I am Jef Spaleta

This is a personal post, and it represents my own personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer, Canonical, or any of my colleagues.

Life is a revolving door. Inside it’s spinning aperture enter good decisions and bad decisions. What you see when you depart that majestic pirouette often differs to what you expected.

Throughout my career, and through fortitude, pluck and purpose I have made some good decisions and bad decisions, but today I have a confession to make, and a very sorry confession at that.

I must have written and deleted this blog post 100 times over the last week. I have wrestled with my conscience and moral sense of fidelity and feel I need to share what has become an increasing addiction, but in the words of an Australian all crimes are in the past. But before we reach forgiveness, we must reach acceptance.

So with a shaky hand and heavy heart, it is time for me to confess that I am Jef Spaleta; Canonical/Ubuntu critic extraordinaire.

The Beginning

Let me start at the beginning of this tawdry tale of deceit, dissemblance, and cunning.

A few years ago I started getting pretty cheesed off with Canonical. I was tired of Mark Shuttleworth’s insistence to invest in building a Free Software Operating System that is simple, powerful and safe for everyone, his sordid obsession with making Linux and Free Software easy to use for everyone, and the frustratingly chipper and excitable Canonical workforce. My life was becoming a musical and the once euphonious harmony had been replaced; I felt like one lone voice in a chorus singing a different tune….a tune filled with tears, regret and compunction.

When I lived in England I would travel to the office every few weeks to be presented by this circus. The Canonical office has a number of glass-walled meeting rooms and I couldn’t escape it. Each room would be filled with enthusiastic people, excitable hand gestures, white-boards laden with diagrams for new features and enhancements, and the office aplenty with trinkets and awards from appreciative Ubuntu fans across the world.

Not pictured: my despair.

Likewise, when I entered such a transparent chalice, my desert of solitude could not be masked. Sure, I tried to hide it. I would socialize with my colleagues, I would put on a brave face, and I would swallow my pride to espouse to the community about how excited I was about Ubuntu, how honored I felt about working with such passionate, skilled, and engaging people, and the worthy goal of bringing Free Software to the masses. Inside though…my soul would shed one solitary tear as each day passed.

My frustration at work was affecting my personal life. My wife Erica knew things were wrong. She would walk into my office and find me pensively looking at my giant signed life-size cardboard cut-out of Dr. Richard M Stallman. I tried to distract myself. I started hacking more and working on some Quickly apps. I tried to play music more and even kicked off Severed Fifth, but I couldn’t even concentrate on that. Sure, I presented it as changing the music industry, but secretly I knew it sounded more like ten belligerent camels having an argument on a trampoline outside a steel factory. It was difficult enough to write good music with my limited musicianship skills, let alone with the distractions I had at work.

Something had to give, but I wasn’t sure what.

I never expected it to happen this way…

The Transition

It all started back when I first heard of Fake Steve Jobs. I was captivated by the premise that an anonymous person could take on a new personality; a personality shrouded in the shadows, but able to step outside the wirey darkness to to apply commentary…the kind of valuable commentary and opinion that the Internet was so clearly thirsting for.

I didn’t care about mimicking Steve Jobs. Why would I want to parody him? I didn’t want to parody Shuttleworth; that was too obvious. I even considered mimmicking myself, but that had already been done by someone even less funny than myself. The problem was Canonical; a company hell bent on bringing Ubuntu to everyone, building a sustainable economy around Ubuntu, and providing many fruits of this investment in Ubuntu freely. The bastards.

I needed to create someone new. I needed to create a solo Internet warrior who would articulate his criticism fairly and constructively; I didn’t want to create a troll – insults and disrespectful discourse was not my goal.

“And maybe there’s no peace in this world, for us or for anyone else, I don’t know. But I do know that, as long as we live, we must refuse to use drivers/gpu/drm/r128/r128_cce.c. “

I wanted a force that was cohesive and never unwavering in his mission.

In designing my alter-ego I was also conscious that I am a child of the eighties. What did this mean? Well, it mean’t that there are certain nostalgic cultural and business influences from the eighties that I knew would enter into my new identity. The eighties was all about VOLUME! Not the pumping volume of Huey Lewis and the News, Whitney Houston, Wham!, and Wang Chung, but instead the business of volume: success defined by quantity. For me to succeed I knew I needed to ratchet up the content and be truly ubiquitous. I needed to be heard everywhere, and possibly repeat the same message here and there.

I needed an identify for my new character. On one of my regular trips to Walmart to pick up cheese puffs I was wandering through the cookware section and thinking about a cool name. Maybe I could be Tony Darkraven? John Starchaser? Chuck Matrix? All seemed too obvious and too Hollywood. My alter-ego needed to be believable. Then, out of the corner of my eye in the kitchen utensils section I noticed the BSI Products Jeff Gordon #24 Big Spatula with Bottle Opener. Jeff Gordon-Spatula? No, that was too unusual, so I shaved off an f, adjusted the last word and had my new name: Jef Spaleta.

“Pure inspiration”.

I was born. I no longer saw the pale British complexion of Jono Bacon.

I saw the herculean sagacious freedom warrior of Jef Spaleta.

Keeping It Real

I started my campaign for clarity.

I started posting, and then I posted some more. I pumped my Google Reader full with every tech blog, Ubuntu blog, podcast, personal website and anything else I could find. Whenever Canonical and Ubuntu people posted, I would respond. I was always there. I was keeping them honest. I knew they were listening to me, and I even had conversations with myself…Jono Bacon reacting to Jef Spaleta on identi.ca. No-one had any idea.

I was in full flow.

Unfortunately, Canonical and it’s end-user mis-adventure was quickly becoming a pre-meditated, seedy, archaic meeting place…a scheming oping tryst if you will. As I laid in bed one night, I couldn’t get those words out of my head. A scheming oping tryst. A scheming oping tryst. Something felt wrong here. As if that between the lines I was not seeing something; like one of those magic eye pictures with the sailboat in plain sight for some but not others.

I wanted to see the sailboat.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man still can’t see the damn sailboat.

I wrote those words down on post-it notes. I re-arranged them, combined them in different ways, and stared at them intently from my office chair, from my bunk bed, and my space hopper. Nothing.

I needed a new strategy. I wrote each letter down on a post note and assembled them on the wall.

a s c h e m i n g o p i n g t r y s t


…I re-arranged and a pattern slowly started to evolve:

copyright assignment

I knew it! With a rush of excitement, I opened the window and yelled it out.

OK, maybe that wasn’t the best approach. My cat looked scared. “Don’t worry Mr Nibbles“, I re-assured him, “I only have a cat-y-right assignment policy for you“. We both laughed.

I was now seeing the world differently. I could see between the lines. I could see the sailboat! I didn’t believe it is a coincidence that Shuttleworth could be re-arranged into The Truths Low. I needed to get the truth out. I needed to help the world see what Canonical and it’s generals were doing.

And then I came to a stunning realization…

…what I am writing here is total nonsense and an April Fool…

…oh, and that I should never become a comedy writer.

To be completely clear: I have great respect for Jef Spaleta and his contributions to Fedora, his commitment to software freedom and the balance and constructive critique that he exhibits in the vast majority of his work. I hope Jef takes this little joke in the fun spirit it was intended, and to be honest, while I mentally became Jef Spaleta for the time I wrote this blog entry, he was a pretty fun person to be. :-)

Jef, we might not always agree, but I consider you a friend and encourage you to keep on keeping on. :-)

  • erstazi

    Superbly written! I am without words.

  • anonim

    Happy April’s fool day.

  • http://www.whitespacelife.blogspot.com John O’Connell

    You are evil. You had me right to the end. :-)

  • erik

    NO!! I am Jef Spaleta!

    No really, your post cracked me up, awesome Jef^H^H^HJono.

  • Estiqaatsi


  • http://itigloo.com Chris Woollard


    That was pure Genius!


  • http://www.theeternaluniverse.com Joseph Smidt

    What a great post! Possibly the best April Fool’s day post I will read this year!

  • Jacob

    Dammit Jono! You had me going.

    See, here, it isn’t the 1st yet. 😛

  • http://feathertail.dreamwidth.org Tachyon Feathertail

    Graceful, respectful, and able to clearly articulate the views of those who disagree with you as always!

  • jospoortvliet

    You could have been a bit more convincing – if you wanted to. Eg Jeff never complained about “Mark Shuttleworth’s insistence to invest in building a Free Software Operating System that is simple, powerful and safe for everyone”, he complains about more or less valid things like not contributing to upstream etc… So if you got annoyed by Canonical you could’ve said that “Mark Shuttleworth’s insistence on differentiating and marketing instead of working to make the whole Free Software stack better”

    Or something like that…

    Still a funny attempt at criticizing him for his criticism 😀

  • jono

    Remember…I wasn’t Jef at the point. 😉

    That’s right people…this is getting meta pretty quickly… :-)

  • jono

    Thanks for such kind words, that really made me smile. :-)

  • Jef Laspeta

    I see what you did.

  • http://larrythefreesoftwareguy.wordpress.com Larry Cafiero

    Paraphrasing the late Sen. Lloyd Bensten: I served with Jef Spaleta, I know Jef Spaleta, Jef Spaleta is a friend of mine. Jono, you’re no Jef Spaleta.

    Snickering all the same. Happy April Fools’ Day.

  • jono

    Same to you, Larry! :-)

  • Flimm

    You got me. The parts jospoortvliet referred to did sound suspicious, but I completely failed to remember that it’s April fools day. Jef Spaleta does appear a lot in discussions related to Ubuntu controversies, so there’s still a nagging suspicion that this is a double bluff :)

    Thanks for that temporary shock!

  • http://j1m.net Jim Campbell
  • Jef Spaleta

    Brilliant, with spatula in hand I salute you.

    Your due diligence with regard to my personal history is impressive. In my youth I was a fan of Jeff Gordon from the very first time I say him dirt track racing sprint cars on ESPN years before he transitioned to NASCAR. He’s no Dale Earnhardt but a talented driver in his own right.

    I also used a spatula as a personal iconic symbol in both high school and college going as far as incorporating a symbol into my wardrobe. My college girlfriend even purchased a one-of-a-kind necktime with a spatula symbol for me to wear for important occasions.

    It’s almost like you took the time and tracked down my high school and college friends and interviewed them. It’s uncanny. My life is an open book it seems. Now if only Canonical’s financial records were.


  • Héctor

    Come on, for real? That was simply great!!

  • Karen Spaleta

    This is Jef’s wife. Your use of standard capitalization gives you away as not the real Jef Spaleta. But the ellipses are an authentic touch.

  • jono

    Thanks for being a great sport, Jef!

  • Jef Spaleta

    I expect you mail me one of those spatulas engraved with the words

    “Presented to Jef Spaleta in recognition of being a herculean sagacious freedom warrior”

    encased in a nice shadow box arrangement for display purposes for my home or office.

    I’ll even be so gracious as to allow the engraving to use the Ubuntu font if you so choose with the knowledge that every time I look at anything using that font I die a little inside.

    If you send such an object to me, I will return to you a picture of me using it to cook Bacon.


  • David Nielsen

    You may not be Jef, but your reign of terror is over shell script boy :)


  • d2kx

    Holy crap! Best April fools joke so far. You totally got me and I was like “I didn’t see THAT coming, hopefully Canonical won’t fire him” 😀

  • Brian Fleeger

    Wow, my brain just melted a little. That was a truly awesome April Fool’s joke. Kudos!

  • Justin brown

    “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man still can’t see the damn sailboat.”

    Greatest line ever!

  • marrusl

    Ok. That was brilliant.

    As Homer Simpson once said, “It works on so many levels!”

    Also: hat tip to Jef and Karen for their hilarious replies.

  • http://doctormo.org Martin Owens

    We should start some kind of funding project, get people donate 2 cents each until we can afford the rare artefact.

    Nice work Jono, I got it after one paragraph, but I was laughing all the way through. Brilliantly written.

  • http://aoirthoir.com Aoirthoir An Broc

    “This entry was posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 12:01 am”

    Um, nonsense! I am looking at my clock right now and it says “Thu Mar 31, 11:19 PM”.

    Jono, don’t think you got away with anything here! You cannot pull these kind of deception and think all of us will fall for it.

    Repost when it is ACTUALLY April 1.

  • http://andregondim.eti.br André Gondim

    If you were in Brazil you can use the expression “Pegadinha do Mallandro” is like a “You’d Punked”.

    Cheers 😉

  • jsalisbury

    Not cool :-/ But glad your on our side :-)

  • Jef Spaleta

    I’ll go you one better. The item in question should be turned into an annual award given to some freedom warrior of merit every single year.


  • David Nielsen

    I hereby pledge 10$ towards to creation of such a trophy.

  • http://www.understated.co.uk Matthew Revell

    Superb man :)

  • ebonz

    Was like, I’m gonna miss Ubuntu :-)

  • http://om26er.wordpress.com Omer Akram

    I am the batman.

  • https://wiki.ubuntu.com/cprofitt cprofitt

    Who is going to take over for Jono now that he is working for Fedora?

  • http://ftbeowulf.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/ubuntu-moving-forward-with-jono-bacon-at-fedroa/ Ubuntu moving forward with Jono Bacon at Fedroa « Free Trader Beowulf

    […] ~ Jono Bacon […]

  • http://neuro.me.uk/ neuro

    A schooner IS a sailboat, stupid head!

  • http://larrythefreesoftwareguy.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/fools-one-and-all/ Fools one and all « Larry the Free Software Guy

    […] critic extrordinaire” Jef Spaleta — according to Jono Bacon’s blog, it’s Jono Bacon […]

  • http://milky.manishsinha.net/2011/04/02/android-camp-bangalore/ Android Camp Bangalore | Manish's Tech Blog

    […] to Google Motion. On returning home, I stumbled across one excellent-brilliant-kickass article I am Jef Spaleta by Jono Bacon. This was the […]

  • Neil

    lol… Reading this the day after the 1st had me very confused… until the end :p lol

  • http://shanefagan.com Shane Fagan

    I giggled at the everyone donating their 2 cents :)

  • Jef Spaleta

    Indeed, Martin’s comment provided me a smirk. However I was disappointed that he did not say “donate a twopence” or “a tuppence” considering his cultural heritage. Instead he debased himself by uttering a classic American colloquialism instead of defending the Queen’s English. And well I have this image of Martin as a Mary Poppin’s character and I want he to validate it for me by being a living breathing British caricature.

    I mean, I can’t really look to Jono to be that guy. He plays in a metal band for Christ’s sake. Not even a punk band like good British rockers are supposed to do. Clearly Jono is completely unreliable to do the right thing.


  • istok

    i keep clicking on this shit. i wish sites that aggregate linux related content would warn a link would lead here.

  • Matt

    So the guy is basically complaining about Canonical’s strict copyright policy only because he does not want average users to use Linux? What a fair way of characterizing the situation.

  • jono

    It was a joke, maybe try and read it again, bearing in mind the date.

  • Jef Spaleta

    Jono, It’s never been established that I actually want average people using linux.

    I the same spirit of your coffessional honesty of your post I’ll say that it saves me tonnes (of the British variety) of time being able to tell people around me. Yeah the freedoms inherent in linux are important and I want everyone to appreciate those freedoms in an abstract way people appreciate a masterfully created Vincent van Gogh or a Bob Ross painting, but its way to complicated for you to use.

    This is why I’ve moved on to using qnx on a daily basis a couple of years ago. I saw the writing on the wall. Linux is becoming easy enough to use and I won’t be able to avoid contact with normal people who want to delve into my vast sea of technical expertise. And it pissed me off to know end to see that RIM purchased QNX and is going to use it on Blackberries. I don’t know where to turn next for technical elitist operating system.


  • http://nucco.org Fanen A.


  • Anonymous

    I am too late to comment but I happened to read this again today after phoronix linked it to their article about your Beefy Miracle costume.