Just like Marcel Gagne said, stop apologizing for Linux!
"Invisible Linux" is a loser strategy, and it's insulting.
One of Ken Stark's
more famous antics has stuck in my mind all these years, when he
flummoxed the illustrious
panel at the 2008 Linux Collaboration Summit with a simple,
"My customers can turn on their cable television and in
30 minutes watch five Microsoft Windows commercials. When are IBM
and HP going to put the same things on? When are my customers going
to be able to see about Linux? Television and radio legitimize the
I was not, and still am not, impressed by the responses:
"Your question really ought to be aimed at the folks
who make money specifically because it's Linux...."
"You won't see IBM advertising any operating system on
television...you may see us offer solutions, services, and
products...Linux is a component to build other things."
Do a quick Web search on "invisible Linux" and you will find all
kinds of rationalizations why invisible Linux is a good thing, like
this one which is repeated as faithfully as any Get the Facts
best "Linux on the desktop" will be invisible. The word Linux
will appear nowhere on the advertising. Because it simply won't
matter. The focus will be on what the system can do for you, not
"Let me point to the most dependably-overused example in this
realm: Apple. Think about it. Apple doesn't proudly trumpet how Mac
OS X is a derivative of BSD blah blah free software yadda
That's right, they don't. Because they're all about trumpeting
Mac OS X and pretending that they invented all of it. Just like
they do with CUPS:
"CUPS is the
standards-based, open source printing system developed by Apple
Inc. for Mac OS X and other UNIX-like operating
Apple bought CUPS in 2007. The first release of CUPS was in
1999, and has been maintained all these years by its inventor
Michael Sweet. Apple had nothing to do with it, and even now would
have no interest in it except for the hidden Unix underpinnings
that makes OS X CUPS-compatible.
Apple is far from alone in this, or in being the worst offender.
Dell, Lenovo, HP, IBM, Acer, ASUS...the list of bi-polar Linux
vendors who act like Linux is shameful, but they still can't resist
it, is a long one. "Open Source" is a hugely popular buzzword these
days, claimed by businesses who have zero open products and no
desire to have any. No worries about claiming "open" creds. Firefox
is cool. Sort-of open things like Chrome and Android are cool. But
Linux? GPL? The real deal? Can't say those out loud.
Just like Marcel Gagne said,
stop apologizing for Linux! He wasn't talking about "invisible
Linux", but that's another branch on the same tree. All these
businesses who are profiting from Linux and Free/Open Source
software are real big on branding and name recognition---until it
comes to giving credit to Linux and FOSS. Linux/FOSS are the
beneficiaries of considerable corporate support, both in code and
money. So why the big hangup over the saying the L-word? Is it
shameful? Will the other suits snigger? It doesn't help when we go
all apologetic over things like Flash is a piece of junk, or forget
that 64-bit Linux appeared months before 64-bit Windows, which to
this day is plagued with problems and compatibility issues, while
64-bit Linux is plagued only by proprietary crapware like Flash,
and performs beautifully on everyday systems and doesn't need elite
gurus to install and maintain.
Let's retire that silly bushwah how the OS doesn't matter. Try
that on any conscript into the World Wide Botnet, or anyone who has
enjoyed a visit from the Business Software Alliance, or anyone who
enjoys a big surprise when they renew their site licensing and
learn that first taste was just to get them hooked, and now they
get to enjoy paying the full freight. "Linux Inside" is a great
selling point. It means all kinds of good things: open, secure,
efficient, less expensive or free, powerful, with a bedrock
foundation of respect for users, rather than contempt.
I expect a chorus of "People don't care about stuff like that,
they just want something that works." That is completely untrue. I
care. You care. A lot of people care. We shouldn't waste energy on
people who don't care, but rather should make it easier for the
ones who do. Get the Linux name out there, and as "Linux" becomes
associated with successes like Android and Ubuntu, it's going to
matter to increasing numbers of people, especially those who prefer
to make informed buying decisions. That's our natural constituency.
"Linux Inside" is an obvious and positive marketing hook--so what's
A Side Note For Marcel
Marcel says in his article:
"Look, if it all comes down to Flash, then add a little
note to the effect that Flash has issues, but don't trash yourself,
Linux, and FOSS in general by saying the 64 bit desktop release
doesn't cut it. That's what we old-timers call 'shooting yourself
in the foot'."
Exactly right! Don't follow the Microsoft path of telling users
they are too stupid to be trusted with information. Just spell out
the pros and cons, and let them decide. Give them some real
information. Really and truly, Ubuntu people, we can be trusted
with ctrl+alt+delete. We can be trusted with one-click shutdowns.
We can be trusted with 64-bit computers. We can be trusted with