Growing the Ubuntu team

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

We’ve published a few more job descriptions in the “Jobs@Ubuntu” department this week. Jane and I went through our notes recently and realised we want to hire 24 people in the next few months! Fortunately, I enjoy meeting new candidates :-).
The scope of the jobs we have in mind for people is definitely widening from the pure development focus (though we need a few more of you too :-)) to the full range of skills that it takes to manage a project of this scale – and the relationships that it brings. As we’ve grown and as we start to shape Ubuntu into something that works well for the community and for commercial deployment, we need a whole new set of talent that speaks both the traditional language of management and marketing, as well as the new language of participation and community.
I enjoyed Mitchell Baker’s blog recently on the need for new roles in free software projects which I think says it better than I can. Except I would have said “free software” rather than “open source” ;-).

The challenge I think in hiring for these new positions is that community driven organisation is not something that “young executive tigers” are going to be familiar with. While I enjoy helping other companies wrap their heads around free software and the dynamic of the community, I sort of hope we can find a team of executives and operatives that have already made that leap. Rare people indeed. If you know someone who fits the bill, point them in my direction!

18 Responses to “Growing the Ubuntu team”

  1. Alex Says:

    🙂 intresting. I like the system administrator vacancie, but i live far from UK.

  2. Gaël Varoquaux Says:


    I think that in the younger generation (currently 20-25 years old, my age), you are most likely to find “young executive tigers” keen on working with the community, as they grew up with this notion. During my studies I discovered the wonderful world of the open-soucre community, but when I started working I had to accept the realities of the life of an organisaton who fights for survival in a competitive world. This is good training because I had to adapt my dreams to reality and become efficient without loosing my ideals. Unfortunately I am not in the software business, so I cannot apply for a job at Ubuntu, but you are going to find other people like me in the computer world.

  3. Chris Chernesky Says:

    Mark —

    I’d love to talk with you and your team about positions that might be opening up. I unfortunately don’t have a lot of open source credentials due to a lack of time outside my day job (Application Architect for a bank in the US), but I’m definitely an advocate! 😉

    I can send you a CV if you’d like and will be in the UK in July.


  4. Werner Harmse Says:

    Hi Mark

    I have been following your Ubuntu project with interest as I think that any attempts of breaking MS dominance of the desktop OS market is a good thing. As with many others I often get irked by what I perceive as bad quality software design, unnecessarily high prices for software and stifling of innovation from MS. The irony is that I have been developing software almost exclusively using Windows during my career and I use Windows only for my everyday chores. Why ? … and here’s the rub.

    90% of computer users out there are not computing enthusiasts or developers. They view the PC as a tool they need to get a job done. In many cases the PC is viewed as a necessary evil ( partly due to MS bad software ). Now, the 3 main criteria that needs to be satisfied for them to get the job done is :

    1) Having an OS that works fairly easily. ( note … not brilliant … not even good )
    2) Being able to find a software program to do the required job easily …. Does the local computer outlet stock it ?
    3) Compatibility …. Regardless of the program I use, If I share files or data with someone else I want to do so easily and not worry about their ability to use it.

    It seems to me that most of the efforts from the open source community is focused on satisfying requirement (1) …. and very little is done regarding requirements (2) and (3). It is my humble view that unless there is a serious focus shift by the open source community they stand little chance of challenging MS dominance.

    I have recently moved from SA to Canada where there is a larger segment of the market using Unix / Linux based technologies so hopefully will be able to spend more time on Non – MS Technologies in the future.

    Wish you success for the future of your Ubuntu project.

    Werner Harmse

    P.S. You may remember me from pre-Thawte days … worked with you briefly at Hirt & Carter.

  5. David Says:

    I am a long-time supporter of FOSS and I feel the Ubuntu project is something special. How can I help?
    I am about to start an LL.B. program at one of the best law schools in Canada and I wonder if there is an area I might concentrate on that will put me in a position to help forward Ubuntu’s interests now and in the future. Any thoughts here?
    Lawyers have a rep for being a thorn in the side of the FOSS movement, but they can also be the key to the future. In my opinion, FOSS’s best chance of supplanting non-FOSS is in getting left-leaning governments to see the benefits of supporting FOSS. Legal minds with an understanding of FOSS are key to creating and promoting legislation that closes doors to monopolistic software companies.

  6. David Says:

    PS – I am not a young law school entrant; I am 28 and shutting down a computer programming business so that I might concentrate on this next stage of life. Basically what I’m alluding to is that I think I have some valuable skill-sets to offer at a volunteer level.

  7. m2 Says:


    Are you still looking for someone in Montréal? If so, I’ll give you a shout for sure!

  8. Marco Romeny Says:

    Mark, maybe not the right place to juggle ideas, but I sort of didn’t find any advocacy/branding places for this and I feel that you could be one fellow who would like an idea of this sorts: Opening retail-like outlets for free software in major cities. Kind of what Apple Store is but a much smaller scale and with less of a selling focus. The point would be to execute a branding stunt with real nicely decorated stores (I have Martin Margielas simple, but beautiful stores as my topmost inspiration) that could give curious people an onhands experience with free software (why not ubuntu itself, seemingly having the same set of principles). The outlets could be a hub for seminars, finding consultants, get basic help and pick up preburned cd’s etc. Knowing that these stores are likely to be a loss-operation in themselves, but I think they will greatly benefit the community. I’d expand on it more, but in a different medium…

    Living in SoHo, NYC of course I’d love to see it added here first:)

  9. Filippo Ongaro Says:

    Hi Mark,

    I am following from the distance your projects…I think you are doing great stuff and I am sure you will find the right people as you did for the First African in Space!
    All the best

  10. » Debian Etch: Solid, Crufty, Some Assembly Required Says:

    […] Finally, while I do see that Debian has given Ubuntu a great base and that Ubuntu could probably be helping Debian more, it seems fair to say that Ubuntu has taken Debian and polished it up quite a bit and they deserve more props for that than I and many others in the Debian community have given them. Of course, when Canonical adds another 24 people, Ubuntu will really rock… […]

  11. simone brunozzi Says:

    Dear Mark,
    I’m very interested in working with Canonical… what about a 12 month, 10 hours a week, costless try?
    Would you be interested in it?

  12. José Joseph Says:

    It will never be easy to convince an engineer to put his lot in with an African Linux distribution. When it comes to a choice between Novell Linux, for example, and Ubuntu Linux, Ubuntu is a non-starter regardless of what it’s like.

    The question will always hang over the project: “What’s the African connection? What has ever come out of Africa that would inspire others to accept African leadership in anything?” Who would hire me after spending time on an African project. I’d have the same problem working for a software company from Russia, Iraq, or Indonesia.

    To get to the front of people’s minds, you’ll have to create a USA connection. Anything else will be second (Europe or Australia) or third (the rest of the world) tier.

    Before being outraged, I must advise that I worked two years on a Jamaican project, and I’ve been burdened with that history ever since. It’s a real problem for a software engineer.

  13. Neil Blakey-Milner Says:

    José, do you find that people that you want to work for hold your name against you (whereas a “John” or “David” is treated better)?

    Any engineer worth dealing with bases his decisions on facts. Similarly, any employer worth working for won’t make a rash judgement based on the name of the project.

    I’m sure “Canonical” (a company nominally based in the Isle of Man, and primarily run from the UK) won’t carry a stigma around of being involved with Africa. And if you work hard, a reference from someone like Mark won’t hurt your career options later on either.

  14. Kurt von Finck Says:


    Be aware that although Mark is a South African by birth, Canonical is incorporated on the Isle Of Man, has offices in London and Montreal, and staff scattered across the globe. Indeed, working for Canonical and the GNOME Foundation has shown me that if you think SuSE is developed by Novell in the US, you are sadly mistaken. Novell has people working on SuSE across the globe.

    I don’t mean this as an affront to Novell. Indeed, it speaks well of them to hire based on talent rather than geography. I feel Canonical takes the same approach.

    While it may be a sad fact that executive boardrooms make hasty decisions on tools based on the tools’ point of origin, personally I don’t see that factoring in to Ubuntu adoption rates.

    All of these sentiments fall under the, “just my personal opinion and not a reflection of Canonical policy, procedure, or ethos” umbrella. 🙂

  15. Richard Scotti Says:

    You have a great idea for the emerging markets and smb marketplace. You need bright people and business partners with a passion for open-source and a head for marketing and business. I wish you all the best and as a system integrator and ISV with an open source j2ee supply chain solution intend to get involved

  16. jonobacon@home » 2006 Retrospective Says:

    […] Work – As I just said, back at the start of 2006 I was working at OpenAdvantage. I knew back then that the project was going to finish in March 2007, and I knew that I would likely need to consider a new job by the end of the year. One of the problems with my line of work is that there are very few people paid to be Open Source advocates. As such, the scope of companies was and is fairly restrictive. That was not the real sucker-punch though, oh no. The real kick in the goolies was that being a good advocate means you have to advocate things that you truly believe in. As such, this mean’t I could only reasonably work for companies that make the software and subscribe the ethics and direction that I believe in. From a distribution stand-point this locked out Novell, Yellow Dog, Mandriva, Red Hat and more – they all do great work, but I was and am an Ubuntu guy. As such, Canonical were always my #1 choice for my next step. Back in May when I started talking to Mark about the job, I never anticipated looking for work until later in the year, but this blog entry started the discussion. After a lengthy interview process (apparently the job was very heavily applied for) I got the good news and Mark announced it and so did I. OpenAdvantage was a truly awesome place to work at and I miss them all hugely. Working there was a fulfilling, inspiring experience and I hope to work with my friends there again. Now I am at Canonical and working longer days, getting more email and looking after an incredible worldwide community of Ubuntu contributors. Moving to Canonical was daunting, but has been a great experience and I am loving every moment of it. […]

  17. port7 » Blog Archive » Shuttleworth’s Hiring! Says:

    […] a recent blog post Mark Shuttleworth put a call out to say that Canonical is […]

  18. richard whittaker Says:

    can I download a copy of your dragon to my ubuntu for fun also thanks for making ubuntu just what I need as my retirement hobby if only I could understand commande use I could quit the xp side of my partiion I only need it to use my canon printer and scanner thanks Richard W