Canonical (previous CloudAve coverage), the commercial company behind Ubuntu Linux Distro, yesterday announced that they are ending the ShipIT program. ShipIT was a hugely successful marketing attempt by Canonical where they shipped Ubuntu Linux to any place in the world for free. In fact, I would even claim that this program is partly responsible for the initial success of Ubuntu. I have personally received hundreds of CDs and distributed in user group meetings and other open source events both in US as well as India. As Canonical point out in their blog post, shipping CDs in the age of high speed broadband makes no sense.
It’s with some regret that we are announcing the end of the ShipIt Programme and the CD distributor programme. When we started ShipIt in 2005 broadband was still a marketing promise even in the most connected parts of the most developed nations. We knew that this represented a significant stumbling block to the adoption of a new technology like Ubuntu. So we invested in making the CDs free and freely delivered to anywhere in the world. Since then we have shipped millions of CDs to every country in the world and brought Ubuntu into the lives of millions of individuals, we hope making them a little better.
Technology moves on and as we look at ways to spread Ubuntu further, a CD distribution programme, especially one of that size and delivered in that way, makes less sense. We have been slowly easing back the programme over the last two years to limit the number of CDs per person and the number of times a person could apply for a CD. But for Ubuntu 11.04 you will no longer be able to go to our website and apply for a free CD.
The ubiquitous availability of internet makes it easy for anyone to download Ubuntu from one of the mirrors without any problems. Canonical is going to make large numbers of CDs available to the Ubuntu Local Communities (LoCos) through a shipIt-lite program. Local communities can distribute these CDs more optimally than a centralized shipping program. It will cut down on waste and abuses. Moreover, Linux User groups all around the world will be glad to supply any Linux CD to anyone who needs it. It only makes sense for Canonical to spend the money in other areas.
Canonical has announced that they will spend the money they save by scrapping this program on local distributions and in setting up a cloud based Ubuntu desktop which new users can try out before they download and install it on their desktops. It will help Windows users to test if Ubuntu meets their needs before they migrate over. Canonical is also going to use part of the savings in aggressive marketing efforts to push Ubuntu in more places. In short, it is a good move by Canonical to cut down waste and to use the marketing dollars more efficiently. But it is still sad to see this program go away. RIP.
- Canonical stops offering free Ubuntu CDs (geek.com)
- Beyond Ubuntu CDs, Ubuntu Devices? (zdnet.com)
- ShipIt comes to an end (canonical.com)
- Canonical kills free Ubuntu CD program (go.theregister.com)
- Canonical retires Shipit (omgubuntu.co.uk)
- Jono Bacon: ShipIt Discontinued, Long Live LoCo Teams (jonobacon.org)
- The Fridge: Shipit Discontinued, Long Live LoCo Teams (ubuntu-news.org)