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We Interview Leann Ogasawara, Canonical Kernel Team Manager, Marathoner and Mother

Leann Ogasawara, Canonical Kernel Manager

I first met Leann Ogasawara at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Oakland, California back in May of this year and ever since hearing her talk about the various projects she works on I wanted to get a interview in.

Fortunately enough I was able to sync up with Leann to do the following interview despite her very busy schedule.

Hi Leann, tell us a little bit about yourself, what you get up to, etc?

My name is Leann Ogasawara and I live in Portland, OR. I’m married and am a mother to an amazing, and very energetic, almost 2yr old boy.

I’ve been involved with Linux and Open Source for over 10yrs now and have been with Canonical for almost 5yrs.

Some interesting facts that people may not know about me is that I’ve spent time living in Tokyo, Japan, I’ve ran a marathon in under 4hrs, and have played classical piano since the age of 5.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

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I start working at 5:30am so my typical work day usually begins with a strong cup of coffee.

I have a daily ritual which begins with reading any backlogs on IRC channels to catch up on anything I missed while sleeping. Then I make my way through my Inbox which can take anywhere from 30min to 3hrs depending on what’s come in since the previous day.

Each day is different and presents a new challenge

Working with a globally distributed team whose primary source of communication is via email/IRC, these communication channels really drive and dictate a lot of what I end up doing on a day to day basis. I have mail filters set up for bug mail, mailing lists, teams, individuals, etc.

One day I can be rebasing trees, reviewing and applying patches, and uploading new kernels and another day I can be triaging bugs, building test kernels, and submitting patches. And of course there’s always those days which are consumed with meetings, phone calls, and playing human shield for my team.

The one thing that I absolutely love about this job is that each day is different and presents a new challenge.

What is your official job title at Canonical?

Beginning with the Quantal development cycle, I guess you would say my official title is acting Canonical Kernel Team Manager.

I am still acting as the Ubuntu Kernel Release Manager this cycle, but just in a diminished capacity.

It’s been an interesting transition learning to juggle responsibilities as both a manager for my team as well as still maintaining some responsibilities at a technical engineering level. However, it’s a role that I’ve enjoyed taking on this cycle.

This isn’t your first role at Canonical, right?

I actually started out my career with Canonical as a member of the Canonical QA Team.

I was originally the Canonical Kernel Team’s dedicated QA Engineer. My focus as that time was bug triage, escalating issues to the kernel team, interfacing with the community, integrating tests, and of course submitting a patch every now and then.

Approximately 2 years after joining, an opportunity to transition to the kernel team presented itself so I took it. I remained as a dedicated QA Engineer but I was officially a member of the Canonical Kernel Team rather than the Canonical QA Team. This is actually where we as a company began to see the beginning of what we currently call dedicated “Defect Analysts” within the teams.

After another short period of time I was then able to transition to a developer role on the Canonical kernel team and backfill my previous QA position.

I then spent the Lucid development cycle doing stable maintenance for the kernel team. Then, beginning with the Maverick development cycle, I was given the responsibilities of being the Ubuntu Kernel Release Manager. I’ve held this role for every subsequent release since then.

Now, beginning with the Quantal development cycle, I’ve taken on the new role as the acting Canonical Kernel Team Manager.

It’s actually pretty interesting taking a moment here to reflect on the growth and changes I’ve gone through over the years.

What are you passionate about?

As I’ve gotten older, my focus and passion for things have changed. The vigor, emotion, and intensity I once carried for past activities is now just fodder for reminiscing with friends.

At the moment, I am passionate about being a mom. Having and raising a child has by far been the most difficult, gratifying, and defining moment of my entire life.

Do you have any advice for women interested in getting started in Open Source?

This is a really interesting question. This is actually a question I’ve tried asking myself, ie “How did I even get started and remain interested in Open Source?”.

I’ll spare all the readers my personal psycho analysis. In general though, my advice would be this…

First, do not be intimidated! Contrary to popular belief, most boys do not bite nor do they have cooties! To be honest, most people really only care about the quality of your contributions, not the fact that you’re a woman.

This is actually a question I’ve tried asking myself

Second, find an area which you find interesting. Pick an area which you are going to be proud and energetic to contribute to. Remember, if you don’t care about what you’re working on, no one else will either.

Lastly, dive in and just go for it. This can range anywhere from sending an introductory email, editing or improving a wiki, filing a bug, sending a patch, etc. Every little bit helps and is very much appreciated. I’d encourage anyone interested in getting involved to not be shy.

Every single person who is and has been involved in this entire Open Source movement and ecosystem has started off somewhere.

Is Ubuntu your Desktop Operating System?

Of course it is! It’s the only OS I run in my household. It’s also running in my parents and in-laws houses as well.

What challenges are you and your team working on this cycle?

A major focus for my team this cycle has been trying to sort all of the logistics for the LTS enablement stack.

For those unaware, we intend to provide the 12.10 kernel and X stack for enablement purposes in 12.04. We’re hoping to provide this beginning with the 12.04.2 point release. We’re still working on defining support time frames for these packages, image seeds for 12.04.2, and upgrade paths/policies for users who will be running these enablement stacks.

We obviously plan to have this all sorted by the time 12.10 releases and well in advance of the 12.04.2 point release.

What is your next project?

Even though we haven’t even closed the Quantal cycle yet, my team and I are already looking ahead to the upcoming 13.04, 13.10, and 14.04 releases.

We’ve already opened the Q+1, ie R, kernel git repository which is tracking the current upstream v3.6 kernel. We’re also trying to lay some ground work to support the idea of a rolling release model for the kernel beginning with the 14.04 LTS release.

I’m sure this will be a hot topic for discussion at the next UDS and I look forward to future conversations surrounding this.

Thanks again to Leann for taking time out of her very busy schedule to talk with us.

Image credits from top:  Sketch22; Canonical; Pleia2