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Sebastiaan Couwenberg

Account namesebastic
OpenPGP fingerprint8182 DE41 7056 408D 6146 50D1 6750 F10A E88D 4AF1
StatusDebian Developer, uploading since 2015-02-07

Short Biography

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 Linux.

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.

Personal history

Applicant From To Applying for Progress AM Advocate(s)
sebastic 19 Jan 2014 7 Feb 2015 Debian Developer, uploading (done) Completed faw tille

Advocate history

Applicant From To Applying for Progress AM Advocate(s)
johanvdw 10 Jun 2015 18 Aug 2015 Debian Maintainer, with guest account (done) Cancelled None sebastic