Canonical limits free Ubuntu CDs

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Canonical says Ubuntu's popularity means it's no longer viable to offer everybody unlimited free CDs

Canonical has announced that it's to begin limiting the number of free Ubuntu CDs people can order.

The ShipIt scheme allows people to order a copy of Ubuntu on a CD for free through the mail. However, with Ubuntu growing in popularity Canonical has decided to make a few changes to the way the programme works.

No longer will people be able to order a CD for each and every version of Ubuntu that is released. Instead copies will be restricted to "LoCo [local community] teams and Ubuntu contributors. And... everyone who is just discovering Ubuntu."

This means that the vast majority of people will be able to order one, potentially two, mail copies of Ubuntu, before being required to upgrade to new versions through online upgrades, or by downloading the latest version as an ISO and burning it to CD themselves.

"In the last five years we have shipped millions of CDs and seen Ubuntu’s popularity and reach grow in ways that would be impossible without ShipIt," says Canonical's chief operating office Jane Silber.

"While these CDs are often referred to as 'free CDs', they are of course not free of cost to Canonical. We want to continue this programme, but Ubuntu’s growth means that some changes are necessary. Therefore we are adjusting how we handle CD requests to try to find the right balance between availability of CDs and the continued viability of the ShipIt programme," she adds.

Extra CD copies of Ubuntu will still be available for purchase through the Canonical store, although they need to be bought in bulk. Five copies of the open-source operating system will cost £5 exc VAT and shipping.

In the last five years we have shipped millions of CDs and seen Ubuntu’s popularity and reach grow in ways that would be impossible without ShipIt

Anybody looking to become an Ubuntu member will need to "be engaged in a sustained level of contribution to the Ubuntu community," according to the Ubuntu help page.

"This can include coding, writing or documentation, the creation of art-work, music, testing, bug triage and verification, translation, advocacy, leadership of LoCo teams, etc. Contributions should be significant and visible. Anybody who is active in the Ubuntu community is a good candidate for Ubuntu membership."

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