Canonicals – Robin Hood Revised: Take From the Free & Give to Thyself

in Advertising, Linux, Open Source, Ubuntu | by Jon-Paul Raymond | 8 11.10.2012
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Ubuntu Shop

What does a billionaire do when he finds an entire community full of free stuff that the citizens of the community gladly share for nothing among themselves? Well, if your billionaire Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical, you take the free stuff and resell it – back to the same community.

In an article last week titled “Ubuntu 12.10 & Amazon: How Far Will Canonical Take Embedded Advertising”, we discussed how Canonical’s Ubuntu has a new formed relationship with Amazon that many open source proponents are simply appalled at. In a nutshell, advertising is now, by default, built into Ubuntu 12.10 (see article for more details). With that said, this week brings more fun and excitement to the once ad-embedding free, open source community.

In an Ubuntu Wiki on Mark Shuttleworth written in May 2011, it was said that “Ubuntu releases will always be free.” It seems as though our friends over at Canonical have found more new and creative ways to generate more income from “free” though.

If you’d like to donate to Canonical, don’t worry, you can do that as always and now they’ll surely give you a chance to (per download). If you prefer to just continue using open source software, then don’t worry, you’ll be solicited.

computer robin hood

Welcome to your new solicitation (what they call a donation) screen:

donate to ubuntu

For those that willingly give to this open source project you get cute little phrases, depending on how much money you give of course.

$2 – The price of a grande extra shot mocha latta chino
$5 – The price of pint of Micro-brew Nevada Pale Ale
$7 – The price of a Royale with cheese

and even to

$1000 – The price of an eight year-old dromedary camel

Oh, but here’s the kindest part. If you choose to not to donate and continue to use open source software for “free”, you get this response.

ubuntu skull for free


A skull.

For most people familiar with open source there’s never been so much talk over money like that of recent weeks.

Jono Bacon of Canonical blogged on this new fund-raising method to generate support for it. A blog commentor though, Martin Owens, put forth some well stated points when saying that: ”Canonical has traditionally been a very closed and opaque private company that shares less about it’s financial arrangements than most businesses that have real share holders. On the other hand here we have a solicitation for money for use by the community. The community doesn’t have open accounts, we’re not using the Ubuntu Foundation and no one disaccociated with Canonical is allowed to track or check up on what is happening with the money. There are no provisions for transparency.”

Canonical Ubuntu is a Linux distribution built on free open source code, most of which others made, and Canonical has always used for free. Yet now that Canonical has entered the “commercial” sectors in major ways (similar to Red Hat) and are now as eager to put Ubuntu on as many corporate desktops as they are in homes, they now seem to look for ways to make money from just about every avenue they can, even their own free community.

To conclude today’s disturbing Linux “open source” news, I’d like to leave off with a question.

Mr. Billionaire, excuse me, I mean Mr. Shuttleworth. I have a have a question for you. Take a look at the upcoming DailyFlux article, “Samsung’s New “Flash-Friendly File System” for Linux: Ideal File Handling for Flash-based Storage Devices”. Now, how much did Samsung charge you for that new F2FS file system given to Linux for free that you’ll certainly use in Ubuntu one day, for free? The answer is nothing Mr. Shuttleworth, it was free and you’ll use it for free. Yet how much would you like us to give you for it, “$7 – The price of a Royale with cheese”?

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8 Responses to “Canonicals – Robin Hood Revised: Take From the Free & Give to Thyself”
  1. iiiears says:

    Do you use Google, Facebook, etc? Does their focus seem only tangentially related to what *you* want?

    Do you contribute time, code, bug reports? Is software you didn’t write useful to you? Then the people that write and distribute it require your support or they will do something else to pay their rent.

    There is a social contract you agreed to by downloading. Your iso cost something at every step of development and you see that. Don’t you?

    Did i misread what you said?

    I read this and felt because someone was wealthier than you and generous they “owed” you.

    Let’s be practical. If you don’t pay, you are not the companies focus, you eventually become the product and not the customer.

    • Jon-Paul says:

      Actually, I use both Google and Facebook and must admit, I’ve never paid a single cent to do so, nor have they ever crashed on me like Ubuntu, which I use as well.

      Thank you for your opinion though iiiears, your feedback is truly appreciated.

      • Christoph says:

        And why did you never pay for Google or Facebook? Because it’s you what they sell, not their service.


      • Victor says:

        Google and Facebook never crashed on you?! You must not use it very often.

      • Kayee says:

        Ubuntu is still free(hint, bottom left corner).
        I think it’s great that they try to raise some money for Ubuntu and other projects, I want it/them to thrive! Lets not accuse Canonical of “stealing” the money just yet (we do need transparency though).
        I like the idea of donations to specific projects, and you do realise that canonical is only one of eight options. If you don’t like them, you can always set theirs to $0, but don’t let the other projects suffer because of it.

      • Kempe says:

        Are you kidding me? both companies uses targeted advertising. And shows you what it thinks you are interested in especially google. If i want to find “untainted” information about something i have an opinion about i have to use dockdockgo. On the other hand they are not open source. I personally don’t have a big problem with the adds in ubuntu. thou I would like to see a checkbox during installation with “Are you interested in shopping results in your searches or do you want to help support “Ubuntu”. It can be check by default but i would still like to see it there. That shit on there download page on the other hand is a abomination. They should have to buttons one “download now” and one “I want to donate”

  2. Andrew says:

    One word says it all in a nutshell, GREED. This is a countryman of mine that made it big from using nothing but free software, and overnight was an instant billionaire, or thereaouts, compared to the work output he contributed. It’s more of the idea he had that he got paid for it. This is the problem with the modern world, it’s not about having enough to have a good confortable life along with billions of others, where a certain amount of work has to be still contributed to earn the nice things. It’s more about, how can I use the billions of potential customers, supplying generally unnecessary goods and services for the existance of human life, to make myself the richest person on earth. This is not Ubuntu (being used in the otriginal context fo the native word), or care to the fellow man. Canonical are now making a m,ockery of the true meaning of the word. And to respond to iiiears, how much money is enough, the opensource model has proved itself over and over that there is sufficent money to go around to make a decent living for supplying whatever generally free. I will come back to my model of the knowledgebase of mankind, we have no right to patent and copyright anything on this planet. All so called inventions etc, are merely others before us who have observed a world and nature and mimicked it, and we are the result of our forefathers and general hand down of teaching. We all think we are inventors of great works but we are only a product of our current life on this earth and the knowledge we were taught by our grandparents, parents and teachers in our various paths of our careers. And that is how opensource and open standards is and should remain.

  3. naz says:

    as far as i know, being free or open source does not prohibit you from making a profit with the software, even if you did not make it, the only requisite is that you provide the source of the software. Google and Facebook are also made with “free” software but i dont see a robin-hood article about them and i am pretty sure that they might have way more money than mr shuttleworth. I dont like the amazon integration with ubuntu but for a different reason: i dont like that my software fetches stuff from the internet without my permission (though they provided a privacy settings). This has been a common misconception, free does not mean “with no cost” but rather free as in “your have the liberty to alter, modify or sell this as long a you provide the source” (this really depends on the license but overall this applies to the majority of them)

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