February 18, 2011

455 words 3 mins read

More feedback from Ubuntu Dev first timers

Here’s another story from the land of new Ubuntu Development contributors. I had a conversation with Nicola Ferralis. Nicola had worked on a number of packages and had this to say:

Dear Daniel,

Thanks very much for your note. If you don’t mind, let me give you my perspective on the Ubuntu development from a user perspective.

I started off as a simple user. It took me some time to figure things out, namely, deb packaging. At the beginning (before ppas) I was building my own modified packages, little modifications that I either needed or used as a learning experience. Most of them were usability issues on the GUI, which is usually what my interest is in.

The process, however, got a lot easier when PPA were made available. PPAs are, to me, the best thing not only in the linux world, but in the computing world in general. With that I pushed my effort to the next level, as I could bring modified software to different archs and have a better way to distribute.

I really like how Nicola with the help of PPAs was able to work on packages and deliver them to users. In the email, Nicola goes on and explains which packages were updated and how to make good use of PPAs.

So all in all, this would have not been possible without the support of the PPA. Launchpad is also an amazing tool for searching through bugs, help triaging (which I do at times), and submit patches. When I was doing something wrong or inaccurate I got great feedback. It’s been great.

Keep in mind that I do this as part of my spare-time, for the enjoyment of it. The packages I contribute to are primarily a need for me, and in the pure spirit of free-software, I hope it will be beneficial to others. Of course, I’d be pretty happy to have some help in supporting these ppas.

In the next paragraph Nicola mentions Ubuntu Backports:

There is one thing, along these lines, that I would like to suggest Ubuntu (and Canonical) to consider. As these PPAs are rather used and appreciated, I wonder if there could be a more official solution to backport packages to a stable release.

When I got the email, I asked around and luckily Scott Kitterman was around and agreed to introduce Nicola to the Ubuntu Backports team.

I’m very happy that people like Nicola are around to work in PPAs, then find out how to get stuff into Ubuntu proper and generally look forward to contribute to Ubuntu and make it even more awesome.

Nicola’s mail closed with:

Thanks for getting in touch, much appreciated and shows how Canonical cares about its community.

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