Debian developer: yes
Debian login: firstname.lastname@example.org
IRC nickname: pitti
Canonical employee: yes
What were you doing in Debian before joining Ubuntu ?
Mainly developing PostgreSQL packages, and maintaining my other packages (none of them are particularly important, though). I also helped out as an AM, and occasionally did some QA uploads. I wasn't very active on the mailing lists, but I wrote a mail or two to d-devel and such.
Why did you join Ubuntu and what are you doing for Ubuntu ?
I have always enjoyed development of my packages in Debian. The offer to work on a Debian based free OS for a living was a great opportunity I did not want to miss. Personally I feel that the structure of the Ubuntu community is much easier to get along with than Debian's; mainly because it's much smaller, not because DD's do worse in general. Also, the absence of a strict maintainer concept makes it both much easier and much more enjoyable to actually develop a distribution, not just some isolated packages.
In Ubuntu I do entirely different things than in Debian before: I'm the security team leader, have cared for improving proactive security, worked heavily on desktop hotplug support, I am responsible for a large part of our i18n efforts (language packs and such) and fixed some audio and printing related things.
What are you doing nowadays in Debian ?
My activities for my pet package PostgreSQL didn't change much, I'm still investing many hours of development time into it.
In addition, my work on Ubuntu allows me to push many improvements to Debian; whenever a new feature makes sense for Debian, I usually push it through the BTS (like derooting patches, security patches (1 and 2, or a ton of bug fixes and improvements; e. g. you will find my name in various changelogs like esd or tetex-bin).
For some packages I established a long term cooperation. Working with e. g. Sjoerd Simons is really great and productive, we mostly talk over IRC and regularly synchronize hal, dbus, and whatnot between Ubuntu and Debian. For some projects I joined the Debian development team on alioth (cupsys, linux-wlan-ng, alsa) to directly commit bug fixes etc. to Debian. OTOH, I had much less success with working with other package maintainers in Debian.
Can you explain the change (if any) ?
I do less general and community oriented tasks in Debian now (AM, QA), but my contribution through Ubuntu grew significantly (patches, comaintainer, etc.). Also, I now run Ubuntu on my Desktop and Laptop (my server runs Sarge). It's just too impractical to care for two OSes in parallel.
Do you believe that your "enrolment" in Ubuntu has been detrimental to Debian ?
No, to the contrary.
Why did you reduce/expand/keep your involvment in Debian ?
Reduced Debian community participation: mainly for two reasons:
- Discussions in Debian aren't exactly easy, too often they end up in a huge thread with no outcome, and sometimes even in a ridiculous flamewar.
- I have much less free time now than I had in my student time.
Expanded package collaboration: I believe in the synergy of propagating improvements and bug fixes to Debian, upstream, and other distributions. Effective collaboration is one of the key success factors in the free software world. Secondly, pushing back changes to Debian/upstream improves their value (since more users benefit from them, which in turn increases my satisfaction about doing them), and even makes deloping Ubuntu easier in the long run.
What do you think of the Debian-Ubuntu collaboration ?
I will not claim to be able to judge this as a whole, I can only speak for myself. As I already wrote above, collaboration with Debian works pretty well in the fields I'm active at. With some DDs it doesn't work at all, but that's ok; I do not want to urge people to work with me. In general my gut feeling is that Ubuntu collaboration from the Ubuntu side works better than usually claimed from the Debian side, but of course there are still problems to be solved:
- It would be unfair to demand that the sole responsibility for giving back patches etc. is on Ubuntu's side. Collaboration needs to work in both directions, and the small set of core devs simply doesn't have the manpower to track every patch in every Debian package as well (especially since the hurdles of package mainainers sometimes makes it excessively difficult to do so). From my experience, many DDs seem to agree to that.
- Many Ubuntu developers (mainly MOTU) are not DDs, and thus never had a strong affection for Debian, so their changes will not be pushed to Debian. I don't have an enlightening idea about how to solve that; technical solutions like Launchpad, distributed revision control, and automated package imports into revision control will make collaboration significantly easier in the future, but social cooperation should still happen at some level.
In summary I think that the current situation is not bad at all. Collaboration with Ubuntu is magnitudes better than with other Debian derivatives (when did you see the last patch from Knoppix, for example?) Of course it could get much better even, but that requires better technical solutions, too.
What do you wish for the future ?
More social interaction would be nice. The way we talked to each other at debconf5 in general, and on the Debian/Ubuntu collaboration BoF in particular was miles away from the usual flamefest on the Debian mailing lists. I would also wish that more DDs would just try a current Ubuntu live or install CD to see which features are worth to take, how Ubuntu 'feels' (to identify areas where Ubuntu is really good, and thus worth collaborating at, and to also to find parts you don't like), and to get an impression of how much difference 'working on packages' vs. 'working on a distribution' can make. I would really like to see a focus shift in Debian from package oriented to goal oriented, too, although this might not work very well with the much bigger number of DDs.
Personally, I will try to at least keep my current level of interaction with Debian. It works pretty well so far (at least from my POV).