I, Jo Shields, apply for MOTU.


Jo Shields

Launchpad Page

Wiki Page

Who I am

I'm 25, and a systems manager for the Oxford Supercomputing Centre, at the University of Oxford.

I mainly started getting involved with Free Software in 2004, when I discovered I could gain a competitive advantage playing Unreal Tournament 2004 under GNU/Linux rather than Windows (although I'd been using some Red Hat machines in the departmental undergraduate labs since 2001). This lead to a number of freelance articles about Free Software on highly read tech websites, and eventually running an extremely successful (thousands of users) backports repository some time after the release of Ubuntu Dapper. Nowadays I'm an active and vocal member of the Debian Mono Group, primarily helping to coordinate the group's work in Ubuntu.

I've had experience in a plethora of programming languages, and nowadays favour C# as my language of choice for personal projects

My involvement

I started using Ubuntu around Hoary or Breezy, deciding that life was too short to configure Debian by hand on my office computers - eventually ending with replacing all my personal Debian systems. My involvement with Ubuntu on a developer level has been largely through unofficial channels - i.e. unofficial backporting - until midway through the Intrepid cycle. It became clear to me that the previous community steward of Mono in Ubuntu, SebastianDröge, was too busy with other tasks to give Mono the love it needs - so I decided to step up to the plate to prevent Intrepid's stack from suffering. Since then, I've been a vocal advocate for Ubuntu as the home of a best-of-breed Mono stack, and have been at the forefront of Jaunty's Mono work from day one, which means Jaunty is the only stable Linux distribution in the world with a completely CLI-2.0-only Mono stack.

Examples of my work / Things I'm proud of / Areas of work

I am a firm believer that the best way to contribute to Ubuntu is through Debian, so have tried to focus a lot of my efforts on both working directly in Debian (with the help of my peers in the Debian Mono Group), coordinating efforts to that end within the Ubuntu community, and only where necessary making changes directly in Ubuntu - largely to avoid issues of Debian NEW or Ubuntu freeze.

The headline item I worked on was coordinating the migration in Jaunty for all app and library packages (about 80 source packages total) to compile only with Mono's CLI 2.0 compiler, to help save space on the Ubuntu install media (and on every user's desktop). The net result of this is a 6 MiB reduction from Intrepid in space taken by Mono and dependencies, and we've isolated a further few meg which can be sliced off in Karmic. This work with the MOTU community was enormously rewarding, with one-off contributions from a variety of helpful people such as JamesWestby and full-on teaming up with IainLane in particular helping to run a transition through both Ubuntu AND Debian in a fraction of the time that the Mono Group's leader thought possible.

I've also got a few packages in Debian (and Ubuntu by extension) which, whilst team-maintained (as all packages in the Debian Mono Group are), are considered my sole responsibility: mono-basic (Visual Basic.NET compiler and runtime), ikvm (OpenJDK compiler and runtime for Mono or other CLI frameworks, a terrifying challenge for any packager) and moon (Novell Moonlight, the Free Software implementation of Microsoft Silverlight). These packages are all updated and in great condition in Jaunty.

Things I could do better

I need to up my game when it comes to checking and acting upon bug reports.

And I need to start beating myself every time I forget to run update-maintainer. I'm particularly bad in general when it comes to turning a sync into a merge about discarding Ubuntu specifics (such as debian/changelog stuff), as the merge is usually something I'd seek to avoid & not something I tend to think of as needing its own rich history.

Plans for the future


Karmic must be even more awesome than Jaunty. I think I can help this happen - I'll be at UDS, and I'll be proposing Banshee as default media library app, replacing Rhythmbox. I also need to get into gear packaging a few things such as IronRuby and Galaxium Instant Messenger. And as a group we really need to steal IronPython from to make sure it gets updated as and when.

I'm also looking to package an ASP.NET web app some time this cycle, largely to teach myself about what's involved (and increase my knowledge of mod_mono to better handle support requests and bug reports). It's not an enormous priority though.

What I like least in Ubuntu

I often feel that too many developers spend their time contributing to Ubuntu directly, to the detriment of Debian. Now, in fairness, this isn't necessarily the fault of individual Ubuntu developers - there are many Debian developers who feel that a given package is "their baby", and for want of a better term, act like assholes towards any upstart Ubuntu person offering to contribute. This leads to a self-perpetuating belief by many that because Debian Developers "in general" act hostile to that upstart uncommitted uncooperative Ubuntu crowd, that there's no point cooperating. And, again, in some cases it's true that a Debian Developer simply doesn't want help from an Ubuntu person. But I know of plenty of cases where help would have been gladly received, but is never offered. Ubuntu is nothing without Debian, and I feel plenty of contributors need to be reminded of the more community-minded way to improve Ubuntu, through uploads into Debian.

Oh, and I dislike being attacked for working on Mono, too. But that's a user community problem, and essentially unfixable.


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

  • Comments from upstream Mono developers about Jo's work have been nothing but positive. -- jorge 2009-04-29 19:41:24



General feedback

directhex is a mono packaging genius (no doubt his skills in this area are better than mine) and a champion collaborator, both things we need more of. His work with Debian is exemplary, and something I only discovered myself after a long while feeling around in the dark. I hope he will promote this workflow as a MOTU. Coordinating the Mono20 transition was a big undertaking that was executed professionally. Kudos for rallying Ubuntu troops to get heavy lifting done that benefits both distros.

Specific Experiences of working together

Areas of Improvement

I've been waiting for a Mononono package for a while now... Sad :(

I think I remember a sync request that hadn't been testbuilt. Be diligent.

Hurry up and get DD already!


General feedback

Crack, I've always thought that Jo was a MOTU already when looking at his changes past FF. Looking back, I firmly believe that Jo had everything sorted out, and took care of any fallout. If you ask me, skip any meetings (or whatever you do nowadays to make a MOTU) and just do so ;).

Specific Experiences of working together

must be somewhere on launchpad, right?

Areas of Improvement

Just read about UT. I assume Jo needs improvement there... let's find out, Jo, shall we Wink ;) Others than that it can only get worse :P.

Daniel Holbach (dholbach)

General feedback

Jo Shields already became one of our core mono people. I'm very very glad he's helping out. In the 10+ cases I sponsored some of his patches / ACKed his syncs, he absolutely knew what he was doing, worked together with the right people, etc. I'm very happy for him to become a MOTU.

Specific Experiences of working together

Areas of Improvement

James Westby (james_w)

General feedback

I worked with Jo on various Mono activities over the Jaunty cycle and found him to be very capable and good at organising the work. He certainly knows what requirements the release structure imposes, can organise work to fit in with that, and approach the right people at the right times for exceptions.

Specific Experiences of working together

Areas of Improvement

Jo should always wear Mono t-shirts at release parties so he is easier to spot.


=== 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 ===


directhex/MOTUApplication (last edited 2009-04-29 18:45:24 by c-68-40-250-14)