Best Buy of the Day? Ubuntu, Of Course
Selling Linux is nothing new — enterprise outfits have been offering "premium" versions for years, while commercial Linux support is a gainful industry of its own. The lucre-for-Linux lineup added a new outlet yesterday, as Canonical Inc., sponsor of the wildly popular Ubuntu, announced a deal with Best Buy to sell boxed versions of the distribution in its retail stores.
According to Canonical, in addition to receiving the Ubuntu distribution itself — which is, and will remain, available for download at no cost — users will receive a specially-designed quick start guide aimed at less technical users, as well as sixty days of support from Ubuntu-trained technicians at ValuSoft, the company contracted to manage the retail-packaging. Canonical representatives presented the move as an attempt to bring Ubuntu — and Linux in general — to new audiences, ones who aren't aware that the OS is available free for download or are wary of no-cost offerings, as well as those who lack sufficient bandwidth to download the distribution. Steve George, Canonical's corporate services director, pointed out the difficulty many new users experience installing an operating system from scratch and the benefit provided to them by bundling support for the first two months.
This is not the first foray into commercial distribution for Ubuntu — the operating system has been available on Amazon.com for the past two years. Users can also order free CDs through Canonical's ShipIt service, though orders can take nearly three months to reach the user, and are offered the option to buy large quantities of CDs and DVDs directly from Canonical.