Mark Shuttleworth always said that Ubuntu will forever be free, but that doesn't mean that users can't contribute financially to Ubuntu's development.
Canonical, the developer of Ubuntu operating systems, has introduced a donation page, right before users access the download link for the distribution.
Despite people's claims that this decision will make Ubuntu donationware, it's not all that unusual in the Linux world. Many developers turn to the community for help, either for testing purposes, or for money to fund the developing process.
“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,” stated Steve George, vice president, Communications and Products, at Canonical.
The English company took a cue from the Humble Indie Bundle and implemented a slider for the categories users would want to sponsor. The provide a number of alternatives for the money:
• 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
There is only one accepted method of payment, PayPal, but others will soon follow. Canonical, through the voice of Community Leader, Jono Bacon, also said that the money will be exclusively used on the free branches of Ubuntu, and explicitly stated that what the users choose will be followed to the letter. The business side of Canonical will have to get its money from other sources.
The donation announcement comes right before the official launch of Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal), on October 18th.