Interview with YokoZar of the Ubuntu Community Council

The Ubuntu Community Council is the primary community (i.e., non-technical) governance body for the Ubuntu project. In this series of 7 interviews, we go behind the scenes with the community members who were elected in 2013 serve on this council with Mark Shuttleworth.

In this, our seventh and final interview, we talk with YokoZar who talks about his contributions to wine and how even small contributions are multiplied to benefit millions of users of Ubuntu.


What do you do for a career?

I work as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google. Prior to that, I did some consulting work for various start-ups, centered mostly around Ubuntu and Wine.

What was your first computing experience?

I vividly remember playing Ernie’s Big Splash somewhere around age 5 on an old DOS machine. It was one of those water flowing from a pipe games, except the goal was to get water for Ernie (of Bert and Ernie)’s bathtub. It was only a few years before I ended up programming at summer camp.

How long have you been involved with Ubuntu? And how long on the Ubuntu Community Council?

I’ve been reporting bugs for Ubuntu from the very beginning – I remember sharing a failed kernel upgrade issue in #ubuntu-devel during the first Warty beta, and I’ve been contributing in some form ever since. I began packaging Wine within a year or so, attending UDS a couple years later, and from there community involvement was a natural result. This is my second term on the Community Council, which means I’ve been serving for four years now.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on in Ubuntu over the years?

Looking back, I’ve touched a surprising number of things. There’s Wine and it’s related bits like winetricks, but I’ve also had my hand in a whole lot of technical infrastructure too, including the now defunct ia32-libs. I even put together packaging for custom Ubuntu card backs into Solitaire at one point.

What is your focus in Ubuntu today?

Keeping the Wine packages healthy and reasonable. These days Wine is mostly about playing video games, but for a great number of users that’s mostly the point of PCs in general.

Do you contribute to other free/open source projects? Which ones?

I like to be a good citizen regarding bug reports and feedback for most software I use. Most of my personal engineering contributions have gone towards Ubuntu, however.

If you were to give a newcomer some advice about getting involved with Ubuntu, what would it be?

It’s a very wide project, so there are many places to find something you like doing. Everything helps — translations, bugs, design, packaging, documentation, user support. And not just directly in Ubuntu itself, but also for our many upstreams.

Do you have any other comments else you wish to share with the community?

What we do matters. If you can make Ubuntu just a tiny bit better, that benefit is multiplied across millions of people. There are few opportunities in life where you can have that big of a positive impact on other human beings.

It can be a bit hard to deal with that reality. I have trouble believing it myself – I have millions of users of my packages, but less than a few dozen have ever even emailed me. Contributing to open source may not be as obvious a way of helping fellow humans as volunteering at a soup kitchen or giving blood, and it may be vastly more thankless and frustrating, but it’s absolutely worth doing. Because what we do matters.

New to this series? Check out our previous Community Council interviews:

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