I'm South African, live in London, write a bit of Python code and am the founder and funder of Ubuntu. I guess the best place to learn more is www.markshuttleworth.com and I would be happy to take your mails at my usual Ubuntu email address. My Launchpad profile is at https://launchpad.net/people/sabdfl/ and I look forward to meeting you online!

It's great to see the Utnubu project under way, I am very happy that there is a dedicated team in Debian that will find the good stuff we do in Ubuntu that is relevant for Debian, and bring it into Debian. That helps us in Ubuntu, and I hope it will also be very valuable for Debian too.


What were you doing in Debian before joining Ubuntu ?

I was the first maintainer of the Apache package (a looooong time ago), then went inactive while setting up Thawte (www.thawte.com) and then going to space (www.firstafricaninspace.com). Now I have reactivated my Debian account so that I have a vote on Debian issues.

Why did you join Ubuntu and what are you doing for Ubuntu ?

I believe that the Debian world benefits from diversity - each of the Debian-based distros has something special about it, and that makes it a better solution for some users than a monolithic project can be. Debian is the universal OS, but as a result it would be a lowest-common-denominator unless related projects can climb the peaks and optimise it for particular use cases.

Ubuntu exists because I would like there to be a version of Debian that is focused on the desktop case.

Ubuntu, Launchpad, business relationships for the Ubuntu project.

What are you doing nowadays in Debian ?

Funding a lot of good work that turns into a lot of patches.

Can you explain the change (if any) ?

What do you think of the Debian-Ubuntu collaboration ?

If we can get it right, I believe it will be very good for Debian.

Collaboration in my mind means:

So let me look at this in more detail.

  1. Listening
    • The one thing Debian guys might forget is that Ubuntu is a relatively small team. Debian developers outnumber Ubuntu developers 15 to 1. That means that we can't participate in every thread on debian-devel and express the Ubuntu position. But we do listen very carefully to the flow of dialogue in Debian, and we do participate when we can. You'll find contributions to almost every significant thread on debian-devel from Ubuntu members, partly because a lot of core Ubuntu contributors are also core Debian contributors, and partly because we make an extra effort to make sure we are a full participant in that forum.
  2. Respecting
    • We will not agree on everything. If we did, Ubuntu would just be Debian. We have different priorities in some areas, and that is a Good Thing(tm) IMO. It effectively extends Debian's reach to those areas more effectively than if Debian were trying to do everything itself. We respect the governance of the Debian project to the extent that I explicitly do not want Canonical to employ the DPL - I think that would create a terrible conflict of interest for someone (and for me). Debian's best long term characteristic is its independence, we should preserve that at all cost. The focus on technical excellence can only be compromised when you introduce corporate loyalties into the picture at that level. That doesn't mean I don't think the DPL should have a job, I just think its inappropriate for the DPL also to work for a company that has a direct and immediate interest in Debian's direction. If it's a HUUUUGE company, then the Debian involvement is likely to be tangential to revenues, and thus less of a strategic asset. But in the case of Canonical, I think Debian is a critical relationship and thus I do like the idea of Canonical employing the Debian project leader. What destroys the desire to collaborate is the sense that the other side does not want to participate. The famous "Fuck Ubuntu" T-shirts that some DD's proudly displayed don't create any incentive for Ubuntu developers to WANT to collaborate with Debian. They show a lack of respect for Ubuntu from those Debian developres. Remember, respect doesn't mean you agree, or contribute directly, or even like the people, it just means you accept that people have the right to pursue their interests. Free software is all about respect - respecting the rights of others to the code you have given them IN THE WAY THAT THEY NEED not the way that suits you.
  3. Doing the work
    • Collaboration is a nice warm-and-fuzzy word, but it actually means "working together". The bit we often forget is the "work" part. Every six months, the Ubuntu project goes through a lot of real hard work integrating new changes from Debian. That helps significantly in reducing the risk of a fork, because we make a point to bring ourselves closer to Debian. What I like about Utnubu is that it is a sign that Debian Developers are potentially also willing to do the work of bringing in changes from Ubuntu into Debian. That way, we have a constant two-way flow of patches. We have jumped through some hoops to show, automatically, the Debian maintainer of a package what changes exist from Ubuntu for that package. Those links are available directly from the Debian package maintainers control page. If more DD's put more effort into reviewing those patches and taking the ones that make sense for Debian, then Debian would benefit more from the existence of Ubuntu. This requires work.

What do you wish for the future ?

World peace!

And more free software.

And better collaboration.