Yesterday, I posted an article about Ubuntu is still not profitable. It was really a surprise to me because Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro and it has been around since 2004. And this makes me wonder that if even a big distro - backed up by a big company - like Ubuntu cannot become profitable, how the small distros are doing?
Of course, you can say that the distro developers shouldnt care much about money when creating and maintaining the distro. But as you may already know, an enormous amount of work goes into developing and maintaining the desktop distros that we all know and love. It takes a lot of time, effort and energy to maintain and improve a Linux distro, even when this distro is just based on another distro. Besides, there are other costs like the hosting server for the websites, forum and the package repositories.
And since most Linux distros are developed and maintained by individuals, it totally makes sense to financially help the developers of your favorite distro. It takes a lot of time and work to create or customize a desktop Linux distribution, add all the applications and then more work to maintain it over time. While it’s very true that no payment is required by most distro developers, it’s also true that most of them would probably appreciate a little tip here or there from the users.
Here are several things you can do to financially support the distro developers:
Donating is the most direct way to financially help the distro developers. Most distros have a page donation page for those who want to make a quick donation. Even a small donation can help defray costs and provide a little compensation to those who do all of the development and packaging work for a desktop Linux distro.
Buy the premium version of the distro
Some distros, like Zorin OS, also offer the premium versions besides the free ones. If you really like the OS and want to help the developers in exchange for an extra support from them, buying the premium versions is a great choice.
Buy CDs, DVDs and associated products
Although you can just download the distro ISO image then put it into a USB to install, you can support the developers by buying a CD or DVD to install the distro. One place you can buy the distro CDs and DVDs is OSDisc.com (Note: I have no affiliation here)
Another way is to buy the products that are associated with the distros. For example, Ubuntu has a shop to sell shirts, caps, USBs, speakers ... that bear the Ubuntu logo. Or when you need a new computer, you can buy one from System76 or Zareason to support Ubuntu, or get a Mint Box to support Linux Mint. The price of these items can be a little more expensive, but a part of your money will be used to support your favorite distro.
Turn off Ad-blocker
The above methods are for those who have the money to spend. But if you are having a tough time with money, there are still indirect ways to financially support the distro developers. One method is to turn off the Ad-blocker add-on of your web browser.
There are several distros that run advertising on their websites and forums. If you are running an ad blocker while visiting those sites, I encourage you to turn off your ad blocker or whitelist those sites. I've been visiting a lot of distro websites and I've never seen one that runs those animated, flashy ads so I believe letting a few minimal adsense ads load in your browser wont be annoying. And if you find some ads that interest you, you can make a few click to to help support your favorite distros without even having to make a donation.
(Read more about Why Ad blocking is devastating to the site you love on Arstechnica)
Use the custom search of the web browser
Some distros include a custom search, usually DuckDuckGo and Yahoo Search, in the default web browser. Whenever you make a search with that custom search, your distro will get a small money.
One trick I've learned with DuckDuckGo is that, if you want to use Google search on DDG, you just need to use "!g" before the search term. Similarly, use "!b" or "!y" if you want to use Bing or Yahoo search, and "!i" to use Google images search.