View Full Version : How does the ubuntu team get paid?

April 4th, 2007, 08:26 AM
It might be that I dont understand exactly how it works, or that I dont understand the level of community service, but how does the ubuntu team get paid?

I'm assuming there has to be some sort of over-see-er that decides what gets supported, when it gets supported, what functionality to implement, etc.
It must be loads of work for the individuals involved, but yet I dont see a single advertisement on their website. I dont see a single advertisement even on these forums.

How exactly do the people responsible for such a great distribution get the revenue that keeps them going??

April 4th, 2007, 08:42 AM
I know for a fact that Canonical pays the team. Im sure they get other funds as well.

April 4th, 2007, 08:58 AM
Well, as far as I know, most funding comes right out of the pocket of Mark Shuttleworth, a millionaire entrepreneur. He has gone out of his way to establish more efficient methods of organization in the development of Ubuntu, with the goal in mind to make it the most popular Linux distribution by making it the easiest to use. That's about it. I think the only other way anyone involved with Ubuntu, or Linux for that matter, could make money from it is by selling labor. As in, customer service and support (similar to what Red Hat did). But Ubuntu, as far as I know, doesn't do this, and instead relies on internal communications between it's own users and developers to deal with errors and such. Of course, you could call your local Geek Squad to see if they know anything about Linux, and we all know for a fact that they barely know a thing about even Windows. I think the community provides better support anyway. You have so many more sets of eyes to ponder any given issue that comes up that you end up with a more diverse but detailed diagnosis and solutions to problems, in most cases anyway. There are, of course, those rare problems that seemingly almost nobody ever has, but that happens to everybody at least once, regardless of which OS they run, Linux or not.

If you think of yourself as a part of the Ubuntu Team, ask yourself what you might get out of, for example, participating in it's development? Just simply providing feedback in a forum or in an e-mail to a software developer is about as useful as actually writing the source code. I don't need to be a programmer to provide detailed feedback about a bug. And most bugs I run into involve software that is still in Beta phase, so problems are to be expected.

But I'm getting off track. The point is that we are all members of this Ubuntu Team, simply by becoming familiar with and learning to love this catchy operating system. There are a group of programmers that are paid by Shuttleworth to work constantly on development, but there is also a live open community resource of developers who work alongside the paid programmers, providing feedback, analyzing alpha and beta software for problems in the source code, with the whole goal of being able to develop an OS that can compete against the popular proprietary OS's, such as Microsoft Windows. The development of any Operating System, as we know it today, has become an open ended competition to create a new form of art. Except this kind of art is founded on open source standards, and it's on the virge of capturing the hearts of many new users who are fed up with buying the same old schlockmeisterism and crappolla that is Microsoft Software.

April 4th, 2007, 09:12 AM
Hmm.. I must admit that is rather disheartening.
Leaching off an extremely generous entreprenuer is only going to be temporary. That is, what happens if Mr. Shuttleworth dies, becomes sick, or otherwise loses his fortune?
Ubuntu might very well die with it, and therefore the whole ideology behind it is flawed.

However, maybe in ubuntus life span it will become such a revolutionary distribution that it will end the internal linux wars regarding all the incompatibility issues between distros such as differing package formats.

Then, once linux becomes unified in a single, open-source core, competition can flourish in the computer industry like it should have from the beginning.
I hope i live to see a time where linux isnt only standard but where uniformity exists so that infinte companies can develop infinite "versions" of the same operating system that are all compatible with 3rd party software.
Company A could make a version of linux you like, company B could make a version of linux I like, and company C could make a version of linux perfect for kids. Then company D could write software that seamlessly worked on all 3.

The way it SHOULD be. Not this things-happen-because-microsoft-says-so world we live in now.

April 4th, 2007, 09:14 AM
Umm so if they don't receive money through support how does Mark Shuttleworth get's back his investment? And how long can he put money into this ?

April 4th, 2007, 09:25 AM
Umm so if they don't receive money through support how does Mark Shuttleworth get's back his investment? And how long can he put money into this ?

He isn't just doing this as a business opportunity, he wants free software to be better and more available so people in poorer countries (particularly African ones) can get it and get up to speed with the times. Thus the name Ubuntu.

Mind you, with they ongoing pickup of linux and the success of Ubuntu I'd say this was a damn good investment anyway. It doesn't cost much in the scheme of things to keep coders happy and most of Ubuntu is volunteer work/imported software anyway. Large Companies need the security of linux (they just don't know that yet :p) and the rare guarantees of professional long term support is what they need in order to switch over.

April 4th, 2007, 09:26 AM
Canonical (Shuttleworth's company which sponsors Ubuntu) does offer paid support:


I believe they also sell versions of ubuntu specifically tailored for certain clients.

I guess they make a marginal amount of money selling CD, Books and other merchandise.

April 4th, 2007, 09:31 AM
I think that, is what you call philanthropy... My friends, someone who has the means, is giving back to make a better world. It does happen, sometimes people who have done very well, give back. It isn't always about what you 'get', or maybe not what you get back as far as money is concerned. It's not an unheard of concept, just rare. You make a better world. There is a saying... 'a rising tide raises all boats'. It's like when it gets better for everyone (not just the rich), it gets better for everyone, including the rich. Basic premise. Look at third world countries... You can be rich but you have to spend some of that money to protect yourself from the poor masses. But if it's a society that has enough, they don't resort to things like illegal activities to get by. Look at Mexico, kidnapping is rampant. In the U.S. (and no flaming here please just looking for examples) it's not as bad, so... Just a thought.

P.S. He might not like the phrase 'leeching" if that is indeed what he is doing. A gift horse maybe? Why be looking in the mouth too much. He's offering so much, I say we accept his gift and run with it. If he goes away, and he will eventually, maybe he has created something that will go on and help many. It is indeed and information age and I say he has done a tremendous service to us all. Just my 2cents... :)

April 4th, 2007, 09:37 AM
In short. Mark got extremely rich by using open source software and services. And he felt he had to pay somethin back to the community. So he started the whole Ubuntu project.

By now, this thing has grown so big, that I doubt if it stands or falls with Mark. Allthough he is still a big driver.

Canonical is indeed commercialising support (not the use/distribution/whatever/...) of the OS for companies that do need or want some garantuee that people will look at their problems.

And they get money out of customizing it for specific needs. Allthough I think that in that case, it's not called Ubuntu. Even if it does use mostly the same engine.

April 4th, 2007, 09:45 AM
Umm so if they don't receive money through support how does Mark Shuttleworth get's back his investment? And how long can he put money into this ?

it's simple: he won't. it's mainly his generosity that supports ubuntu, at least for now

April 4th, 2007, 10:06 AM
If you listen to this interview that he gave recently you'll find that he does hope that Ubuntu will become self sustainable in the future. http://questionsplease.org/new/node/12

also another short one from the 4News here http://fridge.ubuntu.com/node/491

April 4th, 2007, 07:25 PM
Saying that Ubuntu would go away if Mark died...Uh, hate to burst your bubble, but it wouldn't die. Development of any open source operating system isn't just a job, it's a passion. All it needed was some good organization to get it on the right track towards capturing the hearts of the mainstream, and I think it has really done a good job of doing this more rapidly than any other distro, but that's just my opinion. And I don't think Marks going to run out of money; he already makes 4 times as much as what he puts into the project. The guy is going to go to space....again! Just for the hell of it! He might burn up in a ball of fire by accident or something, but it's unlikely that that would happen, or that he'd suddenly start losing lots of money. But even if he did, Ubuntu wouldn't die. It's already relying on so many individual users and freelance programmers that a very large chunk of it's progress is the direct result of volunteer labor. Which is a given, since we're talking about Open Source software.

April 4th, 2007, 07:30 PM
From Wikipedia:
The Ubuntu Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Ubuntu, the Linux distribution.

It was founded by Canonical Ltd. on July 1, 2005 and announced by Benjamin Mako Hill. Mark Shuttleworth provided an initial funding commitment of 10 million USD to keep the foundation running. Currently the foundation is dormant and is described by Mark Shuttleworth as a "safety net" in case anything happens to him or Canonical Ltd.

One goal of the foundation is to ensure that Ubuntu remains fully supported for an extended period of time (3 years for desktops; 5 years for servers for designated releases, 6.06 LTS being the first). Other goals include continuing to produce new releases of the distribution, and keeping the distribution as free software and free of charge to users. Here's the official announcement of the Ubuntu Foundation. (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=47323).

Mark Shuttleworth once took a tourist trip into space at the price tag of roughly US$20,000,000. If he can afford that just for fun, I think Ubuntu will remain well-funded for years to come. Mark is not stupid.

If you're really curious about the structure, functioning, and history of Ubuntu, I'd strongly encourage you to read The Official Ubuntu Book by Benjamin Mako Hill, Jono Bacon, Corey Burger, and Jonathan Jesse. It explains everything in great detail, more than I can easily find on the web right now.