On September 16th, Michael Hall sent out a call for nominations for the Ubuntu Community Council. I will not be seeking re-election this time around.
My journey with Ubuntu has been a long one. I can actually pinpoint the day it began, because it was also the day I created my ubuntuforums.org account: March 12th, 2005. That day I installed Ubuntu on one of my old laptops to play with this crazy new Debian derivative and was delighted to learn that the PCMCIA card I had for WiFi actually worked out of the box. No kidding. In 2006 I submitted my first package to Debian and following earlier involvement with Debian Women, I sent my first message to the Ubuntu-Women mailing list offering to help with consolidating team resources. In 2007 a LoCo in my area (Pennsylvania) started up, and my message was the third one in the archives!
As the years went by, Ubuntu empowered me to help people and build my career.
In 2007 I worked with the Pennsylvania LoCo to provide 10 Ubuntu computers to girls in Philadelphia without access to computers (details). In 2010 I joined the board of Partimus, a non-profit which uses Ubuntu (and the flavors) to provide schools and other education-focused programs in the San Francisco Bay Area with donated computers (work continues, details on the Partimus blog). In 2012 I took a short sabbatical from work and joined other volunteers from Computer Reach to deploy computers in Ghana (details). Today I maintain a series of articles for the Xubuntu team called Xubuntu at… where we profile organizations using Ubuntu, many of which do so in a way that serves their local community. Most people also know me as the curator for the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, a project I started contributing to in 2010.
Throughout this time, I have worked as a Linux Systems Administrator, a role that’s allowed me to build up my expertise around Linux and continue to spend volunteer time on the projects I love. I’ve also have been fortunate to have employers who not only allow me to continue my work on open source, but actively encourage and celebrate it. In 2014 I had the honor of working with Matthew Helmke and others on the 8th edition of The Official Ubuntu Book. Today I’m working on my second open source book for the same publisher.
I share all of this to demonstrate that I have made a serious investment in Ubuntu. Ubuntu has long been deeply intertwined in both my personal and professional goals.
Unfortunately this year has been a difficult one for me. As I find success growing in my day job (working as a systems administrator on the OpenStack project infrastructure for HP), I’ve been witness to numerous struggles within the Ubuntu community and those struggles have really hit home for me. Many discussions on community mailing lists have felt increasingly strained and I don’t feel like my responses have been effective or helpful. They’ve also come home to me in the form of a pile of emails harshly accusing me of not doing enough for the community and in breaches of trust during important conversations that have caused me serious personal pain.
I’ve also struggled to come to terms with Canonical’s position on Intellectual Property (Jono Bacon’s post here echos my feelings and struggle). I am not a lawyer and considering both sides I still don’t know where I stand. People on both sides have accused me of not caring or understanding the issue because I sympathize with everyone involved and have taken their concerns and motivations to heart.
It’s also very difficult to be a volunteer, community advocate in a project that’s controlled by a company. Not only that, but we continually have to teach some of employees how to properly engage with an open source community. I have met many exceptional Canonical employees, I work with them regularly and I had a blast at UbuCon Latin America this year with several others. In nearly every interaction with Canonical and every discussion with Mark about community issues, we’ve eventually had positive results and found a successful path forward. But I’m exhausted by it. It sometimes feels like a game of Whac-A-Mole where we are continually being confronted with the same problems, but with different people, and it’s our job to explain to the Marketing/Development/Design/Web/whatever team at Canonical that they’ve made a mistake with regard to the community and help them move forward effectively.
We had some really great conversations when a few members of the Community Council and the Community Team at Canonical at the Community Leadership Summit back in July (I wrote about it here). But I was already feeling tired then and I had trouble feeling hopeful. I realized during a recent call with an incredibly helpful and engaged Canonical employee that I’d actually given up. He was making assurances to us about improvements that could be made and really listening to our concerns, I could tell that he honestly cared. I should have been happy, hopeful and encouraged, but inside I was full of sarcasm, bitterness and snark. This is very out of character for me. I don’t want to be that person. I can no longer effectively be an advocate for the community while feeling this way.
It’s time for me to step down and step back. I will continue to be involved with Xubuntu, the Ubuntu News Team and Ubuntu California, but I need to spend time away from leadership and community building roles before I actually burn out.
I strongly encourage people who care about Ubuntu and the community to apply for a position on the Ubuntu Community Council. We need people who care. I need people who care. While it’s sometimes not the easiest council to be on, it’s been rewarding in so many ways. Mark seriously listens to feedback from the Community Council, and I’m incredibly thankful for his leadership and guidance over the years. Deep down I do continue to have hope and encouragement and I still love Ubuntu. Some day I hope to come back.
I also love you all. Please come talk to me at any time (IRC: pleia2, email: email@example.com). If you’re interested in a role on the Ubuntu Community Council, I’m happy to chat about duties, expectations and goals. But know that I don’t need gripe buddies, sympathy is fine, but anger and negativity are what brought me here and I can’t handle more. I also don’t have the energy to fix anything else right now. Bring discussions about how to fix things to the ubuntu-community-team mailing list and see my Community Leadership post from July mentioned earlier to learn more about about some of the issues the community and the Community Council are working on.