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We get various distros like kubuntu/ubuntu/lubuntu/edu/etc... for free. We get critical updates constantly. We can download any programs we want from Ubuntu repos. Gee, I can't even imagine what kind of a CDN network you gotta have to support all this. Also, Ubuntu has a lot of people working for them: Ubuntu jobs

Can someone explain how this is possible financially?

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Possible Duplicates: Ubuntu Finances and future of project, Who pays for Ubuntu? –  Marco Ceppi Jan 15 '11 at 19:57
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6 Answers 6

up vote 61 down vote accepted

Firstly a lot of people work on Ubuntu in their free time (many of them programming, but also those of here for instance answering people's questions). Also some people donate to Ubuntu.

However there is more to the story. Canonical Ltd. is a private company that created and continues to pay for Ubuntu. We know Canonical hadn't been making a profit, but Canonical was initially founded by millionaire Mark Shuttleworth which meant it didn't have to focus on making money right away.

However Canonical is now looking towards to making Ubuntu profitable. (After all, they have 600+ employees to pay every month!) There are some indications this has been successful. Their key revenue streams offer services around Ubuntu:

  • Support services (mostly to business) alongside which they sell Landscape
  • Contracting services to businesses (for instance working with OEMs such as Dell, or helping Google with Chrome OS). As Ubuntu makes its way onto mobile phones and TVs then this will grow.
  • Ubuntu Software Centre's paid section (Canonical takes a cut of purchases)
  • The Canonical Store (selling physical Ubuntu branded items)
  • Closed-source projects wishing to use Launchpad.net can purchase a license
  • Ubuntu One (online file storage and syncronisation service - discontinued) and Music Store (selling music from within Ubuntu - discontinued)

All of these are areas that Canonical hopes will grow.

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I saw a report a year or two ago that Canonical support service revenues covered the cost of running Canonical. –  BillThor Jan 16 '11 at 6:10
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@Bill Had not seen that before myself. I think this article (from two years ago) is probably what you're referring to. –  8128 Jan 16 '11 at 7:42
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Not that article but one quite similar. I believe the article stated they had reached break even. The conclusion was that Ubuntu had reached a self sustaining level of income and was no longer dependent on Mark. With all the new services I expect some costs have gone up, and I hope revenue has followed. –  BillThor Jan 16 '11 at 8:00
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They sell support contracts, mainly to corporate customers. You can also buy t-shirts and such to help support them.

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There's Landscape too - to manage multiple Ubuntu installations from one place.

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Another aspect is in the servers for businesses

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Let's not forget Canonical makes custom distributions of Ubuntu for corporate customers!

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my firefox has an ubuntu custom google search. if people are using that which is pretty similiar to regular google search then its making them money. I have it on some of my sites and it bring in the cash. i can't imagine what it would do for people as their major search box.

after all its firefox's biggest rev generator

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how would that make them money? –  Mina Michael Apr 10 at 22:21
    
I don't actually know, but I heard that was why Linux Mint's search was default to Yahoo as Yahoo was paying them –  Anake May 7 at 12:02
    
very late comment, but google recently donated 200 million dollars to mozilla so that they keep the default firefox homepage at google for the next 20 years!!! –  Nick Bailuc May 8 at 23:39
    
@MinaMichael it is very profitable because the statistics on what customers search on is valuable. It can be used for statistical purposes, sold to advertising companies or used by companies such as google, who is first and foremost an advertising company. Google, firefox, linux mint/yahoo, ubuntu/canonical et al, all want the information on what you search for –  wired00 May 20 at 3:48
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