View Full Version : How Ubuntu and other Linux OS distros earn?

December 1st, 2007, 06:55 PM
Alongside Ubuntu, there are a lot of Linux OS distros, each offering complete up to date OSes with improvements coming along often. This is a tough job as well as needs investment in many areas. There must be incentive for them to keep on doing this work as best as possible. So there must be a way they get something in return i.e. they must earn to survive. But how they earn? This is the question arising in my mind. Giving away these nice OSes for free doesn't give anything to them in return. Linux gurus and others who know this please inform. Thanks:)

December 1st, 2007, 06:58 PM
I think they earn some money selling professional support. (but who needs proffesional support for Ubuntu with these forums? :) )

December 1st, 2007, 07:05 PM
They don't. They are either backed by a fabulously wealthy enthusiast (like Ubuntu) or by a company (like Novell) that makes money on other products.

Some of the others simply don't do any marketing whatsoever and therefore have no operating expense. The coding is done pro bono.

December 1st, 2007, 08:18 PM
Most distributions don't make any money (except from donations or advertising). Others, like Ubuntu, are backed by a large corporation that offers Linux related services and will benefit from the world-wide proliferation of Linux.

Canonical, the company that backs Ubuntu, offers professional installation and support services for other corporations that are looking to build a Linux infrastructure. It also has its hand in some education related projects, where it gets contracted by governmental districts to provide Linux for a cheaper price and better experience than the children would be able to get on WIndows.

There are also lots of companies that rely on Linux for their services and they pay people to make patches to the kernel that will improve performance and support for Linux. Since it often gets very expensive to maintain these patches as the Linux kernel grows (which it does fairly rapidly), they sometimes release these patches as open source and send it back upstream to the main Linux developers. This way, it gets incorporated into the main kernel, everyone that uses that kernel benefits from the patches, and the compnay is saved the expense of having to maintain that patch and can focus on making new patches that will improve performance in other areas.

Novell, particularaly, makes big efforts in this area. They actually have a guy that they pay full time to work on Linux, regardless of the company's motives (His name is Greg Kroah-Hartman), and he's working primarily on hardware drivers right now. He's put out an offer to all hardware companies that don't want to spend money on Linux driver development; He says that if the company just sends him the hardware specs for the drivers, he will actually write the drivers for them and upstream it to the main Linux kernel. So basically, he's a full-time kernel developer that gets paid to improve the Linux kernel. Other companies and institutions (especially colleges) often do this as well.

I could probably think of a few more examples and reasons, but this should give you a good idea of how Linux is supported and why it continues to grow and expand the way it does. As you might have noticed, most of the advantages it has come from its open-source development model. Without that, it wouldn't be able to compete at all. It's really our greatest strength, and it's the reason that we grow so fast. It's also the reason for some of our deficiencies; there's less work going on in specialized areas such as video editing and gaming because of the misconception that there will be no monetary reward. This isn't completely true, but because of this, we have to wait until someone that has specific experience in these areas, the coding skills, and the motivation to work on it comes along. Sometimes, this can be frustrating.

But at the same time, our open source model is also our greatest strength, and as Linux gains popularity, the smaller problems should theoretically solve themselves.