CrossoverWare: A Linux Advocacy Strategy
May 21, 1999, 02:34 (36 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Thad Phetteplace)
Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame
By Thad Phetteplace
I've been mulling over ways to promote Linux, and there is one
idea that keeps rising to the top. I call it
CrossoverWare. In short, we release useful free
tools for the Windows environment, but leave some features out. If
someone really wants to use that feature, we make it clear that the
(also free) Linux version of the software contains those features.
Read below for an example.
I am working on a free, open-source, net playable game for
Linux. I've decided to make a client piece for Windows95 because,
let's face it, there are a lot of gamers out there that run
Windows. If you want to host a game, however, you must be running
Linux (or some UNIX variant). The reason is practical as well as
*marketing* driven; it is just plain easier and more efficient to
implement game hosting services on a UNIX-like OS.
So, when the Windows users go to the "Host A Game" option in
their software, they will receive a "You must be running the Linux
version of this program to host a game" error message and maybe
some web addresses where they can read more about Linux. Our
on-line documentation will advocate Linux as well. This model could
be extended to many other types of software. Even the simple
message, "If you like this program on Windows, you'll love it on
Linux" would go a long way if plastered prominently in enough help
screens and install docs. Linux is now well known in the IT
industry, but the *average* home user still has not heard of it.
CrossoverWare could really help in the "name recognition" and "mind
share" departments, paving the way for a mass migration to Linux on
Some of you are no doubt thinking "By creating software for
Windows, aren't we working counter to the purpose of improving and
I think of it like this. If you are trying to topple a communist
regime, it is better to engage them in such a way that they become
infected with capitalist ideals than to embargo them and hope the
economic harm will do them in. Microsoft already has the home field
advantage (95 percent market share). An *embargo* by the Linux
community would hardly be noticed by the application saturated
Windows world. But applications that help Windows users while
raising their awareness of Linux can only benefit our cause. Look
at what Samba has done in that regard.
So what do you think? What kind of killer apps can we come up
with that will pull users over to the Linux experience? I look
forward to seeing a debate on this topic.