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Ignorance of bliss

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libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04

The article recently published by, "13 reasons why Linux won't make it to a desktop near you", is both interesting and frustrating. It's interesting because of its slightly humorous character and maybe a dose of truth that can be found in it.

It is however frustrating because I am, yet again, simply finding a lot of plain ignorance in it, whether deliberate or not doesn't matter. There is also a bit of inability to discern one from the other. In portraying the image of a confused world it seems as if the author is confusing himself as well.

To cut to the chase, to most of everything that the author said there are two answers that rang in my head: Ubuntu and

Sure, he heard of Ubuntu, but yet still goes on how problematic the amount of choice is as if users are *forced* to make a choice themselves. As I mentioned many times they are not. If they want to just slide into the picture there are people who will make the full offer and they wont even have to think about it. Heck, today in USA you can go to Dell's site and order a PC with Ubuntu and be done with it.

Or you can go to and pick among only *three* options available, according to what seems most fitting for you. It can't get much simpler than that. Well.. it seems to me that the mere existence of a world beyond these "default by popularity" choices is making some people think that the world of GNU/Linux MUST be confusing. Just because gentoo and slackware exist, along with people who support them, GNU/Linux must be hard to use. Or just because there are 300 distributions available, new user will be utterly overwhelmed with choice.

What BS!

Talking about marketing? Well, Ubuntu is partly built on good marketing. Fedora isn't bad either due to RedHat. He's perceiving a marketing mayhem because he is assuming all GNU/Linux distributions and hackers must somehow be involved with it. GNU/Linux and in fact Free Software in general, like it or not, has developed its flag bearers. Those like the author of the linked articles who speak about marketing mayhem and confusing choices simply failed to see the flags and are rather looking behind them into the complex world that brought these flag bearers up.

Look at the god damn flags! They're there to help people like you find your way. If you choose to ignore them, of course you will be confused - confused by your own darn self! If you choose to ignore road signs you'll probably sooner or later end up in a crash. You can't blame the road makers for that, you can only blame yourself.

Really, the bliss is there waiting, but what can we do to them when they're simply ignoring it. Helloooo?

Joined: 2007-09-10
From a marketeer's (which he

From a marketeer's (which he is) point of view, I think he's right.

The obvious drawback is that you can't just choose your new PC at your favorite store and tick the Linux box in the software options. Dell has begun shipping PCs with Ubuntu installed, and Lenovo, HP and Acer are rumored to follow. The problem for them is which distro to choose, the very same problem adventurous users have.

Support from major PC vendors is what Linux desktop needs to get noticed by the millions who shop for new PCs. Right now, its broader market exposure is close to zero, and the Linux community has to shoulder part of the burden for this. If some of the developers had combined their resources to produce and market a single desktop product, Linux would be ready to steal serious market share from Microsoft and Apple.

As it stands, it's marketing mayhem.

This seems true to me.

Of course he oversimplifies things in his "13 points".
But that's how marketing works: clear things up and organize them in a simple way.
He takes some distance and looks at how things globally are.

Of course, simple users should look for the "big flags". But the problem is that unless they googled for them or were pointed to them, they don't even know about them.

But considering how well Mozilla's community marketing worked (something really amazing!!!), I am quite confident that with time things will get better.
Actually, I already see them getting better. Smiling

Here's my current personal selection of "advertisement links" that I send to people showing interest in GNU/Linux (along with lots of other howto links of course):

The reference: Free software, free society
One of my favourite texts from it: The right to read

We don't only need advertsing, we also still need to fix a lot of problems and continue to make things easier. (Not news, I know. But I just felt like responding to that. ^^)

One thing that would really boost advertsing would be flawless installation of Compiz-fusion.
Because a lot of people (including me) still have problems with that.
I know a lot of it is due to bad ATI drivers, but it still is a problem.

And now I have proven point 5:

The makers of the product rely on word of mouth to attract more customers, but their customers only talk to each other.

(But I do also speak to others about it, so I thereby prove that it's not completely true.)

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
I agree that things could

I agree that things could and should improve. I just don't agree that they are as terrible as some people make it to be. When reading articles like this I often have moments like "yeah, indeed unless you know about Ubuntu or unless you know about etc.) It's just the feeling that they aren't aware of something that significantly changes the situation they're describing. And because they aren't aware or are simply ignoring such things the situation they portray is made to look a lot worse than it actually is.

Yes, of course, someone has to tell people about these friendly GNU/Linux distributions. Someone has to refer them to it and that's exactly what is happening. Be it viral marketing (word of mouth, which is also a form, and one of the best forms of marketing at that) or advertising through various channels, it doesn't really matter as much does it?

What matters is that it gets to them and that the message that gets to them is properly targeted and coherent. We have distributions which pretty much engage in exactly that and Ubuntu is currently in that sense the strongest. They are clearly targeting the new user and existing windows users are increasingly hearing about it. So why then bring the red herring that is those hackers with maybe slightly elitist behavior if they do not actually form a significant part of the message that gets through to existing windows users. I mean, if they were then we wouldn't have Ubuntu as almost a synonym of GNU/Linux but we'd have something like Slackware as such.

There is a good reason why Ubuntu is so popular and it is not just because it is by all means the best distro (many Slackware users, for one, would probably say it isn't). It is not the best, it is simply most fitting to the needs of *most* people, yes the masses. If Ubuntu marketing was such a mayhem as the author describes GNU/Linux marketing in general, it wouldn't be where it is today.

So they must be doing something right!

I'm not talking about Ubuntu because I am a fanboy (I'm not). I am talking about it purely because it proves the notion that GNU/Linux has very bad marketing as simply wrong. Just because Ubuntu didn't invest billions into good marketing like Microsoft does and instead invested them into serious software development and infrastructure doesn't diminish the sheer power of viral marketing that drove it where it is today.

Many oppose the idea that there should be one distro to be considered the default for GNU/Linux, "The One", but no matter what we say about that the community majority has already decided that today Ubuntu is it and it is continuing to do marketing (virally) for it as we speak. Maybe in a few years some other distribution will displace it. But that will be because the community of users that it attracted will choose so. That's the beauty of it. Ubuntu isn't dominant because it used some monopoly practices. It is dominant because we chose so ourselves, or most of us at least.

So it just seems rather silly to keep pointing at all those 300 distributions as a matter of great confusion when the majority of the community already has its "user friendly" answer to the question of a Windows user "which distro". If you don't know, just go Ubuntu. If a given Windows user happens to ask the question to a PCLinuxOS fan then he will probably say PCLinuxOS, but so what? I think that most existing GNU/Linux users have enough sensibility not to recommend something a newbie wouldn't grasp, but they all do have that *one* recommendation to offer.

And as long as this is true I don't see so much merit behind the "hundreds of distros are confusing newbies" argument.

Anyway, this turned out to be a yet another big rant. Don't get me wrong though. I agree with you mostly. Things can always improve and I support that, but let's not go over board with this self-criticism. It might just come back to bite us in the ass.. When someone goes to read an article that does that there is an increasing chance that it will scare new user out of GNU/Linux world before he even considered giving it a go, because, there that journalist says it's still a geeky hell where you are forced to make hard decisions and whatnot..

Not saying that you're going overboard, but I think the author is, at least a bit.

Thank you.

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
Hm ok here's the bottom

Hm ok here's the bottom line (you can then skip the above if it's too much to read Eye ).

Mainstream users in general are intimidated by choice. OK, so then someone needs to make a choice instead of them. The solution is hence to have someone do this and so far it's been the community. The community is largely recommending Ubuntu, hence it being the most popular distro. Becuase of this community powered viral marketing around Ubuntu, I don't agree GNU/Linux marketing is in mayhem. It's improvable, but not in mayhem.

So it is improvable, in what way?

I think we might be eluding a perfect marketing campaign which could do what is almost paradoxical - marketing the world of choice as a single product, something one can pick up without choosing.

Basically it is about making people choose choice without having to choose once again once they've chosen the choice. Laughing out loud

The goal is starting to look like making people choose freedom without actually getting freedom (because they're afraid of all the power = responsibility it entails).

Joined: 2007-09-10
With great powers comes

With great powers comes great responsibility.
With great choices comes great responsibility. ^^

It would be really great if there were ads for Ubuntu on TV or in magazines.
So I did a quick googling and:
TV ads ~ 100.000$
magazine ads ~ 10.000$


So I guess community based marketing remains the best way to go, especially since websurfers are more likely to switch than people watching TV...
Not a lot of money needed, sometimes even none, and targets the users most likely to switch.
For the rest of the targets, people can buy T-shirts and stickers. ^^

Kudos to for providing a good simple overview for newbies. Smiling

Gustavo's picture
Joined: 2006-09-11
Hi, Libervisco and

Hi, Libervisco and KIAaze.

Libervisco, I fully agree with you.

KIAaze, thank you very much for the accomplishment.


Joined: 2007-09-10

What accomplishment? O.o

Or did you mean the compliments for getgnulinux? Smiling

Gustavo's picture
Joined: 2006-09-11
LOL... yes, I meant

LOL... yes, I meant "compliments" Smiling

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
Haha that was funny. Oh

Haha that was funny. Smiling

Oh well... looks like we've reached a consensus in this thread... Now what? :-D

All this made me think about writing something about Free Software marketing and publishing on either or I was thinking of presenting some thoughts relative to what we've concluded in this thread (regarding freedom = responsibility) and regarding that paradoxical marketing problem: advertising multitude as a singletude so to speak, many choices as one choice.

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