Photo of Jono Bacon

Jono Bacon

Interviewed: October 2006


IRC Nickname: jono
Location: Central England
Age: 27
Profession: Ubuntu Community Manager

Ubuntu Stuff

In what way are you involved in Ubuntu?

I am the Ubuntu Community Manager, and my role is to help keep the wheels of the community rolling. I am here to optimise how the community works, resolve problems, encourage new contributors, build up our teams, improve how teams talk together and more. I also work alongside the community, speaking at conferences and user groups, dealing with concerns, getting feedback and more. I am here to ensure the Ubuntu community is a world class example of free software community in action. :)

How much time do you spend working on Ubuntu?

Most of my time! Every day from around 8.30am until 6pm is when I am at work, and in addition to that I work many evenings and weekends.

Are you being paid to work on Ubuntu?

Yes, by Canonical.

What are your plans for the new role of community manager, how do you see that role interacting with others and what do you plan to focus on initially?

There are a huge number of things I want to look at. I started out by getting lots of feedback from the community. With this I constructed Jono's Big List which has a bunch of areas to look at. Initially I have focused largely on the LoCo teams - I believe they are part of the backbone to our community, and I am working to get the LoCo structure running more smoothly. I have looked at a number of different areas, and I am developing plans and schedules to help get some of the problems fixed and some of the opportunities kicking along. There is a lot to do, and I only have so many hours in the day, so I am trying to hit the essential and easier targets at first and then dig in deep in some of the other areas later.

How does your role in ubuntu relate to the community board and technical board?

Although I am employed by Canonical, my work is still ultimately in the hands of the community, and I am judged by the standards of the community. I am not currently on the Community or Technical boards, but I have work to help smooth out how those boards work. As an example, I have streamlined the way LoCo teams can get approved - this should reduce the amount of time required by the Community Council and ensure that meetings are smoother.

What do you see that currently works well in the Ubuntu community and where do you see areas for improvement?

Huge amounts of awesome, inspiring work is going on, and we are seeing volunteers from all over the world making a *real* difference. Like any community, some areas work really well, and some don't. I think that right now we have a really good way of working, and standard of working (largely due to a sensible Code of Conduct). There are of course some areas that are not working so well, but is usually down to a lack of communication or uncertainly of how to move forward. I am looking at ways to resolve these problems and help scale our community upwards.

Which teams/areas have you worked with so far and what affect has this had?

I have mainly worked with the LoCo teams and the impact has been very positive. A number of new teams are up and running, many teams are now approved since I smoothed the approval process, we have performed a mentoring trial with the excellent Australian and New Zealand teams to help develop a structure for teams to help other teams get up and running, I have worked with the community to get the documentation and wiki pages buffed up and better organised, and there are a number of cool LoCo efforts going on inside the teams.

What effect do you see bounties having on the community?

I think bounties have their place, like many other methods of encouraging contributions. Successful communities need many different approaches to the same problem, and bounties play a part in that.

Is the launchpad karma system a meaningful tool to show peoples different ways of contributing to the community? If not do you think that this would be worth developing further?

This is something I have been thinking a lot about recently, and I am really interested in ways in which we can unify the community better. We are fortunate that Launchpad is a centralised system for engaging in Ubuntu, Kubuntu and other related projects, and I think Karma is a good means of showing how people are contributing. I think it would be good to share that Karma across our resources so that Karma level really is an Ubuntu-wide level. This is a tough challenge, but something I think would be worth it. Points and karma systems have proven very popular in the past with news sites and bug tracking systems, and I think we could have a similar positive effect in our community.

Which feature or program would you like to see improve and is there any program you think should achieve more prominence in ubuntu?

I would love to see Jokosher get more and more prominence in Ubuntu, but I am biased - I am one of the developers. Jokosher is a really simple and easy to use multi-track audio studio for creating and recording music, podcasts and more. It is a really innovative and fresh approach to the typically rocket-science approach to audio editing on Linux.

How does ubuntu differ from other operating systems and GNU/Linux distributions you have used previously and is there anything you feel ubuntu could learn from them?

For years I was saying that I felt we needed a distribution derived from Debian that is simple and easy to use. Debian is a fantastic distribution and I think serves really well as a solid base platform and as well as a distribution in its own right. Not only has Ubuntu done this, but I am pleased with how Ubuntu has pushed forward and included cutting edge projects such as Project Utopia in earlier releases and now Telepathy and suchlike in current releases. I think we can learn from all corners of our industry and community to make Linux better on the desktop and server.

Computer Stuff

Do you contribute to FLOSS (Free/Libre & Open Source Software) in any other ways?

Yes, I have worked on a number of projects including KDE, KDE::Enterprise, KDE Usability Study, RaccoonShow, Linux UK, GNOME iRiver, XAMPP Control Panel and I am currently one of the core developers on the Jokosher multi-track audio editor.

Which window manager/desktop environment do you use and what do you like about it?

I use GNOME. I really like its clean interface and commitment to usability (one of my hobbies). I used to use KDE and be a KDE contributor.

What programs do you use daily?

I use Evolution, Firefox, Rhythmbox, XChat, GEdit,, GNOME Terminal, TomBoy and some others.

What computers do you have and what are they called?

I have coke (ugly beige firewall), myth (sleek black Silverstone cased MythTV home entertainment powerhouse :) ), forge (main Sony Vaio laptop), titanic (Sony Vaio laptop running the development version of Ubuntu), apple (Apple G5 PowerMac running my recording studio) and a Thinkpad that I use for conferences.

What does your desktop look like?

desktop Magnify

What does your computer area look like?

Computer Area Magnify

What do you drink while working on your computer?

I generally drink Tea and water. At weekends I am usually on my computer in the middle of the night, so I have a few pints of lager.

Personal Stuff

Where were you born/grew up?

I was born in North Yorkshire in Northallerton. I lived there until I was around 12 and then moved down to Bedfordshire. I now live in the West Midlands in Wolverhampton.

What memories do you have of growing up?

Fond memories of long summers, lots of fun, and good memories of playing with computers and playing bands. My parents have always been really supportive, so they helped me get into computers and music as my interest was developing. I particularly remember my dad teaching me to play the drums.

Married, partner or up for adoption?

I live with my girlfriend of 11 years, Susan.

Do you have any children or pets?

We have two miniature sausage dogs. :)

Where do you recommend anyone visiting your country sees?

I think people should see London, but also get up to Yorkshire and see the countryside. We have some beautiful countryside here in England. Also come up the midlands to say hi. :)

Favourite place to go on holiday?

Florida, USA. We love it over there. :)

What are you passionate about?

Apart from free software, I love music. I have been playing in bands since I was a kid and in addition to my band Seraphidian, I write and record my own solo work on my Recreant View music site. Recreant View is a really nice to place to vent my creative side and its always great to hear what people think of my music. I record it all in my home studio where we also record LUGRadio.

What does success mean to you?

Being happy. I have always said that I will *never* work for a company doing a job unless I am 100% happy. I used to work as a freelancer, so I have always had that to fall back on and as such take more control in what I want to do. I think being successful is about being happy, having fun and feeling that you are making a difference. Importantly, the difference I want to make is not just to me and my family but to other people - and that is why working where I do is so satisfying.

Who do you most admire?

Wow, good question. I admire people who are good at what they do, but who have a real human side to themselves. I admire people who are genuinely good people but are passionate about their views. I could reel of a huge list of people in the free software world who are so talented but also really down-to-earth, friendly people.

Favourite quote?

"I can honestly say, all the bad things that ever happened to me were directly, directly attributed to drugs and alcohol. I mean, I would never urinate at the Alamo at nine o'clock in the morning dressed in a woman's evening dress sober". -- Ozzy Osbourne

Favourite food?


What do you do in your spare time?

I am really into heavy metal, thrash and death metal. I play in a band, and listen to various metal bands. I also like going to gigs, watching movies, going to the cinema, eating in nice restaurants, hanging out with friends, playing with the dogs, making music and relaxing.

Recommend a non Ubuntu website? There is only one. I warn you though, you can quite easily blow an entire afternoon away on that site.

This interview is also available in German