I, ChrisCoulson, apply for MOTU

Who I am

I am a 26 year old electronics design engineer from the West Midlands, UK. I currently work with commercial vehicles in a team responsible for developing electronics for braking systems on large vehicles. I have also worked in automotive (on electric power-assisted steering systems) and in aerospace (gas turbine controls). I have a BEng(Hons) in Electronics Engineering.

My Ubuntu story

I started using Ubuntu from Breezy. However, I didn't start out contributing with Ubuntu until around the time of Gutsy, when I started out with some bug triaging. I then became more active towards the end of Hardy, and was eventually approved as a member of ubuntu-bugcontrol (Sept 2008). My intention back then was always to get more involved with development, and I gradually started helping out with some packaging tasks, merges and preparing bug fixes.

My involvement / areas of work

I am mostly focused on the desktop work now. Most of my work consists of packaging new upstream versions and merges. However, I do sometimes also write patches and get involved with debugging things which don't work properly.

Examples of my work / Things I'm proud of

Fast User Switch Applet and gnome-session changes in Jaunty

I did some work on the fast-user-switch-applet in Jaunty. I implemented initial support for PolicyKit. After tedg did some further work, I made some changes to resolve some more bugs, and also integrate it with gnome-session so that shutting down from the FUSA takes advantage of the session saving features in gnome-session. This also involved writing a patch for gnome-session, to expose this functionality over DBus.

Bugs fixed

gnome-session change

gnome-media changes

I patched gnome-media to build the new gnome-volume-control-applet and gnome-volume-control settings capplet in to their own separate package, so that people wanting to use the new controls could install it. I had to patch the build system to rename gnome-volume-control to gnome-volume-control-settings, so the name didn't conflict with the "old" gst-mixer (which also installs as gnome-volume-control). I checked through the source to make sure that anything which spawned gnome-volume-control actually spawned the right tool, else that would be confusing.

I also wrote a patch to make sure that the help could be correctly launched from gst-mix, and sent that upstream too.

Low disk-space notification (work in progress)

I've recently been working on implementing this spec by mpt in gnome-settings-daemon: I have a working patch and have sent it upstream already to It also addresses a concern raised by slangasek (

start-stop-daemon change (working with Debian)

I started looking at packaging a newer version of preload during the Jaunty cycle (which I haven't finished yet, as I got side-tracked along the way). One of the things I noticed was that we ship a distro-patch to ionice the preload daemon from within the preload process. Despite this patch being sent upstream, it was never accepted and the upstream supported way of doing this is to run preload with ionice in the init script.

I thought it would be nice if start-stop-daemon had a command line option for ionice'ing a process, so I worked with Debian to implement it (

Tracker bugs

I worked on several bugs in Tracker during Jaunty. A summary of these are:

  • - Upstream confirmed this plugin was problematic, so I patched it to not build it in for Ubuntu.

  • - Upstream implemented a late change which introduced a notification with actions. Dismissing the notification was not an option and would just cause it to immediately reappear again. I initially wrote a patch to avoid the need for user input, but some users were still reporting repeated notifications. After some debugging, I suspected the issue was related to tracker-indexer not terminating when it should do, and repeatedly sending error signals even after the daemon had restarted to do a reindex. I picked 2 more patches from upstream, which seemed to resolve this issue. I also wrote a patch to ensure that all index files were correctly removed on reindex.

  • - I debugged an issue where indexing would start when inserting removable media, even if explicitly disabled. I wrote a patch to fix this and forwarded it upstream.

ntfs-3g auto-mounting

A change in HAL in Jaunty broke auto-mounting for ntfs-3g volumes. I made some changes to the hal-info file shipped with ntfs-3g which resolved this. My change was also adopted by the Debian maintainer (

As upstream also changed their version numbering scheme, I contacted the Debian maintainer to see how he was going to handle the change (incrementing the epoch versus not incrementing the epoch) before preparing the upload in Ubuntu.

Various packaging / merges

I also worked on some general packaging work and merges during the Jaunty cycle (and so far in Karmic too). A quick summary of some of these can be found at

Things I could do better and things I could have done better

  • I made a small error on my first attempt at merging ntfs-3g 1:1.2531-1.1ubuntu1. That was promptly spotted and fixed by cjwatson though 1:1.2531-1.1ubuntu2

  • Learn more programming languages - I'm currently most familiar with C (probably due to my hardware background). I should probably learn some Python and C# at some point in the future though.
  • - This was bought to my attention a few days ago, relating to a merge I did in November 2008. Although the bug existed in previous versions too, I probably should have spotted it. When Steve bought it to my attention, I noted that it had already been spotted and fixed in Debian.

Plans for the future


For Ubuntu, the plan at the moment is to carry on with the packaging work, bug-fixes and helping out with debugging issues. I also think that dedicating time to solve some of the long-standing minor bugs (which can accumulate and seriously affect user experience over time) is quite important, and I think that the recent hunderedpapercuts initiative is a fantastic way of addressing this.

For me, the plan is to start learning languages and getting involved with packages written in something other than C (if time permits this though).

What I like least in Ubuntu

Please describe what you like least in Ubuntu and what thoughts do you have about fixing it.


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've been telling Chris to apply for months, I'm glad he finally did :-). He is an exceptional contributor, willing to take on tough issues and follow them to conclusion. He is also very conscientious, so I have no worries about him uploading with a sponsor check. -- james-w 2009-07-03 23:14:09


As a sponsor, just copy the template below, fill it out and add it to this section.

Daniel Holbach (dholbach)

General feedback

I sponsored ~10 uploads of Chris and was always astounded by his work. Even complicated merges are well done. I'm happy to see his application and support him.

Specific Experiences of working together

Areas of Improvement

Apply quicker. Smile :-)

Martin Pitt (pitti)

General feedback

Chris has been active in the Ubuntu desktop team for several months, and I'm just impressed by his skills, engagement, and the amount of time he spends on improving the desktop. He helps out with package updates, tracks down hairy bugs and provides patches, works with upstreams, knows packaging very well, and is active in IRC in discussions.

I sponsored a magnitude of 15 packages for him. I never had to correct major things, just some nitpicks or suggestions for improvements (I can't remember the details). For 1.5 months he has been a member of ~ubuntu-desktop and thus can commit to our packaging branches.

I welcome him to join the MOTU, and eventually core-dev ranks.

Specific Experiences of working together

  • GNOME package updates
  • He put in hours and hours to finally unbreak tracker in Jaunty, also in SRUs.
  • He figured out how to unbreak the gnome-screensaver upgrade (protocol incompatibility)
  • He keeps an eye on ntfs-3g, its interaction with hal and devkit-disks.

Areas of Improvement

  • Clone! Smile :-) Seriously, in the name of the community and happy users I want to say a big "Thank you!" to you.

Sebastien Bacher

General feedback

Chris has been around doing desktop work for a while now, helping on updates and tracking down tricky issues. His work has been really helpful, the updates and merges he works on are often complicated ones and he goes through without issues or errors, working with debian and upstream when required. The quality of his patches has also been appreciated and he contributed to fix really annoying and tricky issues during intrepid, jaunty or karmic cycles

Specific Experiences of working together

Areas of Improvement

  • Not quick enough to apply for motu membership, had to be pinged several times over months to get there! Wink ;-) Otherwise no comment, keep the good work that's really making a difference for ubuntu users


=== 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 ===


ChrisCoulson/MOTUApplication (last edited 2009-07-03 23:14:09 by 74)