Free software, Ubuntu One, E.T. and me

On May 11, 2009 I joined Canonical as a project manager on the Ubuntu One team. I went from working in the world of Department of Defense contracting to the world of free software. I now have a better appreciation for E.T.’s plight. OK, maybe not. E.T. was trying to get back home. I feel like I’ve found mine. I love what I do at work.

Everyday is something new. My contributions to Ubuntu and free software aren’t nearly as noticeable as those I work with. I do smaller things. Things that often get overlooked in any software project. Some of these includes:

  • Writing tutorials about how to use Ubuntu One and upstream software together to help people get the most out of the software.
  • Updating FAQs that help users get answers to their questions.
  • Support. Send a support request into Ubuntu One and there’s a good chance you’ll get a reply from me. Hopefully it’s a helpful one!
  • Triaging and prioritizing bug reports which helps improve the software one bug fix at a time.
  • Coordinating work between our team and other upstream projects to keep improving free software across the board.
  • Writing acceptance test cases others can use to test Ubuntu One and Ubuntu functionality.
  • Testing Ubuntu One and our contributions to other upstream projects to improve quality.

Lots of little things. And I don’t do them without help from many others, both within and outside of Canonical.

I realize Ubuntu One is often perceived as (at least part) alien in the free software world. I can relate to that, coming from my previous employment to Canonical. We, the Ubuntu One team, make mistakes. We know we’re far from perfect citizens of the free software world. We need to work better with those in the community and we have plans to do that. We’ve been learning so much, so fast that it’s hard sometimes to lift your head up and realize that you’ve probably ignored people who want to collaborate. We’ll do better. I’m committed to doing better in this area by dedicating some more time to working with those in the community who have an interest in making free software as a whole better.

I’m excited moving forward with Canonical, Ubuntu, Ubuntu One, and free software in general. It’s a crazy time in technology. So much is changing and many new opportunities are opening up as result of that change. It’s hard to imagine what tech will look like ten years out, five even. I’m just happy to be working with all of you in the free software community. It’s a great community, filled with so many unique perspectives and focused on doing so much good. It’s a place where even someone such as myself is welcome and whose talents can be put to good use. Thank you!

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