In a blog posting, Zimmerman wrote, "I joined Canonical in June of 2004 as a member of the founding team, before we even had a name for the company. In June 2011, after just over seven years as Ubuntu CTO, I will be leaving Canonical in search of new challenges."
Zimmerman is leaving on good terms. Indeed, he wrote, "I intend to remain involved in the Ubuntu community, retaining my elected position on the governing Technical Board, and perhaps to make the occasional technical contribution as a volunteer." Gerry Carr, Canonical's product manager, told me, that "We wish him all the best. Personally and professionally he has been inspirational for Ubuntu and for all of us."
Zimmerman added, "It has been my privilege to have played a part in creating Ubuntu and Canonical. It has been a pleasure to work with so many talented, dedicated and fun people over the years. I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together: bringing free software to people, places and organizations which have derived so much benefit from it."
He seems to have every faith that Ubuntu will continue to do well in the future. "The Ubuntu engineering organization, which we call Platform, is a highly capable and motivated team, the best I've ever worked with in my career. Building and leading this team has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I have every confidence in their ability to support Canonical's mission in the years to come, and I'm excited to see how they will surprise me in the future."
So why is he leaving? Zimmerman wrote, "Seven years on, the time is right for me to move on from this role, where I enjoy so much support from my colleagues, and take a risk on something new. I will take with me many fond memories, from all-night global hacking sessions driving toward a ship date, to casual singing and playing music at our many face-to-face events."
In fact, Zimmerman will be staying with the Canonical through next week's Ubuntu Developer Summit, in Budapest where he looks "forward to celebrating with friends and colleagues, and beginning the transition to this new role in the project."
Ubuntu will miss his technical leadership. In Ubuntu's early days, Ubuntu was sometimes dismissed as being little more than just another Debian Linux clone. Over time, though, Ubuntu became the most popular end-user Linux of all, and started introducing its own new technologies. The latest of these, the radical shift to the Unity desktop interface, represents desktop Linux's biggest effort yet to reach a mass audience. All of this might have been done without Zimmerman, but it wouldn't have been done as well or as quickly. Good luck to you Matt at wherever your next job might be.