OA - Ubuntu
A blog about Ubuntu, mobile GIS and archaeology

How much do Canonical job offers tell us about Ubuntu?

Apr 27, 2009 by Yann Hamon

I used to look a lot at the job offers on Ubuntu.com, as many times the job offers from a company tell a lot about the direction the company is going. It uses to be very interesting, as you can see how much effort is put into launchpad, Ubuntu mobile, or sometimes even learn about new projects before they get announced (in fact I even found my current job there, as companies proposing jobs related to Ubuntu are allowed to advertise there).

However, I was a bit saddened that a very large part of these jobs were non-technical or not really benefiting the community: business development, sales consultant, system administrators for Canonical's servers, launchpad developer, support, ... it was fueling the idea that some other communities criticized in the past that Canonical was only packaging and selling other people's work, without creating much added value. I am a pretty strong opponent of launchpad and landscape closed-sourceness myself...

So, I was really thrilled to see that Canonical was now hiring a "Desktop Architect - Network experience" person, and a "Desktop Architect – Sound Experience" person. Add this to the few offers from October which sadly are still there (Gnome developper, OpenGL developper), and it seems to me that Canonical finally decided to pass the second gear.

I was a bit afraid to see Canonical go in so many directions (Ubuntu mobile, ARM support, Ubuntu netbook remix, ubuntu server) - so I must say I am very happy to see that Canonical is still committed to providing the best Desktop experience, ever ;)

I wouldn't go as far as saying that it is related to Ayatana, but who knows... Really looking forward to what will come out of all this now! A working network manager, anyone? ;)


I have to say I think I like that fact that Canonical does not advertise its technical jobs. Let me explain.
Every large company backed FLOSS project that is also community oriented (e.g Ubuntu, Mozilla, etc.) is imho supposed to get its employees from the community.
i.e: volunteer picks up a job and does it week in and week out to help out the project, company recognizes this and gives volunteer more rights and ability to grow into more responsibilities, volunteer gives more back to the project, company recognizes this and hires the volunteer.
This happens all the time with Mozilla and Canonical (I think) in the technical realm (system administrator, developer etc. etc.).
Rarely does this happen in other areas though, (e.g marketing, HR, warehouse etc.) I think things like ubuntu-marketing could use shots in the arm with such a community derived hiring process.
This is not to say community derived hiring process does not have its bad side.
Giving monetary incentive to volunteers may actually cause them to do less work. There have been multiple studies into this phenomenon.

Posted by Eldo Varghese on April 27, 2009 at 05:36 PM GMT+00:00 #

p.s your commenting system sucks, my actual post is now in the ethers, due to your 1000 character limit

Posted by Eldo Varghese on April 27, 2009 at 05:37 PM GMT+00:00 #

Vice versa. Software is 99% about non-technical issues and only 1% about the actual technical details. Most of the Linux centered companies are way too technical to ever be able to produce anything of real value to real end users.

Canonical's stance is a step to the correct decision - it's most important to know WHAT software to develop, WHY to develop it, HOW to develop it, and WHEN to develop it.

Posted by meh on April 27, 2009 at 05:40 PM GMT+00:00 #

I don't see anything wrong with hiring sales people, managers, accountants, etc. Someone has to do the boring work, and at some point every company needs people like that.

Posted by Jonathan on April 27, 2009 at 05:40 PM GMT+00:00 #

Eldo > I must second you on this, having roller tag every message as spam if it's bigger than 1000 chars isn't great... If you got a patch for that :/
Just approved it, though.

Posted by Yann on April 27, 2009 at 05:52 PM GMT+00:00 #

Jonathan > don't get me wrong, I never said it was wrong :) it is just very nice to also see canonical contribute directly to the FOSS movement!

Eldo > if you are saying that many jobs are being provided without being advertised on that page then I admit my post is flawed. I assumed that all the jobs Canonical was creating were advertised there. Any examples where this hasn't been the case?

Posted by Yann on April 27, 2009 at 05:57 PM GMT+00:00 #

Best desktop experience ever?
Are you kidding?
I can't get my printer to work with Jaunty, nor can I get my Intel graphics card working. Cool experience I must say.

Posted by Hedge on April 27, 2009 at 08:21 PM GMT+00:00 #

One reason you might not see as many Ubuntu related jobs is because they can solicit people directly. Many technical positions have opportunities to demonstrate proficiency by working within Ubuntu. It's harder to demonstrate skill as a sales manager etc. within Ubuntu's volunteer and totally free environment.

Posted by jldugger on April 27, 2009 at 09:03 PM GMT+00:00 #

There is also a tremendous amount of value in packaging, marketing and polishing. In the short term that may seem non-productive, in middle and long term it brings users, testers, developers and all levels of input to upstream as a whole.

It's all part of an eco system, and it's easy to miss the larger effects this has, though nowadays the effects on free software should be obvious a couple of years down the line. It's easy to say Canonical does not contribute, they do contribute differently - and does anyone think we would be even halfway of where we all are today if there hadn't been BOTH Ubuntu and all the rest these past years? Neither would be at this point without the other, and it's almost impossible to imagine a better point without Ubuntu.

That said, very happy they are brining in more people, because the polish and packaging has been subpar these past releases, and that's the value Ubuntu brings... so it needs to be top notch, or we might as well move on.

Posted by Stoffe on April 28, 2009 at 09:33 AM GMT+00:00 #

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