An extra step has been added to the Ubuntu download process, one which Canonical hopes will urge users to open up their wallets and contribute to the open source operating system's future development. Now when you go to download Ubuntu, a donation screen appears where you can not only flip a few funds at Canonical, but also tell them where exactly you think your cash would be best utilized.
There are eight categories to choose from, each with a slider to increase or decrease your overall donation. Some of the options include, "Make the desktop more amazing," "Performance optimization for games and apps," "Improve hardware support on more PCs," and "Better coordination with Debian and upstreams."
In case your initial reaction is to freak out and assume the worst -- that Canonical is in dire straits and might start charging for Ubuntu -- the open source developer says to relax, Ubuntu is and always will be free, and this is simply about making it easier for supporters to fork over funds.
"Today, we’re making it easier for people to financially contribute to Ubuntu if they want to. By introducing a ‘contribute’ screen as part of the desktop download process, people can choose to financially support different aspects of Canonical’s work: from gaming and apps, developing the desktop, phone and tablet, to co-ordination of upstreams or supporting Ubuntu flavors," Canonical explains. "It’s important to note that Ubuntu remains absolutely free, financial contribution remains optional and it is not required in order to download the software."
A pictogram at the bottom of the contribution page puts your donation in perspective by comparing the dollar amount to some other equivalent. Donate $15, for example, and Canonical will tell you that's the equivalent to the price of King Kong versus Godzilla on DVD. SPOILER ALERT: King Kong wins. For those of you who were previously on the fence over whether to donate or buy the DVD, we hope that makes your decision easier.