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Report for 'Debian Developer, uploading' applicant Sebastiaan Couwenberg


I recommend to accept Sebastiaan Couwenberg as a new Debian Developer, uploading.
The account name is sebastic.

 * Applicant background

I'm a long time Debian user. Some time in 2001 I started using Linux
in general and Debian specifically.

My computer at the time wasn't powerful enough not run Windows XP and
was still running Windows 98SE, so I though I should try Linux since
that would still run on my old hardware.

I was working in a computer store as part of my study Business
Informatics at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. My boss there was friends
with someone running a web development company on Linux, and
recommended me to talk to him since he didn't have any experience with

Soon after we met to talk about Linux and the developer recommended I
should try Debian instead of the RedHat CDs I had downloaded. I hadn't
heard of Debian yet, and only new RedHat as distributing Linux. He
told me about the purely voluntary nature of Debian and it
distinguishing factors, the Debian Free Software Guidelines and Social
Contract. I was intrigued by what I learned and rewrote the RedHat
CD-RWs with Debian Potato shortly thereafter.

After dual booting for a short while between Windows for games and
Linux for everything else, I bought a new computer dedicated for
Linux. Because the kernel in woody, still testing at the time, had
much better support for the hardware I decided to be brave and use the
daily CD images to install the new machine.

Because I was so fascinated by Debian and Free Software, and saw it as
the future of computing, it was a logical choice to start working with
it professionally. I took on a second job at the web development
company as Junior Perl Developer. Connecting systems over the Internet
with Perl on Linux was wonderful. Because the web development company
was such a small shop I was also the other sysadmin, I loved being in
control of the whole system from the operating system up.

I've been using Linux in general, and Debian specifically, almost
exclusively both private and professionally since then. The more I
learned about Debian and Free Software, the more I wanted to
contribute back. While I wasn't that skilled yet, and the NM process
was known to be long and hard, I put off applying to become a Debian
Developer for the last ten years. During that time I've subscribed to
more and more Debian and other Free Software mailing lists, following
the development closely.

My first personal free software project was a web based Folding@home
client monitor. Because there was no Folding@home client monitoring
software for Linux when I started to contribute to this project back
in 2004, I developed a mod_perl web application to collect and display
information from the various client on my private network, and
machines of my team mates elsewhere on the Internet. When developer of
qd, a simpel C program to dump the content of the Folding@Home client
queue.dat file, passed away in 2005 I adopted his tools and maintained
them until they became irrelevant with the release of the v7 FAHClient
in 2012.

In 2012 I started to contribute to the OpenStreetMap project after
using it for a project at work. A simple map of the links between the
routers in the companies global network using the geographical
location of the data centers. Because those locations where hard to
find without address information in OpenStreetMap I decided to help
out with that goal. The Dutch Government has published all buildings
and addresses as open data under the INSPIRE directive (BAG,
Basisadministratie Adressen en Gebouwen), and I'm working with the
Dutch local community to use the BAG data for improving OpenStreetMap.

I currently maintain the administrative boundaries because no-one else
was doing that anymore, and it's a prerequisite for accurate
determination of city names for addresses in OSM without it explicitly
tagged. I developed some Perl scripts and OpenLayers based website to
help maintain the city boundaries in OSM when they're updated in the BAG.

During the development of my OpenLayers site, I ran into a bug in
MapServer used to serve the map data. I tracked down the fix in the
upstream git repository and used it for a local rebuild of the
mapserver package. Because I noticed the new upstream release which
contained the fix and saw that mapserver hadn't been updated in Debian
for a while, I decided to package the latest upstream release and
co-maintain it within the Debian GIS team. After subscribing to the
debian-gis list I sent an email about the updated mapserver package I
had work on. See:


That initial bugfix was the first step to increasingly higher
involvement in the Debian GIS team. Not only MapServer and its
siblings in the MapServer Suite (MapServer, MapCache & TinyOWS) could
use so helping hands with co-maintenance, their (reverse) dependencies
also need some more help.

The lack of activity in the Debian GIS team had caused the UbuntuGIS
developers to update the GIS packages in their PPA, instead of just
rebuilding the source packages from the Debian GIS team. I've helped
to get those changes merged back into Debian GIS, and I'm working on
improving the Debian GIS team to be more supportive of derivatives.
I'd like to Debian GIS git repository to be the go-to place for all
GIS and OSM related Debian source packages.

To improve the Debian GIS team I'm implementing best practices from
the Debian Perl team of which I'm also a member, and the other Debian
Pure Blends. I'm working on the Debian GIS Policy to document the best
practice to contribution within the Debian GIS team to have a single
reference for newcomers to the team and old timers alike.


I keep in touch with derivative efforts like UbuntuGIS and OSGeo-Live
via their mailinglists and IRC channels. And try to be the bridge to
Debian for their respective communities. We've already had some people
from UbuntuGIS start contributing to Debian GIS since then. And I
intent to improve this further, to make the Debian GIS team the place
where Debian and its derivatives collaboratively maintain GIS and
OpenStreetMap deb packages.

Perl was my first true love in terms of programming languages, and
still use it almost daily. I've started to co-maintain some Perl
modules I packaged for my personal APT repository, they were initially
were just the result of dh-make-perl but I wanted to clean these up
and contribute them back to the Debian Perl team for some time too.
Since I had now taken the plunge to actively contribute back, joining
the Perl team too was an obvious choice.

My involvement in the Perl team is so far limited to maintaining a
couple of modules, I intent to package some more Perl modules I (want
to) use for my OSM projects. But my primary focus will stay on the
Debian GIS team in the foreseeable future.


Felipe Augusto van de Wiel

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