goodbye hp, hello canonical


The first time I hefted an HP48 in hand I was hooked. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to make things. I wanted to work at a company — at the company — that could make this thing, this touchstone, this piece of engineering. I wanted to work at Hewlett-Packard.

I read the HP Way and I believed.

Time passed. I discovered Linux. I went to University and they had real Unix workstations — HP workstations! I learned to hack. And I dreamed.

So when HP offered to pay me to hack on real, honest-to-Betsy Unix, that wasn’t opportunity knocking at the door; that was destiny burning down the house and dragging me out by the face.

Tastes change as one matures. I ascended Maslow’s hierarchy and discovered a need to contribute to a greater good. I’m not cut of academic cloth, but in Linux and open source, there was a way to help build a body of work that forms the foundation of the future. And HP kept wanting to pay me.

I was amazed to have found my dream job before I turned 30, to turn a belief into a career.

Well, 30 has come and long gone and I’ve earned enough scars in my past 8 years here at HP to realize that the intersection of dream and reality isn’t always pleasant. HP was formative for me and will always hold a dear place in my mind. But it’s no longer the place for me. So with a hint of bittersweet, I’ve decided it’s time for me to move on and seek elysian fields elsewhere.

I’m joining Canonical, who make Ubuntu Linux, a product named after the concept of “humanity towards others”. I don’t think it’s naive to keep dreaming of making a better world.

Thanks for indulging me this conceit.

14 thoughts on “goodbye hp, hello canonical

  1. Jeremy Nelson says:

    Congratulations on your new position! Will you be escaping this schizophrenic Colorado weather for another part of the country?

  2. Dave Jackson says:

    Many congratulations! That’s awesome news! I’m glad to hear that you’re still searching for your elysian fields. I’ve found a lot of what I’m looking for personally, but continue the search on the work front.

  3. Duncan says:

    WHOAH! Congrats, buddy!

    “Canonical is registered in the Isle of Man and employs staff around the world, along with its main offices in London, support office in Montreal and OEM team in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA and Taipei, Taiwan.[7]” (Wikipedia)

    Around the world like, say….FT COLLINS?? Hope so. Lookin’ for more deets, Alex.

  4. Thanks friends! I’m staying in Fort Collins, at least through the end of this year. I’ve been contemplating a move out to Portland for a while now, and since I’ll be a remote telecommuter anyway, I might take advantage of my geographical freedom at some point.

  5. Bruce Yu says:

    I have joined HP for three months, and just turned into one formal employee. I am in Linux QA team, and reporting bugs to you. But now you left. To me, should be one bad news. For you, should be one brand-new life, filled with unknown and treasure .

    I hope that I still can get contact with you about the linux tech and open source trend…

    Good luck for you;-)

  6. Randy B says:

    Congrats. Don’t give up the good fight. I finally feel like I am at a good company after 10 years and couldn’t be happier. Hope you find the same.

  7. Jack Liu says:

    I am not at the least surprised that Alex will leave hp and join another company. When I saw Alex’s farewell in his last email internal hp I got to know this blog. It is nice. I have learned a lot from alex since I had close connection with him. Hope alex will have a brilliant future and make a fortune from the dream of this intelligent guy.

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