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Who will market our OS?


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In my own personal capacity, I have become very aware this week of how important marketing is to the success of any product or service.


I was on the highway the other day when I noticed a Windows XP billboard again - with that whole shlocky field thingy again and the words "Yes, you can..." Written under it. Powerfull marketing.


It got me to thinking about the one thing the Linux OS really could use - a powerfull marketing campaign. Of course, the statement "Linux needs marketing" is immediately meaningless because 'Linux' is a not a tangible product, it is given consistency by the various distros we aquire 'it' from. Like Redhat or Mandrake. Obviously, these distros who rely on support fees and corporate solutions for their money have very limited budgets for marketing. Also, the last thing we need is a war between two Linux distros - that would be counter-productive in the greater scheme of things.


Most of Linux's marketing comes from the press. Reviews, market figures and articles on the distro. But Linux is not new to the World anymore and will continue to receive less and less media attention until there is another big breakthrough.


So who is going to market our distro? Who is going to show the average computer user that Linux can be a powerfull and friendly replacement for their current OS? I wish there was some stinking rich dude who liked our OS and decided to throw sick amounts of cash at it. I would if I was stinking rich... Perhaps I should ask everyone to mail me $10 towards the cause...


Another approach to marketing is currently used extensively by the music industry - Street Teams. Extremely cheap and very effective marketing. People sign up for street teams on the 'net and get a box full of promotional material snail-mailed to them. They then hit the streets, hand out material, cds, stickers, put up posters all over the place and get the message out. In a way we are all members of a street team for Linux, telling friends about it, installing it on their computers and showing them how cool it looks. What we need though, is just that little extra edge gained from being able to hand out -for example- official MDK cds, stickers saying "windows will crash" or whatever and posters and stuff. Surely the major distros could afford that? Or perhaps this is the wrong approach all together...


Anyway - just something I was thinking about the last few days, would be interesting to get your views.

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So, where did you REALLY want to go today?

In case of crash, break open and install me!


I agree, Marketing is very important to get the word out and to sell people on Linux. As I understand, there really are not that many "average joe's" that understand that Linux is an viable option to the OS they currently use. And of those that do, most still believe that Linux is for "geeks" and "gurus."


Aquiring some major advertising revenue is highly unlikly, so something like your "Street Team" thing might be a do-able solution. Maybe along the lines of a "grass roots" marketing team. My immediate idea is something along the lines of those AOL discs (It worked for them did it not?). We could come up with a slogan, cover art, flyer, and package with a cd (Keep it to one disc?) together and get our favorite shop to display at a "FREE, take one" display. I think most here could afford to burn some CDs and print some covers for this. Get people to use it now (and like it), and maybe they turn into supporting club members and future pack customers


Some good planning would be in order as a campaign like this could "make or break" the Linux image.

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I don't know if anyone is familiar with a group of users for OS/2.


"Team OS/2" were users who really wanted to Market OS/2 to the masses. IBM helped them out with Promotional material, Demo Software, and lots of other stuff.


Many a Microsoft employee were really shocked at conventions to see a mass of Team OS/2 people working the floor for free and gaining some respect for it from the other companies at shows, but they were all volunteers.


Yes, I was a Member of Team OS/2 and our Pink Polo shirts got us the nickname "Pink Ninja's" for the way we would suddenly appear at shows.


Before there was any public Internet access here in town, I was doing an "OS/2 Demo Days" at a local store, and IBM supplied me with an IBM access internet account on Dialup for the weekend. They did go the extra mile for Team Members. They even payed for us to have a table at one of the local shopping malls for a week.


Maybe what we need is a Team MDK to help promote it. With a little bit of Promo Material from Mandrakesoft, we could easily put on Demo Days like the "Pink Ninja's" used to do. Show the public what can be done with MDK.


What do you think???

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Guest smoketoomuch

In my country, last fall, there was this big BSA campaign, with lots of billboards that displayed a picture that was split in half: on one side, you saw hands in chains (I'm looking for the word for those chains police put on people's hands when they arrest them :? ) ; the other side said something about pay now, or choose this or some crap like that. We discussed this on a hungarian page: not a single sign about linux! There is a local distro called UHU linux. Billboards are not very expensive, yet such a small company cannot pay for it whenever it wants. Yet, I believe, such campaigns are excellent opportunitities for ads. A few well placed linux ad in the time of the year when BSA campaigns is worth 100x more than paying for banners (especially on linux-related sites, like distrowatch) for the whole year. With limited resources such small companies have, advertisement should be carefully planned and thought over. The problem I see is even if a company is limited on resources (like currently Mandrake is), they still need to spend money on marketing. However, the problem is, that careful planning of the distribution of those limited resources is not the strong side of these companies.

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In the US, if you can't afford to market, you will not stay in business. The fact that Mandrake chooses not to market speaks a thousand words about their limited business success.


Linux has the largest volunteer force that I have ever seen. And, given the number of people willing to send money "just because", I suggest that there are untapped fund sources available for marketing. What is missing is the leadership.


Marketing must have a central theme, not a helter skelter lack of focus. I see Mandrake not supporting the loose community of users, rather than thinkinmg of ingenious ways to utilize our services. I believe the answer to who will market is in the mirror; what we are missing is a good leader (should be Mandrake) with sound business principles.

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I agree marketing is extremely important. Perceptions are more influential than the truth.




One of the problems is that compared to other products an OS is a difficult product.


Coke open the can drink it.


A new OS throw away most of what you know, attack your hard drive with scary partitioning tools, find out that hardware you already own is not supported. Throw away 1000's of dollars worth of software. Discover that some of the things you could do with your ex OS aren't available in your new OS, enter on a steep learning curve. Give up.


Most of this would be the same moving from Linux to Window as from Windows to Linux. Joe Public couldn't be bothered. That's why MS practically forces it's OS on the smaller computer building companies. It's a lot easier to buy a PC with an OS installed than install Windows yourself.


(Its a lot easier to install linux than most people believe, a lot easier than installing Windows!)


I think that PC's pre-installed are the way to go. Even then it's a hard sell because "All of the people I know use Windows" or All of little Bobby's friends use Windows." You know its true look how many posts we have with people feel forced to dual boot to keep the rest of the familly happy. Damn it, I dual boot myself!


AOL cds: 1000's hit the rubbish bin every week. Thats a small internet access program what hope for discs that promise to change the whole way you approach computing?

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The problems that you bring up are all serious issues. But, marketing is not about solving those problems. It's about getting a product into the hands of the users. Fact is, none of those problems need to be solved if more people don't get their heads out of the sand and get into a better computer system. :wink:

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I believe the answer to who will market is in the mirror; what we are missing is a good leader (should be Mandrake) with sound business principles.

I agree, but I think the "Leader" will have to be some sort of community of users.


Look at this forum, as example. In my opinion this website (mandrakeusers) is Mandrake's most important tool in deploying their distro - yet it is not supported by Mandrake and did not originate from the company.


Unfortunately, in the open source World, we as the users are forced to take the initiative for support and marketing in most cases. Not because Mandrake (or redhad, gentoo, whoever) are not interested, but because they cannot afford to do anything about it (especially in Mandrake's case).


Here is what I propose: A website driven community where volunteers can sign up for a program whereby they are provdided with merchandise and software and left to arrange for the deployment of all this material in their own capacity.


Some sort of award program could be supported by Mandrake (perhaps free club membership for volunteers?). Further support from MDK would include the printing and packaging of CDs (very cheap) and that's about it. The community would print stickers, posters, etc. themselves and rely on donation to do so (perhaps a small helping hand from MDK here). Of course, MDKs approval of all marketing material would be neccessary as well.


This is the way forward. Ixthusdan, you are right about one thing: no marketing equals no business - it is that simple.


We must, once again, move away from the whole "Linux is free" way of thinking. THE SOURCE IS FREELY AVAILABLE - BUT LINUX IS NOT FREE. It costs money to develop anything and this immediately prevents it from being "free."

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So who is going to market our distro? Who is going to show the average computer user that Linux can be a powerfull and friendly replacement for their current OS?


Is this really true? Of course Linux is powerful, but is it easy? t's easy enough to get some web browsing done and write the occasional letter in a word processor (although not so easy to open up a .doc that a friend may send you) but is it really easy to do all the day to day things people do on their Windows machines everyday? Plus do people really care about OSs - most people aren't that bothered about windows that they will want to change - why would they? For all it's faults wnidows is easy to use.


Any marketing should be targeted at business - they have reasons to switch to Linux on the desktop (and the server): cost, reliability etc - and when your average office worker uses Linux at work, who knows? they may want to use it at home...

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Don't forget the education market. Users & groups should consider activism in getting Linux into the K12 schools, and then making themselves available to voluntarily assist the teachers that are interested. It seems that schools are a great target:


First, teachers for the most part, tend to agree with the basic tenets of OSS, that information should be freely available for perusal.


Second, schools, or at least their administrative offices have access to broadband, in many cases at the T1 & T3 level, so they could download their software and save money.


Third, if the children are going to be learning how to operate the computers anyway, why not give them the opportunity to learn Linux instead of Windows or Macintosh?

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If indeed, as SoulSe suggests, the community is the marketing arm of Linux, then we are not limited by the usual means of business. Whole groups may focus on eduction, another business, and still others on home users. Microsoft is nothing compared to the power of the linux community force!! :twisted:


BUT, Mandrake must do some support of this community. At some point in time, Mandrake must acknowledge that some of their success is due to us lowly scumbag users!!! I do not understand how they perceive us as a problem, or as a non interest.

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On a positive note I thought I'd share this with everyone. There is a major, national food company that recently switched to Linux with the exception of one or two computers that they need to receive information from other companies. They retrained all of their staff, changed to a Unix server, etc. The reason? They had taken a copy of a M$ program and installed it on all their computers. M$ wants companies, and people, to buy a copy for each computer. A disgruntled ex-employee reported them to M$ who fined them. This company said f' you. Now let's hope that more companies wise up! :wink:

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Those members here who have kids in school are the best people to start leaning on their school boards to kick Windows out and replace with Linux. Get the kids using it and Microsoft will be pushed out of that market. Some boards are married to Steve Jobs, so there is a hardware issue there too.



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