Ubuntu donations funding

Ubuntu donations funding

Although Ubuntu has always and will always be free, we provide a form on http://www.ubuntu.com that our users can use to donate money to Ubuntu. These donations are used by Canonical to support and improve the areas that the contributor feels are most important. Donations made to “Community projects” are used to fund people and projects outside of Canonical in ways that benefit the Ubuntu community.

We break each chunk of donations into six-month cycles. As an example, from 12.10 to 13.04 we collect donations and they will be spent in the 13.04 cycle. When the 13.10 cycle opens up we will then spend the donations from the 13.04 – 13.10 period. At the end of a cycle, we will publish a report that summarises where the money was spent.

Any Ubuntu Member is welcome to apply for funding from this donations budget (Ubuntu Membership is required).

These requests are reviewed by Canonical’s Community Team (with input from governance members where applicable) to ensure the money is being spent in a way that benefits the community and approved or rejected. All approved requests, how much was spent and who received the funding will be accountable in the report at the end of each donations period.

Contributing to the donations fund

Ubuntu is free of charge, but when you download Ubuntu, consider donating a few bucks. It doesn’t take very long, but it will allow us to support our community in all kinds of great activities. Development, testing, meeting up with team members to do planning and hacking, support of big events, you name it.

All you need to do is to move the donations slider labelled with “Community projects” to the desired value and you’re done. This is what allows us to help LoCos with events, fly people to conferences and do all kinds of other great things.

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Thanks a lot in advance. Your donation, however small, is much appreciated by a very large community of people who are making Ubuntu better for you.

Funding guidelines

Our primary goal is to ensure that we can direct the donations where they are needed most and to support a range of different projects and communities within the Ubuntu family (which includes our flavours).

Please note that we won’t just write a check for a chunk of money to an individual or team. All requests must have a specific purpose for the funding.

Here are some guidelines for funding requests. Before you apply for funding, please review these guidelines as if your request doesn’t fall within them, it will likely be rejected:

  • You must be an Ubuntu Member to apply for funding.
  • When applying for funding as part of a team (e.g. LoCo Team), please coordinate with your team to ensure everyone is happy with the funding request.
  • We have a limited amount of funding in each cycle, and we want to ensure as many projects benefit from it, so please only ask for what you need.
  • Requests must have a specific purpose in mind (e.g. equipment, sponsorship for as conference/event, travel etc).
  • Please don’t ask for a sum of money without a specific purpose.
  • When specifying the amount, you should ensure that that amount is the full amount you need (we will only fund the amount you request). If your submission is short by a certain amount, you will need to file a full new submission which will delay the process. Also be sure to start your planning early (ie. flight prices will go up closer to when you need them).
  • Please don’t ask for money retroactively (e.g. after you travelled to an event). We’d like to be notified beforehand. * This way we can avoid cases where the requester is stuck with the costs if the request should get declined.
  • Please include as much information about the request as you can. Include any suppliers, details of how payment should be received etc.
  • All requests will need some documentation of what the money purchased (e.g. a receipt, invoice, email thread etc). * We will ask to see these documents when the request is approved.
  • In some cases we will follow up for more information, or refer to our governance boards for further guidance.
  • Payments are made in either US Dollars, Euros, or British Pounds.
  • In cases where we fund sponsorship or travel to an event, we ask that you provide a public trip report/blog entry about the event to share with our community.
  • If your request is rejected, don’t get angry; unfortunately, we can’t approve them all. All decisions are final.

How to apply for funding

Applying for funding is simple. Please, first review the guidelines above and then simply go to this form and fill in the form and we will follow up with you soon.

Examples

Here are some examples of common areas we will likely fund:

  • Sponsorship for upstream events and LoCo Team events.
  • LoCo costs (e.g. postage costs for sending equipment to different team members).
  • Equipment (e.g. if a community member wants to add support for the equipment to Ubuntu).
  • Travel (e.g. coverage of full or part of the expenses for attending an event).

Here are some things we will not fund:

  • Anything illegal.
  • Sending a check for an amount to an individual or team.

FAQ

Q: Who can apply for funding?
A: Any Ubuntu Member. We will prioritise requests on your standing and reputation in the community (e.g. requests from well known Ubuntu Members with significant and sustained contributions will get precedent). This does not mean more technical people will automatically get higher priority, rather it prioritises those with a strong reputation who will use the money most effectively.

Q: What can I ask for funding for?
A: You can ask for funding for items that needs purchasing that bring value to the Ubuntu community (e.g. sponsorship of an event, equipment, travel etc). Please note that we will only approve requests where the money will benefit the Ubuntu family of projects (Ubuntu and flavours).

Q: What if I don’t know the exact cost, or the cost changes?
A: In many cases, the exact cost for travel or food is not known ahead of time, or is subject to change between the time you make a request and when it is approved. In these cases, you should provide your best estimate for the cost, which we will use in reviewing your request, and we will provide the exact cost when it is known.

Q: How is payment made?
A: It depends on the request. As an example, if you need coffee for an event, we would likely pay the vendor directly. If you need equipment, we would likely purchase it for you and then send it to you. If it is a travel request we may coordinate the booking with you. We will never write a check and send it to an individual unless it is for reimbursement.

Q: Why is Canonical coordinating this and not a community board?
A: Operating the donations programme involves a lot of complexity surrounding taxes, tracking requests, gathering further information, and ensuring the money is objectively distributed across Ubuntu, our flavours, upstream, and our LoCo teams. This (a) involves a lot of work, (b) requires some commercial accountability (e.g. taxes) and © should be as thin and non-bureaucratic as possible. The Community Team at Canonical is in a good position to coordinate this work, and will regularly reach out to leaders in the Ubuntu project (such as our governance boards and councils) and flavours to query requests where further information is needed. Accountability for this work will be provided with the regular report.

Q: How can I see how the money is spent?
A: A report is published every six months at release time that summarises the budget for that cycle as well as where the money was spent.

Q: What happens to money that is not spent in a cycle?
A: The remaining funds will roll over to the next cycle.

Q: Does Canonical take a fee for managing this programme?
A: No. All donations provided by users will be distributed to projects and teams.

Getting in touch

If you have any further questions, please email Claire Newman here.

Well, this is an old topic… Anyway: is it possible to make a donation specifically for e.g. the XUbuntu project/flavor? If it is, then how?


Context: every time that I download a new Ubuntu release, I donate money and pretend that I’m spending this money because I’m actually buying a new Linux Operating System. E.g. I’ve recently downloaded and installed the 64-bit XUbuntu 20.04 release and therefore made a donation directed for:

  1. Ubuntu Desktop
    (because I’m a desktop/laptop user)
  2. Tip to Canonical
    (as a thank you for Canonical providing the necessary infrastructure)
  3. Community projects
    (because I use XUbuntu: it’s the only flavor that I use)

But here’s the thing: I’d prefer if the Community projects part of my donation went 100% to the XUbuntu team/project.

I’m a contributor to Lubuntu, an occassional contributor to Kubuntu, a user of both, and have essentially never used stock Ubuntu Desktop for anything beyond testing.

However, I’ve made use of community funds for conferences and other things ultimately meant to support those particular projects. I have never felt constrained in my ability to access funds. That said, sticking it in the big pot is perfectly reasonable.

Xubuntu suggests as much on their website. They also offer some other ways you can contribute, including contributing to the Xfce project. They explain the reason for not accepting direct donations is because they are not a formal organization.

Lubuntu has a formal organization and, as such, we can accept donations on our own. We’ve even got merch for sale.

Kubuntu also has a formal organization and they, too, accept donations.

However, the absolutely best way that you can donate to any project is by helping.

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Hi, @wxl. Thanks for the answer.

I have seen that page in the past, but unfortunately:

  • I’m not a developer (I’m unable to contribute at Bountysource). I try to help at the Stack Exchange forums (e.g. Ask Ubuntu) by answering questions (I’m not a dev, but let’s say that I’m pretty much a power user).

  • The Hellotux products are too expensive for my budget. I mean, I live in Brazil: currently, 1 USD costs about 5.5 BRL (shopping with an intl. credit card), and the brazilian import fee is 60% of the total amount (i.e. it includes the transportation cost). Hence, if e.g. I buy a 35 USD Hellotux 8GB USB flash drive and pay an 8 USD transportation fee, I’m going to end up paying 1.6 x 43 USD = 68.8 USD ~ 378.4 BRL, which is a lot of money: it’s equivalent to literally 36% of Brazil’s minimum wage (1045 BRL). Here in Brazil, an 8GB USB flash drive costs an average of 20 BRL (3.6 USD).

  • So all I’m left is with the 3rd (remaining) option: Canonical’s Ubuntu donation page. Which led me to this forum.

On the other hand, even though I’m neither an LUbuntu nor a KUbuntu user, I’m glad to know that my small contributions helped a bit in sustaining the funds that provided you the ability to participate in conferences and other project-related activities. Even though my main interest is in helping the XUbuntu project to stay alive and even improve (because I love the XUbuntu flavor: I’ve been using it since ~2012), in a broader sense I want Canonical to be profitable and wish for the continuity of the Ubuntu system development (which therefore includes all its flavors).

So, well, it seems that despite of my initial question/wish about dedicating 100% of my community projects donation to the XUbuntu project, in a certain way I’m already helping the continuity of the Ubuntu system development (i.e. the broader sense, i.e. all Ubuntu flavors included).

I just wish that I could somehow make sure that the XUbuntu project don’t “die”, nor that its members don’t lack project funding, when/if they happen to need it.

Bountysource is a way of putting donations directly in the hands of developers to compensate them for their time contributing to certain projects or even particular features to a particular project. In this case, that money goes directly to Xfce developers. So you can contribute at Bountysource.

This is exactly what I mean! Doing this is a huge help. If developers spent all of their time doing support, then they’d have no time for development. That said, you are literally making development happen by reducing their potential workload. Keep up the good work.

We (Lubuntu) use Teespring but I’ve never looked at how well it serves the whole world. Do you know of a merchandise creator that you can recommend that would work better?

I constantly tell people that “Lubuntu is Ubuntu” and this is true with Xubuntu and every other flavor. We all share a core system (that Canonical and Ubuntu developers manage so we don’t have to) and we all share an infrastructure system. That said, what benefits Ubuntu/Canonical does generally benefit all flavours.

If I were to speculate, I would say it’s extremely unlikely. It’s not impossible, as there were other very well established flavours (Edubuntu is the best example) that did not last. The number is very small, though. Kubuntu has been around since the earliest days of Ubuntu and still is extremely popular from what I can gather.

I’ll also add that generally speaking, funding is not something that is usually required to make development happen. I mean, I think it’s safe to say that most contributors are regular people with regular jobs that contribute for fun and it would be nice to get paid for it, but I don’t think that keeps people from doing their work.

What can cause people to stop contributing is burn out. This is usually caused when people feel like their work is unappreciated or if they feel overwhelmed. If the Xubuntu team knows how much you care, I’m sure you got the first one covered. As for the second one, you’re already doing what you can to help. I think the only other suggestion I can make is to ask the team if there are other ways you could help. Or maybe learn something new.

Or better yet, just spend some time helping users understand the value of contributing and mentor them on how to do it. There’s a lot to do including marketing, support, documentation, artwork, and testing and that doesn’t even include more technical things like triaging bugs and development.

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Hi, @wxl, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. :star:

About Bountysource: I thought that Bountysource was a place where developers gathered to donate their labor to a certain software development project. I got it all wrong. :see_no_evil: Now I finally understand that it’s about helping users donate money that goes straight to the developers of the software that they use. Cool!

About Teespring: brazilians shop online more than anyone else in Latin America.¹ However, Teespring isn’t popular around here: brazilians usually shop at market places like Americanas dot com dot br, Magazine Luiza dot com dot br, Ponto Frio dot com dot br, Submarino dot com dot br, Amazon dot com dot br, and so on. Merchandise creation platforms are very little known around here. I wish I could recommend an alternative to Teespring, but unfortunately I’m not aware of any that would provide a similar service that is more popular in Brazil (or worldwide). Anyway, even though the XUbuntu team hosts the URL xubuntu dot org slash donations, I couldn’t find an equivalent lubuntu dot net slash donations. I think it’s a good idead to create such page so grateful LUbuntu users can more easily find some relevant info about how to support LUbuntu’s project/development/developers.

About motivation: it is true that feeling overwhelmed or feeling like your work is unappreciated may wear you out, I think so too. In my case, it pays off when someone expresses his/her appreciation for my effort in helping him/her solve some problem experienced with Linux. It’s not all about money. I’ve been thinking about helping with translations, too, so the documentation becomes more accessible to portuguese speakers.

Well, I thank you for taking the time to reply to me and explain in more details what Bountysource really is about, as well as everything else. It’s good to read an opinion from someone who contributes to the system’s development. I intend to think long and deep about everything that you mentioned here and see how I can conciliate some things with my own reality and everyday life/routine (e.g. dedicating some time to e.g. helping with translations).


Cited sources.
¹ Cheng, Diana. (2019). ‘Brasileiros são os que mais compram online na América Latina, revela Mastercard’, Money Times, 15 December.

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The official Lubuntu domain is https://lubuntu.me and the donation page can be found here: https://lubuntu.me/donate/

2 Likes

I have an interest in GUI and connecting services between different Desktop and Graphical User Interfaces. Thanks for the update. And also for me it means converging the Canonical Web and Lubuntu in your example of works if we can and if it is possible.

Yes, very cool! One of its most exciting aspects is hinted at in the name: users wanting a particular feature to be implemented can put money where their mouth is, essentially providing a serious motivator for developers to fulfill the request. This is really remarkable as in any one open source project, it’s generally the case that there are more users than developers and more bugs and feature requests than developers have the time for.

To be fair, in my experience, Americans are not only more likely to buy online, they are far more likely to purchase something from Amazon than anywhere else online. That said, I don’t think we’re too different from Brazil. In fact, I’m not sure the average person is even really all that aware of Teespring, Redbubble, etc. In many cases, the people that use these platforms integrate the platform into their websites, making the ultimate source of fulfillment totally opaque. Despite that, these things do exist. I suspect there is something in Brazil, but I’m not sure what is.

I will say I found that Printfy works with a network of global vendors. They don’t have anyone in South America from what I can tell, but they even manage to have a few things from China, which is quite remarkable. They do accept new vendors. If you happen to know a local t-shirt producer (or some other merchandise), you might want to point out the opportunity to them.

I would wholeheartedly suggest you do this! It seems that globally the world has accepted English as the predominant language used in technology. While that makes things easier for me :wink: it makes things terribly hard for other people. This is something that really irks me because I really can’t do anything to change it. The one thing that can make a difference is translations.

The Lubuntu Team (thanks to help from volunteers!) recently set up support for nine different languages, both on our Discourse as well as through our synchronous communication channels (Telegram, IRC, and Matrix, all bridged together). This is in my mind probably the most exciting announcement we have made since we created Lubuntu and it’s been long needed. We still have stuff (like our manual and website) that needs translation, but we are that much closer to providing a native experience for users around the world.

I really appreciate the conscientiousness by which you have approached this conversation and I am sure that you will find a way to fit in a little time to give back. I’m also quite sure it will make a big difference! Thanks in advance for making Lubuntu better!!!

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