Meet the man behind Ubuntu MATE

Martin Wimpress started Ubuntu MATE as a hobby—and a way to keep his family happy. Now, it’s one of the most popular Linux distros.

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Being chief executive minion consists of preparing the release notes, working with the Ubuntu MATE hardware and merchandise partners, publishing the monthly accounts, domain registrations, keeping the servers running and participating in the QA process before each release. Totally unglamorous stuff that has to be done. Typically [it takes] about three or four hours per week, unless it’s a release week, in which case it can be considerably more.

Development, which also incorporates package maintenance and bug triage, can be intensive but sporadic. I can easily find myself working on stuff into the early hours several nights in a row but then not do any serious development for a couple of weeks. On balance, I’d say this is where most time is spent, as even seemingly small tasks can become protracted.

I have a full-time job and a family. One night a week is dedicated to podcasting and another to running. I don’t do any work on Debian or Ubuntu MATE during the day, so I squeeze the most I can out of five evenings a week, and I estimate I put about an average of 30 hours a week into Ubuntu MATE. Some weeks much more. I try to reserve the weekends for my family, but about once a month I attend a local LUG, Raspberry Pi Jam, Podcaster meetup or other open source event.

This does all require an enormous amount of energy and is exhausting and rewarding in equal measure :-)”

Bryan: Hypothetical. Ubuntu MATE goes away tomorrow. Let’s say that it gets outlawed by the United Nations or something. What system do you, yourself, move to?

Martin: “Even though I’m currently an Arch Linux TU, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t move to Arch or one of its derivatives. I’m very involved in Debian and could recreate the vast majority of Ubuntu MATE on top of Debian and continue to provide an operating system that my family and friends can use.

Assuming that only Ubuntu MATE was outlawed (bastards!) and not the rest of the Ubuntu community, I would be very interested in contributing to Lubuntu. The Ubuntu MATE and Lubuntu teams have enjoyed some great collaboration, and with their upcoming migration to LXQt, Lubuntu is shaping up to be a very interesting prospect. Certainly one to watch for the 16.10 releases.

And if I wanted something for me, just for the pure Linux-y sake of things, I’d likely ask Ikey Doherty for asylum over at Solus.”

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