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Ubuntu Asks Users To Pay What They Want 280

New submitter major_lima sends this excerpt from Ars: "When a typical user downloads Ubuntu for free and installs it on a computer with a Windows license that the user did pay for, Canonical gets nothing in the form of payment. There's nothing wrong with that — this is the open source world, after all, and many people contribute to Ubuntu with code rather than money. But starting this week, Canonical is presenting desktop OS downloaders with an optional donation form. ... 'Pay what you think it's worth,' and 'Show Ubuntu some love' are among the messages users will see, and downloaders can direct their donations to specific parts of Ubuntu development. ... Once you donate, the Ubuntu desktop starts downloading. Or, you can just skip the donation and download the OS for free, just as you always could. For some reason, the donation page is not presented to Ubuntu Server users."
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Ubuntu Asks Users To Pay What They Want

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  • This doesn't get you out of the Amazon partnership, does it?

  • by macromorgan ( 2020426 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:27PM (#41612063)
    Just a thought... I still wish Cannonical would have put its resources towards helping make Gnome Shell better as opposed to taking its ball and going home.
    • by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:41PM (#41612255)

      Yeah because the GNOME people are well-known for collaborating with others and being open to criticism. Oh wait... Why should anyone want to work with a project whose team is filled with a bunch of pigheaded people to whom NIH syndrome is a way of life?

      • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:25PM (#41612849) Journal

        That argument would have made sense if Ubuntu had switched to another standard system, like KDE, Xfce, or whatever. But they went on making their own. If there's one company who cannot complain to others about NIH syndrome, it's Canonical.

        • by maxdread ( 1769548 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:22PM (#41613463)

          As a counter point, if they found that Gnome was suddenly going in a direction that didn't serve their or their users needs and the Gnome team refused to work with them it makes sense to switch correct?

          Now, the same problem they ran into with the Gnome team can easily happen with the above projects, they have little say in how they evolve and in which direction they go and it simply leaves them open to being screwed with again the future. It makes a lot of sense to simply run with your own project.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Yes, isn't this is why Linux Mint is forking Gnome into their own desktop interface? Isn't it called Cinnamon?

        • I thought the point of open source was that anyone can fork it and roll their own. No-one should be beholden to their upstream source. This is what Canonical did, why do they flak for it? It still needs some work (re:customization), but I for one find Unity pretty slick.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            they are getting flak not for forking or rolling their own but for putting an immature gui on most used linux desktop, they are getting flax for the same thing gnome has as well not listening to users and having a sever case of NIH syndrome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I was a unity hater as well. But 12.10's Unity interface is pretty fantastic (I've been running the beta for a little over a week).

      • Does it still break integration with VirtualBox?

      • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
        Could you post about your experience with 12.10 in more detail? What changed that made you go from hating to liking?
        • by binarylarry ( 1338699 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:53PM (#41613155)

          I'd say the most immediate change was the performance. Unity just performed horrifically for me before and I use fairly high end hardware (Intel i7 series processors, Nvidia GPUs, etc). That was a huge turn off.

          I also found that the older Unity had all kinds of odd usability oddities and problems (sometimes various window management features didn't work, parts of unity would crash and I'd have to logout or reboot, etc).

          So it was essentially a shuddering clusterfuck that actually impeded my work.

          So far the new version is fast, just works and most importantly stays out of my way. Most of the time I don't see much OS UI, just my apps (which is how things should be IMO).

    • What makes you think they didn't try to work with the Gnome folks?

    • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )
      That's exactly how Unity was born. Canonical knew GNOME was planning big things for 3.0, so they wanted to contribute with ideas/code. GNOME wouldn't let them (and/or some ideas were diametrically opposed), so Canonical made Unity.
      • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:17PM (#41612773)

        This is what you get when you have a system where there's no configurability, and everything has to be hard-coded one way only: if you want to do anything slightly different, you have to fork the whole project.

        If they had just gone with KDE instead, they could have made their own "plasma" variant or had a different set of configuration options (and even added new features selectable in the configuration options), and the KDE team would have been happy to accept these changes for inclusion.

    • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:10PM (#41612697) Homepage Journal

      I'd rather they took BOTH out back and shot them.

  • by pointyhat ( 2649443 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:27PM (#41612075)

    I wonder how much of this cash will go to the real heroes i.e. upstream people like Debian? Canonical is just a reseller/ISV as they call them in the market.

    • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:48PM (#41612365) Homepage
      I assume most of it goes to someone else, seeing how the bottom option is basically a "give it to Canonical" option. But with their defaults, they appear to want you to give a little to everyone.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:49PM (#41612393)

      If you want, you can always donate $$$ directly to Debian and some associated free software like PostgreSQL or FFmpeg. These donations are not used to pay for developer time. They are generally used to reimburse some of the travel costs associated with things like Debconf for the poorer developers, hardware costs for developer machines (something more recent) etc. []

      Debian is just one of the members of SPI. There are other software that benefits too, []

      And if you are suspicious that SPI is not associated with Debian, just look at Debian's donations page and be happy. []

      Anonymous Debian Dev.

      PS. $$$ is not a big problem for Debian (as everything is either sponsored or volunteered), but it is always welcome.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      I thought they were pretty big on desktop projects. Upstart was pretty popular for a spell with a few distros (though not as much anymore), also the xwindows replacement I believe they are funding.

      additionally unity (love it or hate it) is an ubuntu project, and they contribute to sub sonic.

      linux is more than a kernel, and I would suspect the kernel met their needs 5 years ago, they are contributing upstream and making their own projects in the user space.

      this myth that ubuntu does nothing is annoying and w

    • I wonder how much of this cash will go to the real heroes i.e. upstream people like Debian? Canonical is just a reseller/ISV as they call them in the market.

      But a "reseller" who is serious about OEM partnerships and mass market adoption --- with a distribution that accounts for most of what little market share Linux can plausibly claim as a desktop client OS.

      If an OS is to be more than a purely intellectual exercise, then distribution --- building a critical mass of users --- is essential.

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      Canonical is the missing link, the "last mile" we have been wishing for decades in the linux world. Yes, they "only" pickup the good packages, they "only" make sure that your experience is smooth, and they "only" do some marketing. And these things are the "only" things that linux was lacking to become a success on desktops/laptops
  • I'm OK with this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by helixcode123 ( 514493 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:28PM (#41612087) Homepage Journal

    I use it daily for my work and the kid's machine runs it. I'll drop them some $$$ next time.

  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:31PM (#41612125) Homepage Journal

    I just hope they don't get discouraged at the number of downloads and installations that don't receive donations. I suspect that a lot of people are like me--they don't mind throwing a few bucks their way (or even a few dozen), but we tend to install, reinstall, set up virtual machines, install yet again, and so on across dozens of machines. I might give a one-off donation, but I'm not going to donate every time I install a copy of Ubuntu.

    That's one of the things that's so damn frustrating about Windows and why Ubuntu (or really, any Linux distribution) is so useful. Windows is an awesome OS and I don't mind paying the license fee to run it, but I don't have a few thousand dollars to install it on each of my hobbyist VMs I use for development and testing stuff. Back in the days when I could just use my product code to install it willy-nilly on a few dozen machines, each of which I probably run for a few days and then reinstall for some new reason, it's not that big a deal. But now that everything phones home and nags the hell out of you and denies you service to what you bought, it's not such an appealing option. Hopefully Microsoft will someday realize that they're actively driving people like me away from Windows, but until then, I'll happily cast my lot with Ubuntu instead.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Get an MSDN OS subscription.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        For $700, which only lasts 12 months, and then you have to throw down another $500 every year to keep it up? That's still an absolute shit solution compared to what we could do with Windows XP (and earlier), and can do even easier with the likes of Linux distros such as Ubuntu.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        you beat me to it...

        MSDN is awesome for devs. Just spun up 4 vm's with server 2008 today. 700 bucks for all the OS's 1000 bucks comes with visual studio.

        MSDN is designed for 'dev and test'. Think it is something like 5 or 10 copies of each OS with keys. You can call them up and get more.

        However, for someone who is just messing around at home, even 700 bucks is a steep price to pay.

        If I could afford it I would get the vs ultimate msdn. That code rewind thing is pretty freeking cool. However it is not

        • MSDN is awesome for devs

          Paying $700 for an operating system that does essentially nothing out of the box is the height of ridiculousness. It's monopoly power at its worst.

          • Paying $700 for an operating system that does essentially nothing out of the box is the height of ridiculousness. It's monopoly power at its worst.

            No different to a CPU or graphics card, out of the box they do nothing.

        • License cost is not just important for someone messing around at home. It can have a profound impact on large corporations too. There it is not so much the cost of the license itself, but the cost of procuring and managing them. With Server 2008, you have to have install and configure "activation servers". WTF? The amount of time spent managing license keys, activation servers, and other bullshit is time you are not working on something productive. Say what you want about Oracle, one thing the get ri

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Before you embark on anything, consider this:

      It sounds like you need the Microsoft Partner Action Pack. Just sign up as a basic partner (no entry requirements) then buy the Action Pack here: [] - you know you want to. It makes sense. You even get lots of free training and discounts to sweeten the deal and get embedded further into the ecosystem.

      The moment you start promoting this stuff, people want you to use your new ski

  • This just in (Score:3, Informative)

    by SuperMooCow ( 2739821 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:38PM (#41612209)

    Ubuntu users unite to have Unity removed from Ubuntu because of bad usability.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gordonjcp ( 186804 )

      What's actually wrong with Unity? Is there something you can point to, instead of just "ZOMG it's new I don't like it?"

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        The question is entirely irrelevant.

        I should be able to use what I was using before. The "new hotness" does not require ripping out what was there before. This is why Unity gets grief. It really has nothing to do with "being different".

        Canonical pulled a Microsoft.

        • Re:This just in (Score:4, Informative)

          by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:17PM (#41612769) Homepage

          So, use it. Oh wait, you can't because Gnome 2 has been dropped. Maybe you could try maintaining that?

          There are Gnome 2-like desktop environments available in Ubuntu if you want them - just like when Windows 95 came out, if the new "Start" menu thing was too confusing and new, you could fall back to PROGMAN.EXE and have it work just like Windows 3. Some people even did that, too.

        • The question is entirely irrelevant.

          I should be able to use what I was using before. The "new hotness" does not require ripping out what was there before. This is why Unity gets grief. It really has nothing to do with "being different".

          Canonical pulled a Microsoft.

          If Canonical really believes that Unity is the new "hot thing", it would have been trivial to add a choice during install... New (Unity) or Classic (Gnome2), and let the user-base decide, but nooooooooooo, they know whats best for EVERYONE... I tried Unity for a week, I really did.. With all the new weird shite it does, and stuff that I was used to with Gnome2 that no longer is there/works the same way, I started tearing my hair out by the roots. Since, God Help Me, I still love Ubuntu, I installed Cinnamo

          • If Canonical really believes that Unity is the new "hot thing", it would have been trivial to add a choice during install... New (Unity) or Classic (Gnome2), and let the user-base decide, but nooooooooooo, they know whats best for EVERYONE...

            you mean a choice like when you downloaded it to get unbutu(unity) kubuntu(kde) xubuntu(xfce) lubuntu(lxde) and so on? or like after the install when you simply apt-get {de of choice}

      • Re:This just in (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:05PM (#41612631)

        Because Unity is the epitome of cargo cult programming. This is an old comment by Matthew Paul Thomas but it summarizes quite well the usability problems with Unity caused by the cargo cult:

        In the April usability test, eight of ten people discovered
        the hidden menus. But seven of them discovered the menus by
        hovering over the maximized window controls, which in 11.04 were visible all the
        time. In 11.10, even those window controls will be hidden by default. So I look forward to seeing whether in 11.10, the fraction of people who learn how to access menus is even smaller, or even slower, or both.

        But I don’t think that’s even the primary issue. You write as if learnability (or more specifically, discoverability)
        and aesthetics are the only two aspects of usability. They are
        important, but so is efficiency.

        In the same usability test, whenever one of those seven people needed to use the menus a second time, they didn’t aim directly for the relevant menu. They again moused over the window controls to reveal the menus, and then scooted along to the right. This was, of course, grossly inefficient — especially compared with the speed that a top-of-screen menu bar exists to provide in the first place. In 11.10 the window controls will be hidden too, but the basic efficiency problem will remain: at the moment you’re aiming for the target, you can’t see it.

        Every so often, some Ubuntu contributor asks why most of the Unity designers use Mac OS X. The reason, of course, is that those designers are experienced with Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, and other applications that don’t work (or if they do work in Wine, work much less pleasantly) on Ubuntu. And it is precisely those kinds of applications, with their deep feature sets, that use menus most heavily. Anyone who points to Web browsers or mobile OSes as harbingers of a menu-less world is, I think, misguided about what kinds of things people will still use non-mobile OSes for in ten years. It is a small irony that hiding menus by default makes it even less likely that anything like those applications will ever work well on Ubuntu.

      • Re:This just in (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lennier ( 44736 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @06:17PM (#41613419) Homepage

        What's actually wrong with Unity? Is there something you can point to, instead of just "ZOMG it's new I don't like it?"

        Ok, here goes. A (possibly the) major problem with Unity - and the entire "app-centric" GUI ecosystem from the iDevice and tablet world which it and Windows 8 are aping - is that its focus on applications comes at the expense of documents. This reverses the trend from the 1980s onwards where GUIs were becoming increasingly about the user manipulating rich documents, and puts us right back in the old world of "your data is hard-coded into applications". But that simply isn't the case. Documents transcend applications; the application is just a means to an end.

        Why? Two reasons. One, because applications churn faster than data does. For example: my music is a collection of .MP3 and .OGG files. It's over a decade old, and it's not going anywhere. My music player application, however, could be any of Rhythmbox, Banshee, Songbird, VLC. My photograph collection is a bunch of .JPG files. It's also not going to change. The default "photo manager" application (which I'm not sure there's even a need for) in Ubuntu, however, has switched from F-Spot to Shotwell, and then there's the GNOME Viewer if I just want to view them.

        Second, there are multiple actions you might want to take with documents, and those different actions may require different applications. If I have a JPG, I *might* want to view it, or I might want to edit it. In that case I'm going to want to open it in GIMP, not Shotwell or Viewer. There's no way the OS can know in advance how I want to work with my data, so it shouldn't attempt to presume that it knows best.

        The primary way this broken "applications first" mindset manifests in Unity is with the dock, and the way it groups windows by application rather than document. For instance, if I have two PDF files open, they're two completely separate documents; I want them to appear as two different icons. But no. Dock shows them as one instance of the PDF Viewer, and only once I click on them does it ask me which one I want. That's not at all what the user requires; it's an objective regression in usability (from the document-centric perspective) from even Windows 95's interface. But it's not a bug, it's a design decision, and it's come from inhaling uncritically the iDevice approach of "the app is everything".

        I hope this app-focus is just a passing fad in the industry, because it reverses more than thirty years of user interface progress. It's been good news to app developers, as it assures them a privileged industry position and a revenue stream. But it's not good news to the user who wants the ability to sculpt their own document-centric workflow.

      • it hides programs i don't use everyday in a sea of apps, rather than giving me a simple hierarchical menu that I can get to it in under 5 seconds, any files i have not previously opened are ignored by the search in the hud, files on external media are ignored by the hud file searchs, there that just the first few i could think of in less than two minutes

      • by IANAAC ( 692242 )

        What's actually wrong with Unity? Is there something you can point to, instead of just "ZOMG it's new I don't like it?"

        It relies on Compiz for 3D. I'd be a Unity fan if it weren't for Compiz.

  • I donated... (Score:4, Informative)

    by osmosys ( 2730525 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:46PM (#41612333)
    twenty bucks to Mint! :-D
    • Re:I donated... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:37PM (#41615247)

      And I donate bandwidth to them all - debian, mint, ubuntu, slackware ... any time I see a new version release notice (usually here on /.) I ssh to my hosted server, start up screen, and start torrenting. Depending on when in the month it is (I get 200gb/mo xfer) and what I've used (typically nothing), I'll seed for 25-50gb upload or until upload from my box is close to nothing.

      I can't code well enough to donate that, I don't have any extra $ to donate, so this is how I contribute (and how just about anyone can).

  • A company with employees has to make money at some point. I don't blame them for looking for ways to monetise Ubuntu. They should do that because it's better to have stronger alternatives to Windows and as much as some people hate it, you can't make the best product for no money at all.

    Perhaps Ubuntu is doomed to fail for targeting the desktop more than the server. But someone has to do it. They have made some mistake recently but it's nice someone is trying to do something different rather than just mak
  • I like Ubuntu but I've become disenchanted with Unity so I'm going to give Linux Mint with Ginger a shot when it comes out in November. I hear it uses the Ubuntu repositories anyway. I just need to compile a list of questions I need answered by seasoned users before I make the switch.
    • why not just install gnome or mate if you're unhappy with unity?

      • why not just install gnome or mate if you're unhappy with unity?

        OR Cinnamon.. I'm of the "Unity-haters", and am using Cinnamon on Ubuntu 12.04.. If you liked/were used to Gnome2, Cinnamon is there.. It seems to have a few burps/hiccups occasionally, but I suspect thats because its under heavy development by the Mint-devs...

    • Just install in a VM first. Virtualbox works nicely.

  • by Penurious Penguin ( 2687307 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:59PM (#41612541) Journal
    Although Mint is ubu-based, they seem to listen to their users, seemingly unlike post-LucidLynx Ubuntu. To me, Mint is what Ubuntu was before it went Authoritarian Bubble Rubbish -- a pretty fantastic, if not amazing distro. Back in Lucid, I'd not have thought twice about clicking the donation link. However, to pay what I think "it's worth" would probably be unreasonable, since a functional, stable distro is nearly invaluable to me. One could easily think that putting a billionaire behind Linux would be a wonderful thing, but I am not so sure. I also wonder if bubble-people are the sorts that would donate; they might find the process too complex and give up. Maybe Ubu should have an app glued by myriad dependencies that activates upon network-connection and solicits the user with a guided bubble-journey to their bank* account. Maybe they could deprecate Bash for a squeak interface, where users can squeak audible commands to execute various applications; "If you'd like to make a donation, please emit a higher, rather than lower-pitched squeak now.", etc.

    Yes, I am slightly bitter; because I remember Ubuntu as something almost inconceivably excellent. The idea of having the freedom of Linux along with out-of-the-box functionality seems almost too good to be true. Thankfully there's Mint for that.
    • I thought Ubuntu was wonderful under KDE and Gnome both. Would have been pleased to donate, never saw a web page that asked me to do so. Then they shoved Unity down my throat, far before it was ready, and I didn't upgrade for 2 releases. 10.10, I believe, finally broke via upgrades that didn't work (3rd team must have been assigned to that), and I finally had to use Unity on 12.04. I couldn't make the old gnome work for some reason. PITA. I wasted a lot of time and lost a lot of loyalty in that mess.
      • ..but I am looking for a new distribution.

        IMO, Arch, Archbang, or Mint may be worth your consideration. If you were unaware, Mate is a very fine fork of Gnome and is very usable. Mint's Cinnamon is coming along too, and I suspect it will eventually be very nice. I remember being very content with Lucid but dreading 2013 when it would no longer receive support. I nearly kept waiting, but seeing the direction Ubu was taking, I got anxious, made backups and re-formatted for Mint. I tried Cinnamon first, then xfce, and finally settled on Mate. It was

  • Let's say I want to donate to the best organization for Linux today, which if I don't see the desktop as the priority surely wouldn't be Canonical. Who would that be then?

    • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

      I'd probably say RedHat. Unfortunately their desktop isn't quite as nice as Ubuntu's. They do things like run SELinux by default, exclude certain drivers/codecs, and have really ugly fonts!

      But they do a solid server distribution, and (unlike Canonical) have a good reputation of pushing their changes back upstream. They employ a lot of developers to work on open source projects such as the kernel, and generally speaking they are a good open source community member.

    • While that title is inviting flames, I'd suggust Fedora for its numerous contributions to upstream projects. while not soely responsible, It is very responsible for the joy that is Linux today. I'd also suggust Suse, but the whole MS cross license deal when it was owned by novell turned me off.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:09PM (#41612691) Journal

    I'd recently decided to switch my laptop to Mint.

  • I've attempted to install Ubuntu 12.04 on my Mac Pro, both straight onto a hard drive and through a VirtualBox virtual machine, and it fails both installations. So I'd be willing to pay for it when it freaking works.
  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:13PM (#41612739) Homepage

    goes to Debian, where 90% of the work comes from.

    • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @05:57PM (#41613211) Homepage

      The people who do the most work, should get the most money?
      Sounds like communist propaganda to me.

      • Might not be a bad element of the Reds to borrow on occasion. However, "should" & "hope" are very different. One is an axiom while the other is a perfectly reasonable preference. I aint no commie, but it's always amazed me that some prick in a wool suit can while sitting on his arse, press a button (forex, etc.) and profit what a laborer might struggle a lifetime to make 0.1 percent of. 'Tis the way no doubt, but it isn't always pretty, nor is it exclusively preferable. I'm not look for a revolution, bu
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In that case, shouldn't Debian turn 90% of its donations over to upstream projects, you know, where the work is done?

  • I'd be more than happy to contribute to a united fund that pools tax-deductible donations to OSS projects, like United Way does for its charitable causes. The key here is to make the donations recurring and automatic. It used to be that payroll deductions were the only way to achieve that, but now there may be more options. I don't want to give to just one organization, I'd like to spread the love around. And, I only want to be asked once a year, not every time I download something.
  • The summary complains that:

    When a typical user downloads Ubuntu for free and installs it on a computer with a Windows license that the user did pay for, Canonical gets nothing in the form of payment.

    but their solution isn't to try to get manufacturers to offer OS choice on machines, instead it's to ask users to pay twice to use only one operating system.

    How about a method to get some of the major manufacturers to allow you to direct your Microsoft tax to Ubuntu instead when you don't plan to ever run Windows...

  • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @08:02PM (#41614287)
    If users could donate to Mozilla and direct funding to particular components of Firefox and Thunderbird, perhaps we'd see some of the five-year-old+ bugs get fixed and Thunderbird would get an Exchange Web Services connector for mail/contacts/notes.
  • ubuntu server is worthless?

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351