivial, such as libfishsound. Here are a list of those packages:

Here is a list of merges/FTBFS packages I have done to familiarize myself with the tools involved:

Packages I Maintain in Universe

Other packages I have contributed to

Things I could do better

The main critique I received the first time I submitted my MOTU application was not related to my packaging work, but rather to my lack of further involvement with the community. So, rather than doing more of the same work as before, I have instead attempted to bridge that gap by maintaining packages in Universe now rather than just the Partner repository, joined a local LoCo group here in Atlanta and threw a mini release party for Natty, and started posting a weekly article on OMG! Ubuntu!. Moving forward, I would like to join the Bug Squad and be a more active contributer on LP in that facet.

Plans for the future


Aside from continuing to maintain the packages I already have in Universe, I'd like to begin transitioning some packages from Partner to Universe. The example that first comes to mind is the Cloudera packaging of Hadoop. Currently, I maintain it in a PPA, and we should be moving it to partner soon, but ultimately I would like to assist in packaging the remaining Java deps that it requires and migrating it to Universe. This is one of my goals for the next LTS, 12.04. Two other examples are Alfresco and Openbravo, with Openbravo being a distinct possibility over the next two release cycles as well.

One example where this has already happened without my having to maintain it is convirt2. I packaged this in partner for Lucid, and Debian has subsequently adopted it.

Ultimately, my goal is to become a core dev.

What I like least in Ubuntu

  • I must say that the thing I like least about Ubuntu is also its strength - the release cycle. Having updates every 6 months brings in the latest and greatest software but also introduces new bugs and regressions.


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


I am the primary archive admin contact for any desktop software uploaded to partner by Brian. I review all desktop packages that Brian makes for partner. Partner packaging is tricky with applications often needing quite unique packaging compared to free software ones. Brian's packages are high quality and rarely contain problems. I entirely commend Brian for MOTU.


I am also an archive admin and I have reviewed dozens and dozens of Brian's server related packages for the Canonical partner archive as well as Ubuntu Universe. Brian is often required to solve some very difficult problems in less than ideal ways, in order to package the non-dfsg tarballs we get from often non-Linux vendors for Partner. Brian generally does this in the least evil manner possible (which is actually saying a lot (!!), in support of his packaging skills). I have also sponsored a number of uploads from Brian for Ubuntu. His work is generally accurate, and I have been pleased with the quality. He rarely makes the same mistake twice and learns very quickly. I think Brian has the packaging skills necessary to be a MOTU, and his experience with partner packages would be a unique asset to the MOTU world. Brian's experience supporting Canonical's partners and customers through the Canonical Partner Archive and the Ubuntu Software Center Archive give him an awesome perspective on both the width and depth of packages for Ubuntu. Most importantly, he clearly understands the long tail of maintenance for packages in any archive and I'm confident Brian will be an excellent MOTU developer through the lifecycle of any package he touches.


I sponsor his app-install-data-partner package upload and looked at some of the packages in the canonical partner archive and in the software-center purchase archive. Brian knows about packaging and bzr and has a lot of experience with packaging difficult apps (like most of partner are).


I have sponsored many of Brian's packages for security updates for universe, some bug fixes here and there, and as an archive admin for his partner packages (a while ago). Some of these changes were quite small, and some rather large (eg asterisk security updates). It has been my experience that when Brian makes a packaging mistake, he learns from it and tends to not make it again. He seems to care about software in universe in general (beyond security updates) and if he continues in this direction as MOTU, I feel his skills and interest would be valuable to Ubuntu. -- jdstrand 2011-07-29 14:59:29

Benjamin Humphrey

Brian is a cool dude, one who I have had the pleasure of working with when we approached Canonical to land a game of ours in the Software Center "For Purchase" section. From that encounter on, Brian has been a great help, and since then he has become a weekly fixture on OMG! Ubuntu! writing about a hidden gem in his weekly "Download of the Week" articles. I fully recommend him as a MOTU as I feel Brian will be a great help to Ubuntu in the future, on top of all the excellent work he is already doing.

Nigel Babu

I'm not a sponsor, or an Ubuntu developer myself, but I wanted to add a note. When I wanted to organize an activity around FTBFS due to toolchain changes, I was looking at scrolling through a huge list of FTBFS and figuring out which ones where true toolchain change failures. Brian heard that I was working on it and offered to help. Eventually, he wrote a selenium script that got us a list of failures to work with. Much indebted for the help and working with the community. -- nigelbabu 2011-07-23 16:47:16


@-- andreserl 2011-07-26 20:25:52@ I've had the pleasure of working with Brian in a few packages. I think his packaging experience is great and I was amazed on how quick he corrects suggestions and works with others within the community. I believe his experience and his desire to make Ubuntu better and his increasingly desire to contribute to Ubuntu more and more is an essential asset that we need for our MOTU Developers.


I've regularly admired Brian's hard work at packages in the Partner repo and others (such as rabbitmq, ruby packages, etc) in universe. Despite his main focus being on the partner repo, its nice to see Brian spend his free time working with the community on the Universe parts of the repository. He also posts on OMG! Ubuntu! regularly on "Download of the week", which I read regularly. -- bilalakhtar


=== 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 ===

CategoryHomepage CategoryMOTUApplication

BrianThomason/MOTUApplication (last edited 2011-08-08 20:21:03 by brian-thomason-z)