[aur-general] TU application.
pete at muddygoat.org
Thu Sep 9 14:44:38 EDT 2010
After the recent discussions about the number of TUs, the size of [community]
etc., I have decided to apply to be a Trusted User myself. Chris Brannon has
kindly agreed to sponsor me. So, here's my application.
Who am I?
I'm 30 and I live in Birmingham in the UK. I'm a postdoctoral Research Fellow
at the University of Birmingham, in the School of Computer Science. I also
teach programming there (Java mainly). When I'm not on the computer, I'm into
hiking, photography, growing my own veg, making home-brew beer and that sort
of thing. I have a largely non-technical blog here, in case you're interested:
What's my experience?
I've been a day-to-day GNU/Linux user since around 1998, when I got hold of a
SuSE magazine cover CD and installed it on (IIRC) my AMD K6 machine. I used
SuSE, Debian, *buntu and Gentoo for day to day stuff, before finding Arch
about two years ago. I also spent a while learning about how Linux systems are
put together going through the Linux From Scratch book and all that.
I have to say that (and I know this is preaching to the choir but) Arch
impressed me immediately and still does. When I found it, I had just spent a
few weeks trying to understand the Debian packaging manual and had given up
being able to learn how to do what I wanted (which was basically Linux From
Scratch but with a way to manage updates). I can only describe the transition
to Arch as feeling like my computer was working for me again, rather than
against me (or worse, me for it)!
I now use Arch on my laptop for everyday work - mainly scientific simulations
and writing research papers. I also run another couple of boxes (one mainly
for gaming, the other runs mythtv) as well as an Arch VPS at Linode, which
handles my mail, web and other hosting needs.
I was the first person (I think) to use Arch in our department at the
university, and since then I've helped another half a dozen or so people make
the switch. We run a "Linux Install Day" each year for the new students, and
while most of them seem to want Ubuntu (because they've heard of it), I try to
get hold of the ones that are more interested in understanding what's going on
and spend a bit of time with them setting up Arch. They are always really
appreciative and it's cool then watching them demonstrating their uber1337ness
to the other students. It's actually becoming quite well appreciated as a
distro in the department as a whole.
Anyway... I do a lot of coding and have mainly used Java, C, C++ and PHP. I've
also done a bit of Python and Ruby. Unfortunately not much of my code gets
into open source projects, but I can usually find my way around unfamilar code
bases pretty well and so have no trouble adding the odd patch here and there
to fix things and make them work. I think this would be a useful skill when
packaging things for Arch.
I should point out that I'm in no way a black-belt at Bash, but I can
certainly put together shell scripts for the things I need, and just tend to
learn stuff as and when I need it. I aim to learn more of the ninja shell
scripting stuff through being a TU, to be honest.
Why do I want to be a TU?
Well, you see there are all these really helpful people making Arch so great.
And I've benefited from all that. So, I figure it's time I contribute
something back. (Ask not what your distro can do for you, but what you can do
for your distro... or something.)
It also seems to me that there should be more TUs (without compromising
quality, of course). I know that statistics aren't everything, but these made
me stop and think:
Packages in unsupported: 24406
Trusted Users: 22
(There have actually been over 66 new packages in the AUR in the last week.)
Even with the best and most dedicated TUs in the world, and lots of help from
ordinary users, I don't think that that kind of number of people can keep the
AUR wheels greased, let alone maintain [community] too. I think it's a credit
to the current and previous TUs that the AUR is the great thing that it is
(and let's be honest, it's a big attraction of Arch).
More TUs putting more effort into fewer packages each (preferably that they
use) must be better than fewer TUs trying to have oversight of lots that they
don't use much. As Chris rightly pointed out to me, people tend to care more
about things that they use.
Actually, by being a TU I also hope to learn more about what goes into making
something like Arch so great, as well as improving my own skills.
So what would I do as a TU?
Well, mainly three things:
1) Maintain popular packages well and reliably.
I currently maintain 7 packages in the AUR, and am interested particularly in
things relating to science and research (e.g. latex, octave, sage,
bibliographic management stuff like mendeley and kbib), as well as KDE things
(I've been building and using KDE since version 1.0). And while I think it's
ideal when people maintain things that they use themselves, this wouldn't
restrict me from taking on other packages that I don't use.
See my current packages here:
2) Promote Arch and the TU scheme.
As I said, I think we need more TUs, while maintaining our high standard. I'd
like to promote the TU scheme and get more skilled Arch users to take on
maintaining the packages that they use. I think a world where more people
maintain a small number of packages each in [community] will lead to a bigger
and higher quality [community] repo. We should advertise, with the aim of
having many more TUs. This also means that we shouldn't be afraid of voting
people down if they're not yet ready, and give feedback to help them improve
and invite them to apply again later. We all benefit from this.
3) Maintain / improve processes and package standards.
I think that standard processes and packages are very important, and can make
life using Arch a lot easier. It's also important that the processes are
right, and this means attention to detail. Things like package naming and
categories fall into this. I think a large part of the job of a TU is to keep
the AUR clean and clear, and I would spend time helping to achieve this. I
have in mind that bits of additional functionality, such as to enabling
deletion requests to be handled through the web interface, perhaps duplicate
flagging and package renaming would be useful and make the job of a TU easier.
Over time, I would investigate implementing things like this.
Also on processes, I'm a bit of a geek for democratic stuff, constitutions and
bye-laws and things. I've worked with a couple of quite large democratic
organisations on their election and decision-making rules and would be
interested in helping to keep these working well for the good of Arch and us
all too. Again, it's important to get the rules right, but in addition to hard
rules, often establishing good etiquette is just as important (but IMO
preferably without going down the Ubuntu route of canned responses). I think
Arch people are good at this kind of thing, but I think it always helps to
have people who are interested in keeping things fresh.
If there are any questions, I'm very happy to try to answer them.
Cheers, and thanks for reading.
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