Canonical includes Donations screen in Ubuntu
Canonical has rolled out a change to the Ubuntu web site so that it now presents a page asking users to financially contribute to the Linux distribution before downloading it. The new contribute screen allows users to indicate preferences as to what their money should be used for within the project using a slider-based UI that, according to Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon, was inspired by the Humble Indie Bundle payment process.
Currently, the donation page only accepts payments through PayPal, but Bacon says that other payment methods are "currently being explored". He also pointed out that any money received from the page "will be used to fund the Ubuntu project and continue its growth and development" and that donations will not be used for expenses related to Canonical's business endeavours.
That being said, with a category such as "Phone and tablet versions of Ubuntu" on the donations page, the line between where Canonical's involvement ends and that of the Ubuntu community begins might be a fine one as Ubuntu's mobile efforts are currently almost exclusively led from within Canonical. Furthermore, the page includes the ability to "tip Canonical" which seems to suggest that at least those funds will benefit the company directly. Interestingly, Canonical also appears to ask for donations on behalf of Kubuntu; Blue Systems took over sponsorship of that particular variant of Ubuntu with the beginning of the Kubuntu 12.10 development cycle.
The ability for individuals to contribute to Ubuntu financially is not exactly new in itself. The Ubuntu web site has included instructions how to do so for quite some time. However, the new donations page is a lot more visible as it will be seen by almost every user downloading a copy of the distribution. Canonical also says that it will use the distribution of the funds as an indication of which areas of Ubuntu development the company should focus on.