Help on Ubuntu advocacy [Was: Re: Ubuntu Discs have arrived!]

Magnus Therning magnus at
Sat Jun 25 09:46:48 UTC 2005

On Fri, Jun 24, 2005 at 10:01:44AM +0200, Morgan Collett wrote:
>> The most asked questions was:
>>  Why do they pass out CDs free?
>>  How do they make money on it?
>Here's my 2c:
>If you charge the average man in the street for it, then you're
>effectively competing with the proprietary alternative(s). Then you
>start obsessing about the money you're making, and pretty soon you
>start raising the prices to keep your shareholders happy. If you know
>you won't make money from the public anyway, it takes the pressure off.

Why would a company not be interested in making money?
Why doesn't Canonical obsess about making money? Will passing out Linux
CDs somehow increase the value of Canonical so that its investors are

>Anyway, you can download it free of charge, and this certainly helps
>for those of us in developing countries where bandwidth is very
>expensive. And it doesn't hurt the distrowatch stats... :-)

Yes, but you're not answering the core question, why put in the work to
put together a Linux distro, letting people download it for free to
begin with?

Canonical isn't a charity, AFAIK!

>(Large) corporates want support from a vendor. They want somebody to be
>on the other end of a telephone, who can be called out in the middle of
>the night to fix the CEO's laptop or the dead web server or whatever.
>They are prepared to pay big money for this. Every piece of hardware
>and software must be supported, on the "I'll pay you now so I can sue
>you later" philosophy. That's where the real money lies...

Yes they do, and that's how RedHat tries to make money. People can
understand that and they then understand the game that RedHat is

Google offers a search facility for free, they try to make money on
advertising. People understand the game Google is playing.

Canonical is spending money on a Linux distro, and on a few FOSS
projects (bazaar, bazaar-ng are the ones I know of, I'm not sure whether
malone and rosetta are FOSS). They have hired quite few people to work
on these things. They put up everything for free download/use. They send
out CDs, for free, to anyone who wants them (I read a few thousand free CDs
got stuck customs in some South American country recently). All of this
costs money... Canonical is a company, not a charity or a pure community
project like Debian. People of today are used to, even expected to be
taken for a ride whenever they're offered something for free...

So, do I really try to convince them that Canonical is something as
strange as a company with a conscience and a sense of social
responsibility? A company with humanitarian interests that doesn't put
its bottom line first?

Most people won't believe me, and they'll probably just assume that
Canonical will turn around and screw the Ubuntu community over in some
yet-to-be-defined way...


Magnus Therning                    (OpenPGP: 0xAB4DFBA4)
magnus at

Software is not manufactured, it is something you write and publish.
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ark; professionals built the Titanic.
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