ShipIt Discontinued, Long Live LoCo Teams

Today it was announced that ShipIt, the free CD service that Canonical has been running since the inception of Ubuntu will be discontinued. I know some LoCo Teams may be worried about this, so I wanted to clarify some details right away.

  • Why? – a few reasons. Firstly, CD distribution is not really as effective as it used to be, and it is expensive. These days, particularly with the availability of low cost hi-speed Internet growing across the world, more and more people are simply downloading the ISO images and burning them to a CD or installing from a USB stick. Canonical felt like it would make better sense to reduce the investment in snail-mail CD distribution and focus it more on LoCo Teams and use those savings to invest in other areas of the project.
  • What about LoCo Teams? – here is the key point – we are still going to provide Approved LoCo Teams with CDs! We recognize the hugely valuable contribution LoCo teams make in advocating Ubuntu and helping people to use it and enjoy the freedoms in it, and we will continue to provide Approved LoCo teams with CDs that they can use for this advocacy work. As before, we encourage these CDs to be shared and re-used – Ubuntu CDs sat in a closet gathering dust don’t benefit anyone! Get the CDs, share them and re-use them. :-)
  • How do LoCo Teams get CDs? – there is a new form to fill in. Simple go here to request your CDs.
  • Why can only approved LoCo teams get CDs? – the provision of free CDs from Canonical is an expensive service intended to empower LoCo teams in spreading the word of Ubuntu. Approved LoCo teams have demonstrated significant and sustained contributions in this area and based on this strong reputation we trust those resources won’t be wasted. Non-approved teams have not yet built that reputation, but when they do and get approved, they are welcome to apply for CDs too.

Alright, I think that covers the main points. Any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. :-)

  • cprofitt

    Sounds like a good solution. I have personally made good use of the CDs, but having the banner and table cloth contributed towards Ubuntu being seen in a real professional and viable alternative while I was at EdTech this year.

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  • rushmc

    This is a shame. I would have never tried Linux without this service. Not everyone can dl the huge ISO files (and less all the time, with the new dl caps ISPs are insisting upon). I am sorry to see this change.

  • Virgil Brummond

    This was bound to happen eventually and probably a good move. I remember I made use of the CDs a long time ago. I gave them all out except Kubuntu 10.04 which I still have somewhere.

  • jono

    I agree – I wish we could provide free CDs to everyone – it is just an expensive service to provide in such a wide fashion. We feel this new approach will still empower LoCo teams but better channel the resources.

  • jono

    Keep on rocking, Charlie boy! :-)

  • Anonymous

    Is Canonical running out of money? The Banshee fiasco and now this seems to point in that direction, of course it could also be possible someone with more financial sense was hired/promoted recently and there is actually nothing to worry about.

    Note: People who like to collect the CDs you can still buy them in the Ubuntu Store, hopefully that will continue on for Ubuntu 11.04.

  • iheartubuntu

    I can understand this considering the economy and the expansion of LoCo’s, but shutting it down completely seems a bit much. When I first got started back in 2006, it was a major problem to burn a quality ISO of Ubuntu on a WindowsXP system. I knew what I was doing, that wasnt the problem, and I ended up ordering my free CD and never looked back.

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  • Martin Owens

    Can you continue to provide CDs to Africans? The internet is a little sketchy down there.

    Or better yet, full DVD releases instead.

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  • dragonbite

    For people that do need it, maybe the Ubuntu Store should offer a reasonably-priced 1-CD choice instead of the minimum 5-pack.

    Or could offer a multi-pack of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu and Ubuntu Studio for the price of a current 5-pack?

    I usually hand out ~10-20 CDs at our computer club each release and I see people come to our Linux SIG meeting.

    The packaging ShipIt provided did look very professional, and people react to it positively. It will be a shame to see it go.

  • dragonbite

    (just saw the Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Ubuntu Server multipack).

  • Mike O’Donohue

    Just a quick suggestion. Going forward, (if not already the case) could canonical provide an approved set of CD labels , covers etc for each iteration. LoCos with the means should be able to produce their own CDs for distribution. The more professional they would look the better.

  • Andres Mujica

    It seems like a good business decision.

    I like the empowerment given to the LoCo Teams with this.

  • Andres Mujica

    it would be nice if the shipit website redirects to the LoCo teams website (launchpad) according to the country selected by the requester, so it could be easier for the new people to get in touch with the local community.

  • Vadim P.

    Good, cheap computers are a little hard to come by there too… Canonical should give out free laptops!

  • Mike O’Donohue

    to clarify, I just mean images in a simple to use format for printing labels and covers in a standardized way. Along the lines of spreadubuntu but official and available at the time of each release.

  • jono

    Running out of money, no, but striving to manage our current resources in the best way possible, yes.

  • jono

    Remember, it is not shutting down completely – we are still sending LoCo teams CDs. The only change is that we are no longer sending CDs out to anyone who requests it – only approved LoCo teams will get them.

  • Yann

    I was also wondering how much longer we would stick to CDs? Surely even very old second-hand computers have a DVD reader by now?

  • Aoirthoir An Broc

    I totally understand Canonical’s position here. A lot of folks expect a business to always survive by giving everything away.

    At the same time, sadly, those who suffer class oppression will be hurt the most by this. Not everyone is near a LOCO or even able to participate in ones that they are near.

    Martin’s question above is a good and legitimate thing that we should all be asking ourselves. Perhaps those of us with more class privilege would be willing to step up in areas like this and help.

    So along those lines Jono, I hope there is no objection from Canonical for those of us that are able and want to fill in this gap. Ensuring that Ubuntu can get into the hands of those without an internet connection or a high speed connection is key to giving them an advantage in this digital world.

    Kind Regards, Aoirthoir

  • jono

    Absolutely! I would like us to come together as a community to explore what options we have available to get CDs to areas that need it the most.

    It strikes me that this could be a great opportunity to make CDs locally and maybe get sponsorship from some local organizations to provide the CDs to give out.

    Another interesting idea that was discussed a few years back was the the idea of having a laptop that you plug another laptop into with a USB or Ethernet cable and it performs the installation from there.

  • dragonbite

    Not necessarily. While most modern computers may be sold even without any optical drive you don’t want to alienate the large percentage of users not using the latest-and-greatest.

  • Aoirthoir An Broc

    Jono thanks. I will be tossing some ideas around with my team. A really STRONG suggestion is that Canonical work with folks inside and outside of the typical Ubuntu channels on this. Some of us can provide the CDs, either copying them ourselves, printing the labels and so on, or purchasing official CDs from Canonical and distributing them to persons in regions in need.

    I will keep you posted.

  • abrao Ximenes

    Mr.Jono, it looks like ubuntu would lead to the RedHat model or not ..?


  • Bilal Akhtar

    Internet prices haven’t gone down in Saudi Arabia since 2005, and hence many people here still can’t afford broadband and use sluggish dial-up connections. When I informed such people about Ubuntu, they were concerned on how to get it. I pointed them to ShipIt. Now it ain’t anymore.

    Moreover the LoCo here has very few members and its nearly dead. I tried to revive it a few times but others keep losing interest in the team. We have been a NEW loco team since 2006.

    In such a case I’ll download an ISO of the Ubuntu releases, make many copies of it and re-distribute it to anyone who needs it.

  • Gerry Carr

    Hi there,

    the shipping costs make a single CD shipment unworkable. We might look to adding a free CD to every order on the store. That way, rather than buying a 5 pack of CDs you can get, say, a t-shirt and a CD.

    what do you think of that?


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  • Anonymous

    DVD drives at least in most western countries have been standard in systems since the late 1990s (~ 1997 onwards), of course as you say now optical drives are starting to be dropped altogether. Older machines substantial enough to run Ubuntu very likely have DVD drives even if their BIOS are not new enough to boot off of USB sticks and ones new enough to have no optical drives should be able to boot off of USB sticks.

  • Ben Francis

    I’d be happy to pay a fair price for a CD – a price which actually covers the production and distribution costs.

    I think CDs should be available from the shop at a reasonable price for those who want them.

    They give a lot of credibility when you’re trying to convince someone to install Ubuntu (like when I recently used a CD to install Ubuntu on my dad’s laptop because he kept getting viruses). It looks better than a burnt CD-R with a hand written label on the front.

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  • Manuel Dias

    Great idea

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  • Rykel from Singapore

    I understand that ShipIt is expensive. Rather than giving out free CDs, can the ShipIt page list out the contacts for the LoCos so that interested parties may still get their CDs from the LoCos? This way, the LoCos get the limelight they need to promote Ubuntu, and at the same time, seekers get the CDs they desire.

    btw, I collect at least one CD of each version for keepsake, and wish to show them off as a Collector’s Item 100 years down the road! :)

  • Tom

    The excellent service will be missed. I always thought it strange the service was not tied in with the sales side so that it got subsidised. There were a few times i was able to donate but now i wish i had done more. Regards from Tom :)

  • shankara

    Any how we are getting good quality software. Buying it for a little price is not going to be difficult. If some one wants to purchase the same class of software it will be unfordable. We should contribute back to the sponsors and community of UBUNTU by purchasing from UBUNTU store and also donating to local UBUNTU communities.