This page is kept alive for purely historical purposes. It was the subject of discussion at the Mataro developer conference. If you are looking for the process of becoming an Ubuntu member or developer, see Membership respective UbuntuDevelopers.

BOF Thursday 9th December 2004 (MattZimmerman, ChristophHaas and BenjaminMakoHill)

Short write-up:

Ubuntu Stages

A person who wants to be part of the Ubuntu community can go through the following four stages:

1. Activist (Ubuntite)

  • An activist is an active person in the Ubuntu community.
  • Such a person is self nominated and confirmed, everybody can take part.
  • Code of conduct is important.

2. Member

A member is someone who's made a substantial contribution in any field and signed the code of conduct.

A person who wants to become a member should:

  • Be contributing. Very wide definition of contributing: Coding, writing, art-work, etc. Everybody can be part of the community. Contributions should be significant.
  • Have good testimonials / recommendations from others in the community.
  • Have a wiki-page with stuff he is working in / has worked on.
  • Community Council votes whether a person can become a member.
  • If a person is not (yet) known, they should be encouraged and helped to become part of the community, and to re-apply later.

If these requirements are fulfilled a person can become a member. To do so he/she should make a personal statement, send a mail about who she/he is, how he/she sees Ubuntu and stating that she/he adheres to the Ubuntu code of conduct.

3. committer

A committer will be able to commit fixes to the package repositories when the whole launchpad suite is functional.

  • A person can be a Limited or Unlimited committer.
  • We should try to empower people early.
  • Work socially, rather than rule-based.
  • Technical Board decides who can become a committer.
  • A committer should have a GPG key, and know how to use it.

4. Maintainer

A maintainer will be able to make package releases.

  • Limited, Unlimited
  • A maintainer needs to have a GPG key.
  • Must be approved by both technical board and community committee (I think)

In some cases, developers will be limited to particular packages, certain groups of packages, or all of universe, etc. Unlimited maintainer/committer rights will give complete access to all the packages in main and universe.

A person can go from limited committer to limited maintainer to unlimited committer to unlimited maintainer.

The term 'developer' is a general term which covers committers, maintainers, etc.

Mentor program

Needs to be inserted

Long write-up of the complete BOF:

New maintainer write-up

What is a maintainer

  • maintains a package
  • A person in the community government structure, gets to confirm people on the technical board.

Debian new maintainer process is different. We are not talking about the Debian new maintainer system.


  • different word for the word maintainer: member (positive)
  • maintainer is not just package-maintainer
  • Not necessary for Teams, that can also be an activist.

From now on we call it:: -> New Member BOF

What do we want from a person who becomes a member? What do we want from a new package-maintainer?

Somebody coding is not more important, more responsibility yes. To upload we need to know who he is, etc.

You can still be very active if you are not a member.

Members get to vote on certain issues in the community.

== Things we want/expect from new maintainers ==

  • Member
  • Should be contributing, very wide definition. Coding, writing, art-work.
    • Nominations by others (members)
    • Show what you have done, make a page in the wiki, resume also upstream work.
    • Advocacy, marketing work also counts
    • Anything the community counsel recognizes
    • You should be proposed by at least two persons
    • Quality control is very important, particularly for software maintainers Openness, flexibility, better than 'passing tests'


Uploading stuff into the system.

  • Review process (code)
  • Mentoring

We did not want to create a yes/no process, if you are not yet ready if you stick with it you might be approved later

Mentoring program

Working with mentors, examples When someone else speaks on your ... is more important

Auto-documented CVS: links to all that you did

Recommendation: it is not so difficult to get recommended, needs checking

Properties a developer should have

  • Voting is serious
  • CC and Tech-board seriously influence
  • Membership should be balanced, somebody should be involved.
  • Trusted/trustworthy
    • Maintainer-ship will laps.
    • Sometimes people wonder off.

Trust is important for developers: code needs to be signed with a pgp key

  • have a key, with signatures
  • know how to use it
  • Path of trust should be short

You can be able to send patches, you just cannot upload until then.

Code of conduct

  • mailing-lists
  • enthusiastic / willing to help, be active
  • motivated
  • Someone who knows their limits
  • competence

Concerns and potential problems

  • Authentication problem, you have to know that a person is who he says he is.
  • Role of Canonical e.g. on the mailing list 'what does canonical say'
  • Community and Canonical should not be separate
  • Bounties
  • make it more understated
  • community to-do list
  • Spare time vs Full time
  • Can't always community walk (?? - MatthiasUrlichs)

  • Very important that there will be many outside people, otherwise Ubuntu is not sustainable
  • Do not call them canonical employees, some are just being sponsored. Not completely, money will disrupt community-spirit.
    • We should attract a very large amount of maintainers
    • How to get the balances right
  • Canonical cannot do everything, we do our thing and try to facilitate other things
  • Do Canonical people get to keep the fun stuff? No -- volunteers are free, and do what they want.
  • fun -> non-fun

  • importance of work
  • Deemphasize the financial role of Canonical in Ubuntu
  • Other opinion: Emphasize other companies, people
  • Open-source Debian+Gentoo vs Redhat+Suse, where does Ubuntu stand? We should not fall between the crack
  • Blogs, what are people working on

Worst nightmare

  • A person who not sincere
  • Inactive people
  • build in expiry ex. FreeBSD every year? sends a mail, do you want to stay in
  • What consists Ubuntu activity
  • unable to monitor activity
  • Somebody who left should be easily welcomed back
  • Different proces for developers for universe and main?
    • Universe lower threshold.
    • Masters of the universe
      • would make universe less important
      • to be a committer should be a low barrier to both
      • -> When something goes into main is a big commitment.

      • Small difference between Universe nd Main vs Main is mission critical
        • Two thresholds or one, basic question.
        • Committer threshold should be the same.
        • Universe should not turn into slop.
        • U is important for derivatives
          • they will take care of that.
        • Quality standard for main and universe the same or not?
        • Security should be just as high
      • Monitoring



Main/Universe Members/Committer Nominations / Re-nominations

  • Time-scale: Expire 2 years

Mentoring-process Exposure / Openness in the system Canonical as a piece of community or other members Easy retiring and rejoining Identity+GPG

  • Up-loaders but not everything

For the draft of the new process read here: NewMembersMaintainersDraft