Ubuntu Linux: Donationware?

Ubuntu Linux: Donationware?

Summary: In the days counting down to the next release of Ubuntu Linux, the popular desktop Linux is encouraging users to donate to the operating system.

Want to help Ubuntu but can't code? You can always donate cash.

First things first. Ubuntu Linux is still free for anyone to use. That said, Canonical, it's parent company, will be happy to accept any financial donations you might care to make as well.

Today's announcement on the Canonical blog by Steve George, the company's VP of Communications and Products that Canonical was "making it easier for people to financially contribute to Ubuntu if they want to. By introducing a ‘contribute’ screen as part of the desktop download process, people can choose to financially support different aspects of Canonical’s work: from gaming and apps, developing the desktop, phone and tablet, to co-ordination of upstreams or supporting Ubuntu flavours," caught me by surprise.

As George had said earlier in the very same blog "Canonical and the Ubuntu community have established a solid position for Ubuntu in the worlds of desktop, server and now cloud computing." Ubuntu Linux may not be the most popular of all Linux distributions—Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) wins the gold medal in business and the Ubuntu-variant Linux Mint seems to have more fans these days---but it's still very popular.

Desktop Ubuntu may not be doing as well as founder and primary owner Mark Shuttleworth would like. Recently, Ubuntu integrated Amazon into forthcoming Ubuntu 12.10's global search. While this will be in the next version of Ubuntu, Canonical had to clarify that the "shopping lens" would be optional.. A portion of the profits from these searches will go to Canonical.

George explained, "Every day, thousands of community members support the development of their favourite operating system. Even if they’re not software developers they help out with testing, documentation, marketing, brainstorming or answering other users’ questions in online forums. And people who don’t have the time to help out directly have always been able to make a financial contribution, albeit in a not-easy-to-find spot on our website. Many users have been asking for a simpler, more obvious way to do this."

That last is news to me. While many smaller Linux distributions ask for financial donations, this is the first I've known of a top-tier Linux distribution looking for donations in years. And, I've never heard of users asking for a way to donate dollars, euros or pounds more easily to Canonical.

George continued, "Today, we’re making it easier for people to financially contribute to Ubuntu if they want to. By introducing a ‘contribute’ screen as part of the desktop download process, people can choose to financially support different aspects of Canonical’s work: from gaming and apps, developing the desktop, phone and tablet, to co-ordination of upstreams or supporting Ubuntu flavours. It’s important to note that Ubuntu remains absolutely free, financial contribution remains optional and it is not required in order to download the software."

Jono Bacon, Ubuntu's community manager, explained, "inspired by the wonderful folks at the Humble Indie Bundle [[a pay what you want e-book charity], we now have a contributions page that provides a clearer means in which you can not only contribute but also where you want the money to be used."

Bacon wrote, "The way the page works is that you can use the sliders to select how much you contribute to the following areas:

Make the desktop more amazing
Performance optimisation for games and apps
Improve hardware support on more PCs
Phone and tablet versions of Ubuntu
Community participation in Ubuntu development
Better coordination with Debian and upstreams
Better support for flavours like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu
Tip to Canonical – they help make it happen

"Currently the page only accepts PayPal, but other payment mechanisms are currently being explored as we speak. The page appears on the site before you download an ISO (thus making it easier to find) and it provides the opportunity to contribute. For those who don’t wish to contribute in this way you can simply click the Not now, take me to the download to bypass the page. Obviously our users are not required contribute. You can download Ubuntu here and see the page in action," said Bacon.

All the funds from these donations will go to the Ubuntu project. Bacon spelled out that "When a contribution occurs, Canonical will act as a steward for the money and ensure it is managed fairly and in accordance of the user’s wishes…ensuring it goes to the part of the project outlined in the form. Importantly, Canonical will not be using the money for any Canonical business-orientated functions; all of the contributions will be used to fund the Ubuntu project and continue it’s growth and development."

George concluded, "Ubuntu will always be free to use, share and develop. We hope it will continue to give you everything you want in an operating system – and we hope that you’ll join us in helping to build the future of computing, however you choose to contribute."

Related Stories:

Topics: Ubuntu, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software Development, PCs

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I'll pay exactly what the community has told me Linux was worth

    • Funny,

      That's exactly how much I am willing to pay for Windows.
      The difference being, I don't use Windows.
      • You don't use Windows? Impossible

        We keep getting told that this is impossible, that everyone is forced to use Windows, that there is no choice.

        Yet here you are, the only person in the world not using Windows.

        • And abosolutely true.

          My Desktop at work is Fedora 16, which will be updated to Fedora 18 in a couple of months. At home, I have 6 Fedora computers in a kick-ass MythTV cluster, and a DD-WRT router.
          I think one of old IDE hard drives in the to-be recycled box has Win XP on it, does that count?
        • Most people actually say

          that you can't really get out of paying for Windows.

          That isn't completely true either, it's just really hard.
          Michael Alan Goff
          • It's not that hard to purchase a desktop computer without Windows

            One can purchase a Mac from Apple's online store, at an Apple retail store or at an Apple reseller:


            Alternatively, one can purchase a PC with GNU/Linux pre-installed from a number of vendors online:


            The problem is that Macs are expensive. And PCs with GNU/Linux-preloaded are also expensive due to economy of scale. Equivalent PCs with Windows pre-installed are generally much cheaper due to the very large Windows user base.

            Finally, one can't really get out of paying for OS X when purchasing an Apple Mac. Has anyone tried walking into an Apple retail store and telling the sales staff that they would like to buy a Mac without OS X pre-installed? Or that they would like a refund as they intend to wipe OS X and install GNU/Linux? It's also true that there were Apple computers available in retail stores before one could purchase Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system.
            Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Equivalent PCs with Windows pre-installed are generally much cheaper due to

            PC's coming preinstalled with a bunch of trialware crap.

            "Finally, one can't really get out of paying for OS X when purchasing an Apple Mac"

            That's different, currently microsoft doesn't sell their own hardware with their own OS on it, they just give rebates to OEM's for using windows.
          • I'll challenge that ... go to Dell.com and I'll prove it.

            Sure, Dell (and just about everyone else) will sell you a computer without Windows installed. But the only reason costs are LOWER is that these systems (1) have less capable hardware and (2) NONE of them come with support (unless you buy it as an extra cost option).

            Dollar for dollar, feature for feature. You do not save a penny by purchasing a system with Linux installed instead of Windows. The difference is that your Windows systems COMES with a year of support. You have to buy a year of support with the Linux-based system.

            That said, if you can support yourself, you CAN save a few bucks by purchasing the Linux system. The trade off is that you may not be able to run all the software you want to run.

            The average consumer is simply not well enough informed to know how to make that determination. That is what stands in the way of wide adoption of desktop Linux.
            M Wagner
          • OOP! I mis-read "guzz46" ...

            ... but my point is the same. When you compare feature-for-feature, including similar support, pre-loaded Windows is no more expensive than pre-loaded Linux and often less so.
            M Wagner
          • The average consumer

            thinks Macs are overpriced and doesn't know what Linux is.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • Have not purchased a desktop system with MS Windows since 1991

            When I started running a computer shop. We built them, installed MS Windows and charged for it, and there were several flavors. Some people wanted UNIX, and it required far more expensive hardware.
            For me, it is very simple to build a system. Since I know how poorly written MS Win code is, there is no way I would use it. Apple is better, and now that its´ Linux based, very good.
            But, the truth ? You save money on a barebones system, with superior results.
        • i Dont use windows either

          i guess you are still living in 90's, there are many folks who don't use windows and i am one of them
          • who many exactly ?

            my guess is that the vast majority of people download a version of linux to try "something new" then just discard it when they discover that it is full of programming errors and useless.
            do you have any proof of what you said ?
        • Make That Two People in the World Who Aren't Using Windows

          My computers have all been declared Microsoft-free zones.

          And they've been that way for the past six years.
    • Only fools say it's worth nothing

      Most people only say you have to pay nothing.

      It's like... I don't have to pay for Windows during the 4 years I'm a student. So I don't. But I'd hardly say Windows 8 is worth 0$.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: I'll pay exactly what the community has told me Linux was worth $0

      What Linux community told you that? There have been attempts made at estimating the value of open-source code. Here's a link to an article on the topic:


      2012 - Debian Wheezy - $17.7 billion U.S.

      2008 - Fedora 9 - $10.8 billion U.S.

      2008 - Linux kernel - $1.4 billion U.S.

      2002 - Red Hat Linux 7.1 - $1.2 billion U.S.

      Whether or not anyone believes these estimates as the true value is beside the point. Open-source software is worth a lot more than Mr. toddbottom3 stated in his post.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
    • All contributions should be welcome

      Any contributions & help are always good if paid in cash or kind. As long as the help is legal & ethical, I say, go for it.

      Why should our favorite OS's benefactor (Astronaut/ Cosmonaut & empowering Juggernaut) Mark be the only one to pay? We should make it as easy as possible for others who want to pay by facilitating efforts.

      I also strongly recommend the free manual “Getting Started with Ubuntu 12.04” http://ubuntu-manual.org/ be made available with the 12.10 download. Please have it on the same webpage. Although this Manual is for the 12.04 version of Ubuntu, I feel most points will apply.
  • Ubuntu Linux: Donationware?

    No donations from me. I can't support a half baked product that doesn't work as advertised especially when there are free alternatives that are much better. Canonical must really be hurting if they need to beg for money. Guess that other deal they made with Amazon tanked as well. This company is burning through its funds faster than a forest fire. I've been told many many times that linux was free and its developers work for free so I really don't see where the money would go and no need to donate.

    If I don't donate then linux gets no funds, its developers have no reason to code, linux stops getting support, then it fades away. By not donating we are all doing the IT industry a favor.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • ID Ten T.

      Loverock Davidson exhibits a level of stupidity, that even after having spent a while in my younger days working Customer Service, as well as volunteering in a mental health facility, I'd have found difficult to fathom.

      The idiot is wrong on so many levels. Firstly these donations are to Canonical/Ubuntu; not Linux. Linux was going strong before Canonical, and if Canonical disappeared it would continue to grow strong. Redhat, Debian, and Suse aren't all going to disappear just because you don't donate to Canonical/Ubuntu. Heck, even Ubuntu isn't going to disappear even if nobody donated. Canonical have their own ways of raising funds, including the sale of support and services.

      Finally even if you could make Linux disappear, a large percentage of the IT industry are make their money on Linux. Making it disappear would be a huge dis-service to those Linux users, and they'd hardly consider it a favour. Just because you're too stupid to make your OS work, doesn't mean that they are.

      When responding to this post, I desperately searched for something in your post that made sense, so I could finish this off with something a little more up-beat, by acknowledging what you were right about, and what you had a point on. I would have liked to have been able to say that you were right about something. Unfortunatly, you weren't.
      • The typical mentality of a linux user

        They start off with the name calling and belittling. That right there is a turn off for the linux community and why I tell people to stay away. I do need to correct one of your statements.

        "Firstly these donations are to Canonical/Ubuntu; not Linux."
        Ubuntu is linux and so these donations go to linux so I won't donate.
        Loverock Davidson-