Supporting Steve George
I really appreciate Steve George making it clear what Ubuntu and Canonical stance is all about. And before you read on, I am just a Ubuntu user, and have no links with Canonical at all.
All of you who think that a company like Canonical can put the resources into making Ubuntu the first real open alternative to Microsoft without being able to leaverage a return can only think that money grows on trees.
They have a service based business model, and these services will include bespoke tools. The GNU Public License does not prevent such software from being written to run on top of Linux, nor does it prevent these tools from using, say, the libraries that ship in a Linux distro. This means that these tools can remain closed, and provide a commercial advantage. Canonical does not HAVE to put EVERYTHING they work on back into Ubuntu (provided that it is their own work that they are selling and not modified GPL'd code). That's what the GPL allows.
I applaud Canonical for putting back into the open as much as they do, and for sponsoring Ubuntu development, but they do have to become an economically viable company at some point. As long as they keep to their principals, what is wrong with that.
Where Canonical can benefit is by making these tools and services good enough for people to want to use them. By making sure that Ubuntu is adopted as widly as possible means that they have a larger potential client base. But what makes them different is that they are not shoving their software or services down peoples throats. Ubuntu users have chosen it because it is good, it is free, and it does not come with strings attached (Redhat and Novel/SUSE take note). People can pay for support if they want or need it, but there is no stigma to using the software, downloading the patches, and not paying anything if that is what they choose to do.
All I can hope is that enough people want services to enable Canonical to achieve their goal.