Tuesday 14 September 2010

Looking back over the past few months...

I'm pretty new as a Canonical employee overall, only having been with the company for about 7 months, but I must say I'm really thrilled to be part of a large gang of people so involved in making Ubuntu great; with so much pride in all the work accomplished. If there's one thing that has been constantly motivating me, it has to be the prospect of working every day with the community and with other Canonical employees on making Ubuntu better.

Certifying hardware

In the past seven months, I've been working as a Hardware Certification Engineer in the Montreal office. What does that mean? Well it's pretty simple: testing, testing, testing, automation, testing.

Yup. Testing. The hardware certification team is pretty much the group bringing you your daily Dell deals from behind the scenes, driving the testing efforts to make sure you can get systems available from large manufacturers such as Toshiba, Dell, HP, no matter if they are desktops, laptops or server. Getting the Big Orange Stamp of Approval(tm) on these systems so that you can get them with Ubuntu pre-installed, and truly get support from our excellent Support team (many of them working from Montreal too!).

What this truly meant for me was tons and tons of learning, with lots of experience gained. I've been identifying a lot of kernel bugs, installer issues, etc. I've learned way more about casper than I had ever dreamed :)

There was obviously not just testing involved, as there were some times where I needed to track down the location of systems, deal with manufacturers on how to get a new system from them to our labs, or quickly work with the OEM teams to get new offerings (and for that, new certified systems) out of the door. We've been privileged enough to have lots of systems shipped to us, which has always been one of the most valuable things manufacturers and distributors could do to help the Ubuntu community. I hope we still get so keen support for years to come.

On top of it all was automation of various testing efforts, one of which being maintenance of the amazing piece of work Marc Tardif started with checkbox and the kickstart / preseed systems that make daily testing possible for the many systems in the Canonical certification labs.

When you look for a cool new computer to run Ubuntu on next time, make sure you take a look at the Certification website: webapps.ubuntu.com/certification. You'll undoubtedly be happy you did.

On the side

I haven't only ever been doing certification testing. Part of the real cool things about Canonical is the fact that being involved in a lot of things, being passionate about what we do, is truly encouraged. In fact, it really couldn't be otherwise.

I've done as much as I could to help with the ISO testing efforts whenever there was some free time. This has been truly a lot of fun as well, and certainly of use, since I do have an ESX server accessible for testing Server images (especially JeOS installs), some systems on which to try out Wubi, and a lot of interest in EC2 and cloud computing.

My work day rarely ever stopped when I got out of the office. Part of why I joined Canonical may have been my involvement in the Ubuntu Quebec LoCo team, organizing events and trying to motivate people to contribute to Ubuntu. I'm still as involved in the LoCo team as ever, and I'm always very happy to help people with their issues on IRC as much as on the ubuntu-qc mailing list, or even in person at the various events Ubuntu-Quebec or other Linux user groups have organized in Montreal. I've even started an Ubuntu Hour gathering in Longueuil, though to my chagrin, I've rarely had much company. I'm at least happy to have been able to use that time to get stuff done on other projects and to answer mailing list postings.

I've also been reasonably active in the Debian community, and still working towards becoming an official Debian developer (if you are a DD and would be so kind as to sign my GPG key, please ping me on IRC :). I've been maintaining concordance and congruity, two applications to control and program Logitech Harmony remotes (one CLI, one GUI), the GNU Accounting Utilities (acct), the Ethos libary (a plugin framework), as well as the Emerillon map viewer for GNOME (with the help of the Debian GNOME team. Thanks!).

And now

Those who know me well know how strong I feel about one of my favorite projects: NetworkManager. In order to further my involvement in Ubuntu and help out NetworkManager, but also other projects, and truly help making Ubuntu rock yet even more, I've just started in the Canonical Desktop team. I'm thrilled to join the others who bring you cool new toys and two (and more) awesome desktop environments with every new release.

For the future

My task won't only be to maintain NetworkManager, but also to work on maintaining ConnMan and making sure it's truly usable and useful for Ubuntu users. The rest of the stack underlying these two beasts won't be spared: I look forward to help bringing the hot new features of wpasupplicant, mobile-broadband-provider-info, isc-dhcp (version 4, nothing less!) to Ubuntu, as well as ensuring all of these won't descend in bug hell.

Another aspect of it will be helping out on the maintenance of Firefox and Chromium.

There isn't a whole lot more I can add about this, but I'm very happy I can lend a hand to Chris Coulson and the others from the Canonical Desktop Team but also everyone in the community contributing to and working on the above products. It's truly a daunting task to maintain all of these systems with so many moving parts, but I wake up every day looking forward to what I'll be doing, and certain I'll enjoy every part of it.


Jef Spaleta said...

Hmm, from the wording of your blog post, it would seem that you are saying that OEMs don't pay Canonical to have their systems certified. And in some cases Canonical is paying out of pocket to pay for shipping on systems to get them into the testing lab for certification.

I was under the impression that certification was a value-added service that OEMs paid Canonical for. Your post would seem to contradict that.


Matt Trudel said...

You're right, certification is indeed a value-added service, in which OEM pay for getting hardware marked as certified. I am just happy companies value Linux (and especially Ubuntu) users enough to ask us to certify hardware. I updated my post so as not to confuse people.