Taking a break

It’s a bit strange to write this blog post in the same week as Martin Pitt is announcing moving on from Canonical. I remember many moments of Martin’s post very vividly and he was one of the first I ran into on my flight to Sydney for Ubuntu Down Under in 2005.

Fast forward to today: 2016 was a year full of change – my personal life was no exception there. In the last weeks I had to realise more and more that I need a long break from everything. I therefore decided to move on from Canonical, take some time off, wander the world, recharge my batteries, come back and surprise you all with what’s next.

I’m very much leaving on good terms and I could imagine I won’t be too far away (I’d miss all you great people who became good friends way too much). Having been with Canonical for 11 years and 12 years in the Ubuntu community, it has been an incredibly hard decision to take. Still it’s necessary now and it’ll be good open myself up again to new challenges, new ways of working and new sets of problems.

It was a great privilege to work with you all and be able to add my humble contribution to this crazy undertaking called Ubuntu. I’m extremely grateful for the great moments with you all, the opportunities to learn, your guidance, the friends I made around the world, the laughs, the discussions, the excellent work we did together. This was a very important time of my life.

In the coming weeks I will be without internet, I haven’t quite decided yet, which part of the world I’m going to go to, but maybe I’ll post a picture or two somewhere. 🙂

I also haven’t lined up a new job yet (it’s a question many already asked me). If you have crazy new ideas of what I should work on next, I’m obviously all ears. Drop me a comment or drop me a mail, just note that I might be unresponsive for some time as I’m going to sit on top of a mountain, get lost in the jungle or the desert somewhere.

(My last day at Canonical is Dec 15, so if you have anything to sort out and discuss, let me know and we’ll figure it out.)

Tomorrow is a special anniversary

Tomorrow is a special anniversary: 2005-09-05 I joined Canonical – that’s right: It’s going to be a decade.

A lot of what we as Ubuntu Community experienced and went through I wrote up some time ago and it’s well-documented in blog posts, articles, LoCo event reports and pictures from Ubuntu Allhands events, so don’t expect any of that here.

For me personally it’s been a ride I could never have expected like this. A decade in a single company doesn’t seem to happen very often these days and I would also never have dreamed what we are delivering to the world today. I’m happy and proud to have been part of this all.

I still remember the days when I joined. I had just finished my studies and working next to people who could all easily be described as a wunderkind, it made me feel like I had quite a healthy impostor syndrome. It’s easy to underestimate how much I learned here – not just technically or in terms of other abilities, but also as a person. I got to work on things I never imagined I could do and am happy I was involved in so many different projects.

One thing made this whole ride even more special: the people. I made lots of friends along the way – that’s one of the primary reasons I still feel like I work at a very very special place.

Big hugs everyone and thanks for accompanying me this far! 🙂

Foundation or no foundation

The call for an Ubuntu Foundation has come up again. It has been discussed many times before, ever since an announcement was made many years ago which left a number of people confused about the state of things.

The way I understood the initial announcement was that a trust had been set up, so that if aliens ever kidnapped our fearless leader, or if he decided that beekeeping was more interesting than Ubuntu, we could still go on and bring the best flavour of linux to the world.

Ok, now back to the current discussion. An Ubuntu Foundation seems to have quite an appeal to some. The question to me is: which problems would it solve?

Looking at it from a very theoretical point of view, an Ubuntu foundation could be a place where you separate “commercial” from “public” interests, but how would this separation work? Who would work for which of the entities? Would people working for the Ubuntu foundation have to review Canonical’s paperwork before they can close deals? Would there be a board where decisions have to be pre-approved? Which separation would generally happen?

Right now, Ubuntu’s success is closely tied to Canonical’s success. I consider this a good thing. With every business win of Canonical, Ubuntu gets more exposure in the world. Canonical’s great work in the support team, in the OEM sector or when closing deals with governments benefits Ubuntu to a huge degree. It’s like two sides of a coin right now. Also: Canonical pays the bills for Ubuntu’s operations. Data centers, engineers, designers and others have to be paid.

In theory it all sounds fine: “you get to have a say”, “more transparency”, etc. I don’t think many realise though, that this will mean that additional people will have to sift through legal and other documents, that more people will be busy writing reports, summarising discussions, that there will be more need for admin , that customers will have to wait longer, that this will in general have to cost more time and money.

I believe that bringing in a new layer will bring incredible amounts of work and open up endless possibilities for politics and easily bring things to a stand-still.

Will this fix Ubuntu’s problems? I absolutely don’t think so. Could we be more open, more inspiring and more inviting? Sure, but demanding more transparency and more separation is not going to bring that.