Martin Albisetti's blog


Working at Canonical, 5 months later

A week ago I started going through my blog's logs, and realized that I'd had a jump in visits from Google. Digging a little bit deeper into it, I realized that a lot of people seem to be searching for "working at canonical" phrased in different ways. From what I can gather, it's split up into two groups: people who want to find a job in Canonical, and people who are considering a specific role and want to know what it's like.

So, I thought it would be useful to provide information for the dozen of people who land here every day  🙂

If you want to work for Canonical, check out the employment page, it always has the latest job offers:
Among many other things, my team is currently looking for awesome people to join the User Experience Team, the coolest place to be today  😉

As for what it's like to work at Canonical, here's my take on it:
At this point, it's been a little over five months since I started working full time, although I was doing some contracting work before that, and I've been around the Ubuntu and bzr community for ages, so I already knew a lot of the people before joining.
One of the coolest things for me is that the way most of the company works, is basically the same as your typical open source project: mailing lists, irc, distributed, and filled with passionate people. If you have an open source background, the transition should be pretty seamless. Coming from other companies may take a little bit of getting used, but you know how it is, "your mileage may vary".
The Ubuntu-like atmosphere where everybody is extremely nice and respectful seems to span across the whole company as well. This was especially surprising to me considering that everyone is astonishingly smart, and have done amazing things I had read (and still do!) on news sites for years. My experience is that when too many smart people are together, it's a much more cut-throat competitive environment. Here, it is not. You could sit down and have a fantastic and interesting dinner with anyone in the company (I've shared meals with dozens of different people, and it's held up true every single time).
On the technical side, all the teams are constantly revising and improving work flows and tools, pushing towards the cutting edge by adopting all kinds of lean and agile development strategies, while still being very much test-driven. What can be more appealing to a developer than that?
Finally, there are so many interesting projects being worked on at the same time, it's often very hard to keep up with what's happening. Personally, I believe that the balance between open source development and projects developed in-house as services or for third parties, plays a very big part in making everything happen so fast a two-hundred-and-something people size the company. It's amazing how so many people are payed to work full time on directly on free software, directly interleaved with the community.

So, as you can guess, my recommendation is that if you ever get the chance to work for Canonical, take it, it will almost certainly be a fulfilling experience.

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  1. I actually applied for a position at Canonical a few weeks ago… haven’t heard anything back, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Not sure how they feel about applications for multiple positions. Some employers seem to frown upon it, others seem to think it’s good (when the positions are for multiple departments, etc.).

  2. Does Canonical allow telecommute/work-from-home ?
    If so, ewhat’s the policy like ?

  3. Mat, something like 70% of the company works from home, so it’s definitely allowed. That said, it depends on what kind of job you’re applying for, some do require being physically there.

  4. Does your job at Canonical involve developing software?

    Out of your employed time developing software, what is the rough percentage of that time spent on developing software over the last 5 months that was spent on developing publicly available OSI approved licensed software ?

    Obviously you spend some amount of time communicating and planning and junk like that…but out of the total time you spend hacking on code, what is the percentage spent hacking on code that is now publicly available under an OSI license?



  5. Are there summer internships for college students? How would we apply for those?

  6. I’m not a developer, just a enthusiastic Ubuntu user. I’ve recently joined a ubuntu Loco and learning to help work on bugs. Do you think there could be a place for me at Canonical?

  7. Hi David,
    Take a look at the positions available on the webpage, and send in a CV for the one you think you’d fit in.

  8. I was searching for this information along time ago, and didn’t find it. Now I found it by chance while browsing Ohloh. 😉

    I wish you the best of luck at that awesome company. And thank you for making Launchpad rock so much!

    — Un venezolano que algún día será tu compañero de trabajo. 🙂

  9. Dunno how long hast it been that you updated your blog, but still, I’m gonna ask: What happens if someone out of the US wants to work at Canonical? Do you know if they consider applications from foreigners? If so, I would like to apply!!!!!

  10. Yes, Canonical has people from all over the world working.

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