How can a general consumer/user help support Ubuntu?

Asked by David

I am a third year art education major, and Ubuntu and the entire open source community has been helping me from the start. I have really taken advantage of FREE software in so many ways (Ubuntu, Open Office, GIMP, Scribus, etc.). When I have a question, I come here and post it. Within a reasonable time, some one personable responds to help me out. I don't even get that kind of service for software I paid BIG BUCKS for.

I believe in helping those who help me. With no concept of computer programming at all, what ways can a general user contribute to Ubuntu and the aforementioned components (besides contributing background art). I know and a few others accept donations. What about purchasing an upgraded Ubuntu One account, or using the music store?

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mycae (mycae) said :

I think actions speak a lot more than money; is funded by a large company, and ubuntu is able to fund a fair few developers.

IMHO the best thing to improve for someone who is not coming from a programming background is documentation. Software developers are usually really bad at this, partially because its hard to detach ones knowledge of the interior of a system when you are trying to explain it.

Many projects have very poor documentation, and it shows; tapping away at this for an application you think is good, you use reasonably frequently, and feel is stable (so your documentation won't become irrelevant), is probably the best thing to do, in my opinion.

Whilst filing bugs is useful, its not exceedingly useful on large projects, as often the rate limiting step is fixing them, not filing them. On small projects however, it may be the reverse.

Freeing up programmers time to program could be very helpful, and you are probably a better writer than most programmers :)

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Eliah Kagan (degeneracypressure) said :

I agree with mycae--documentation is always needed and extremely important. I'd also like to add that the importance of good artwork in free software should not be trivialized--contributing artwork could be very helpful as well.

For more information about the ways in which you can contribute, see and

If you're interested in making financial contributions, you can donate money to Ubuntu at You may also be interested to know that Ubuntu is (actually quite closely) based on another Linux-based operating system called Debian. Debian is a community project, not affiliated with any for-profit corporation, and accepts donations too ( The Free Software Foundation provides funds a very important software development project (the GNU Project) which produces and maintains many critical parts of Linux-based operating systems including Ubuntu; the FSF also drafts and maintains several highly popular free software licenses (such as the GPL) and does considerable free software advocacy. You can read about what they do at and donate to them at

The GNOME project is responsible for most elements of the Ubuntu desktop interface--you can donate to that project at In the same way that Ubuntu includes GNOME, Kubuntu includes KDE; you can donate to the KDE project at The Linux Foundation supports the development of the Linux kernel and of standards pertaining to Linux-based operating systems--you can donate to that project at The Linux Fund, as you might not know from its name, raises money and contributes it to a number of different free open-source software projects (not specifically the kernel called Linux); you can donate to the Linux Fund at

You mentioned GIMP--you can donate to that project at As an artist, you might also use Inkscape--you can donate to that project at I'm not sure how to donate to the Libre Graphics Meeting these days, but the Meeting provides a forum, as well as financial support, for work in various FOSS graphics projects; you may want to look into this. (You may also be interested in attending.) As you mentioned, you can donate to ( In addition, is being replaced with the fork LibreOffice starting in Ubuntu 11.04 due to concerns about sustaining software freedom; you can donate to support LibreOffice development at

This is by no means represented as an exhaustive list of good software development projects to support, but is instead based on the information you provided. (For example, I think is an excellent project, but it may not be a project that you relate to as much as, say, Debian or GIMP.)

Upgrading your Ubuntu One account or buying from the music store will support Canonical Ltd., and Canonical is certainly a much better company to support (if you're interested in supporting free software) than a company like Adobe, Autodesk, or Microsoft. But if your goal is to support free software development, I'd suggest donating artwork, documentation, and whatever else you can provide...and, secondarily (but also very helpful), donating money directly to free software development projects themselves.

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delance (olivier-delance) said :

I had a look at art software you talk, but very few people ask question about them. The single exception is OpenOffice.Org, but it's the software which has currently the best support.
So I agree with Mycae, documentation could be a good way.
Another way, it you work in graphical art, should be working to improve look and feel of software. Sometimes ago, Ubuntu graphical chart was known to be ugly! Have a look at

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Jeb E. (jebeld17) said :

Can you help with this problem?

Provide an answer of your own, or ask David for more information if necessary.

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