Retiring from the Ubuntu community

Since I first used Ubuntu, in December 2005, a lot of things has changed. Ubuntu has improved tremendously and improved more than I could imagine when I booted from the Breezy Badger separate Live CD, to see what this Ubuntu looked like. In the five years I’ve been a member of the Ubuntu community, a lot of things have changed. Although many people have come and gone, the size of the community is increasing every day, and the structure has changed over time, the spirit is still the same. It is a welcoming place full of nice people who are enthusiast about making something great.

The year 2010 has been a tumultuous one for me. On 2 February I finally became an Ubuntu Member, in May and October I attended the two UDSes, and in July I helped the organisation of GUADEC 2010 in The Hague. In October I also became the LoCo Contact of Ubuntu Nederland.

The year 2010 was also the year that my final year at secondary school started. An important transition in anyone’s life. It is very important for me to score high on my exams, but apart from the need for more focus on school I’m also changing as a person.

When I joined the Ubuntu community I was in my first year of secondary school. As someone diagnosed with a mild version of Asperger’s syndrome and ADD in an unfamiliar environment, I didn’t make a lot of contact on school right away. In a new social environment it takes a while before I learn what to do.  The Ubuntu community was an open, welcoming place where I could find company and kind people to talk to, without the fuss that accompanies real-life conversations.

During the years I contributed to Ubuntu I learned a lot and met many kind people. It has been a wonderful experience to have the privilege to work together with such great persons. However, the last five years have been my puberty years, so it would be strange if those would have left me unchanged. As my social skills improved and my school life started to become busier and busier, I felt less and less need to be present in the Ubuntu community.

My lack of time and the decreasing need for community aggravate an increasing lack of motivation. Often I sit behind the computer, feeling bad about myself because I feel I ought to be contributing to Ubuntu, while I’m not. This makes me associate feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction with Ubuntu. I do not want to associate negative feelings with Ubuntu.

I do not want to waste energy and time that I need so much for my final exams. I do not want to turn my great memories of Ubuntu into something bad. I do not want to disappoint people who expect me to do things. Therefore, I have decided to retire from the Ubuntu community and stop before things go wrong. I feel a kind of melancholic sadness while writing this, but, to be honest, also some kind of relief.

I will stop all my work for Ubuntu in the international community. I will not quit as Ubuntu Nederland LoCo Contact. My work for that community will continue as usual for now.

Jorge, the Unity Places API still looks awesome to me, and probably will be playing with it when it becomes public. Now I’ll feel free to do just what I want, so I may be playing a bit more with code. Writing a Unity Place would be a fun exercise.

To all those countless people who I met in the Ubuntu community, I want to say: thank you for being there. Ubuntu was fun because of you. Thank you so much. There are many people who helped me out, but I want to especially thank – in alphabetic order – Carlos de Avillez, Jorge Castro, Jan Claeys, Laura Czajkowski and Dr Vish for their patience with me and for their indestructible enthusiasm, which has been my source of motivation during those years.

I am sorry if I disappoint you by leaving. I do not think that this leave will be forever, maybe I will see you again later, when I come back.

Join the conversation


  1. You should never apologize for the work you've contributed on your free time, Ubuntu is supposed to be fun, not a job. You've contributed a bunch and it stands on it's own merit, worrying about what you think you should be contributing is a road that leads to burnout and frustration.

    Concentrate on school and life, it's not like we're going anywhere, and we'll keep the light on for ya, I will miss your meticulous notetaking skills at UDS though. 🙂

  2. It's always thought to make such a decision; but any decision made is a good one. I don't know you very long, but it's like Jorge said: your contributions can't taken away and it isn't a job.
    And we won't throw the door in the lock, you can always come back in =)

  3. Here is a hope for much success in your future. You are an inspiration to many of us, with your enthusiasm and drive to excel.

  4. Sense, as said above, there is no need for apologies. We all (and I in particular) are glad you helped. Whatever directions your life and study lead you, I do hope you succeed; keep in mind that ‘success’ is something you yourself define — it is what makes you happy. I am obviously tainted, but Computer Science is a marvelous field.

    I hope you keep on helping on free software/projects/works, it would help the ecosystem. But it is your call, and your call only.

    If, someday, you come back… you will be welcome.

    Take care, my friend.

  5. Thanks a lot for all the hard work you put into Ubuntu. I wish you all the best and take the time you need to figure everything out!

    1. Posted on She’s an exceptional fhegtir, and a very strong person. I’m very proud of her, and glad of being by her side loving and supporting her. <3

  6. No contribution to a community is wasted and is valued. People will not look down on someone for realizing their own limitations. Burnout

    is one of the least discussed topics in the FLOSS community. It a natural part of anyones involvement. Humans need time to recharge. So if

    and when you come back to the communities you left, you will be welcomed. As for ASDs, there are many among FLOSS folks who live with

    the challenges – needing quite spaces, dim lights, etc. So you are in good company.

  7. Sense! We met twice before and I found you to be very entertaining. I wish you all the luck with your school work, but never forget us 🙂
    Rock on!

  8. Umm, with all due respect, you're still REALLY young. There are decades ahead. Who knows what'll happen, what you'll do, where you'll leave your mark.

    I was writing Fortran and MAP code in secondary school–and then let it go (because my small college in 1966-1970 had no computers and no computer science department), which, who knows, may well have been a mistake. Instead of what I did (labor law), I could have ended up an intellectual property lawyer (and much richer: Lord knows there's been a lot of IP law made in the computer industry).

    When you get to be my age, you can see how many people's careers and life paths end up being serendipitous or wholly accidental–anything but deliberate.

    Anyway, best wishes. Oh, and be sure to put all of this–and get references–on your college applications: it will wow admission departments!

  9. As Jorge said, you shouldn't apologize. 🙂

    Hope to see you back soon. I'll surely miss your blogs posts too, recently they have been very interesting and thought-provoking!

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.