Ubuntu Open Week - MOTU - Wed, Nov 29, 2006

see also Saturday Session.

04:00   dholbach        Welcome everybody!
04:01   dholbach        This session is about MOTU, the Masters of the Universe.
04:01   dholbach        My name is Daniel Holbach, I work for Canonical and my main objectives are Ubuntu's Desktop and working with teams like MOTU, Telepathy, Accessibility, the Art team and others. I joined the MOTUs nearly two years ago and we were around 5 of them at that time.
04:01   dholbach        The name originates from the Universe component, which holds the biggest amount of our packages. 'main' and 'restricted' are supported by Canonical, 'universe' and 'multiverse' by the community. 'main' and 'restricted' hold 4829 packages today and 'universe' plus 'multiverse' 15855. So as the name suggests, the MOTU team takes care of 'universe' (and 'multiverse' also). We currently have 57 members. And we hang out in #ubuntu-motu
04:02   dholbach        What do MOTUs generally do?
04:02   dholbach        As a MOTU you're maintaining packages. Since we don't follow the concept of applying the rigorous big maintainer lock, it's your choice which package you take care of.
04:02   dholbach        We have people
04:03   dholbach        * taking care only of their own packages
04:03   dholbach        * working together with others on a set of packages in a team
04:03   dholbach        * fixing lots of different packages
04:03   dholbach        (* working on no packages at all)
04:03   dholbach        If you belong to the last category, listen up! This is your first step in the Ubuntu Development Community. :-)
04:03   dholbach        So how do I become a MOTU?
04:04   dholbach        That's very easy. You basically contribute to the team's efforts, either by packaging a new piece of software or by helping with fixing / updating / merging existing packages.
04:04   dholbach        I personally always found the second way to be much easier and you learn a lot along the way. As a MOTU hopeful you're not allowed yet to upload to the archive yourself, but you can ask other team members to sponsor the upload for you. We have a lightweight process for that in place.
04:04   dholbach        After a while, when you've become more comfortable with packaging, the processes and you've worked with a couple of people, you will hear that people are tired of uploading your packages and you should be able to do so yourself. :-)

<ailean> How do I get started with packaging then?

  • I'll mention some areas where MOTUs work in just some minutes - if you need any help with anything, either ask me or on #ubuntu-motu - is also a good start

<popey> Is *anything* (free) fair game for packaging?

  • the source of your package will be checked by MOTUs and by our Archive Admins, apart from license questions there are other things to consider as well, but we're generally open for good quality open source software.

<PriceChild> How many packages/how long does it normally take before you're considered "adept"

  • that depends: we had people with a Debian background or people who dug right into packaging and were MOTUs within 3 weeks. if you find something intersting for you, it should be an easy challenge Smile :)

<atoponce> what language(s) should i be familiar with, if needed?

  • in general, every skill you have with programming or checking and fixing software is of help, but I found that a natural curiosity and putting some work into learning and asking got most people there

<popey> If I know someone who is already a MOTU, should I latch on to them to get them to upload for me?

<PriceChild> How do I get a pony?

  • ask mneptok or Mithrandir Smile :-)

04:12   dholbach        It's easy to see that it's not just a matter of technically abilty, but also a matter of teamwork and trust. The current process asks you to become an Ubuntu member in the Community Council meeting (where you are recognized for your efforts) and become a member of 'ubuntu-dev' after the Technical Board was happy with you on a technical basis. That process will change in the near future and a MOTU council (let's see if it will be called
04:12   dholbach        'Council Grayskull' in the end...), which will do the approval.
04:12   dholbach        Things the team does:
04:12   dholbach        We work on Bugs, just to put some numbers into the discussion:
04:12   dholbach        * 10563 bugs in Universe/Multiverse    (66274 in Ubuntu total)
04:12   dholbach        * 6739 closed bugs Universe/Multiverse (46063 closed in Ubuntu total)
04:13   dholbach        While the numbers look scary, here's a very good thing about working with the MOTUs: you're not alone. If you try to fix a bug in a package you have:
04:13   dholbach        1) team members,
04:13   dholbach        2) the Debian maintainer and
04:13   dholbach        3) the upstream author
04:13   dholbach        you can ask and work with. Working on bugs is highly rewarding: sometimes it's a one line fix, you find in the upstream CVS already and you make a lot of users happy.
04:13   dholbach        Teams
04:14   dholbach        MOTU has formed a huge bunch of subteams already:
04:14   dholbach        * Games team
04:14   dholbach        * Media team
04:14   dholbach        * Science team
04:14   dholbach        * Photo team
04:14   dholbach        * UncommonProgrammingLanguages team
04:14   dholbach        and a lot of other teams, which started in Universe, but now are working across the whole distro, the Mono team is a good example for that. If you have good ideas for a team and want to kickstart it, let me know:
04:14   dholbach        jono will be able to help out as well.
04:15   dholbach        Transitions! That's usually an easy way to get involved.
04:15   dholbach        In order to use a new technology consistently across the whole archive, we sometimes need to change several hundreds of packages. This is gratifying work also, as it's sometimes easy to do and nice to do this within a team. Good examples of this were:
04:15   dholbach        * the switch from python2.3 to python2.4 (as a default)
04:15   dholbach        * the use of gcc4
04:15   dholbach        * the transition to use Xorg
04:16   dholbach        * ...
04:16   dholbach        We used to have  H U G E   working lists on the wiki, nowadays we often use Malone to keep track of these.
04:16   dholbach        Get new packages in!
04:16   dholbach        Ubuntu has become a great place for users. Lots of software is packaged already, but your personal pet project might be missing still. This also is a gratifying task, as you make many users happy by providing high-quality software in the archive.
04:16   dholbach        All NEW packages go through a review process, which currently happens on - this might change in the near future. Reviewing is a great way to mentor, but also to learn, which leads us to our next point.

<juliux> are there howtos how to start with packaging?

<popey> ok, flipside, is there anything you are *not* interested in seeing packaged?

  • as long as it serves a purpose, makes users happy and doesn't freak out the archive-admins, ... Smile :-)

    [popey] binary blobs included?

    • for example Smile :)

<popey> Is the process different if I am packaging something of my own creation, compared with a tarball that I find online that isn't currently packaged?

  • I shouldn't think so, but in the case where you wrote the software, you'd have a good relationship to the upstream developer already... which is good. Wink ;-)

<rikai> Always been a curiosity of mine, and i cant think of any better time to ask, so... Is MOTU supposed to be a play off of He-Man?

  • you should ask ogra, as far as I know, it was HIS idea Smile :)

<Cas> Should you ask (permission) before you start packaging something if it will be included or can you just find some new software and start packaging

  • we keep track of what we package on - so it's good to check that. in addition to that, it's good to check the debian bug tracker for ITP (intent to package) or RFP (request for package) requests, as this way you have people you can work with on the packaging. apart from that: just do it! Smile :-)

<Jucato> is Hobbsee really the Queen of the Universe (QOTU)

  • I think that should be "Mistress of the Universe," but I'm not sure... Smile :-) [Hobbsee] no, queen. i dont like the title of mistress.

04:22   dholbach        Mentoring
04:23   dholbach        We're doing huge efforts at helping people get up to scratch on packaging, especially #ubuntu-motu on is always buzzing and somebody is always awake to answer *your* packaging question.
04:23   dholbach        But mentoring also happens on our mailing list, in private chats, by doing reviews of packages and patches or via mail. Don't hesitate to approach us, join the Master of the Universe today! :-)
04:23   dholbach        Merges
04:23   dholbach        In the beginning of each release cycle we merge our efforts with those of the Debian maintainers. So this is what we currently do for Feisty. If you want to help out, just grab a merge from or and go ahead.
04:24   dholbach        MOTU School
04:24   dholbach        In the spirit of the Ubuntu's Open Week we already had some interesting MOTU School sessions: - if you want to hold a session or request a session, let us know on the mailing list and on the wiki pages.
04:24   dholbach        Documentation!
04:25   dholbach        Jordan Mantha (laserjock) and others have worked hard on the Packaging Guide, but they'd always be glad to have people who are interested in explaining and helping new MOTU hopefuls to find their way into the community. lists a few pages of interest.
04:25   dholbach and its subpages could also do with some helping hands. MOTU is a community effort and has grown into all sorts of directions over time, the wiki pages bear witness of that, so it'd be great if you'd fix whatever documentation you found inaccurate.

[jjtec1] What is Malone?

<atoponce> ubuntu freezes from debian just before release. if i package a more recent version of software, will it get included in the current release, or saved for the next release? how is that handled?

<leonel> is there a Java Team working on the OpenJDK inclusion in Ubuntu ?

  • we have a java team and doko is our most prominent java expert - you should ask them what their java plans are. I don't know. Sorry.

<vyoman> how many hours a week (contributing) is the minimum to be useful? (2 hours, 1 day,...)

  • a good question - we had a couple of people already who were concerned about not having enough time. if you maintain a package, it's enough to check the bugs every now and then and reply to them. we really don't tie membership to hours of work you spend on IRC, etc

<jrib> what are some existing packages that would be good examples to look at? Something not too complicated and well-packaged

<SimonAnibal> If there's a package that's already in the Ubuntu repository, but which has not been updated in a long time so that the current version is a couple of years newer than the one in the Ubuntu repository, would there be a way to get involved there, and work with the package's upstream to make sure we have the latest version in the Ubuntu repositories? I should mention I have no real programming experience

  • absolutely, if you update a package (and it's not already UpstreamVersionFreeze), then that's cool, especially if you are able to track the new incoming bugs and liaise with upstream. that's a great contribution

<xerxas> merging with debian is from sid/unstable ?

  • yes, in most cases it's unstable, but in some the maintainer chooses to merge with experimental - seb128 and I do that in the Desktop Team with GNOME every now and then but mostly Debian 'unstable' yes.

<popey> Do MOTUs get invited to UDS? :)

  • yes, people are invited for their contributions

[Seeker`] UDS?

  • Ubuntu Development Summit

<tryggvib> Can I be absolutely certain that all of the packages in Universe are released under a completely free license?

  • having uploaded packages with faulty licenses already, I can say that the archive-admins do a VERY good job of checking them Smile :-) we had a different take on the free-ness of certain parts than Debian did, documents were an example of that, but yes

<tryggvib> If a MOTU has been inactive for a while, is it possible to take over his/hers work without their approval?

  • very good question. maybe I wasn't clear enough before. We don't have the BML, the Big Maintainer Lock Smile :) so if you intend to fix a package, just do it of course it's better to ask the current maintainer or the team that takes care of that package. we respect areas of expertise, but we generally take care of all packages as a team and talking to each other is a key skill everybody should have and develop as a MOTU hopeful

<rikai> What skills are recommended to be a productive member of the MOTU team? (Both in relation to technical skills, and interpersonal skills) In other words, what qualities are looked for in potential MOTUers?

  • curiosity, motivation are important and a good sense of what's going on. if you change a certain package you should be aware of the implications for others. if you're good at teamwork and organisation that's great too. I hope I was not too handwavy. The more things you know already, the better, but if not, it doesn't hurt. Smile :-)

<jjtec1> If I have limited time available and poor skills can I still lend a hand ?

  • you sure can. As part of the MOTU team, you'll learn new things every time and if you're able to help by reviewing, you can mentor other MOTU hopefuls. Reviewing often doesn't cost too much time, if you notice something, just tell your fellow team member. that's just one example - we have lots of other things that don't require a huge technical background either: bug triage, team organisation, etc

<rikai> You said there aren't any minimum requirements as to time spent helping on MOTU, which is nice. That said, is there an amount that you would LIKE to see(in an optimal situation)?

  • hehe... sure Smile :-) Jokes aside: an optimal situation is where somebody picks up a task and works on it reliably - that's more worth than being 24/7 in #ubuntu-motu Smile :-)

<popey> What could the MOTU do better? Where do you see that it could be improved?

  • Documentation as I said before our wiki could do with some serious clean up and I'll try to do my part in the next weeks. I'm sure the other MOTUs in here have something else to mention as well Smile :)

    [popey] documentation of upstream packages or of MOTU processes?

    • the MOTU wiki in general. we have a bunch of old lists on there, confusing but still existing descriptions of things etc.

    [popey] that would be tricky for a newbie to attack, no?

    • sure... but it helps if you as a MOTU hopeful add a question and an answer you got to MOTU/FAQ for example or ask on to review a text you just wrote for the wiki but I agree, it's not the optimal thing to start with

<stani> if I am only developping python applications and don't know C,C++,... is than packaging more easy to learn and will I be able to a potential motu packager?

  • you certainly don't have to know all the programming languages there are if you're willing to learn, ask, try, fail and repeat again, that should be good Smile :-) people who attended the Packaging101 session on Monday might have experienced what is part of the MOTU action: you often spend time to make a package build again, or you make sure that files get installed in the right place, etc. there are many different tasks around and surely not all require C skills

<popey> Do you have to be mindful of packaging for differench architectures than your own - i.e. I only have i386, no 64 bit, no sparc, is that a problem?

  • no, not at all, if you build a package on your machine and it builds it's mostly safe to assume that it builds everywhere, especially if the upstream project existed for a while. if the package ftbfs (fails to build from source), the friendly build daemon software will send you a mail and you can still ask a member of your team with that piece of hardware to help you debug it. (I have no sparc either... ;-))

    <popey> Can you please by me a sparc ? :)

    • ask fabbione - maybe has a spare sparc Wink ;)

<siretart> are there plans for developer machines for MOTUs?

  • good question - I didn't attend the session at UDS. elmo and LaserJock are your best bets for that question. I know that there is work in progress concerning the PPAs (personal package archives) but 'root access' on data center machines will not be easy to get past elmo Wink ;-)

<evarlast> I find packaging typical autotools things very easy, but what about guidelines for programs which do not use autotools?

a lot of other packages do that: python packages using the python distutils (think, perl packages using else homebrewn, packages that just install files to a random place, etc. there are guidelines for some sorts of packages and there are tools to make life of a package maintainer easier. CDBS for example has a python-distutils class, a perl class and so on

<jjtec1> elmo?

  • the datacenter god we all have to pray to Wink ;) James Troup, our king of Infrastructure

04:52   dholbach        If you want to join the MOTU and help making Universe ROCK, start here: ;-)
04:56   dholbach        Ok everybody, there seem to be no question left. Thanks everybody


MeetingLogs/openweekedgy/MOTU (last edited 2008-08-06 16:32:06 by localhost)