Ubuntu Open Week - MOTU - Steven Harms and Adrien Cunin - Thu, Apr 26, 2007

see also Tuesday Session.


(12:02:20 PM) sharms: Welcome.  We are going to do a presentation on the MOTU
(12:03:51 PM) sharms: Ok, well lets get this ball rolling, as we need as many of you to start working with us asap :)
(12:04:02 PM) sharms: I'm Steven Harms (, and work with the MOTU on various tasks.
(12:04:19 PM) Adri2000: and I'm Adrien Cunin, a simple MOTU :)
(12:04:20 PM) sharms: I am a member of the MOTU Media Team, which never has a shortage of things
(12:04:24 PM) sharms: to work on.
(12:04:34 PM) sharms: I am also a member of the bugs team, and an official ubuntu member.
(12:04:50 PM) sharms: If you are not familiar with the way teams work etc, we basically all collaberate at
(12:05:06 PM) sharms: That is where all the bugs go, where eventually source will go, and planning etc really happens
(12:05:25 PM) sharms: Also if you like anything you hear here, I highly recommend sticking around for the next session "Patching Packages" with Pitti.
(12:05:41 PM) sharms: At 19:00 UTC there is a "bug triaging" presentation also, which is a huge part of what I do.
(12:05:53 PM) sharms: With our huge userbase, there is never a shortage of bugs.
(12:06:37 PM) sharms: If you are not familiar with the way teams work etc, we basically all collaberate at www.launchpad.netMOTU stands for 'Masters Of The Universe' which originates from the Universe component, which holds the biggest amount of our packages.
(12:07:13 PM) sharms: Master of the Universe is also a he-man reference for those old enough to remember
(12:08:05 PM) sharms: Now we have all downloaded packages if we are running Ubuntu, and these packages are stored in repositories
(12:08:13 PM) sharms: This is where we come in
(12:08:37 PM) sharms: There are various repositories ubuntu offers:  'main' and 'restricted' are supported by Canonical, 'universe' and 'multiverse' by the community.
(12:09:19 PM) sharms: 'main' and 'restricted' hold 5167 packages today and 'universe' plus 'multiverse' 16237.
(12:10:07 PM) sharms: One of the common misconceptions that people have about contributing to any form of Linux is that it seems that everyone is already working on everything.
(12:10:23 PM) sharms: This is not true, and there is a TON of opportunity to give a hand
(12:10:50 PM) sharms: As you can imagine, 16,000 packages is a lot to handle
(12:11:19 PM) sharms: Also the MOTU team is not secretive, and we are not the tron guy hiding behind 20 monitors
(12:11:49 PM) sharms: MOTU is extremely easy to talk to, and you can get involved at #ubuntu-motu
(12:12:13 PM) sharms: So what does a MOTU do?
(12:12:22 PM) sharms: As a MOTU you're maintaining packages.
(12:13:16 PM) sharms: In MOTU there isn't some big "this is my package you can't work on it" issue
(12:13:28 PM) sharms: MOTU's work where they are needed, whenever they want
(12:13:42 PM) sharms: We have people
(12:13:49 PM) sharms:  * taking care only of 'their own packages'
(12:13:58 PM) sharms:  * working together with others on a set of packages in a team
(12:14:06 PM) sharms:  * fixing lots of different packages
(12:14:12 PM) sharms: (* working on no packages at all)
(12:14:52 PM) sharms: If you belong to the last category, this might be your first step in the Ubuntu Development Community
(12:15:13 PM) sharms: The really important thing to remember is we want, and *need* your help
(12:15:31 PM) sharms: So if you are into Linux, you can help improvie it right here right now, give back, and help make great software
(12:15:46 PM) sharms: So how do I become a MOTU?
(12:15:57 PM) sharms: That's very easy.
(12:16:16 PM) sharms: ou basically contribute to the team's efforts, either by packaging a new piece of software or by helping with fixing / updating / merging existing packages.
(12:17:03 PM) sharms: One of the easiest ways to get involved is to start reviewing the bug reports, and eventually you will come across very easy to solve bugs that nobody has gotten around to.
(12:17:32 PM) sharms: This is great experience, and if you get stuck you can check out our docs at and if that fails, just ask someone in #ubuntu-motu
(12:17:58 PM) sharms: 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.
(12:18:34 PM) sharms: When working with MOTUs, if you don't have upload access, you can also provide them with debdiffs, but that is probably a better topic for the patching packages talk
(12:18:53 PM) sharms: which I really recommend people attend, that is the first step
(12:19:22 PM) sharms: To get a package sponsored, we have a very easy to use process in place:
(12:20:05 PM) sharms: 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
(12:21:12 PM) sharms: It's easy to see that it's not just a matter of technically abilty, but it's also a matter of teamwork and trust
(12:21:44 PM) sharms: Once your mentors and people of the MOTU team are happy with you, they will tell you to apply to become a MOTU yourself.
(12:21:58 PM) sharms: For that you write an application mail to the MOTU Council and if they're happy with you, they'll approve you.
(12:22:24 PM) sharms: I highly recommend anyone who is on the edge, who is thinking about giving back to Ubuntu, checks out the process to get going:
(12:22:26 PM) sharms:
(12:22:37 PM) sharms: That is where everyone starts pretty much, no matter what your aspiration
(12:22:53 PM) sharms: Things the team does:
(12:22:59 PM) sharms: We work on Bugs, just to put some numbers into the discussion:
(12:23:05 PM) sharms:  * 18484 bugs in Universe/Multiverse    (96084 in Ubuntu total)
(12:23:10 PM) sharms:  * 10380 closed bugs Universe/Multiverse (56612 closed in Ubuntu total)
(12:23:32 PM) sharms: While the numbers look scary, here's a very good thing about working with the MOTUs: you're not alone.
(12:23:45 PM) sharms: If you try to fix a bug in a package you have:
(12:23:55 PM) sharms:  1) Fellow MOTU members
(12:24:03 PM) sharms: 2) The Debian package maintainer
(12:24:23 PM) sharms: 3) The upstream (which is the actual author(s))
(12:24:38 PM) sharms: All of which you can pull on to get help on any issue
(12:25:34 PM) sharms: Working on bugs is very rewarding: sometimes it's just a one line fix, or it will already be fixed upstream and just needs to be pasted into the current code, and you make a ton of people (including yourself!) happy
(12:25:45 PM) sharms: Motu Teams
(12:25:53 PM) sharms: MOTU has formed a huge bunch of subteams already:
(12:26:00 PM) sharms: * Games Team
(12:26:03 PM) sharms: * Media Team
(12:26:07 PM) sharms: * Science Team
(12:26:10 PM) sharms: * Photo Team
(12:26:19 PM) sharms: * UncommonProgrammingLanguages team
(12:26:35 PM) sharms: 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.
(12:27:02 PM) sharms: If you see a team that doesn't fit your needs, all you need to do is grab a few MOTUs and get one created on launchpad
(12:27:19 PM) sharms: It's all about working together, making a great distro even better, and having fun while doing it
(12:27:38 PM) sharms: Transitions! That's usually an easy way to get involved.
(12:27:51 PM) sharms: In order to use a new technology consistently across the whole archive, we sometimes need to change several hundreds of packages.
(12:28:10 PM) sharms: 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:
(12:28:22 PM) sharms: * the switch from python2.3 to python2.4 (as a default)
(12:28:27 PM) sharms: * the use of gcc4
(12:28:33 PM) sharms: * the transition to use Xorg
(12:28:54 PM) sharms: We used to have  H U G E   working lists on the wiki, nowadays we often use Launchpad to keep track of these
(12:29:21 PM) sharms: One of the questions we get the most is "How do I get X package in?"
(12:29:50 PM) sharms: Lots of software is packaged already, but your personal pet project might be missing still.
(12:30:22 PM) sharms: This is a gratifying task, as you make many users happy by providing igh-quality software in the archive.
(12:30:31 PM) sharms: or even high-quality
(12:30:48 PM) sharms: All NEW packages go through a review process, which currently happens on - this might change in the near future
(12:31:07 PM) sharms: If you want to know how to get a package in, we have a wiki page for that:
(12:31:25 PM) sharms: eviewing is a great way to mentor, but also to learn, which leads us to our next point.
(12:31:30 PM) sharms: Reviewing
(12:31:58 PM) sharms: One of the things with MOTU is that people seem to be overwhelmed at first
(12:32:21 PM) sharms: There is a lot of documentation out there, but really it isn't rocket science (although I believe laserjock is a rocket scientist)
(12:32:43 PM) sharms: One thing we do to help people along is provide a mentor (think Karate Kid style)
(12:33:10 PM) sharms: 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.
(12:33:30 PM) sharms: But mentoring also happens on our mailing list, in private chats, by doing reviews of packages and patches or via mail.
(12:34:02 PM) sharms: I personally went through the mentoring process during the beginning, and it was very helpful to get some questions answered that were not totally obvious to me
(12:34:28 PM) sharms: Don't hesitate to approach us, join the Master of the Universe today
(12:34:46 PM) sharms: The team is also working out details to refine the process and make it easier for MOTU hopefuls and future mentors.
(12:35:10 PM) sharms: If you read, you have probably seen my blog ( entry on mentoring, and that is getting good responses
(12:35:24 PM) sharms: and we are always looking to improve.
(12:35:34 PM) sharms: e'll have a session at UDS
(12:35:36 PM) sharms: about that:
(12:35:42 PM) sharms:
(12:36:10 PM) sharms: so if you're in Sevilla at that time, join in, if not add your ideas to the wiki page. We'll also work on getting a Mentoring mailing list ready.
(12:36:17 PM) sharms: Merges
(12:36:29 PM) sharms: In the beginning of each release cycle we merge our efforts with those of the Debian maintainers.
(12:37:08 PM) PriceChild: For everyone not on the launchpad beta, please use the following link:
(12:37:16 PM) sharms: So this is what we currently do for Gutsy.
(12:37:57 PM) sharms: One thing people need to understand is that we are deeply connected with debian
(12:38:11 PM) sharms: Almost every package we have comes from them first
(12:38:45 PM) sharms: So at the beginning of the release cycle we take their packages, and "import" them into our repositories, which is called merging
(12:39:14 PM) sharms: and
(12:39:20 PM) sharms:
(12:39:27 PM) sharms: are great references on the subject
(12:39:48 PM) sharms: Basically debian makes our lives easy, and we like to utilize their work as much as possible, and in turn contribute back
(12:39:58 PM) sharms: MOTU School
(12:40:13 PM) sharms: In the spirit of the Ubuntu's Open Week we already had some interesting MOTU School sessions:
(12:40:33 PM) sharms: and I am aware we have a bunch of questions, so let me just say
(12:40:47 PM) sharms: Documentation - we are always working on this and trying to make to easy to understand
(12:40:55 PM) sharms:
(12:41:26 PM) sharms: Ok Adri2000 want to start Q&A?
(12:41:38 PM) Adri2000: let's go

<zorglu_> (for later) QUESTION: ffmpeg needs to be recompiled from source to get mp3 support, what about having a mp3 enable version in multiverse with other mp3 codes ?

  • I would say the first step in that direction would be a file a bug with as much information as you can possibly gather, and then join #ubuntu-motu and get someone from the media team to take a look

    <Adri2000> and it's a license problem, so it's finally up to the archive admin Just be patience waiting for a response in #ubuntu-motu, we are not as fast as mcdonalds, but are probably faster than watching water boil

<Toma-> QUESTION: If theres a bug in a package, youve posted the problem and the solution on launchpad, and still the maintainer hasnt fixed it, what can you do?

  • we haven't a maintainer for each package in ubuntu. That is an awesome question, I bet a lot of people have the same one. The best thing to do there is: Get involved!

    <Toma-> (Its in the kernel :)) ah, that's different. Kernel is generally not motu, we do the 15,000+ extra packages

<pwnguin> QUESTION: Debian has a process to orphan packages that have seen no attention recently. With no ownership of packages, or any commitments to quality, what process does MOTU have to retire unmaintained pacakges?

  • <Adri2000> we can request a removal from the archive I would say first and foremost, we do have an extreme commitment to quality. We have release cycles, and we work through those, along with "hug" days to get as much done on items that might not get as much attention. If debian drops the package also, we generally do unless there are other circumstances. so there are several tiers of eyes that take care of that

<j1mc> QUESTION: are motu members starting to feel overwhelmed with the number of bug reports that are being submitted? Do they feel that it's getting to be too much, or is it still manageable?

  • It is still manageable, but we would love to get more people to help. That is why we are here today, because it is important to get as many people involved. When talented people get less work, that is when more innovation can happen and really push us into critical-mass

<txwikinger> QUESTION: What will be interesting upcoming "transistion" and when are they planned to occur?

  • We are still waiting to flesh out details of gutsy after the UDS, so its hard to say. Adri2000 have anything to ad?

    <Adri2000> g77 transition. it's in the email "Opening development for Gutsy Gibbon." so that's at least one transition for gutsy Smile :) Just to verify with everyone, g77 doesn't sound like much fun, but if you stick around #ubuntu-motu you will see items like that come up

<PriceChild> QUESTION: Any news on revu2?

  • I don't think it is actively being developed now, because we will eventually use launchpad instead of revu. Really we want to keep the scope of this talk to people new to MOTU. If you know what revu2 is, then you just need to hang in #ubuntu-motu

<Loic> QUESTION: How do one go about patching a motu universe package for Feisty since feisty has already been released, if the fix (missing dependency in debian/control) is trivial, without having to wait for gusty repos to be open?

  • Well first, it has to be a nasty bug to be fixed to make it into feisty and definitely nothing to do with changing features etc. But we have a team just for security fixes, which would be very important. you'll have to do an SRU, Stable Release Update:

<elliotjhug> QUESTION: What's the best way to get a mentor?

  • When I got a mentor, I just followed the wiki page, and then I found their nick and starting talking on IRC. when I ran into issues, I tried to figure it out, if I couldn't they were there to help me or just ask in #ubuntu-motu, on the mailing-list :). the wiki page is

(12:56:31 PM) sharms: MOTU members are a big fan of trying to figure out things from documentation first, but we can definitely help you if the docs are confusing

<MattJ> QUESTION: I'm the developer of a new program. Are there guides on building a package from scratch for Ubuntu, as opposed to patching? Also, would I become the maintainer of my package?

  • first question: yes, we have the packaging guide. We don't have concrete maintainers, but you can chose to just work on your package. that is the first and best step right there. I would also recommend taking a similar package and looking at their source for packaging

<Toma-> QUESTION: What if alot of bugs in a package can be fixed by installing the latest release in debian unstable? Is there a chance to get it updated in feisty? eg, 2.16.0 --> 2.16.1

  • not in feisty. you'll have to take out the appropriate patches from debian

<zorglu_> QUESTION: revu has been known as a bottleneck, what are the plan to speed it up ?

  • but that's revu again Smile :)

    <zorglu_> Adri2000: yep you can skip it :)

(12:59:52 PM) sharms: ok well please, everyone join us at #ubuntu-motu
(01:00:00 PM) sharms: hang out, get a feel for the people
(01:00:29 PM) sharms: Thank you very much, stick around for Pitti's talk.  He is awesome and can get into some of the technical, nitty-gritty
(01:00:29 PM) Adri2000: thanks everybody for coming! :)


MeetingLogs/openweekfeisty/motu2 (last edited 2008-08-06 16:31:02 by localhost)