Aurélien Gâteau

Inflexion in my career

written on Friday, November 5, 2010

Getting a dream job Throughout my professional career, I strove to find a job which would let me contribute to free software I cared of. One year and a half ago, I was lucky to be hired by Canonical as a Qt and KDE developer. Back then, it felt like the best possible position for me. A few months later, however, I started to feel a bit frustrated. Sure I was working on KDE, doing some interesting work, but there was (and there still is) so many things in KDE and in Kubuntu I wanted to improve, yet my job was not to do that.

It took me a bit of time (I am somewhat slow) to realize I was not really hired to improve KDE or Kubuntu, I was hired to ensure the changes my team (the Desktop Experience Team) implements on the desktop also work with Qt/KDE applications. My job is to ensure Qt/KDE applications integrate well in the Ubuntu desktop. Luckily I have not been strictly limited to working on applications though: I implemented KDE Plasma equivalents of the most important Ubuntu desktop changes such as the Message Indicator Plasma widget and the Menubar Plasma Widget.

Wanting more I could have considered myself lucky for getting this job: there aren't that many work-from-home, KDE-based job opportunities out there. Yet the amount of ideas I had in mind for KDE and other free software projects continued to grow, with no chance of ever turning them into reality. I decided to do something about it. Starting this month, I will be working for Canonical four days a week instead of five, keeping one day to work on what matters to me.

Of course this comes at a cost which I am planning to partly cover through three means:

  • I created a Support my work on free software page. If you like my work and would like to support me, head other there.
  • I wrote a few articles for the French Linux press in the past and plan to write more. If you are interested in an article from me, get in touch.
  • I have a web-based project in my mind which hopefully should bring a bit of money in when it's done. The project is going to be in French and not related to free software though.
I do not expect to cover the full salary reduction: my goal is not to trade one day of salary for one day of freelancing. If things turn out wrong, I should be able to get back to working five days a week for Canonical, so it's not too risky.

Anti-Troll material Some may argue Canonical could do like other companies such as Google, 3M or Atlassian, which let their engineers spend a percentage of their week on personal projects. I think this is a great idea, but it probably wouldn't help in my situation: these personal projects usually must be approved by their managers and must end up benefiting the company. Like it or not, Canonical focus is on GNOME. Improving KDE would not be very useful for the company.

By taking this day out for myself, I want to get the freedom to work independently from any business model, hopefully without ending up starving (this is partly up to you!).

This post was tagged job, kde and life