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Tollef Fog Heen

  • Debian developer: yes

  • Debian login: tfheen@debian.org

  • IRC nickname: Mithrandir

  • Canonical employee: yes

What were you doing in Debian before joining Ubuntu ?

  • Maintaining a bunch of packages, including some packages like sash and mailman.
  • Member of the Apache team
  • One of the early d-i developers
  • amd64.debian.net ftp-team member and generally interested in amd64
  • working on multiarch

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

I met up with the Canonical people (who weren't called that then) back at Debconf 4 in Brazil. I ended up doing some bounties, including handling the AMD64 support in the first Ubuntu release. Ended up doing random other development tasks too and got hired when I finished my master's degree.

I'm still responsible for AMD64 support in Ubuntu as well as working on the Live CD support. In addition, I do general bug triage and try to help Colin Watson with the installer, both Espresso and d-i.

What are you doing nowadays in Debian ?

  • Package maintenance
  • Trying to get a bunch of the fixes and improvements we have done to d-i back into Debian as well as some regular d-i development
  • Trying to get multiarch properly started

Can you explain the change (if any) ?

I have reduced my involvement in Debian from its peak long before Ubuntu existed, but I've recently seen it get a bit bigger again. The reason for this was mainly personal reasons.

Debian is a great project with lots of interesting and nice people. We just don't show that too well and are too happy to flame each other. Often, this even gets in the way of technical excellence. We are also too afraid to make choices; for a long time the "Desktop" task installed both KDE and GNOME, which was just silly.

What do you think of the Debian-Ubuntu collaboration ?

I'm actually not sure. Ubuntu has not been good enough at following through on its promises, and at the same time a lot of vocal Debian people have asked for having all patches served on a silver platter and whined when they haven't gotten that.

I think the situation is improving, especially with teams having members from both the Debian and Ubuntu community. Communication has been a major problem and will likely continue to be so for a while. I think it would be useful if people starting behaving a bit more like TCP as described in RFC 793:

TCP implementations will follow a general principle of robustness:  be
conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from

What do you wish for the future ?

I hope it will continue to improve. I hope that Debian and Ubuntu as projects can get on well and take advantage of each other.

Personally, I'll continue to be part of both camps and do my part to have communication work as well as possible.