Tue, 24 Nov 2009

Ten years as a Debian Maintainer

On the 24th of November of 1999, the Debian ftpmasters processed the NEW package wmbiff, which got installed in the potato distribution. This sponsored upload by Fernando Sánchez was the first of my packages to hit the official Debian archive, thus officially making me a Debian maintainer. So, in short, today is my tenth anniversary as a Debian contributor!

I actually started a few days before, and soon after that upload, many other ITPs and uploads followed. I will always be thankful to fer for his patience with my upload sponsoring until I became a Debian developer with full rights and was able to upload myself.

During these years, I've been involved in many teams and different tasks, with my activity and dedication probably peaking around 2001 or 2002, when I apparently was doing a crazy amount of different stuff. I started doing plain packaging work of software packages, some of which also have come a long way (thanks for that, Chris!), but soon started to contribute in other Debian tasks. I think it's safe to say that the task that has ended up having more impact in the people that surround me was bootstrapping the Debian Catalan community and starting the Catalan translation of Debian's website, which soon after triggered the creation of a formal Debian Catalan translation project.

I've also spent a lot of time giving back to the NM team which helped me get a Debian account through the still experimental new New Maintainer process, and the QA team helping as I could with the never ending release cycles of potato and woody.

At some point I got engaged in the GNOME packaging tasks and the creation of the Debian GNOME team, and picked up the Catalan translation of GNOME 1.5.x releases, which eventually opened me the doors of Softcatalà, a Catalan non-profit devoted to the promotion of the Catalan language in technology.

I've believed in Debian's values since my classmate Ulisses Alonso prodded me to install Debian on my desktop back in 1997. Even if getting X up and running on bo was a real pain in the ass, knowing that the system I was running had all been written by people driven by altruism was enlightening; months later it was time to give back.

Of course, I've not been able to keep my motivation or output as high as I'd like. Debian as a collective has sometimes taken some decisions which were not so easy to understand from my point of view. The outcome of the non-free votes was a bit appalling, and having debian-devel becoming more and more a battleground instead of a civilised mailing list certainly did not help at some point (unsubscribing from it made my life a lot simpler!). Joining a triathlon club, having a girlfriend and suddenly rediscovering my neglected social life didn't help either. The result is that my dedication has been wanning noticeably since 2005 or so, but I still do my best to keep up with most of duties, even if I'm aware I'm clearly neglecting a few of them.

I am very proud of having been a part of an incredible project like Debian, and hope to be around for at least ten more years. Not only because I love and believe in Free Software; thanks to my involvement, I've been able to work on Debian-related jobs for all of my professional career, but above all I've been very lucky to make lots of real friends.

Today's has been a nice day full of remembering and mailbox digging. Thank you, Debian!