The Real Role and Importance of Marketing

Story: Linux doesn't need marketingTotal Replies: 67
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magice

May 19, 2009
10:54 AM EST
Okay, I agree that GNU/Linux is unique and undefinable in some ways. However, I disagree with the nothing that marketing cannot help, as well as identifying marketing and MS' way of "marketing."

First and foremost, marketing means education. Why can iPhone be a success? Because the brilliant marketing campaign: Apple does not only showoff the product, but also teach potential customers how the product works, thus ease up the learning curve. Imagine you have just bought a computer, and no one ever told you that you can change the OS, and how Windows is crippling your privacy, security, identity, and freedom, how will you ever switch? Even when you switch, you will get lost, since you have never see the new OS in action before.

Thus, we NEED marketing. We need to tell people that, "hey, stop pulling hair from your head because of that broken OS; put the fun back in to computing, switch to GNU/Linux" (or any other name you wish to put there). Then, we need to show them how great GNU/Linux is: how you can spin your desktop around, use different work space, play games, work with documents, write programs, model 3D, GIMP, etc.

Secondly, marketing also brings feedbacks to the developers. Remember, marketing is more than advertisements: it encompasses all communications between the customers (users) and the producers (developers). Thus, marketing must be the center of FOSS, since the customers are a part of the producers.

Thirdly, TV is no the only place for marketing. Mouth-to-mouth is actually THE most important way to spread words about a product. Nowadays, we also have YouTube, the internet, etc. Plus, when any GNU or Linux related organization hosts an event (like "I am Linux" contest), we are also gathering attention. All of these activities can contribute to the spread of GNU/Linux as well as other free and/or open source software.

Lastly, not everyone does "marketing" like Microsoft. Remember, we don't spread fear, confusion, and uncertainty: GNU/Linux is the tool to get rid of these. We can show off our technical and social merits without lying and confusing people. Our aim, remember, is to INTRODUCE and EDUCATE, not fear people into our software.

Thus, I believe that marketing for GNU/Linux is essential and easy. Essential because without it, people will not know, thus will not convert into, GNU/Linux. Easy because we don't need to lie, or spread confusion, fear, and uncertainty.
Libervis

May 19, 2009
11:49 AM EST
I agree to an extent. There are many ways to do marketing indeed.

But...

Quoting:Thus, we NEED marketing. We need to tell people that, "hey, stop pulling hair from your head because of that broken OS; put the fun back in to computing, switch to GNU/Linux" (or any other name you wish to put there).


The name I would put there is the name of the distro you feel would do the job best for the audience you are talking to. So for instance if you believe this is Fedora then go head on advertising Fedora. Just don't talk about Linux or GNU/Linux, it's only gonna confuse people once they actually agree to try it and you then have to tell them the cold truth: "but you see.. now we need to choose a distro".. I imagine a WTF moment at that point and a question: "weren't you just advertising an OS to me, and now we need to go and choose an OS?". Or something like that. :)

Know what you're offering to people and then offer it. If a term doesn't refer to a single thing then don't use it. Use the term that does.
1369ic

May 19, 2009
1:47 PM EST
This is wrong in so many ways I don't know where to begin. The first commenter made some good points, but hardly scratched the surface.

Your reasons why it's futile to market for Linux are wrong. For example, it's a perfectly acceptable goal to market to raise consumer awareness of a product. So if you do a survey and only 5 percent of the computer-buying public has ever heard of Linux, you can set a goal to double that. Awareness is the first part of the marketing cycle that eventually brings you to a sale (or a relationship with the customer, if you prefer). You have to make them aware first, then walk them through the steps of gathering interest and more information until you get them ready to make the change in behavior you want. You don't, and probably can't in most cases, start with "sales" goal. How will they know it exists to buy it?

Also, this statement: "Both recommend Windows Vista, but recommending it doesn't help them from distinguishing their products from the products of their competitors, so clearly this is not the way" is mind boggling. Both recommend Vista because Microsoft essentially pays them to do so (it's part of Microsoft's marketing). But it does distinguish them -- from Apple and Linux products, for example -- but Microsoft has such a huge market share that it doesn't distinguish them in the consumer mind much. Plus they're hardware companies, so they spend their marketing dollars on things that will get them sales over other hardware companies, mostly those using the same OS. But their situations are vastly different than Linux's, or even Linux-related hardware companies, so the comparison is fruitless.

You also have faulty logic like this: "Apple doesn't sell their OS for generic consumer desktops. Neither doe RedHat or Novell, and Canonical gives them away for free! The conclusion here, is only Microsoft is the only company selling an OS for the consumer desktop." Apple doesn't market its OS for generic *machines*, but it definitely sells its OS for the consumer desktop. In fact, they are notoriously bad at selling to government and business, but shine on the consumer side. They just sell the hardware and software as a more tightly integrated package than Microsoft does so while they're selling you a machine they're also selling you an OS and vice versa. The difference here is that the main competitor to Microsoft sells both software and hardware, while Linux offers only software. So the comparisons aren't neat and clean, but they don't make marketing for Linux a bad idea.

Microsoft markets for the same reasons everyone else does: brand loyalty, to get you to buy add-ons, use their services, get the next upgrade, identify with their products, etc. Even cigarette companies that have their customers hooked market for some of those reasons.

Linux can market in the same way industry groups advertise. "Beef, it's what's for dinner" doesn't mention specific stores, cuts of meat or anything else. It pushes beef. But it was so successful in raising awareness it became a cliche/punchline. And there are plenty of other successful marketing campaigns for generic products like that, and even campaigns by companies that don't sell directly to consumers (Archer Daniels Midland and pharmaceuticals come to mind). Linux can push Linux without pushing a distro, an architecture, or a particular interface (desktop).

I say Linux needs marketing. Not Microsoft-style marketing, but something tailored to its strengths.
jacog

May 19, 2009
1:58 PM EST
Also, don't ever make the mistake of thinking that marketing means advertising. Advertising is marketing, but marketing is not advertising... it's one of the first things you learn when you study marketing.

Things like product and market research and the product development itself also count under the banner that is marketing.

Just saying.
Sander_Marechal

May 19, 2009
3:32 PM EST
1369ic makes an excellent point:

Quoting:For example, it's a perfectly acceptable goal to market to raise consumer awareness of a product. So if you do a survey and only 5 percent of the computer-buying public has ever heard of Linux, you can set a goal to double that.


Even if we can teach 10% of the computer owners that "Linux is something that I can put on my computer instead of Windows". Teach them that a computer is not synonymous with Windows then that would be a huge win.
tracyanne

May 19, 2009
4:23 PM EST
Marketing is very important, it's what each individual Lunux user does, for better or for worse, and by miniscule increments more people use Linux. Good mass marketing is what is really needed. We need to educate people that the computer and Windows are not synonymous, but we need to go much much further than that, we need to show Linux/GNuLinux/whatever you prefer to call it off, we need to make people see it grock it, desire it. We can only do that through marketing and advertising. Marketing to understand who we are talking, what the message is they need, advertising to make that message heard.

Yesterday my partner was helping out at our local small town museum (our town is an old mining town, so it has a fairly rich history), and she was required to do some scanning of documents and photos, she uses a scanner at home, so they reckoned she was a good candidate, she'd have no trouble. So she gets on the system and discovers that she has to jump throgh hoops, or as she put it Open this window change that that and that, close that window open another window scan some colour documents, then close the window reset that that and that, close the window, reopen the other window than scan some black and white documents. She's used xsane, where changing from black and white to colour is a simple selection on the main window.

Then she complained that it was almost impossible to find things, the Windows menu doesn't make sense, and that nothing goes into a logical place on the file system (she didn't use those words, but that's what she meant), she was rather annoyed.

She made her feelings known to the president of the museum association, who said to her, "but I thought you used a a computer at home", her reply was "I do but not this cr4p, not every one uses this windows sh!t", "Oh" he replied "I didn't know there was anything else, what do you use?".

I've watched one of my work mates waste days on end (literally days) trying to sort out issues he has with Windows Vista, my boss keeps saying, "I believe him when he says he can't think of anything he might have done to cause, but he must have done something even accidentally", but if all it takes is to do something by accident to completely destabilise a computer system, then there is still something very very wrong with that system, but he doesn't seem to be able to see that.

My partner leaves her computer on 24/7, she won't shut it down as she hates having to wait for it to boot up, and she complains bitterly about having to log in to anything. She even complains when she has to restart Firefox and click on the button (I've set FF to remember her logins to her Social Websites) to re authenticate. As a consequence her computer has been running full time since I upgraded it to Jaunty, and it was running for nearly 12 months on Mandriva 2008.1. The Windows machine I use at work requires a reboot on averaget 6 times a month (this is over and above the forced reboots for software updates, or installing new software), for no particular reason, it may have frozen locked solid while I was doing a file search, as happened yesterday.

Sorry this started out talking about marketing. The point I was trying make was in the museum story, the bloke had no idea there was anything other than windows, a common occurance.
TxtEdMacs

May 19, 2009
5:13 PM EST
Hey numeric_character_sting,

You missed a salient point in Han's argument, i.e. to assess the effectiveness of advertising one is required to have an objective measure of the gain. To assert the argument is incorrect by saying by your logic and examples prove nothing. Yes he might be incorrect, but unlike the historic examples and models Linux is not built upon an existing stream of excess cash that may be employed simply to build name recognition. Therefore, if you believe your arguments it behooves you to expend your resources to finance this venture with unmeasurable results, particularly in the short term.

Microsoft has reason to advertise (but bribery behind the scenes is probably even more effective), because it must do everything possible to retain its cash stream that is under attack.

It is almost comical to use cigarette companies as an example, because their products are inherently defective and addictive. However, it has the habit of shortening the life span of its most devoted customers, hence, by necessity new users must be induced to join the death march to make up for the continuing losses. Note too that some resorted to company name changes to hide their association with the product and marketing programs that you cite as being so effective.

Next let take Beef too, where there is a superabundance of parties invested in its success despite it too having long term deleterious health effects. Are you aware of the Cattle Growers Association [ranchers]? What about others, e.g. the feedlots that now are towers on the prairies that stuff young cattle in one side, shovel an excess of food down their gullets (corn, soy, filler, antibiotics, hormones, etc.) to maximize weight gain. Out the other side comes bloated beef on the hoof and effluents of vile nature that never seems to be disposed of properly. Then there are the slaughter houses [meat processors that were once significant brand names prior to their acquisition by the food conglomerates] that wish to push the product and the final sellers as well. But this does not end the list of interested parties nor their propensity to push the product, because you have on the federal level farm state Congressional [generic] representatives that finance the Dept. of Agriculture and its associated programs some of which could well seep into the advertising budgets [1.]. Finally similar governmental and farm organizations exist at the state level replicate or reinforce the same thrust. Think massive cash flow to sell industrial farming and its products.

Just a note before moving on, what I am going to use is an argument using analogy, which I am aware is a logical fallacy in deductive logic. However, it can give a picture the sort of battle Linux might face to mount a head on attack.

In both cases, those making excess profits have good reasons to push their products in the specific and generic senses. It keeps the cash flowing and advertising gives a return on investment. Now there are good health reasons to limit the overuse of both products, but the people with the knowledge tend to be lightly funded and the organizations that would push that message are dispersed and have competing interests. On a health maintenance basis alone, cutting the use of tobacco in all forms would result in a large saving in medical costs while allowing many to have longer and be more productive lives. So too does diet impact the same considerations, saturated fats are a big contributor to arterial disease, leading to heart problems and premature death [2.]. Diet also contributes to a growing problem of Type II diabetes, where different food choices and physical activity could obviate or avoid completely the onset. Some cancers [3.] may be related to products that are heavily pushed by commercial interests.

Now think of yourself as a health professional, how do you get the message out? Not easy. Moreover, it might not be readily accepted by your desired target audience. Furthermore, the commercial clatter could easily drown out you message of better health by avoiding defective or less healthful products. In a sense, that is the position that Linux advocates find themselves. That is, up against well funded, established interests that wish you would just publish your findings in academic journals and otherwise disappear. On the health side, insurance companies should be a potential ally, however, many are making too much money on taking a cut of the health maintenance side to be seriously interested in rocking the boat.

What have I proven? Nothing other than your neglect to address an important part of the inherent argument, effectiveness measurement. Other than that I expressed opinion and showed how your examples had definite flaws, because they concentrated on the old market not the disruption that Linux represents. Linux endangers the easier life some corporations had and now their cash streams are in danger. What is needed is a new model to understand the apparent chaos and to predict the direction this will go. Mimicking the old guard may NOT be the best way to fight them.

Your Buddy Txt. [Unfortunately a lot of this was to be ingested with serious tags, very out of character.]

1. Recent moves by the DoA incontrovertibly protect the marketing interests of some major parties. For example, a slaughter house that has a big fraction of its market in Asia is not allowed to test all cattle for Mad Cow Disease, because ... well it might force the others to do the same for the American market and it, the disease, might be more prevalent than claimed by extrapolation of the small test set.

2. Used to take longer, perhaps because physical exertion might have delayed the impact, but now children entering their teens show onset of arterial abnormalities.

3. Not a single disease and the same form could have differing causes. Moreover, proof requires long term studies that are difficult to finance and the outcomes are uncertain.
hkwint

May 19, 2009
5:50 PM EST
I'd like to respond to some of these comments:

Quoting:First and foremost, marketing means education.


Good one, hadn't thought of education in schools as a form of marketing.

Quoting:put the fun back in to computing, switch to GNU/Linux"


Most people cannot switch to GNU/Linux because it doesn't offer a GUI! KDE (or othe DE's) does, but KDE is not included in GNU/Linux. It is included in Ubuntu etc.

Quoting:Thirdly, TV is no the only place for marketing. Mouth-to-mouth is actually THE most important way to spread words about a product.


I agree, and it works indeed. I probably should have written 'Linux doesn't need more big mass media marketing campaigns'. Probably you did understand that was closer to what I intended because you read the article.

Quoting:For example, it's a perfectly acceptable goal to market to raise consumer awareness of a product.


Answer is twofold: Yes, it is when you want current Windows users to migrate to Linux on their current boxes. But they can't call Linux to ask how to do that migration, so what's the point in marketing Linux? No, in my opinion it's not an acceptable goal to raise consumer awareness of a product which consumers cannot buy / get in first place (without paying for Windows). In the same way raising awareness of Honda is not acceptable if you cannot buy a Honda without also buying a Ford. If the latter is the case, something else needs our attention; not raising awareness about Honda.

Quoting:But it does distinguish them -- from Apple and Linux products


It seems I might have elaborated on this one. Guess what, their competitors like Acer, Lenovo & co doesn't offer Apple or Linux and recommend Windows Vista as well. Acer, Lenovo & co were the ones I was referring to.

Quoting:Apple doesn't market its OS for generic *machines*, but it definitely sells its OS for the consumer desktop


Most people distinguish Macs from desktops. When speaking about desktops I was referring to any Personal Computer not made by Apple. Apple doesn't sell their OS for anything that's not made by Apple.

Quoting:"Beef, it's what's for dinner"


Yes, I know, Sander and I coincidentally mentioned that in the forums. However, people can use beef, and they can use it as a replacement for chicken. The term beef has clear borders, there's not much discussion about what beef is and where it ends. It can be measured how much beef is sold. People cannot use GNU/Linux as a replacement for Windows - because again GNU/Linux doesn't offer a GUI. It's not sure what encompasses GNU/Linux and what not - Linux in spoken language nowadays means something else than ten years ago and this meaning in spoken language will probably continue to evolve - and success cannot be measured. If people go to the butcher and ask for beef, the butcher won't ask: Which of the one hundred flavours do you want? And which philosophy do you want the beef to have? Should the beef contain non-free parts? etc. Linux is more like Procter & Gamble products in my opinion. Procter & Gamble doesn't need marketing aimed at the general public to be successful. When one of the PG products suck, not whole PG suffers. When there is Creuzfeld/Jacob even if not near and only on a small scale, beef suffers worldwide.

Quoting:I say Linux needs marketing. Not Microsoft-style marketing, but something tailored to its strengths.


Actually I agree if the comments above are respected, but not before other things have been taken care of. That's why I say Linux needs other things before it needs marketing, hence "Linux doesn't need marketing". Moreover, Linux 'household' brands need marketing, in much the same way as Unilever / Proctor and Gamble don't do marketing; so again it's not Linux needing the marketing.
Sander_Marechal

May 19, 2009
6:03 PM EST
Quoting:Yes, it is when you want current Windows users to migrate to Linux on their current boxes. But they can't call Linux to ask how to do that migration, so what's the point in marketing Linux?


Don't tell me you can't see beyond a direct ROI cycle. You're smarter than that :-)

A company doesn't market generic Linux to derive direct revenue. That's what you do brand advertising for (market the distro, not the platform for direct revenue). Instead companies together market generic Linux in order to grow the entire Linux ecosystem. Less direct ROI, greater indirect revenue growth from growing the market as a whole.

You can't make people switch to $DISTRO if they don't have a general idea what Linux is. You use generic advertising to make people aware of Linux. Then you use branded advertising to make them switch your your distro. You can't do both in a single message. All you'd get are confused viewers.
hkwint

May 19, 2009
6:18 PM EST
Quoting:You can't make people switch to $DISTRO if they don't have a general idea what Linux is.


Yes, you can. You can mention Ubuntu and Free Software and leave the kernel out. I don't say it's the right way, but it can be done.

Quoting:.Instead companies together market generic Linux in order to grow the entire Linux ecosystem.


I'm sorry I was messing with my comment above yours while you were writing, but it may be harmful for Linux if people know their 'defect' Linux-distro is Linux. If all people decide Ubuntu or Android sucks, Linux doesn't have a problem. If people decide Ubuntu Linux or Android Linux sucks and are a little aware of Linux, than Linux does have a problem and those people might not ever touch Red Hat or openSUSe as well. Even better, they might decide not to buy a TomTom or mobile phone running Linux as well. Just because it's using the same core of the kernel (you can't even say it's using the same kernel because the modules are entirely different).

I even think it might be beneficial to Linux and everything that uses it if not all people are aware they are using it. Because there are a lot of companies that screw up; and we don't want to reflect that on the whole set that Linux is nowadays. And believe me, there are people not wanting to try Ubuntu because they saw me using Gentoo (which means Windowmaker, a lot of sudo and CLI file management). The only solution is if the general marketing makes sure everybody is aware that if Ubuntu sucks that doesn't say anything about RedHat, but I think that level of understanding is not a reachable goal for a marketing campaign.
Sander_Marechal

May 20, 2009
1:40 AM EST
I think you're approaching this too technical. It's hard to try to see things from a clueless user perspective when you're so familiar with Linux.

When you market generic Linux you should market it as a platform. As a range of tools. Think of cars. Nobody is saying that cars suck just because their Honda sucks. At worst they will say Japanese cars suck.

Quoting:The only solution is if the general marketing makes sure everybody is aware that if Ubuntu sucks that doesn't say anything about RedHat, but I think that level of understanding is not a reachable goal for a marketing campaign.


That is *exactly* the thing that a generic Linux campaign should be aimed at. You teach them that there's this thing called "Linux" that they can use instead of Windows, and it comes in a hundred different models (or "brands") for different kind of people. There's a Linux for your grandma. A Linux for your little kids. A Linux for business people. A Linux for musicians and artists. A Linux for computer gamers, etcetrera, etcetera. And then you point them to a supporting website that (a) provides more info and (b) can help them choose.

In the texts I wrote for Helios' Fixed By Linux website I very consciously refer to various Linux distros as "brands" of Linux instead of distros for that very reason. It helps people understand that all distros are different without having to explain what a distro is. People judge and decide on brands all day long. A Ford or Toyota? A Dell or an HP computer? Cheerios or Kellogg's Cornflakes? Ben and Jerry's or Haagen-Dazs? Nokia or Samsung?
jacog

May 20, 2009
5:19 AM EST
Just a note about the word 'Ubuntu' ... it's pronounced Oo-boon-too ... I often hear it pronounced "U bun too", which sounds a bit too similar to the phrase "You bantu", which is more or less the cultural equivalent here of saying "You n*gg*r" ... so... all together please: Ooooo..boooon..toooo
hkwint

May 21, 2009
1:43 PM EST
Quoting:Nobody is saying that cars suck just because their Honda sucks.


That's a good argument. However, all people understand cars and car brands, while most don't understand computers or an OS. So the Linux marketing you advocate will only work if it is accompanied with explanation / education as well; which would take lots of efforts. School - for a lot of those people - would not be an option as they already passed that age. Meaning there is a problem to tackle; and I'm still not sure as to how those people could be educated. I think the Firefox-way meaning mouth-to-mouth advertisements, would be the most realistic approach; and probably the best because users would educate one another.
Sander_Marechal

May 21, 2009
4:35 PM EST
People already know the concept of a "brand". Don't bother explaining to people what a distro is. Just tell them that there are many brands of Linux and they will instantly understand. Not perfectly, but well enough to realize that when one brand sucks, the other brands don't have to suck as well. And that's the main think they need to know. No need for school. You can fit this in a 20 second commercial or on a poster.
caitlyn

May 21, 2009
4:37 PM EST
Sander is 100% correct. All this talk about Linux failing because of fragmentation is nonsense. It's all Linux. Does breakfast cereal fail because there are too many to choose from?
gus3

May 21, 2009
7:35 PM EST
Quoting:Does breakfast cereal fail because there are too many to choose from?
When one is unaccustomed to choosing, yes. Case in point:

Sixteen years ago, I dated a Russian woman who was visiting the US via the Girl Scouts. (This was a scant two years after Russian Communism fell.) She worked with the summer camps. One day, the commissary needed some groceries, so she went to the store.

An hour later, she hadn't returned, so someone went to look for her. She was wandering the aisles, overwhelmed. She had never seen so many food products in her life, and she had no idea how to choose her purchase.

Now, substitute Microsoft for Communism, and Linux distributions for food products. How many times in these fora have we decried the "PC == Windows" thought patterns? Choice is for rebels, troublemakers, and scofflaws, and Microsoft is happy to keep it that way.

When people don't know that they can choose, they don't know how to make the choice. They fall back on what they know: sex appeal, flashy colors, well-known brand, whatever. They can't investigate quality with confidence, so they go with drivel instead.
caitlyn

May 21, 2009
9:27 PM EST
gus3: Let's run with your analogy. How many trips to the supermarket did it take for your Russian friend to be comfortable? How long did it take her to appreciate the choices available? I suspect it didn't take long at all. The same will be true with computer OS choices.

jezuch

May 22, 2009
1:11 AM EST
Quoting:How many trips to the supermarket did it take for your Russian friend to be comfortable?


I don't know about gus3's girlfriend, but my ex-communist country adapted *very* fast (on a country scale, of course). Two years after the fall of the USSR Poland was all raging capitalism. (Well, yes, it had a couple of years of head-start, but still...)
Sander_Marechal

May 22, 2009
1:39 AM EST
Quoting:When one is unaccustomed to choosing, yes.


Everyone is accustomed to choosing. True, the Russian women in your example was indeed not accustomed to choosing. There wasn't anything to choose in the old USSR. She wasn't accustomed to choosing at all. The entire concept of choice and brands was alien to her. Times have changed and unless you plan to market your Linux distro in inland China or North Korea you won't run into this problem.

You don't have to know a product in order to be able to choose between several brands of them. Most people don't know much (if anything) about cars, computer hardware, televisions or insurances and yet we choose between brands of these on a regular basis. They make not make a good choice, or make a choice for the wrong reasons, but people do choose.

They will choose a Linux brand the same way as they choose any other thing that they know little about. They ask a friend who does know. They read reviews. They look at the advertising. I know nothing about cars. When I go out to buy a car I ask a friend along who does know cars very well. When I need to pick out a TV I go to a TV store where they have good quality TV signal. I stand 9-12 feet away from the wall of televisions, turn them all on and see which has the best picture in my unprofessional judgment. I may read a review or two online as well just to make sure I haven't picked out a horrible TV.
Borax_Man

May 22, 2009
2:35 AM EST
Quoting:

When one is unaccustomed to choosing, yes. Case in point:

Sixteen years ago, I dated a Russian woman who was visiting the US via the Girl Scouts. (This was a scant two years after Russian Communism fell.) She worked with the summer camps. One day, the commissary needed some groceries, so she went to the store.

An hour later, she hadn't returned, so someone went to look for her. She was wandering the aisles, overwhelmed. She had never seen so many food products in her life, and she had no idea how to choose her purchase.

Now, substitute Microsoft for Communism, and Linux distributions for food products. How many times in these fora have we decried the "PC == Windows" thought patterns? Choice is for rebels, troublemakers, and scofflaws, and Microsoft is happy to keep it that way.

When people don't know that they can choose, they don't know how to make the choice. They fall back on what they know: sex appeal, flashy colors, well-known brand, whatever. They can't investigate quality with confidence, so they go with drivel instead.



Let me let you in on a little secret. The reason there are so many brands in the store, isn't to give people the wonderful world of choice. Thats how free marketers sell their ideology and make capitalism look good, but it's not the reason. As someone who's worked in the industry of producing consumer products, I can tell you primarily why. It's about making the consumer buy your product.

You see, everyone wants to sell a product to make money. The problem is, the product already exists. So how do you sell your product? Easy, you make it different somehow. You do something to it, or market it in a way so as to make it stand out. So instead of going to the supermarket to get white bread, you're confronted with about 30 different types. Bread with fibre, bread with Omega 3, bread with Omega 3 & Vitamin C, Bread with low GI. People don't like this, not because they are dumb conformists, but its a pointless choice.

If you want milk, you only really need a few types to choose from. But because of marketing, there are about 30. What if you wanted to buy drinking straws, and there were 30 different types, each sublty different in ways that no one really cares about. What if you want a paracetamol tablet. Again, about 15 different "choices" of basically the same product. There is truth to the adage "why do you need so many types of toothpaste". People don't like choice when they've already chosen what they want. They dont want to walk into a store with an idea of what they want, only to find out there are 20 subtly different variations, each different in ways they dont care about.

Linux in some ways is like that. People who want to move to Linux have already decided, have already made the choice. So what else is there to choose? Let me extent the analogy further. Let me suppose I walk into a car dealership knowing that I want a 2008 model Toyota Corolla Hatchback, and I'm confronted with additional decisions as to subtle engine differences, interiors, etc.

Thats not good. Maybe Toyota would trumpet this as good for the consumer, but whats good is being able to get what you need.
hkwint

May 22, 2009
4:51 AM EST
Quoting:So how do you sell your product? Easy, you make it different somehow. You do something to it, or market it in a way so as to make it stand out.


So finally we're back at the strategy of members of the LiMo's foundation it seems? You can't make your product stand out if it uses Windows, because you cannot customize Windows that much. Apart from making all Explorer bars purple and such nonsense. That's why companies are choosing Linux.

I worked in the industry making consumer products too, and we both did branded (A and B brands) and unbranded products. In some kind of way those brands were also distributions (coincidence?) of our parts; assembled together by factories from those brands.

The branded products were generally better than the unbranded ones; also because they used better parts. The same goes for Linux: The 'big brand' products such as Red Hat and Ubuntu are probably better than a lot of smaller brands. Thing is, for a company it's easy to forbid to put their brand on 'bad products'. On cheap products, nobody could find our brand. For Linux however, that's not easy I guess. It would be good if bad distro's were not allowed to use the term Linux I guess; but that's counter Free Philosophy.
theboomboomcars

May 22, 2009
8:14 AM EST
Quoting:Thats not good. Maybe Toyota would trumpet this as good for the consumer, but whats good is being able to get what you need.


I am having a bit of trouble synthesising this, are you trying to say that less choice makes it easier to get what you need? Different people have different needs or desires in their cars and if the options that a customer wanted were not offered by one manufacturer then that customer would have to look at the competition. So by offered both the more powerful and the more conservative (fuel wise) engines, Toyota is able to offer what more customers need in their cars. How is that bad? The customers that know they want one option or the other will be able to choose. Those who don't know can drive them both and see which they like better, and if they can't tell the difference, then just pick the cheaper option.

I am trying to say is that offering more choices doesn't hurt your customers that don't care about those options but it does bring in more potential customers that do care.
gus3

May 22, 2009
10:13 AM EST
@caitlyn: Not sure how many trips it took; I heard about the culture shock after the fact. When I met her, she had made the adjustment well enough to shop for a picnic-for-two.

I hope she got her teaching certificate, and was able to tell her students about the wonders of shopping here. Sadly, her home town has degenerated into a haven for criminal gangs.

@Sander: You're describing a calm, rational approach to a large purchase. How many people actually follow that? Women may draw upon the gatherer in them to find the best deals for the best items, but the hunter in men drive them to "chase TV, kill TV, drag TV back to tribe."

I would say I'm joking, except I've seen that in myself...
Sander_Marechal

May 22, 2009
10:24 AM EST
@gus: The rational part is just an example of how I choose on things I don't know much (or anything) about. It doesn't need to be rational. People will still choose. Your hunter still drags a TV back to his lair so apparently he chose one. The woman in your example may have no clue what the best really deal is, but she still picks one.

We don't have to make people choose right when picking distros. We only have to show them that there is a choice.
Borax_Man

May 22, 2009
7:33 PM EST
[/quote] I am having a bit of trouble synthesising this, are you trying to say that less choice makes it easier to get what you need? Different people have different needs or desires in their cars and if the options that a customer wanted were not offered by one manufacturer then that customer would have to look at the competition. [/quote] To a degree yes. What I'm saying, is that many people base their choice on what they want or need. For instance, people might want a particular product (lets say Sungrain brand white bread). What if you went to buy your usual Sungrain white bread, only to find it doesn't exist, but there are 10+ variations, none of them being a 'generic', each claming to be different. That makes the choice the customer made less clear.

Quoting: So by offered both the more powerful and the more conservative (fuel wise) engines, Toyota is able to offer what more customers need in their cars. How is that bad? The customers that know they want one option or the other will be able to choose. Those who don't know can drive them both and see which they like better, and if they can't tell the difference, then just pick the cheaper option.


You can just say, I just want a basic Linux platform and leave it at that. You HAVE to choose a distro, and worse still, the choice you make will matter in terms of compatibility. If you walked into the bar, wanted a glass of water, and they had 10 subtly different types, and NONE of them was just a plain ordinary glass of water, you would become exasperated unless you were a water aficionado. You have a decision thrust upon you they you a) didn't think you would have to make and b) have little knowledge on how to make a decision. This in turn makes the use of the product more difficult. If there was a generic Linux, ie, just a 'base Linux' where someone who wanted a Linux platform could use, then it would be OK. Distro's could just be modified, but still 100% compatible versions. But no such thing exists.

What I'm saying is, people who decide to use Linux cannot actually make that decision. They have to, instead, chose a distro, with each distro being almost literally a different OS. It's not what people bargained for.



caitlyn

May 22, 2009
8:00 PM EST
Quoting:f you walked into the bar, wanted a glass of water, and they had 10 subtly different types, and NONE of them was just a plain ordinary glass of water, you would become exasperated unless you were a water aficionado.


This does happen at many bars that offer a variety of bottled waters. I don't see the problem. In general I think you underestimate the consumer.

Quoting:What I'm saying is, people who decide to use Linux cannot actually make that decision. They have to, instead, chose a distro, with each distro being almost literally a different OS.


I disagree strongly. So long as you don't go off into weird niche distros and stick with the major ones, the ones most people are likely to try first, Linux is Linux is Linux. The differences are mostly superficial. Besides, for Linux to succeed in the non-geek consumer marketplace it has to be preloaded on systems. Almost all the gains Linux has made in the last 18 months are because of preloaded netbooks and manufacturers realizing that they can sell Linux and expanding their preloaded offerings beyond netbooks. Most consumers will never actually choose a distro. They'll use whatever comes on their computer.

Quoting:You HAVE to choose a distro, and worse still, the choice you make will matter in terms of compatibility.
No and again no. Even when people don't buy preloaded they will choose what a friend or family member running Linux is running. Unless they are technically inclined to begin with they won't just go off on their own. The very few who do will chose a popular distro.

Compatibility differences usually come down to different versions of the kernel or X. Most distros stick with a narrow range of very recent releases. Compatibility differences between distros exist but they usually aren't all that big. The major distros all have excellent hardware detection that covers most situations.

I see choice as a good thing. Any initial confusion will pass quickly.

Borax_Man

May 22, 2009
8:15 PM EST
Quoting: So finally we're back at the strategy of members of the LiMo's foundation it seems? You can't make your product stand out if it uses Windows, because you cannot customize Windows that much. Apart from making all Explorer bars purple and such nonsense. That's why companies are choosing Linux.

I worked in the industry making consumer products too, and we both did branded (A and B brands) and unbranded products. In some kind of way those brands were also distributions (coincidence?) of our parts; assembled together by factories from those brands.
Thats generally to capture different ends of the market. My company does that too. We make a pharmaceutical product, and package the exact same thing under two brand names, one being cheaper than the other. That way, if people dont want to buy the 'brand name' option, and just go for the cheaper one, we still have the market.

The customer has no 'choice' here. Its a false choice.

I argue windows offers more choice. Despite the fact there is just one Windows, you can add any software you like easily. You can run any program you like. I know it seems heretical, but the fact that there are so many pre-existing 'flavours' of Linux I think reveals the fact it offers less choice. That is to say, why is it necessary? If Linux was truly customisable, then it would be easy to turn say, a Debian into a Fedora, or strip back your Fedora installation to one like DSL. Or under Mepis, install SuSE programs. In reality, it aint easy and damn near impossible. Hence the reason it does actually matter what distro people choose. If Linux really did allow the maximum choice possible, distros would be redundant and pointless. Especially variations of a distro, like Kubuntu, Mombuntu, Edubuntu, etc.

Distro's take away choice.

The OS is the bread, the platform for which the sandwich of a computing environment is built upon.

Making someone choose a distro instead of just choosing just Linux, say generic Linux really is saying to them "which restricted subset of Linux do you want to choose". Could you imagine having to choose which bread to buy, based on what you were going to put in your sandwich, that is, type A) supported ham and cheese and pickles, but not tomato and lettuce, and type B)supported ham, lettuce, but not tomato. If you had to choose which milk based upon what you were going to do with it or what flavouring you were going to add? You'd quickly get sick of choice!

Choosing a particular distro means that certain programs might not run, or run easily, that certain soltuions to problems on the Internet may not be applicable, that certain configuration examples offered may not be relevant, etc. Even hardware support will vary.



theboomboomcars

May 22, 2009
10:27 PM EST
Quoting:I argue windows offers more choice. Despite the fact there is just one Windows, you can add any software you like easily. You can run any program you like.


Can you not add software to a linux system? I seem to be able to do it.

Quoting:I know it seems heretical, but the fact that there are so many pre-existing 'flavours' of Linux I think reveals the fact it offers less choice. That is to say, why is it necessary? If Linux was truly customisable, then it would be easy to turn say, a Debian into a Fedora, or strip back your Fedora installation to one like DSL. Or under Mepis, install SuSE programs. In reality, it aint easy and damn near impossible. Hence the reason it does actually matter what distro people choose.


There are so many different systems because different people like different things and someone decided they liked a system setup a particular way and shared that configuration with others. You can strip down Fedora to a small foot print, or you could use DSL which someone else has already whittled down (I do know that DSL is a Debian based system), with Windows you don't get that option. You can install any software from any distribution into any other distribution. If the program isn't in the repositories you can install from source or use a 3rd party made package.

Quoting:If Linux really did allow the maximum choice possible, distros would be redundant and pointless. Especially variations of a distro, like Kubuntu, Mombuntu, Edubuntu, etc.


You can install Ubuntu and then install all the packages needed to turn it into Kubuntu or Edubuntu, the reason that the derivatives are there is so those who want Ubuntu with KDE or the education programs, LDAP, etc. don't have to install the base then add the required packages. They are a matter of convenience. From this reasoning why do they offer bread at all, you can purchase all the ingredients to make bread and make it just how you want it. Though it takes a lot less time to buy pre-made bread, same as just using a prepackaged distro.

Windows doesn't offer that choice, you can get the MS version of Windows and ... that's it. With Linux you can choose between Red Hat's, Novell's, Canoical's, George's from down the street, or you can make your own, either from starting with one of the preexisting ones or by building all of the packages yourself. Many, many choices.

Borax_Man

May 23, 2009
8:58 PM EST
Quoting: Can you not add software to a linux system? I seem to be able to do it.
Not with the ease you can add Windows software to Windows. Yes, I can do it too. But the fact I have chosen Fedora/RedHat means certain packages wont install. My respository may not have a particular program in it, or an outdated version. It's easy to install, IF the software exists packaged for my distro. For more popular Linux software, for bigger distros, its easy. But if I chose different software, for a less known distro, you WILL run into issues. If I go to a Linux.org and look through the apps to try them out, I will run into troubles. If I want to set up networking, then a book about Linux writted with Debian or Mepis in mind won't help me if I'm using Fedora.

For a technically knowledgeable user who doesn't mind putting the effort to getting software working, these differences seem trivial, but to anyone else, this makes each variant of the OS seem worlds apart.

Quoting: There are so many different systems because different people like different things and someone decided they liked a system setup a particular way and shared that configuration with others. You can strip down Fedora to a small foot print, or you could use DSL which someone else has already whittled down (I do know that DSL is a Debian based system), with Windows you don't get that option. You can install any software from any distribution into any other distribution. If the program isn't in the repositories you can install from source or use a 3rd party made package
If that was the case, then why bother packaging different versions? If its trivial to make Ubuntu into any other variant, then why the effort to create the distro to enhance choice? Why not just release a Children Educational bundle of software to install on any Linux distro? That would offer far more freedom.

You do get more customisability with Linux than Windows, but the argument isn't whether Linux is customizable or not, it's whether having pre-built customisations gives people the type of choice they want or not. My argument is that the pursuit of creating 'choice' through having different distros catered to different taste has made the OS evolve in a way so as to impose decision making where there should be none, and create small incompatibilites, thereby reducing the choice.

For instance, say I wanted a philips head screwdriver of a particular size. I go and buy that screwdriver of that size. That is all the decision making I need to do. Sure there might be different brands at different prices, but my choice here doesn't affect the use of the tool. Now lets say I went to the hardware store and I knew I wanted this particular screwdriver of this size, only to be asked which of 10 'spins' I wanted. I would think WTF? I need something to screw in screws of size X! What would be more infuriating, is if there were a small amount of incompatibilities between these 10 types, which might mean it wont work on 100% of the screws of this size. How do I choose? When I first started using Linux, I just chose whatever distro came with the mag. Essentially, it was the same situation. I just wanted to use a Linux OS and run Linux programs. What else do I need to choose?

See, people who want to use Windows, just want Windows so they can run Windows programs and Windows drivers.. They just want to run the apps, so they've already decided what tool they need. Windows can be customised by add on programs too and you can also change the themes, colours, fonts, even the Explorer GUI and add on extra GUI features, etc.



tuxchick

May 24, 2009
12:50 AM EST
It is truly amazing how many people can ramble on and on endlessly about what everyone else prefers, both the pro- and anti-Linux camps, without ever offering a shred of data. I am fed up with windy pontificating based on nothing, and I'm especially bored with the "too much choice" meme. Just another Redmond talking point. In real life Linux is not that hard, despite the strenuous efforts to make people think so. Give any random computer user a PC already running Linux and everything working, and it won't take them long to learn their way around it.

From whence do I dredgeth up this conclusion? From years of actual hands-on experience with Linux noobs of all kinds, from home to business users. All modern PCs are minor variations on the same theme: somewhere is some kind of menu system that shows what applications are installed on the computer. Click, open application, go to work. The primary differentiators are the desktop environments, regardless of distribution. The other differentiator is the users themselves-- incompetent, unwilling Windows users, of which there are legions, won't be happy Linux users either. People who are comfortable with computers and aren't afraid of having the occasional new experience are fine with Linux and don't have much trouble with it.

The speedbumps on Linux are pretty much the same as for Windows users, and that is system and network administration. You think Windows users can configure dialup or broadband Internet accounts? Most of them can't, which is why ISPs give them special setup CDs, or use remote provisioning. Add RAM? Install a different video card? Configure a simple personal firewall? Heck, most Windows users can't even install a local printer.

Your Phillips head screwdriver analogy applies to Windows rather than Linux. Because Linux has excellent support for standards, while Microsoft mangles standards in the name of lock-in. The Linux driver bits will always be correct, and the Microsoft bits will be all weird and work only with special, DRM-infested patent-encrusted Windows-only fasteners.

People can handle change just fine. Cell phones and smartphones all have radically different interfaces, and new protocols are developed at a brisk pace. Some phones have lots of buttons so you have easy one-button access to common tasks, others make you wander through endless menus, and nothing is ever in the same place from one release to the next. Manuals written for Nokia don't help iPhone users. And yet cell phone users buy new phones and change providers frequently without having all kinds of agonies.

Too much choice, indeed. More like too much FUD and not enough real life.

tracyanne

May 24, 2009
12:53 AM EST
Borax_Man makes some good points, we've got the freedoms in the wrong place, with Linux, because of all the different packagemenagement systems, the packagemanagers, it's not alays possible to just pick up a peice of software and install it, you have to get the package for your distribution, and sometimes version, if it's not available you have to fiddle fart around to make it work with some other package. You can't expect someone who just wants to get the package and install it so they can carry on working to have to do that. The mythical sky friend knows how much I've struggled from time to time just to get an application that seems to do what I want running on Distro A when the only package available is for DistroB. I can't expect the people I've been selling Linux to to have to do that....They didn't get a computer to tinker with it, just like they never got a car to tinker with it. It's a means to an end, and having to tinker, fiddle with package X and locate library Y, so that Library Z will work so that package P will install is not what they want from their computer experience.
TxtEdMacs

May 24, 2009
7:21 AM EST
Quoting:It is truly amazing how many people can ramble on and on endlessly about what everyone else prefers, ... without ever offering a shred of data. I am fed up with windy pontificating based on nothing ...
I think I resent that slur, since that seems to describe my entire body of work on LXer*. I am deeply hurt, sniff sniff ... you know of course I was trained as a theoretician where the model precedes the data**.

Only a sincere apology will get you back into my good graces***. However, your rant did serve a useful purpose of informing the less aware of content of too lengthy posts that, on principle and signature, I routinely skip. Now others are dully warned. Therefore, reviewing the logic I think it is I that owes you the apology and Thanks.

YBT

*     My postings should be known to be bogus unless specifically tagged as having serious content, though I sometimes slip in some seriousness without forewarning or proper labeling.

**    Sometimes

***   Sorry will more than suffice or merely telling me I was not the intended target, being only one of those subjected to collateral damages, I then can well understand your bomb throwing. Fun? Yes indeedy.
jsusanka

May 24, 2009
10:50 AM EST
We don't need marketing. I would rather see the resources spent on the actual product. Companies waste millions on marketing. I don't see redhat or google having comercials every five minutes or radio spots and they seem to be doing fine. I have att uverse at home and everytime I turn the stupid thing on I get att commercials. It has gotten so bad I change the channel when I see the commercial. I know of a few other people who do the same. What good is that marketing doing if people are changing the channel when there is a commercial on for the product. Looks like good money wasted to me. But I am sure they just pass the cost onto their customers and wonder why they are losing customers. The only good station in my book is nasa tv. No fricken marketing just good old fashion boring engineering. Which by the Atlantis made it back safely for those that care.

tuxchick

May 24, 2009
12:27 PM EST
TA, how does having different package managers affect anyone in daily use? It doesn't. When you fire up Mandriva are you overcome with anxiety and panic because other distributions have different package managers? Who fiddles with manually resolving dependencies anymore? Hardly anyone. There are a limited set of circumstances where pulling apps from distro repos is not sufficient to the task:

1. When you want a recent build that is not yet in your distro's repos. Why is it not there yet? Geez, give people a chance, it takes a bit of time. Sure, sometimes the package maintainer is slow or overworked. So sue them for a refund. Or do the FOSS thing and offer to help. Anything but repeat the same tired old FUD and whinges. Anyway you can still have the most recent bleeding-edge of anything you want, as long you're willing to exert yourself and learn how to build and install it manually. What if you don't want to do that? Ask someone to help. Or stick with an older, working version of the application. Yeah, life is hard!

2. When it's a proprietary, binary, closed-source application. There is a school of thought that it's all Linux's fault that FOSS devs don't fall all over themselves to smooth the way for these. Scroom. It's their job to package their own applications, and if they don't want to tough beans. OpenOffice and Java both used to come with universal installation scripts; they didn't fall for the "you have to support a million different distros in all different ways!" lie.

3. When you want an application that is not included in your distro. That is why I stick with Debian and Debian derivatives-- giant mondo repos that haven't let me down yet, they have almost everything.

Should a closed, proprietary vendor wish to cooperate with distros and have their wares included in distro repos, like Debian's Non-Free for example, realistically they have only two package formats to worry about-- .deb and .rpm.

For all of these folks who lie awake nights full of anxiety and panic over Linux having all these different package formats and automatic dependency-resolving installers, I suggest supporting the development of a front-end graphical management tool that supports .deb, .rpm, and whatever else is keeping you awake at night. No need to replace the engine when building a better steering wheel does the job.

What recourse do you have in Mac or Windows-land when you want a more recent build, or some kind of special customization? None whatsoever because you are completely at the mercy of the vendor. Hello folks, wake up, Linux having fancy software managers like Yum and Aptitude, plus the ability to customize and build from source code is a huge advantage and a strength.

Sure, there is room for improvement, both in Linux and especially in the quality of FUD we're seeing these days.
tuxchick

May 24, 2009
12:44 PM EST
One more thought to weary you with-- regarding package management, if there ever is a move to a common package format, having a front-end manager that handles the different formats will be even more important as a transition tool, because the repo conversion is going to be a huge task.
jsusanka

May 24, 2009
2:35 PM EST
"Hello folks, wake up, Linux having fancy software managers like Yum and Aptitude, plus the ability to customize and build from source code is a huge advantage and a strength."

Yes it is indeed. I have an RHCE at my work who insists on spending money on redhat network for our linux servers. This is a guy who won't even implement yum repositories to do patching and installation of packages. Let's just spend money even though we didn't get a raise this year and we need a gui to do patching. Yeah lets go for it besides the vendor say redhat network is much better than just having yum repositories.

We also have cfengine that nobody wants to use either that is already setup and installed and ready to be used but let's just spend money and not read and learn on how to do stuff and we will just believe whatever the vendors tells us.

That is the mentality I am dealing with everyday. sweet.
hkwint

May 24, 2009
2:36 PM EST
Quoting:It has gotten so bad I change the channel when I see the commercial.


Almost everybody I know does from time to time. I mute the TV most of the time.

Quoting:One more thought to weary you with-- regarding package management, if there ever is a move to a common package format


Coincidentally, the story about Linux marketing was a result of my reaction which also involved discussing package management. That's a story on its own. Anyway, while were at it: I was rather impressed by Autopackage and Klik2 also promises to be really good technology. Potentially these technologies could solve a lot of assumed 'problems' with package managers, though not all of course. However, uptake and gaining momentum of those new technologies is a bit of a problem. I should do some research before actually writing about it I think.
tracyanne

May 24, 2009
4:01 PM EST
Quoting:TA, how does having different package managers affect anyone in daily use? It doesn't. When you fire up Mandriva are you overcome with anxiety and panic because other distributions have different package managers?


In daily use, no one, there is nothing to panic about, but I never mentioned panic.

Quoting: Who fiddles with manually resolving dependencies anymore? Hardly anyone.


As you say, hardly anyone, and certainly not the people I've sold Linux to.

Quoting: There are a limited set of circumstances where pulling apps from distro repos is not sufficient to the task:


If there is no package for that package manager, then in order to install the application you either fiddle fart or you don't install. And don't mention alien, the people I've sold Linux to would call me in before they tried to us it. Actually they wouldn't, they'd go without the application, and use their friend's Windows computer to do what the missing application does.

While we're at it I have a lady who loves to play scrabble, she used to have a windows version before she switched to Linux. The only replacement for that program I can find is one that runs on the command line, why, not because the big games manufacturers won't do a scrabble game for Linux (although they won't) but because neither the developer nor anyone else capable sees any point in adding a GUI to what was probably a programming exercise.

One of the reasons I have stayed with Ubuntu, is the fact that there doesn't seem to be any need to fiddle fart around with packages, so far everything I can find that runs on Linux seems to be no more than an added repository away. That was not true of my experience with Mandriva, which seemed not to have packages available in it's repositories.
Borax_Man

May 25, 2009
2:43 AM EST
Quoting: From whence do I dredgeth up this conclusion? From years of actual hands-on experience with Linux noobs of all kinds, from home to business users. All modern PCs are minor variations on the same theme: somewhere is some kind of menu system that shows what applications are installed on the computer. Click, open application, go to work. The primary differentiators are the desktop environments, regardless of distribution. The other differentiator is the users themselves-- incompetent, unwilling Windows users, of which there are legions, won't be happy Linux users either. People who are comfortable with computers and aren't afraid of having the occasional new experience are fine with Linux and don't have much trouble with it.



I don't subscribe to this view of Windows users. I myself am actually a Linux user, but I find this "Windows users are dumb and want to be handheld and dont care about apps or software" idea troubling. It's simply not true, at least not for the majority of Windows users. Truth is, many Windows users are experienced and take control of how they use their PC, know what they want and most inexperienced ones dont stay that way and they quickly outgrow the stage which the Linux community seem to think they stay at forever.

Quoting: The speedbumps on Linux are pretty much the same as for Windows users, and that is system and network administration. You think Windows users can configure dialup or broadband Internet accounts? Most of them can't, which is why ISPs give them special setup CDs, or use remote provisioning. Add RAM? Install a different video card? Configure a simple personal firewall? Heck, most Windows users can't even install a local printer.

Your Phillips head screwdriver analogy applies to Windows rather than Linux. Because Linux has excellent support for standards, while Microsoft mangles standards in the name of lock-in. The Linux driver bits will always be correct, and the Microsoft bits will be all weird and work only with special, DRM-infested patent-encrusted Windows-only fasteners.

What I mean, is that someone who wants to run Windows apps, only has to make the decision to run Windows, to run any Windows app they want to run on their computer. There is no further breakdown or decisions which are mandatory to make. If that means that app sets up dial up networking for them, so be it. Whats wrong with that? Computers are supposed to do work for us, not create more work, right? As for standards, if you want to run Open Office or Firefox on Windows, you can, just as easily as Linux, if not more easily. If you want to follow standards on Windows, you can. There is no reason you can write standards compliant software. You can use OGG, ODF, XML, etc on Windows. You can use open source media players. Nothing stops you installing them and using open data formats exclusively for your work. You can write any program to fill a gap which you think is deficient and keep it open source.

Quoting: People can handle change just fine. Cell phones and smartphones all have radically different interfaces, and new protocols are developed at a brisk pace. Some phones have lots of buttons so you have easy one-button access to common tasks, others make you wander through endless menus, and nothing is ever in the same place from one release to the next. Manuals written for Nokia don't help iPhone users. And yet cell phone users buy new phones and change providers frequently without having all kinds of agonies.

There is still some similarity between different versions of the same brand. But people dont expect phones to look the same way, but they do expect them to all interoperate. iPhone users would especailly want their iPhone to run all iPhone software, etc, to be able to send SMS's to Nokias etc. An OS is a little different. People have a requirement from their OS that it runs all software it is capable of running (and that their hardware supports). The OS's purpose is to provide a platform. A phones isn't. Besides, the Siemens phone I have now is a newer model from the one I first got, but its still similar, can use the same batteries and charges. Still runs java apps I can download and can still make calls to people, send SMS's, MMS's etc.

What appears to be a paradox, is that in introducing definitive "choices" you can actually restrict freedom and individual creativity and control. The virtue of "choice" is Capitalistic hogwash designed to make people think they are free because there are so many marketable variations of a product. For reasons I wont go into, that line of thinking is present amongst the Linux community.
Borax_Man

May 25, 2009
2:44 AM EST
Quoting:TA, how does having different package managers affect anyone in daily use? It doesn't. When you fire up Mandriva are you overcome with anxiety and panic because other distributions have different package managers? Who fiddles with manually resolving dependencies anymore? Hardly anyone. There are a limited set of circumstances where pulling apps from distro repos is not sufficient to the task:

1. When you want a recent build that is not yet in your distro's repos. Why is it not there yet? Geez, give people a chance, it takes a bit of time. Sure, sometimes the package maintainer is slow or overworked. So sue them for a refund. Or do the FOSS thing and offer to help. Anything but repeat the same tired old FUD and whinges. Anyway you can still have the most recent bleeding-edge of anything you want, as long you're willing to exert yourself and learn how to build and install it manually. What if you don't want to do that? Ask someone to help. Or stick with an older, working version of the application. Yeah, life is hard!


But it does happen. And the fact that you need to wait for someone else to put effort into putting the software into a respository just demonstrates the fact that your choice of distro restricts you. Why is it necessary? It's not a reason to panic, but its an obstacle nonetheless and a restriction to have to put extra effort to repackage software for however number of distros. Why should I have to surrender and give up running the latest version of a program, especially if the update is a crucial one which might be necessary to continue using the protocol, ie aMSN?
Quoting:

What recourse do you have in Mac or Windows-land when you want a more recent build, or some kind of special customization? None whatsoever because you are completely at the mercy of the vendor. Hello folks, wake up, Linux having fancy software managers like Yum and Aptitude, plus the ability to customize and build from source code is a huge advantage and a strength.


With Windows/Mac, you can always use the latest release too, so I dont understand the issue. What makes you think they cant? If they are not happy with the software release frequency, then change apps or ge your program from another entity. MS has no bearing on how often third parties release their software. You can release a new version of a windows app every day if you wish. Bill Gates isn't going to stop you. The difference is, with Linux, you have the repository maintainer in the middle, and they might decide your version of Fedora or Ubuntu is to ancient to bother with (ie, if its more than a year old!)
theboomboomcars

May 25, 2009
4:22 PM EST
If you want the freedom to install and use proprietary software you can choose to Windows or you can use Linux with Wine or Crossover Office, which work with a very large number of applications, and if the most recent version of Wine isn't available in you distro's repositories, then the Wine team maintains many packages for most different distro's, even BSD's and OSX.

If you want to use the latest greatest releases opensource applications you can do so, with any supported OS.

If the definition of freedom in using an OS is by what applications you can install, then Windows is probably the most Free OS you can use. I don't agree with that though. I think freedom in an OS is me deciding how, when, where, and if I use my computer, not the OS supplier. Under that definition Windows is not very free and OSX is even less.

The reason to market Linux is to people get exposure to it. Just like the is marketing for other categories of things, beef, cheese, milk, cotton, etc. So when people go into make a decision they have some information. Though marketing Distro's is just as important, if not more.

If you make a choice with only have the available information then you did not freely make the choice.
tracyanne

May 26, 2009
8:32 AM EST
I've been doing Google searches trying to locate a simple desktop timesheet system that runs on Linux, there are none that work. I can find dozens of them for Windows and Mac, but for Linux. I simply can't find anything that will fill my simple needs.
NoDough

May 26, 2009
8:35 AM EST
That's called opportunity.
krisum

May 26, 2009
12:19 PM EST
@tracyanne (does this belong to this thread) Found the following in ubuntu repos: gnotime, karm, gtimelog, gtimer, wmwork. Is this what you are looking for?
tracyanne

May 26, 2009
3:48 PM EST
@Krisum, yes it does. It's an example of what we've been talking about. It's like the example I gave of my client who like sto play scrabble. Yes there is a scrabble game or two for Linux, but they either aren't available for her distribution, or they are incomplete.

People have the freedom to do anything they like with Linux, including leave it to someone else to do it. And if that someone else isn't able to, for some reason, that someone else either moves back to the proprietary solution (because they have a different type of freedom, the freedom to choose from dozens of similar programs that the developers expect to make money from), or goes without.

Now as it happens I need a simple timesheet program, so that I can track my hours, so I can charge the company that I'm doing work for.
hkwint

May 27, 2009
6:15 PM EST
ProScrabble, PyScrabble, Xscrabble;

they don't work for you on Ubuntu? Just tested XScrabble (for Gentoo, that is), and though not pretty, it works. ED: Don't understand the score though, computer scores 30 everytime without doing anything?
tracyanne

May 27, 2009
9:46 PM EST
She's using mMandriva.

ProScrabble - sucks, it allows illegal words, my friend tried it hates it because of this feature. As she puts it, "it cheats."

PyScrabble - is web based, she doesn't want that, already uses a flash web based scrabble to play against friends.

Xscrabble - can't remember if I tried, that.

My friend wants an easy to use scrabble that she can play against the computer, and expect wot win when using legal words.

I'll investigate again. PyScrabble and scribble are the only Scrabbles I see on the list of Games on Ubuntu.

jezuch

May 28, 2009
1:06 AM EST
Isn't Scrabble a very aggresively enforced trademark? This could explain some of the absences. And it certainly explains why the most popular site with online games in my country has a Scrabble-lookalike instead of Scrabble.
Sander_Marechal

May 28, 2009
2:12 AM EST
Yes, Hasbro/Mattel own Scrabble and they have a loooong history of suing companies and hobbyists over copyright and trademark infringements. See e.g. the Scabulous case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrabulous#Legal_and_copyright_...

They not only sue games bearing a similar name, but also games which use similar rules and board layout. This makes it hard to create (and find) FOSS scrabble games.
hkwint

May 28, 2009
9:49 AM EST
So, what can we say... Hasbro understood the real role and importance of marketing their trademarks?

Porting XScrabble to KDE doesn't seem like a good idea anymore I'm afraid.

TA: Maybe try WordBiz: a Java interface for playing online scrabble. Not sure if there is a computer opponent and haven't tried it as of yet, but you may give it a go. Now we'll wait until Mattel lawyers figure out Romania belongs to EU so the owners of this site can be threatened; hopefully that will take a while.

http://isc.ro/linux/download.html
tracyanne

May 29, 2009
4:50 AM EST
I sometimes wonder how Linux is supposed to get noticed at all. I've spent some time talking with a lady, in her 60s, who lives in New Jersey, she's quite keen to try Ubuntu, after have read about it and talked to me. She wants some hand holding, and I can't give her any. So I contacted the leader of the New Jersey Ubuntu Loco, his names Joe, his details are available on the NJUL website. this is over two weeks ago.

He seemed quite keen, he even got back to me almost immediately, which I took as a good sign, and suggested that they organise an install fest in my friend's area, since then neither she, I supplied Joe with her email address, nor I, I've since the initial encounter emailed Joe to ask him what's happening, have heard a dickie bird from the New Jersey Ubuntu Loco, or it's leader... nothing, not a peep, no updates, no request for information on when would be a good time for my friend, absolute stony silence.

With this sort of attitude among Linux advocates it's no wonder, Linux languishes, unsung, unheard of by the masses.
tuxtom

May 29, 2009
6:10 AM EST
Quoting:With this sort of attitude among Linux advocates it's no wonder, Linux languishes, unsung, unheard of by the masses.
It isn't surprising that there there isn't anyone breaking down the door to do some hand-holding for a 60-something woman on her computer. Not that there is anything wrong with her needing some help, and it is all noble that she wants to use Ubuntu and all, but it will be a support nightmare and a lot of incessant work in even the best-case scenario. I put my own 70-something father back on a Mac after trying to support him on Ubuntu. It just wasn't economically feasible. You might even consider that when looking at Linux adoption in general. When it comes to opportunity cost, the Microsoft or Apple Tax is considerably less than the Linux Tax.
tracyanne

May 29, 2009
7:29 AM EST
@ tuxtom bull5h1t.

Everyone of the people I've set up with Linux, Mandriva and Ubuntu, is over 60, and they are anything but a support nightmare. In fact they require little to no support at all after the initial training session and single follow up.
caitlyn

May 29, 2009
8:40 AM EST
My Mom still runs Windows, but when she visits she sits down at one of my Linux boxes and does all the things she wants to do without difficulty. She's in her 70s.
tuxchick

May 29, 2009
9:15 AM EST
Yeah, let's keep using older women as the poster children for morons who can't learn anything technical.
caitlyn

May 29, 2009
9:37 AM EST
Well... my point is, in part, that older women can do just fine with Linux and are generally no more or less likely to learn easily than any other demographic group you care to name. But, yeah... the stereotyping is getting really annoying.

-Caitlyn (somewhat older woman)
hkwint

May 29, 2009
9:51 AM EST
I have to admit no Scrabble (and Rummikub) would be a showstopper for my grandma if she were to try something else than Windows (she's over 70). That's the only thing she did with her $1000 lappy. Speaking about stereotype, ahem. My mother by the way, is also not able to learn anything technical, and she's not an older woman. But I have to admit I don't understand the new 'universal' remote control of my father either.
tuxchick

May 29, 2009
9:52 AM EST
Sorry caitlyn, I was whining at tuxtom. I should have made that clear. I'm on the other side of 50 and getting more fabulous :)

In real life some folks are naturally adept with computers and don't need a lot of help, and some folks are always going to need some hand-holding, especially for tasks that they perform only occasionally. It has nothing to do with age or sex.
hkwint

May 29, 2009
10:08 AM EST
Yeah, there are enough men of my age struggling with Windows-viruses etc. at all; having no clue how to fix all this.

My father is on his way; without any of my help he installed OpenOffice because Microsoft didn't allow him to use his old not-so-legal MS Office anymore. I have to notice this happened last year, and the MS-office version was 2000. Nice way to treat happy customers I guess; even if they didn't pay. About OOo: As long as my mother doesn't know it's another program she's rather fine with it. So we exchanged icons; put the blue W on OOo and all is fine. Then Outlook was not able to communicate with the Exchange server from the school where she works; probably after some update. My father fixed that by installing Opera; the M2 client did work with Exchange. Let me repeat: Outlook didn't work with Exchange, M2 did! We all know Opera respect standards, but that Microsoft doesn't respect their own standards _is_ news in my opinion. I mentioned Thunderbird, but when my mother understands how to do mail communication we're usually just really happy because she needs a lot of 'handholding'; she's the type that takes notes the first three times you explain how to do some task on the computer. Probably the reason I didn't attempt to give her a Linux PC as of yet; after 5 years she figured out how to cope with Windows; and while Linux will probably take less time it still would take some time. However, softlinking is something that's really missing in Windows and her files always end up in the wrong dir (the My Document thats hierarchically both below and above the desktop etc. mess that's Windows; if you ever worked with XP you'll understand). And that I would be able to do remote 'bug-hunting' via SSH or so also sounded like a pro to her.

Lately I visited a friend of mine; 25 year old male. When the Windows-virus scanner told him in one of the biggest red fonts I ever saw "Your computer contains viruses" his only reaction was "Gotta be kidding, like I didn't knew that!" and he happily continued browsing. I told him he should find a crack for the expired trial virus-scanner*; wanting to help him (believe it or not; a lot of people of my age are really afraid to switch to anything else. Seeing me using Gentoo isn't a good introduction to Linux also). But he didn't understand all that, it sounded like to much work; and he didn't give much about it as long as his nzb's continued to download. Yeah, he found out how to do the latter one, something even I always struggle with. Learning, it's all about what your priorities are I suggest.

*Coming soon to you: Scrabble™ Windows(R) edition. How many points would that be, expiredtrialvirusscanner ?

So, now I confessed. I'm lame. Too lame to switch my parents, sister and friend to Linux. Phew, I feel bad, I have to empty the refrigerator and fill my stomach now.
tracyanne

May 29, 2009
5:23 PM EST
Well TC I'm knock knock knockin on 60's door. And like a fine wine I get better with age.
caitlyn

May 29, 2009
9:46 PM EST
I'm a year away from 50. I'm trying to figure out a way to change the nature of time and put off the day... No luck so far.
Borax_Man

May 30, 2009
8:34 PM EST
Quoting: If the definition of freedom in using an OS is by what applications you can install, then Windows is probably the most Free OS you can use. I don't agree with that though. I think freedom in an OS is me deciding how, when, where, and if I use my computer, not the OS supplier. Under that definition Windows is not very free and OSX is even less.
How exactly is Windows restrictive? Apart from the product activation and licenses, you can run it as much as you like on an installed system, where you like when you like.

Quoting: The reason to market Linux is to people get exposure to it. Just like the is marketing for other categories of things, beef, cheese, milk, cotton, etc. So when people go into make a decision they have some information. Though marketing Distro's is just as important, if not more.

If you make a choice with only have the available information then you did not freely make the choice.


They have such ads here, for beef, banana's etc. Ads for the product, but not any specific brand. They are done by vested interests who profit from sales, but they are not for your benefit. They are to implant thoughts into your head, and grab some of your mental real estate which every marketer in the country is competing for. So when you walk into the supermarket, you have memory of the dancing butchers chanting "High in Iron" which will inflience your decision. You would know about beef and banana's without annoying jingles and ads alerting you to the fact they exist.

eople don't want to choose distros anyway. What would you base the choice on? If you just wanted to use Linux, the amount of time you would have to spend learning the different nuances between distros (which to you would seem pointless and subtle) would essentially be the first shackle you come accross. Before you've even begun to install Linux, you've already lost some of your time to have to learn about distros, simply because some technophiles think that forking an OS many times is great, and that everyone should have the same zeal in 'learning' about the OS that they do.

gus3

May 30, 2009
9:44 PM EST
Quoting:Apart from the product activation and licenses, you can run it as much as you like on an installed system, where you like when you like.
The simple fact that Microsoft intended to restrict the number of programs running on Windows 7-based netbooks flies in the face of that statement. What you are, and are not, allowed to run on Windows is entirely up to the whim of Microsoft.
hkwint

May 30, 2009
9:55 PM EST
Quoting:How exactly is Windows restrictive?


You should read the EULA. [url=http://download.microsoft.com/documents/useterms/Windows Vista_Ultimate_English_36d0fe99-75e4-4875-8153-889cf5105718.pdf]http://download.microsoft.com/documents/useterms/Windows Vis...[/url]

At least 'where you like' is not true given term 20; 'how you like' is not true given term 9 and 10, 'how much you like' is not true given term 1 and 4 of 'additional license terms' and 10 of the general terms. 'When you like' is not true for stuff like OOXML for which the license is not perpetual.
jdixon

May 30, 2009
10:28 PM EST
> Apart from the product activation and licenses, you can run it as much as you like on an installed system, where you like when you like.

Unless the Windows Activation servers go down, or misidentify your system as using a pirated version.

> What would you base the choice on?

Well, when I started using Linux (1994), the choice was a lot simpler, and the obvious distro then was the one I'm still using. :)
caitlyn

May 30, 2009
10:59 PM EST
The argument seems to boil down to people don't want to make choices. They want choices made for them or at least they should only have simple choices. That sounds like how totalitarian governments justify themselves. We know what's best for you. Trust us. Uh huh...

People don't want to choose distros? Most people don't know what a distro is if you're talking about the masses. Just as people learn to choose between Macintosh and Fuji and Gala and Roma apples they'll learn to choose what distro is tastiest for them or just run whatever comes preloaded on their machines. My netbook came preloaded with Ubuntu Netbook Remix which just plain works and is very much ready for the masses. With good quality preloaded systems people can accept the default or become educated and make choices. At least they have the freedom to choose, something Microsoft does not provide.
tracyanne

May 31, 2009
12:43 AM EST
Slightly out in left field.

My partner and I have just unpacked after having been at a computer fair in the bay. We had a stand there Feral Penguin Computers. We had two laptops (a netbook and a full size laptop) and two desktops all promoting Linux (in it's Ubuntu incarnation).

The netbook, my BenQ, is running Ubuntu Netbook Remix (Jaunty) the Fulsized laptop a brand new (1 month old) HP Presario, that a customer had asked me to upgrade to Linux, and loaned to me for the show by the same customer, is running Ubuntu (Jaunty) with the Full 3D desktop), as is one of the Desktops, an Asus with AMD 64 bit, (it's about 12 months old), also loaned to me by a customer for the show (also running the 3D desktop on a 22 inch Dell Monitor), an an older HP Pavilion running XUbuntu (Jaunty).

What surprised me was the number of people who not only stopped to look, but also stopped to enquire, and learn. even more surprising we picked up 4 customers, plus a young bloke (10 year old) who already has Ubuntu on his laptop, who wants to learn how to program on Linux.
gus3

May 31, 2009
10:06 AM EST
tracyanne, if cloning humans ever becomes legal, can you be first in line? We need about 200 more of you to send around.

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