Ask MOTU

Q: I want to get a patch / an updated package into Ubuntu – what do I need to bear in mind?
A: Make use of our Sponsorship Process. What does that mean? Basically you either file a bug report or follow up on an existing one, attach your patch (or the new source package – you can link to it too), subscribe ubuntu-universe-sponsors or ubuntu-main-sponsors and our team of reviewers will check it out and give you feedback – once it’s all good, they’ll upload it for you. Things to speed up the process:

  • Forward your patch to Debian and Upstream – if you have buy-in from Upstream, sponsors will be more likely to accept it. Also if it goes into Debian, we can sync it in the future.
  • Keep the patch minimal – don’t do all kinds of changes just because you can – this makes the patch harder to read and understand, also we will have to manually merge the changes everytime the package changes in Debian
  • A good example for keeping the patch minimal: don’t bump the Standards-Version if you don’t maintain the package. The Standards-Version points out which version of the Debian Policy your package complies with. Leave this to the maintainer – the change is of NO USE to our users and we have to merge it everytime the package changes in Debian.
  • Use (LP: #123456) in debian/changelog to close the bug automatically, so the sponsors don’t have to do it.
  • Properly explain what you are doing, be elaborate in debian/changelog, explain all the changes that you are doing.
  • Provide information about where your patch is from and if it was accepted upstream already.
  • Test-build your package / sync-request.
  • Make sure you tried on the current development release.

The list could go on and on and on and your sponsors will probably always find teach you something new – which is a good thing, don’t be shy. The items above are just a bunch of very basic steps you can use to make things easier and avoid bug mail ping-pong with our busy sponsors.

ROCK ON EVERYBODY! 🙂


My 5 today: #46447 (grabcd), #246822 (prism), #86889 (gnochm), #156208 (uns), #309399 (devhelp)
Do 5 a day – every day! https://wiki.ubuntu.com/5-A-Day

  • Vadim P.

    So you basically have to learn how to make and patch a debian package then make a motu friend. For most people, that’s way outside of their scope unfortunately.

  • Vadim: that’s not exactly true.

    1) There’s a lot of material on how to produce good patches or update a package, etc. available from https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MOTU/Videos (or more generally good documentation at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MOTU/GettingStarted)

    2) Attach your solution to the bug, subscribe the reviewers team. That’s all there is to it.

  • @Vadim: I want to agree with you, but I have to disagree with you to some extent. During my past 3+ years in the Ubuntu community, I have met people who just installed Linux for the first time in their life and just a few months later were packaging like mad, and some have even become MOTUs. The “making a MOTU friend” part is super simple, all it takes is a little communication and you are on your way to a wonderful friendship.

    If everyone came into the community thinking this was way outside of their scope, we wouldn’t have some of the developers we have now in Ubuntu. I have witnessed people as young as 12 years old in our community doing packaging, and even have a LoCo youngster who is around 15 or 16 who is now a MOTU and will soon be a core developer.

    It is only out of your scope if you tell yourself it is. Because of Ubuntu and the people I have met who have never in their life touched Linux until recently, I do believe that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.

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