I, Robie Basak, apply for upload rights to the Ubuntu Server package set and MOTU.


Robie Basak

Launchpad Page

Wiki Page

Who I am

I have worked for the server team at Canonical since I joined them in August 2011. My focus is on ARM servers and hyperscale, but my remit also permits me to work on both other server packages and Ubuntu in general.

My Ubuntu story

I had tinkered with various distributions since the late nineties. But eventually I wanted to stop having to tinker just to keep my own desktop running well. I wanted something that Just Worked, and so I installed Ubuntu some time around 2005. Meanwhile, in a former job as a sysadmin, I had been busy migrating our servers from a home-rolled binary tarball non-distribution to Debian in around 2002. Eventually, we started favouring Ubuntu Server over Debian due to its LTS availability.

My involvement

As a technical Ubuntu user familiar with Debian packaging, although I submitted the odd patch or got involved in the occasional bug, my contributions to Ubuntu were minimal until I started working for Canonical. I think this is mainly because I didn't understand that there exists a specific sponsorship queue for debdiffs/MPs, that the SRU policy exists, and of the efforts made by Ubuntu developers to ensure that contributions from non Ubuntu developers are actively reviewed and uploaded.

Since joining the Canonical server team in 2011, I have been triaging bugs, identifying problems that should be fixed and packages that need to be merged, and following these through to sponsorship and upload.

Examples of my work / Things I'm proud of

Development work

Here are a selection of these:

Community work

  • Bug triager for the Ubuntu Server Team [0]; [mailing list post]; examples: [1], [2], [3].

  • On the Server Team Meeting chair rota since July 2012, and regular participant.
  • Active on [0]; examples: [1], [2], [3].

  • Provide regular community assistance on #ubuntu-server.

Areas of work

Much of my work is on the server packages. I tackle ARM-related issues on the server team. But I also work on Ubuntu in general where I can.

Things I could do better

With tasks coming in from many different sources (eg. bugs, new Debian releases requiring merges, work items from blueprints and internal Canonical priority tasks), I have had to postpone a number of work items every cycle. I should be postponing work items far earlier in the cycle when I have to do it, but better not needing to postpone work items at all.

Plans for the future


I'd like to see us better track outstanding merges for server packages. Especially in the last cycle due to the wheezy freeze, it hasn't been clear what merges are outstanding due to having been pulled from experimental and then falling behind, which are intentionally being left as not needed and which are intentionally being deferred until the end of the cycle.

I'd also like to better manage outstanding SRUs. I think a number of server packages meet the requirements for microrelease SRUs but aren't yet included, and that sorting these out will help reduce the size of the outstanding server SRU queue.

What I like least in Ubuntu

I'd like to see documentation for contributors that is more oriented towards specific goals, such as "land bugfix patch X in Ubuntu" and "update package Y to latest release Z" (covering the usual requirements, caveats, policies and variations that way), rather than the general "become a contributor" or "become a developer". I think it would be more attractive for more experienced developers to get involved this way. I feel that these tasks seem like a black art to many experienced, fully competent non-Ubuntu developers at the moment, who just don't understand what they need to do to get acceptable submissions into the sponsorship queue.


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



General feedback

I've worked with Robie in a number of areas of the last year or so and I've been consistently impressed with his work; his tenancity to get to the bottom of issues and his attention to detail when preparing uploads is something to be admired. He has a desire to really understand the technology he's working with.

Specific Experiences of working together

Turns out I've sponsored quite a few bits of Robie's work:

I'd specifically call out the work he did on OpenMPI; he did ARM wizardry to make stuff work and communicated well with the devs who look after this in Debian. He also did a good job on getting MongoDB working on ARM during raring - no mean feat! I look forward to seeing his changes upstream.

Areas of Improvement

Nothing I can think of; I actually think he's probably under-aiming with just ServerDev permissions - I think he could be trusted with more permissions as he 100% knows his limitations and always asks for support when required!

Scott Moser

General feedback

I've sponsored packages for Robie and have had many discussions with him about how to best fix or implement things. He is very deliberate in his problem solving and in my experience always seeks a complete solution rather than a temporary fix.

Specific Experiences of working together

Robie has helped me in developing the format for "simplestreams" (lp:simplestreams / and also in the efforts to make apt resistant to race conditions.

Areas of Improvement

There are no specific areas of improvement that I can think of at this time.

Chuck Short

General feedback

I've also sponsored packages in the past for Robie and he has always been aware of processes that are apart of Ubuntu. He is very easy to work with and to get along with off.

Specific Experiences of working togehter

Robie helped me debug

Areas of Improvement

None at this time.

Jorge Castro

General feedback

Community feedback: I like that I don't have to bother Robie to participate with other members of the community, he's active on Ask Ubuntu and the project mailing lists and always goes a step above when helping people on IRC.

Specific Experiences of working together

Robie has routinely brought community issues posted on the mailing list to the -server team meetings, especially when no one else has responded to the person Robie usually takes it upon himself to help the person out, even if it's not his area of expertise.

Areas of Improvement

I'd like to see more involvement with Local Teams; also getting you out into the world giving technical talks at conferences would be great.

Dave Walker

Having worked with Robie for quite a while, I am very familiar with what he has achieved. He has a great approach to challenges, has a good understanding of policy and procedures. Importantly he values developer cohesion and and always shows commitment and ownership. I would thoroughly recommend his approval for server dev and MOTU.

Adam Conrad

General feedback

Robie has demonstrated a combination of technical competence, openness to criticism, and easy-to-work-with demeanor that would make him a great core-dev. I realize that this is a PPU application, as someone suggested he start there, but I'd recommend that both he and the DMB reconsider and evaluate him for MOTU or core-dev, as he's more than ready for these tasks, has a lot to offer, and there's probably little point in jumping through the hoops of applying for lesser privileges first.

Specific Experiences of working together

I've sponsored, reviewed, and worked with Robie on many uploads, as part of +1 maintenance, SRUs, and random IRC pings for me to have a look at something he's been working on. As stated above, he's a highly competent developer, with a great attention to detail and, most importantly, an understanding of when he doesn't understand something, which means he won't randomly mess with things he shouldn't without first seeking advice and peer review. These are exactly the skills I look for in a core-dev and, honestly, a set of skills I wish more of our current core-devs exhibited.

Areas of Improvement

I can honestly think of nothing terribly negative to say about Robie. We all have things we could work on and improve at but, as I said, he already knows his weaknesses, and actively seeks out advice and review when he's working in an area he's not deeply familiar with. I consider this a strength, not a weakness.


=== 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 ===



RobieBasak/ServerDeveloperApplication (last edited 2013-06-18 11:55:02 by racb)