Job Interview Questions for Ubuntu Developers

It’s always a good time for developers to learn Ubuntu. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, once tried to make this open-source operating system ubiquitous (a few years ago, for example, it announced plans to turn Ubuntu Core into an operating system for the Internet of Things; there was also an attempt at a mobile variant, in conjunction with Spanish manufacturer BQ Aquaris). While that didn’t succeed in making Ubuntu a challenger to Windows or macOS, the OS nonetheless is present in a number of front- and backend systems and infrastructure, which makes it important to know for many devs.

So what do hiring managers want out of a candidate skilled in all things Ubuntu? Jono Bacon, the senior director of community for XPRIZE and former manager of the Ubuntu Community, likes to ask questions that explore a developer’s passion, vision and collaboration skills.

Here are three of his favorite interview questions:

How much code have you written using the Qt/QML platform?

  • What Most People Say: “I have three years’ experience as a developer, but I haven’t written any code using the Ubuntu stack.”
  • What You Should Say: “I’ve created several apps for the Ubuntu phone and dozens of patches for various Ubuntu operating systems that have been accepted into the Unity codebase over the last six to eight months. Plus, I’ve worked with numerous pieces of the Ubuntu OpenStack including Launchpad. In fact, I spend so much time writing code that my colleagues say I’m an open-source fanatic. Would you like to see some samples?”
  • Why You Should Say It: The real pros highlight their significant, sustained contributions as a way of demonstrating their familiarity with the Ubuntu development environment, Bacon said. If you don’t have experience with Ubuntu per se, talk about your activities with other open-source platforms or your experience building HTML5 apps and mobile websites. Many hiring managers will accept similar experience since Ubuntu SDK utilizes Webkit/Blink and Cordova development standards.

Why build a smartphone powered by a mobile version of Ubuntu? What’s the endgame and where’s the value?

  • What Most People Say: “I haven’t given it much thought.”
  • What You Should Say: “Ubuntu gives developers a tremendous opportunity to build a phone platform without fragmentation. Plus, it’s easy to make content available through the phone’s default aggregating scopes. Personally, I like Ubuntu’s native QML/Qt API because I can write native apps that make direct contact with the device’s CPU. Users like that their Ubuntu Touch integrates with their Linux desktop and they use fewer keystrokes and buttons to operate the phone. A phone provides a great value with limited investment. However, users will have the ultimate say in determining the phone’s popularity and longevity.”
  • Why You Should Say It: The second answer demonstrates passion, which is a critical attribute for developers. Plus, it’s important to understand the big picture if you’re going to be working as part of a development team. Knowing the intent of the code and how your app impacts the user experience is the difference between being an average coder and a top notch developer.

Describe your optimal collaborative environment. What does it look like?

  • What Most People Say: “As long as I have everything I need to create code, I’m happy with the environment.”
  • What You Should Say: “To me, the optimal environment unites onsite and remote team members to discuss, document and produce solutions to important problems. I like it when everyone’s pooling their technical talents, ideas and efforts and rowing in the same direction. For example, I like environments that feature peer code reviews, communication tools, ongoing information sharing and effective project management. I also prefer an open and frank relationship with my manager. If I’m doing something wrong or my code needs improving, I want to hear about it.”
  • Why You Should Say It: It takes more than great technical skills to be a rock star developer. Real pros recognize the importance of environment and understand the significance of teamwork and collaboration in producing quality apps, content and software.

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One Response to “Job Interview Questions for Ubuntu Developers”

March 21, 2018 at 10:09 pm, doa379 said:

This platform is renowned, at least to me, for creating a mess of things. Namely explore every possible fad with little thought about the product or direction. Interesting I say that, the article itself encourages “coding with intent” which seems somewhat of a misnomer in terms of the practicalities of the production. I have no idea of an Ubuntu phone, never seen one and barely knew that one even existed in reality. The closest I ever come to Ubuntu is harnessing the Live CD for distribution recovery purposes which itself lays elsewhere. Shame. Cut the crap and present some actual problems to work on instead of advising prospective staff what to say and what not to say.


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