"Linux" doesn't need marketing

Story: Linux doesn't need marketingTotal Replies: 9
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May 19, 2009
12:40 PM EDT
I completely agree with your article Hans. :)

My argument was basically that there is no such thing as a concrete "Linux OS" and that marketing it as such is a marketing fail. So saying that Linux doesn't need marketing is even in that context completely true. I would say not only does it not need marketing, but it would be a bad idea to do specifically *Linux* marketing, because then you don't know what exactly are you marketing since "Linux" is not a single thing, unless you're specifically referring to the kernel.

The examples you mentioned are all examples of either marketing a specific *Linux based OS* or a specific *Linux based device*. That was my point and that's what I wanted to encourage. Market specific *Linux based* products, from operating systems to compete head on with Windows (like Ubuntu OS, Fedora OS, PCLinuxOS, Mint OS etc. etc.) to devices which use components from the Linux ecosystem (and larger FOSS ecosystem). Google already does it for the embedded devices. They don't market Linux and then say Android is a Linux distro (which it technically is). Instead they market Android, a specific product or platform.

You basically just proved my whole point and I thank you. I think this line of thinking will help a lot of people interested in "marketing" to know how exactly to approach it with respect to Linux, and the lesson is: Don't market Linux, market the products which use Linux.

May 19, 2009
3:41 PM EDT
When I saw the title I was sure I was going to disagree and write a response to Hans. Now that I've read it I have to say that he has a point. More correctly, Linux doesn't need generic marketing as if it was one unified product but rather Linux devices and solutions. That is still marketing Linux. It's just a different sort of marketing. So... I still disagree but he works from a very reasonable premise and lays out a very real hurdle to marketing Linux per se.

It is possible to market a distribution which has a more limited meaning than Linux. Canonical clearly does market Ubuntu and does so pretty darned well. They are marketing Ubuntu specifically, not Linux generically.

Ultimately Linux does need marketing but that marketing needs to be contextualized. I can point to any number of netbooks running any number of distributions and then point to the same model running Windows XP and demonstrate that the Linux version is faster and can do more, particularly once you add antivirus, anti-spyware, and a personal firewall to the Windows box to bring the level of security up close to where the Linux box is to start with. I can demonstrate that the Linux box is a complete solution while the Windows box needs more software added which adds to the cost. I can argue successfully that the Linux box is a better choice regardless of distribution.

Linux really does need marketing. The problems Hans identifies are very real and create special hurdles to Linux marketing that are very real. That doesn't mean the marketing doesn't need to be done. Otherwise people will stick with what they know even if other choices are available. That means Windows continues to dominate which, to me, if a far less than optimal outcome.

May 19, 2009
4:13 PM EDT
Cotton, the fabric of our lives Linux, the kernel of the tubes

Pork, the other white meat Linux, the other OS (No, not Mac, The other other OS)

Just Do It! Just Use It!

Spoon! I got nothin'

May 19, 2009
4:45 PM EDT
I always thought Emacs was the other, other OS...

/me ducks

May 19, 2009
6:16 PM EDT
I've always liked "Linux, the choice of a GNU generation".

May 19, 2009
6:18 PM EDT
Sander your safe now, I think jd just got all the tomato's redirected at him.

May 19, 2009
6:26 PM EDT
Quoting:Ultimately Linux does need marketing but that marketing needs to be contextualized.

Exactly what I thought Caitlyn, but it was too long for a title; you probably know how these things go. Another, probably better title would have been 'Marketing is not what Linux needs the most right now'. But hey, you gotta stir some discussion isn't it?

Linux could use some marketing to speed up adoption, that's probably true. But if you would like to speed up Linux adoption, there are other things needing more attention. A legal framework in which OEM's are forced to have a simple method of refunding unused software such as Windows is one, but I touched that topic too often and think people are bored of that talk nowadays, especially when it comes from me.

The other thing Linux needs for the big audience to work on the desktop would be to decrease fragmentation of efforts and projects, is my guess.

Only after that I'd put marketing.

May 19, 2009
9:44 PM EDT
This thread must have internal cognitive dissonance.. or is employing doublethink. :P

First it is agreed that "Linux doesn't need marketing", but specific Linux based things do and then now there's talk again about Linux marketing. Few posts down the road and nobody will have any idea where they started and everyone will be discussing Linux marketing as if it was generic...

If it's contextualized, by which I suppose it is meant that "we advertise a *product* which has a Linux kernel in it, NOT the Linux kernel itself and "Linux as an OS" (a fallacy), then we can't even refer to that as "Linux marketing" anymore without causing confusion, or maybe we can, but should be careful to be a little more explicit about what we're talking about. I guess that would involve specifying what our goal is. We want to promote products and operating systems which use the Linux kernel, the GNU userland and include mostly Free Open Source Software, right?

That understood decreasing fragmentation of efforts and projects is actually irrelevant to the goal because we're no longer looking at "Linux" as The One Thing to be advertised. Unification becomes largely irrelevant as far as marketing is concerned. Let there be multiple package managers, desktop environments etc.. We aren't advertising all of them at once. They're different components for different products for different audiences and thus require marketing specific to each of them. Let diversity then continue to bring innovation, no pressure applied.

In a sense what I'm arguing for is disassembling the concept of Linux as a single community, a single product, a single anything aside from the kernel itself. Just as I once realized there really is no such thing as a Linux community (but rather many little communities who just happen to use something hooked to the Linux kernel) today I am realizing there is no such thing as a single Linux... anything.. an OS, a product, whatever you want. Calling it an ecosystem is as far as you get to some approximation of reality. But if you wanna advertise an ecosystem what you're really advertising is a kernel, the GNU Project or the FOSS licensing, nothing more.

May 19, 2009
11:24 PM EDT
"Linux as an OS" is not a fallacy. Distributions which package things with the Linux kernel to create an OS are, by the Linux community, the wider IT sphere, and indeed anyone in the general public who is at all computer savvy, are generically called "Linux". The Linux OS (no, not GNU Linux, as most of it isn't GNU) refers to the completed product. I know you don't agree, Libervis, but you are most definitely in the minority on this one.

In that broad context Linux needs marketing, period. When doing contextual marketing, meaning marketing of a distribution or of a Linux device or system, the advantages of using Linux over the competition need to be touted. That is plain, old fashioned marketing of Linux (generic) done in a way that sells a specific product. Within that sort of context Linux (generic OS) does need to be marketed, period.

May 20, 2009
12:05 AM EDT
> The Linux OS (no, not GNU Linux, as most of it isn't GNU) refers to the completed product.

Most of it isn't Linux either so on the same basis on which you discount "GNU" you can discount "Linux". Of course, the difference (only one it seems) is that Linux is simply a more popular term.

Though I'm not arguing the FSF's points here and insisting it be called "GNU/Linux". Technically my position isn't necessarily so much about terminology as much about a marketing focus. Terminology just happens to be a big part of marketing (branding basically).

Also, you don't have to brand all Linux based distributions as a "Linux OS" to do generic branding. It's enough to call it Linux and when asked just refer to an "ecosystem" or some other term which *clearly* implies that it is not a single product, but rather a multitude of things with certain common characteristics. That's a lot better than presenting all distros at once as if they were a single one (which is how most people understand the meaning of an OS, the way we Linux geeks understand a single distro).

Bottom line, if you want to advertise generically, advertise it as a Linux Ecosystem (TM?). Makes sense? :)

Edit: Just to clarify.. once we push the connotation between the term "Linux" and the term "Ecosystem" even when someone uses the term "Linux OS" to describe, for instance, Ubuntu, they are more likely to mean something like "Microsoft OS" than something like "Windows OS". Basically, when someone calls it a "Linux OS", they will mean "an OS that uses components from the Linux Ecosystem, just like when someone says a "Microsoft OS" they mean "an OS made by Microsoft".

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