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Preview: Behind MOTU

Behind MOTU



A peek into the world of Ubuntu's Universe maintainer world



Updated: 2017-11-22T13:50:45Z

 



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Maia Kozheva (sikon / LucidFox)

2010-07-23T08:30:01Z

Age: 23 Location: Novosibirsk, Russia IRC Nick: LucidFox How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? My first attempt to use Linux was back in 2001 or 2002, called something like WinLinux 2000 – it was a version of Linux that ran from under Windows, with very old software like KDE1. But I […]Age: 23 Location: Novosibirsk, Russia IRC Nick: LucidFox Maia Kozheva Desktop Desk How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? My first attempt to use Linux was back in 2001 or 2002, called something like WinLinux 2000 – it was a version of Linux that ran from under Windows, with very old software like KDE1. But I prefer to count my Linux experience from 2004, when I first installed Debian Woody into a dual boot to test-build Colonization Too (an open source 2D video game I was contributing to, now dead). By then, many of the distribution’s packages were very outdated, and, not knowing about testing and unstable releases, I started manually compiling and installing many core components. I ended up with quite a mishmash of a system, more LFS than Debian, with software from old .debs and manually from tarballs, and it was a pain trying to make the system do what I wanted, but I was so excited at having a working GUI environment that was not Windows, and having a working C/C++ compiler, that I was willing to forgive it many major flaws. Plus all the tweaking, up to and including building custom kernels, taught me a lot of knowledge about Linux internals that came very useful in the future. How long have you been using Ubuntu? Since late 2005. Ubuntu Breezy was my first Linux distribution to Just Work (although even it required a considerable amount of tweaking by modern Linux standards), so I never installed any other OS on my home machine except on virtual machines, and deleted Windows shortly thereafter. When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? Like many open source involvements, it began with an attempt to scratch a personal itch, in August 2007. I wanted to update the Psi instant messenger, which was then outdated in Ubuntu. I was curious about the process of creating .deb packages to begin with, so I read the packaging guide, read about uploading to REVU, and uploaded my first package. (Don’t do this at home, kids – REVU is not for updating existing packages!) My first packaging attempts were really ugly, but quickly improved thanks to both the packaging guides and the feedback from MOTUs. What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? Mostly the packaging guides on the Debian and Ubuntu websites, and first-hand experience with contributing new and updated packages to Ubuntu. When I needed to learn about some obscure packaging features, I usually looked at packages where they were already implemented. What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU? The knowledge that you have achieved something. Watching the changes land in the archive, and knowing that in the span of a few hours, they will be there on mirrors around the whole world, for the benefit of thousands of Ubuntu users. Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? Be bold. The developers aren’t a cabal cult worshiping the Dark God of Ubuntu, they’re friendly people willing to help. If you have questions and a web search doesn’t answer them, come to IRC and ask! Along the way, you can learn something new from the conversations that go there all the time. Learn by example, learn the typical solutions to your problem and try to follow the conventions. Don’t forget that Ubuntu gets most of its packages from Debian, and consider also contributing to Debian so that your effort benefits two distributions at once. Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? So far, my involvement has been limited to one presentation I gave at Ubuntu Global Jam here in Novosibirsk, at the request of one of the LUG organizers. I explained how Ubuntu development worked, some technical detail[...]



Benjamin Drung (bdrung)

2010-05-31T08:59:00Z

Age: 1985 model Location: Earth, Germany, Berlin, Spandau IRC Nick: bdrung How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? I had my first Linux contact in 2006. I gave Fedora Core, Kubuntu, SUSE Linux, and Ubuntu (sorted alphabetical) a try. After several hours I decided to stick to Ubuntu. How long […]Desktop Benjamin Drung Desk Age: 1985 model Location: Earth, Germany, Berlin, Spandau IRC Nick: bdrung How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? I had my first Linux contact in 2006. I gave Fedora Core, Kubuntu, SUSE Linux, and Ubuntu (sorted alphabetical) a try. After several hours I decided to stick to Ubuntu. How long have you been using Ubuntu? My first Ubuntu contact was 6.06 LTS “Dapper Drake”. Since Ubuntu 6.10 “Edgy Eft” I have been using Ubuntu as main system. That sums up to three and a half year. When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? I dived into packaging after the Packaging Jam in Berlin on 2008-02-06. Daniel Holbach showed us the basic tools for packaging there. I began with fixing bugs and updating matplotlib, because I needed a feature of a newer version. Then I worked on packages, in which I was interested or which needed some love. What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? Learning by doing! Take a package and change small things. Then build and test it. Read the Debian Policy Manual and dig through the Ubuntu wiki. If you don’t find the answer, come to the Ubuntu IRC channels and ask there. We will answer your question or point you to the right wiki page. What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU? My favourite part is the community. The community is always polite and helpful. You don’t get attacked by others and conflicts will be solved in a nice manner. Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? I have three advices: Don’t hesitate. Just start. Start with small steps. It’s easier to fix a bug, to update a package, or package a small application instead of beginning to package Eclipse from the scratch. Be patient. Getting packages sponsored can take some time, especially if the packages are new. The waiting time is mostly caused by a lack of manpower. Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? I belong to Ubuntu Berlin. I will give a talk on the LinuxTag 2010. What are you going to focus on in Maverick and Maverick+1? Besides maintaining a set of packages, I am going to work on getting Ubuntu comply to the units policy, which was accepted by the Technical Board some month ago. The remaining time will be used for sponsoring. I hope we can empty the sponsor queue at least once in the release cycle. What do you do in your other spare time? I am involved in my church. I am responsible for the audio engineering and play trumpet/cornet in two brass bands (of two churches). I am cycling a lot, because it’s a fast, cheap, and eco-friendly way to get from point A to B. Sometimes I fold very small Origami stars. [...]



Chow Loong Jin (hyperair)

2010-02-17T16:09:01Z

Age: 19 Location: Come from Malaysia, but currently studying in Singapore IRC Nick: hyperair How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? Ubuntu was my first, though I switched to ArchLinux for about 3 months and switched back when I realized that I had ended up customizing my ArchLinux installation to […]Desk Screenshot Age: 19 Location: Come from Malaysia, but currently studying in Singapore IRC Nick: hyperair How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? Ubuntu was my first, though I switched to ArchLinux for about 3 months and switched back when I realized that I had ended up customizing my ArchLinux installation to be very similar to Ubuntu. How long have you been using Ubuntu? Since Dapper Drake’s release, so that would be.. 3 years and 7 months approximately? When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? It began when the Banshee 1.0 alphas started appearing upstream, but not the Ubuntu packages. I wasn’t a Banshee user yet, but it did look awesome, so I dug out the packaging for Banshee from Ubuntu, played around with the files until a deb magically appeared, and uploaded it to mediafire.com and linked it on a thread on ubuntuforums.org. Shortly after that, Jorge O. Castro (jcastro) e-mailed me, with the idea of starting up a PPA for new Banshee releases. I don’t really remember what happened next, but somewhere along the line, I began introducing new packages via REVU (revu.ubuntuwire.com) during the Karmic cycle, and when I could not get a sponsor for bansheelyricsplugin, Iain Lane (Laney) dragged me off to #debian-cli (#debian-mono at that time, IIRC). After that, I began co-maintaining Banshee, and handling the syncs and merges of Banshee in Ubuntu. What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? I began by playing around with existing packages, mainly to get new upstream versions packaged for personal consumption, because I’m an impatient fellow. I then read some of the packaging guides on wiki.ubuntu.com (the one I used is probably so old it got overridden by the new ones already), the Debian new maintainer guide, and the Debian policy. As for learning how Ubuntu teams work, I sat around in #ubuntu-motu and #ubuntu-devel as well as #ubuntu-desktop, and either eavesdropped or participated in ongoing discussions there. My first few packages gotten into Ubuntu via REVU gave me quite a bit of first-hand experience working with the MOTU as well. What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU? Is there any part that isn’t a favourite? ;-) Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? Google is your friend. And whatever Google doesn’t answer, IRC answers. ;-) Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? I am a part of the Ubuntu Singapore and Ubuntu Malaysia Local Communities, and a technical director of the NTU Open Source Society What are you going to focus on in Lucid and Lucid+1? Banshee, its rdepends, as well as its dependencies mostly. But I will tackle any other bug that annoys me enough and is within my capability to fix. What do you do in your other spare time? I love watching anime and reading manga. But when I’m not doing that, I’d probably be surfing the net, chatting, or playing some old games on my notebook. [...]



Michał Zając (quintasan)

2009-12-18T14:05:11Z

Age: 16 Location:Lubin, Poland IRC Nick:Quintasan or Quintasan|Szel How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? How long? Kind of hard to remember, maybe three years. My first distro was Ubuntu then very soon I switched to Kubuntu and after few months I found myself using Gentoo but I discovered it […]Desktop Screenshot Michał Zając Age: 16 Location:Lubin, Poland IRC Nick:Quintasan or Quintasan|Szel How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? How long? Kind of hard to remember, maybe three years. My first distro was Ubuntu then very soon I switched to Kubuntu and after few months I found myself using Gentoo but I discovered it was a waste of time and I switched back to Kubuntu. How long have you been using Ubuntu? I would say I have been using Kubuntu for two years. I was curious how Linux works and after googling and visiting some sites I though Ubuntu would be a good choice but I didn’t like GNOME and Kubuntu was obvious choice for me back then. When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? At first I used to translate apps but serious contributions started somewhere in the Jaunty cycle. My first “contribution” was importing upstream patch to fix issues with Qt 4.5 and KDE 4.1 What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? Packaging? I have learned it The Hard Way, instead of reading the awesome wiki we have I started meddling with debian/ dir and poked guys on IRC each time when some Strange Error popped out :). Guys on #kubuntu-devel and #ubuntu-motu were very helpful and I managed to grasp the basics of packaging, patching and whole review process within two hours. What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU? Everything :D. But if I had to choose just one thing it would be when I users drop in to IRC channel and thank developers for their hard work (+100 to motivation :). Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? Don’t be shy, join us on #ubuntu-motu and ask how you can help. We don’t bite and can provide you with assistance if you run into problems on your MOTU adventure ;) Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? Ubuntu Polish LoCo, you can find me on our IRC channel (#ubuntu-pl) What are you going to focus on in Lucid? Of course working with Kubuntu Ninjas (sssh we don’t actually exist :P) to bring you new and shiny KDE SC releases. I’m the new maintainer of Project Neon (nightly builds of KDE SC and Amarok) so I will also concentrate on that. I’d also like to tidy needs-packaging list a bit so we have a clear list on thing we really need to have in repositories. What do you do in your other spare time? So, I learn Japanese by myself since there are no courses here in Lubin or somewhere nearby. I also love skateboarding and watching anime. I’ve recently started learning C++ so I do it very often too. [...]



Mackenzie Morgan (maco)

2009-11-24T10:45:20Z

      Age: 21 Location: Washington, DC IRC Nick: maco How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? I played around with Damn Small Linux in Qemu on Windows in May or June 2006. I was about to start Uni and figured I ought to learn to use something other […]Mackenzie Morgan   Desktop     Age: 21 Location: Washington, DC IRC Nick: maco How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? I played around with Damn Small Linux in Qemu on Windows in May or June 2006. I was about to start Uni and figured I ought to learn to use something other than Windows (and I’ve never been a big OSX fan), but I wanted to make sure there were GUIs in Linux before deciding to go that route. Er, there obviously were…for quite a long time before that. How long have you been using Ubuntu? I started with Ubuntu in July 2006 after a random person on Facebook (now a friend) told me it’d be a better (and cheaper) first distro than Mandriva (for which I had an intro book). That friend is now trying to get me to switch to FreeBSD. When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? No idea. I submitted a semi-broken patch in April 2008, but I’m not sure that counts. Some time in the second half of 2008, I guess. What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? One of my friends tried to teach me to package in 2007, twice. Both times, he’d tell me what commands to use (with no explanation) and 5 minutes later I had no idea how I’d just done that and could not repeat it. The videos on the Ubuntu Developer channel in Miro & YouTube were what got me to understand the basics. Being able to rewind has big advantages over real life. So do the explanations. As far as how teams work…the wiki, and just observing the Ubuntu-Devel mailing list. What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU? I have to pick? OK, fixing bugs so my brother doesn’t whine to me (he’s much more likely to mention bugs to me than mum is), and meeting such awesome people. Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? Don’t be afraid! You don’t have to be a programmer, just willing to learn a few new commands and a bit about policy and to put in effort. Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? Yep, I’m in the DC LoCo Team, DC LUG, and DC LinuxChix. I’m also on the mailing list for a regional LUG and one for my parents’ city so I can head over to their meetings when visiting. What are you going to focus on in Lucid? I want to try to get through some of the (giant) backlog of patches on Launchpad. What do you do in your other spare time? I love languages. I’m studying Japanese at the Japan-America Society, and I’ve spent the 2 years since my last Japanese class learning enough American Sign Language to chat with friends without forcing others to interpret for us. [...]



Julien Lavergne (gilir)

2009-11-05T08:14:22Z

Age: 26 Location: Paris, France IRC Nick: gilir How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? My first distro was a Mandriva in 2004, but I really began to use Linux with an Ubuntu 5.04. How long have you been using Ubuntu? Since Hoary (5.04). It was the first ditro I […]Julien Lavergne Desktop Desk Age: 26 Location: Paris, France IRC Nick: gilir How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? My first distro was a Mandriva in 2004, but I really began to use Linux with an Ubuntu 5.04. How long have you been using Ubuntu? Since Hoary (5.04). It was the first ditro I used full time. I’m using Ubuntu until now, with some period under Debian Sid. When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? I began during Edgy cycle, by reporting some bugs, doing some testing. I began with no particular knowledge, no coding skills, a terrific English (still a problem, but it’s better :)) I quickly learn how to patch, re-build a package, or playing with apt-get. My first package uploaded on Ubuntu was avant-window-navigator, and it’s still my favorite pet package :) What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? Mostly the documentation, Debian reference and Debian Policy, and all How-To for all tools (cdbs, quilt, dh7, python-support …). I learned also with all my sponsors, in both Debian and Ubuntu. What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU? No particular favorite part. When I work too much on a part, I switch to another so I always have something fun to do. Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? Don’t start with a new package. You will learn faster, and more by working on existing packages. And there is so much to do with existing packages … It’s also a good way to find sponsors for future new packages you want to include ;) Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? A bit with the French LoCo Team, installing Ubuntu on new users during Ubuntu parties in Paris. It’s nice to talk to users sometimes, to listen their problems/wishes/trolls :) What are you going to focus on in Karmic and Karmic+1? For Karmic, I kept an eye on some packages I try to maintain (awn, ogmrip, conduit …). For Lynx, I’ll have more time for sync packages from Debian, introduce new stuff, and work on Lubuntu more than I done for Karmic. What do you do in your other spare time? Not much time after real work and Ubuntu work, but when I find some time, I watches movies, and travel. [...]



Jonathan Carter (highvoltage)

2009-10-30T14:31:10Z

Age: 27 Location: Cape Town, South Africa IRC Nick: highvoltage How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? I’ve been using Linux since 1999, I started out with Red Hat Linux and did lots of distro-hopping. After that, I settled on Debian in 2003. How long have you been using Ubuntu? […]Jonathan Carter Main Work Area Netbook Desktop Age: 27 Location: Cape Town, South Africa IRC Nick: highvoltage How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? I’ve been using Linux since 1999, I started out with Red Hat Linux and did lots of distro-hopping. After that, I settled on Debian in 2003. How long have you been using Ubuntu? I was working for the Shuttleworth Foundation at the time and my manager dropped a CD on my desk and said something like “This is the new Linux distribution that Mark is working on, it’s called Warty” and it was a pre-release of Ubuntu 4.10 which I installed on a server the first time, I’ve been an Ubuntu user since. When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? I was in London in 2005 for the Edubuntu Summit where I met Oliver Grawert, he was my first MOTU mentor, although work got in the way a lot with my MOTU progress. Before Ubuntu existed, it was one of my aspirations to one day be a really good Debian contributor, and hopefully one day I will be, but universe seems like a real good place to start. What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? I initially looked at the Debian New Maintainers Guide, but I found paging through the Debian Policy Manual to be much more useful. I’ve always had good experiences asking questions on the #ubuntu-motu IRC channel. Even the most experienced developers and packagers there are always friendly and welcoming. What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU? I enjoy learning, the MOTU team is very open and they never mind sharing information or knowledge. I’ve worked in corporate environments where people are afraid to share knowledge because it may make them seem less valuable if other people had the same knowledge as they did. The MOTUs are great at solving problems and helping others do so. Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? Be patient. Packaging can be tricky sometimes whether it’s just making a bug fix or getting a whole new piece of software into the archives. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, even experience packagers are also human and make mistakes. I’ve never had a MOTU yell at me or be impatient for not knowing anything, so just get in there and try not to stress. Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? Yes, I’ve been on the Cape Town Linux Users Group committee for a few years and I’m the co-leader (we have two leaders who share responsibilities) of the Ubuntu-ZA team. I’m stepping down from both soon since I’ll be working a lot in other countries next year. I’ll still be involved in both and may take leadership roles in them again in the future. What are you going to focus on in Lucid and beyond? For Lucid I’m going to focus on Edubuntu and I’ll also do upstream work on LTSP Cluster. There are many things that are currently unpackaged that would be useful in an Ubuntu Educational environment and I’d like to get as much of it as possible into Ubuntu. I’m interested in a lot of server related things. I have lots of ideas so one day when Edubuntu becomes a bit more boring I’ll shift a bit more to the server side. What do you do in your other spare time? Nothing spectacular, I listen to music, go to the gym to try to counter all the time I spend sitting in front of a computer and spend time with friends. I always wanted to start a band so when I have to time I play around with Garage Band (eek, yes that’s on a Mac). I often spend some time playin[...]



Robert Ancell (robert_ancell)

2009-10-12T08:53:42Z

Age: Old enough Location: Sydney, Australia IRC Nick: robert_ancell How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? Been using Linux since at least 2000, first distro was probably either RedHat 4 or 5. How long have you been using Ubuntu? I think since the start. Before that I was using Debian […]Desktop Virtual Desktop Age: Old enough Location: Sydney, Australia IRC Nick: robert_ancell How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? Been using Linux since at least 2000, first distro was probably either RedHat 4 or 5. How long have you been using Ubuntu? I think since the start. Before that I was using Debian Unstable and I transitioned to Ubuntu around 2004. When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? I’ve been proposing packages for uploading for the last five months and two days ago I was accepted as a MOTU. What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? I learned packaging by creating Debian packages for upstream projects I produced by following the Debian maintainers guide. I’m still working out how the Ubuntu teams work :) What’s your favorite part of working with the MOTU? Getting the latest stuff out there so people can use it! Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? Triage, reproduce and fix bugs! Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? No. I do go to the Sydney Python (http://www.sypy.org) group meetings from time to time however. What are you going to focus on in Karmic and Lucid? I’ve been spending most of my time working on general bug fixing for Karmic. I plan to spend some time working on the GDM login screen and user management for Lucid. What do you do in your other spare time? I’m about to do a 90km bike ride in a few weeks – I’ve been training for the last month or so after not having done any serious biking for some years. [...]



Andres Rodriguez (RoAkSoAx)

2009-09-15T06:14:09Z

Age: 24 Location: Miami, FL. IRC Nick: RoAkSoAx. How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? I’ve been using Linux on daily basis for almost 3 years now, but I started with Red Hat 7.1 on 2001. How long have you been using Ubuntu? I’ve been using Ubuntu since 2005, just […]Age: 24 Location: Miami, FL. IRC Nick: RoAkSoAx. Andres Rodriguez New work environment Laptop screenshot How long have you used Linux and what was your first distro? I’ve been using Linux on daily basis for almost 3 years now, but I started with Red Hat 7.1 on 2001. How long have you been using Ubuntu? I’ve been using Ubuntu since 2005, just a few days after Hoary Hedgehog was released, but it wasn’t until 6.10 that I started using it on daily basis. When did you get involved with the MOTU team and how? Well, I always wanted to get involved with Open Source and I found Ubuntu a great place to start. I actually started reading the Developer Documentation released with 6.06, but never got the time to actually commit myself to it due to work and studies. Mostly because It’s not easy to get started in Open Source in a third world country like Peru, where everything is pretty much M$ oriented. Anyways, when Nicolas Valcarcel (nxvl) became MOTU, I just said “I want to become a MOTU too”, and I requested a Mentorship for the Intrepid Development cycle, however I was unable to finish it due to personal reasons. So, it wasn’t till the Karmic development cycle that I pretty much put all my spare time into it (I restarted my Mentorship, but with ivoks this time), and now you see me here :). What helped you learn packaging and how Ubuntu teams work? What I believe helped me learn packaging was my desire to do it, and the willingness to put my hands on packaging, but of course all of that was driven by the documentation, my mentors, and all the people that reviewed my packages and helped me along the way. Something that I was told, and you all might know is that you will always learn something new while being a MOTU. What’s your favourite part of working with the MOTU? My favourite part is that no matter who you are, what you do, where you at, and what time is it, someone will be there to help you, and that you can learn so much from other people. I also find amusing to work on such a distributed environment. Any advice for people wanting to help out MOTU? Yes. If you really have the desire to help and become a MOTU just commit to it, because if you do, you’ll always find the time to help out. Read the documentation and always ask questions; don’t get disappointed if people are not around to answer them. You might make a lots of mistakes but you must be willing to learn form them and listen to what others have to say! And well, just practice, practice, and continue to practice! Are you involved with any local Linux/Ubuntu groups? Yes. My involvement with LUGs started with AQPGLUG, which is the group from my hometown. Then, I got involved with the Ubuntu LoCo Team, where I’m now one of the Council Members. Right now, since I do not live in Peru any more, I’m on my search for a new LUG to get involved with here at FIU. What are you going to focus on in Karmic and Karmic+1? My focus for Karmic will be the Sponsorship Queue and bugfixes. For Karmic+1 it will be the Server Team and the Ubuntu HA team, now that I have more experience. However I would really like to get involved with the Security Team (because I’ve always wanted to be a Security Expert) and with the Desktop Team (because I use it every day and it just feels right to contribute to it). What do you do in your other spare time? Well, the past few months (between May and July), I pretty much spent all my spare time in the MOTU mentorship process. The past 3[...]