Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

Summary: Ubuntu is taking down its free Ubuntu Linux CD program, but they’re also hinting that Ubuntu-powered devices may soon be a lot easier to find and buy.

TOPICS: Open Source

For years, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, has given away CDs of its Linux operating system to anyone who wanted them. That’s given away as in free, no cost, nada. But, all goods things must come to an end.

As Gerry Carr, Canonical’s Head of Platform Marketing, wrote on an Ubuntu blog, “It’s with some regret that we are announcing the end of the ShipIt Programme and the CD distributor programme. When we started ShipIt in 2005 broadband was still a marketing promise even in the most connected parts of the most developed nations. We knew that this represented a significant stumbling block to the adoption of a new technology like Ubuntu. So we invested in making the CDs free and freely delivered to anywhere in the world. Since then we have shipped millions of CDs to every country in the world and brought Ubuntu into the lives of millions of individuals, we hope making them a little better.”

But, as Carr explains, “Technology moves on and as we look at ways to spread Ubuntu further, a CD distribution programme, especially one of that size and delivered in that way, makes less sense. We have been slowly easing back the programme over the last two years to limit the number of CDs per person and the number of times a person could apply for a CD. But for Ubuntu 11.04 you will no longer be able to go to our website and apply for a free CD.”

Although Carr doesn’t explicitly say it, another reason why Ubuntu is doing this is because broadband—even if it’s not as fast as we’d like or as easily avalanche as it should be—now makes downloading Ubuntu easy for almost anyone to do.

This doesn’t mean that all free Ubuntu CDs are history. Ubuntu, is “going to make large numbers of CDs available to the Ubuntu Local Communities (LoCos) through a shipIt-lite program. We are asking the LoCos, who are much better placed than Canonical in many ways, to find creative ways to get CDs to those that need them. And of course, every single person reading this who has a CD is a potential distributor – it is after all free to copy, modify and redistribute. We will also continue to make the packs available through the store which are sold more or less at cost price (plus shipping).“

On the other hand, if you want to distribute Ubuntu CDs yourself: Go for it. Carr wrote, “Of course everyone is still welcome to simply go to the Canonical store and buy and redistribute CDs. All that changes is that there is no need for an official blessing from Canonical and we will no longer list the websites on We encourage them to continue to promote Ubuntu and provide this great technology in their local market.”

Looking ahead, Ubuntu is still going to try to make it easy for new users to get a taste of Ubuntu even if you they don’t have Besides making some free Ubuntu CDs available Canonical will soon “launch a free online trial for Ubuntu using the goodness of the cloud which will be a great first step for Windows users in particular, allowing them to see for themselves the product that so many of us enjoy. Finally, we will we be doing much more this year to reach out to the mainstream markets across the world, to bring Ubuntu to the next wave of users. This great project of ours needs more and different people to come on board so that we can bring free software into everyday computing lives.”

So what does this mean? Well, for one, you’ll be able to run Ubuntu desktop as a cloud instance. Ubuntu has been working hard on making it server services available on the cloud, so it won’t be hard to make cloud desktops available for people to get a taste of the Ubuntu Linux desktop.

What I find really interesting though is that comment about reaching “out to the mainstream markets.” I know Canonical has been working on getting original equipment manufacturers (OEM) on board with Ubuntu. They’ve had some success with Dell and smaller OEMs such as ZaReason and system76. Could it be that in the next year there will be many more vendors offering hardware with pre-installed Ubuntu?

I know one of Mark Shuttleworth’s, Ubuntu and Canonical’s founder, goals with the new Unity Ubuntu 11.04 desktop was to get OEMs on board with Ubuntu on PCs, laptops, netbooks, tablets, and even smartphones. I’m taking this news as a hint that Shuttleworth and company are having some success with their plans. We’ll see what we see.

Topic: Open Source

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  • People are barking up the wrong tree as far as Ubuntu hardware.

    What we need is dirt cheap Arm Boxes that do not have hard drive or DVD/CD drive. Maybe Shuttleworth should sell hardware if the other OEMs are still on the fence. How much would it cost for a small box with dual-core 1GHz Arm, 2GB RAM, 8GB flash, microSD slots, USB connectors, etc.
    • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

      @DonnieBoy Totally agree.
    • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

      @DonnieBoy This is way faster than the one I'm using right now (Ubuntu 10.10). Why do you need so much power?
    • You are a visionary, now go support

      @DonnieBoy The TrimSlice is shipping now and it has all the features that you mentioned <img border="0" src="" alt="wink"> Check it out at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a><br><br>
      Jon Hubert Bristol
  • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

    This is understandable Broadband Internet is growing and the need for this CD's will get smaller and smaller. Beside that they surely had to spend a lot of money for all this CD's. First of all i've tought they would take money for ubuntu even with the download version, but this is o.k.
    • Kubuntu is on the way out. Baroque complicated desktops will be a thing of

      the past. No reason for Kubuntu now that Qt libraries are included with all Ubuntu desktops. Now, that said, legacy desktops will be available for some time, and Ubuntu allows you to default back to the legacy style desktop for now.

      Also, nothing has changed as far as Ubuntu being 100% free, they just will not ship you CDs for free anymore.
    • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

      @Denkmaschinen What are you talking about? Ubuntu/Kubuntu is still free and can be freely downloaded and distributed. Plus how many companies go out of their way to provide free CDs with a free OS on them? Ubuntu may be free, but CDs and shipping costs are certainly not.
  • KDE more stylish, powerful, customisable

    Kubuntu is Ubuntu with a KDE desktop. If you mean the KDE desktop is on the way out, I hope not.<br><br>It takes me about a week to get Gnome to look and function like KDE. I don't particularly like Unity yet (still in its infancy), nor did I like the Netbook UI.<br><br>KDE is elegant (you call it baroque) and stylish and I very much prefer using it. (Yes, I may be able to approximate it with Ubuntu/Gnome (well, somewhat), but I'm not that eager to put in all that effort.)<br><br>In Kubuntu I get things done in 1 or 2 clicks, and I can customise extensively. The same things take me 3 or 4 clicks in Gnome.<br><br>Kubuntu as a standalone distro may vanish, but since Ubuntu is now integrating Qt capabilities, I suspect it will always be possible to add the KDE desktop, which I will continue to do as long as KDE works so well.

    Oh yeah, shipping CDs is expensive. About time they stopped it.

    I totally agree with the ARM device with flash drive only. But isn't that the type of thing that Android is doing? Yes, Canonical should start producing a mobile device like Android with Ubuntu on it. Isn't that partly the idea for Unity (and Moblin before that?)
    • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

      @perspectoff You may be interested in a recent article on the OMG!Ubuntu! site. It shows you how to setup KDE Desktop on Ubuntu 11.04. Another article also shows how you can install KDE widgets on the GNOME desktop.
  • How about providing Ubuntu CD for a smal cost ?

    Just charge for the cost of CD + cost of burning the CD + shipping .. probably it will come to 10$ max ?
    • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?


      Already are folks selling CDs DVDs & USB sticks of most Linux distributions for very reasonable prices. Go to distrowatch dot com to see the ads.
  • Message has been deleted.

    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

      WTF? Why is ZDNet so afraid to hear the truth about linux? Anyways, because it was deleted I'll go ahead and post it again.

      No more free CDs can only mean that Canonical, Ubuntu, and linux in general are on the decline. Something I've been saying for years but no one would believe me. Here it is, one of the most famous linux distributors is going broke. Given this unstability in the linux ecosphere I would not take a chance on using it.
      Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

        @Loverock Davidson

        FUD. Pure and simple. Obviously, giving away thousands of CDs/DVDs costs money -- no matter what's on them. There's the cost of the disks themselves, time & equipment to burn them, package & address them for shipping, and the shipping itself. Like any company, Canonical is simply conceding that it's a lot of unnecessary cost, given that the OS is still available for free via download, which is quick and easy. I pulled it down the other day in a few minutes and had a development server running it an hour later. How tough is that? And who wants to wait for a CD/DVD to arrive in the mail? Not me.

        Doing away with the free disk program is no more an indication that Ubuntu is in financial trouble than would be Microsoft announcing a price cut on Office ... oh wait, they actually are on a decline, though ....
      • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

        @Loverock Davidson
        Linux isn't on the decline it's just evolving. While Microsoft focuses on the desktop Android is dominating the mobile market.
      • wake up

        @Loverock Davidson
        Open your eyes and see the real world. You seem to be trapped in a matrix.
  • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

    Sigh. I first got Ubuntu on a free CD, shipped all the way from Europe, a 6.06 "Dapper Drake" CD.

    It took me maybe a week to get used to it, and a couple months later flushed my Windows install. Not to say it hasn't taken a few visits to the support forums, but at least your questions get answered, and often quite promptly, unlike the sad situation with Windows.

    So far I'm up to running 10.04 and I've been threatening to upgrade to 10.10, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
  • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

    Loverock Davidson Something tells me that Canonical is not going broke, but like any company in this economy their cutting back and I don't see or have a porblem with that. And just so you know I run a duel boot system. Win7 Linux Mint 10. With Linux becoming more pulg and play and as easy to use as windows, as well as being much cheaper, I see a future where more people will be going to Linux and a way from M$.
    • Message has been deleted.

      Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices?

        @Loverock Davidson
        So...Canonical should disband because there's money to be made in Linux? That's an odd statement to make.