There is no doubt about the plans Mark Shuttleworth has for Ubuntu (see Bug #1), but this should come as a pleasant surprise to many – Canonical is launching a Ubuntu Developer Portal. This shows that Canonical is planning to market Ubuntu as a viable platform for application developers. They already have the Ubuntu Software Center, which supports paid applications from Ubuntu 10.10, as a platform to sell the applications.
Right now the portal is under construction. But there are already a lot of pages to explore. The Create section introduces potential developers to Ubuntu as a platform and the tools that can be used to develop. It also has an introduction to Quickly, which combines project creation, code editing, GUI editing, running and debugging, as well as packaging and sharing via Launchpad.net, all in one easy to use command line interface.
The portal also includes other sections such as Develop, Collaborate, Publish, Reference, Support and Manual. Except Reference and Manual, all the other sections have some sort of contents. Instead of me writing about them, I will leave it to you to explore them if you want. You can see the portal at developer.ubuntu.com.
Now, this raises the question if Ubuntu can become a platform which can attract developers. The answer to that question boils down to one thing – money. If they can make money from Ubuntu, developers will come. Sure many developers contribute to Ubuntu on their own without any pay, but if there is money involved companies/developers with commercial interest will get involved as well – and that is not always a bad thing.
In the past, contrary to popular perception, Linux users have demonstrated that they are not against paying for software. For example in the Humble Indie Bundle #2, Linux users paid on an average $13.77 which is far greater than the $6.68 and $9.27 paid by Windows and Mac users. The total contribution from Linux users was almost the same as that of Mac users.
Yes, this is just one example. But it shows that Linux users do pay – and they pay well – for quality free (as in freedom, not beer) software. So, I believe the Ubuntu Developer Platform can succeed if implemented right.
[source: Ubuntu Forecast]