Thursday, 1 December 2022

Re: Extended call for Ubuntu Technical Board candidates

On Tue, Nov 29, 2022 at 07:07:26PM +0000, Torsten Franz wrote:
> In
> order to make a good decision in this selection, we would like to give the
> candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves here and to say a few
> words about their application and provide a few links to their work.

Hi, I'm Robie. I've been using GNU/Linux since the late nineties,
professionally as a sysadmin since 2001, Ubuntu as a power
user/developer since about 2005, and have been working on Ubuntu itself
since I joined Canonical in 2011. My first sponsored upload to Ubuntu
was in 2011, I became an uploader in 2013, and a Core Dev in 2014. I've
served on the DMB and SRU teams since 2016, and the Technical Board for
this past two year term. I'm also a Debian Developer since 2018.

Since I'm an incumbent I thought I'd try to give you an idea of some of
the proactive things I've done in my time on the Technical Board, and
you can decide if you want more of the same, or a change.

I believe the best way to make progress is to build consensus and
negotiate rather than to force things with a Technical Board hat,
*except when decisiveness is actually required*. An example of where I
think this worked well is in the resurrection of the backports pocket. I
started this thread[1], found volunteers and built consensus that turned
out quite different from my original proposal[2], we negotiated in the
thread with previous team members on the details of how to hand the team
over, and thanks to our excellent new volunteer backports maintainers we
have a functional backports pocket again. Crucially, at no point did I
need my Technical Board hat to force anything. Eventually all I did as a
TB member was to implement some ACL changes on which we had consensus
first. I think this is a shining example of how the Technical Board
ought to operate most of the time: we get to a point where all the
stakeholders are agreed, and then any required TB approval becomes a
fait accompli rather than something that must be contentious.

Along the same lines of building consensus, my biggest piece of work in
my time on the Technical Board has been what we're currently calling
"third party repository requirements". From before my time on the TB,
Ubuntu's policy on quality requirements for snaps that we ship by
"default" has been in a draft state[3], even though seeded and other
types of default snaps have already shipped. I've been driving the work
on finishing this properly. In doing so we found that there is value in
defining general principles that we want to uphold and document, in
order to help with setting user expectations on what they can expect
from Ubuntu in this area. This meant it ended up encompassing packaging
systems and user expectations of them generally, and not just for snaps.

Since this is being done retroactively it has been much harder to
negotiate - mostly in terms of time taken to make sure all stakeholders'
views and concerns are incorporated, rather than any particular
pushback. And there are things we identified that are what we think are
shortcomings in the current snap UX that we'd like to see addressed;
these needed negotiating with snap infrastructure upstreams first! For
this reason I've been focusing on conversations with stakeholders
directly, although discussion has generally been available to follow to
anyone following TB meetings. I managed to resolve the remaining
blockers directly with stakeholders in-person in Prague, but haven't
managed to catch this up in the draft yet. I hope to do this very soon,
and then consult more directly with the entire set of Ubuntu developers,
with a view to getting TB approval in the next few months.

I mention this because the "diplomacy" to get to the point of the
stakeholder consensus that I've achieved this far is something that I'm
proud of as an example of my proactive Technical Board work, even though
I've unfortunately fallen short by just a week or two in terms of
sharing it all more directly before this election. I think you would be
pleased with the result so far, but it is probably inappropriate to push
this further this instant just because the TB election is on. It would
be disappointing for me if I had to step down without having pushed
this over the line, but I'd be happy to hand it over to the new TB if I
am not re-elected.

When I stood for this past term, I said that I wanted better
communication on decisions and goings-on in Ubuntu. I think I've been
achieving that - usually by asking behind the scenes for things to be
documented, which has often been followed by a public post. I think
we're doing a little bit better now, but there's still plenty of room
for improvement.

On attendance: from a quick tally, by my count there were 52 Technical
Board meetings in this last term to date. I attended 84%, with absences
generally only for collisions with vacations or Canonical company
events. The other members' attendances were 55%, 46%, 36% and 36%.

For reference, you can read my platform for my current term[4], and I'll
add this note to that page.