This post is completely my opinion and mostly, pretty much, entirely with out facts and off the wall. Warning I wrote this while being awake for 26 hours.
I saw something a while back, asking people if they would pay money for a Linux distro. It got me to thinking, if and how much I would pay to use a distro. Let’s be clear, I know RedHat(“it’s the end of RedHat as we know it, and I feel fine”) and OpenSuse already does this and have for a long time. But excluding the corporate world, I’m thinking more home user, run-of-the-mill type person. I can see many people unwilling to pay and I can understand why (I’m a cheapskate myself). Be it lack of funds, or not agreeing that the product is valuable enough to support or the fact that it’s Open-Source and hard to charge for a product when the code is out on the webs.
But, I could see myself paying a small amount for something I find valuable, works as should, polish of the distro, the stances the distro takes in political matters, and how much I like the devs or how they treat and interact with their community. I take into account all of that before I send funds to any group/organization. As I’m sure most do, since you want to know what kind of people you are wanting to support. Let’s say I’m sitting wallet in hand, exactly how much am I willing to pay for the distro? Either choose your own price or a set price by the devs I would seriously consider this before buying/supporting them. For a basis I’ll paint Elementary as the fictional distro that charges money. Elementary is a very nice and polished distro, it serves it’s purpose and seems to be pretty stable. Minimum I would give to Elementary would be $5 USD to $50 USD max to use the OS. That is if it retains a pay what you want model. Now, if it was Arch Linux then max I would pay would be $10USD simply because of it’s “business” model and understandably un-stable OS. If Elementary was to leave the pay what you want model and set a price of $100 USD then I would simply move back to Debian. Not because the Elementary crew isn’t worth it, but I have had a couple of annoying issues with the OS, some of their stances on political matters and I would want to see what they offer as an distro that other distro’s don’t. Aside from an extremely polished UI/UX and HIG, a lightweight desktop environment (Pantheon), and a tailored App Store with all curated apps following the crew’s HIG. Wow, actually I think I may have changed my own mind about Elementary’s value in a good way with that last sentence.