Linux

Attention Mark Shuttleworth: Don't forget most important feature for Ubuntu 11.04

Ubuntu 10.10 is out and 11.04 is in the planning stages. Jack Wallen calls out to Mark Shuttleworth to not forget one very important "feature" for the next iteration of one of the finest operating systems available.

In one of my most recent "10 Things..." articles, I spoke about what I would like to see come about in Ubuntu 11.04. This came in the wake of the recently released 10.10 and the high praise it will certainly garner. My wishes for 11.04 were (in some cases) a bit lofty or (in other cases) quite understandable.

One "feature" that I intentionally left out of that mix is something I want to address now. This "feature" is one that I have gone on and on about over the last decade or so and begs my attention once again. That "feature" is marketing. Let me explain.

With Ubuntu 10.10 the world is getting one of the most flexible, versatile, stable, and down-right enjoyable operating systems to date. Ubuntu 10.10 improved on what 10.04 brought to us and even added a few new features. And, to put it bluntly, the release is fantastic.

Ubuntu is a very user-friendly operating system built upon a very stable and secure kernel. It offers thousands upon thousands of free software titles, offers purchase-able music downloads, and now even offers commercial software that can be purchased. And with 11.04, uTouch (the multi-touch interface) will have matured to the point of being ready for mass use.

With Canonical working to perfect and deploy all of these outstanding features, why is it they are not bothering to better market their distribution? It simply doesn't make sense. Even Microsoft, who has had the stronghold on desktop operating systems for years, still markets their new releases. Windows 7 comes out and the television and print markets are flooded with campaigns.

If Canonical did but one thing with 11.04, it should be to fire up a strong marketing campaign. And, if it does, it needs to stop preaching to the choir and, instead, try the unknown waters of television advertising and/or print advertising in markets not typically visited by Linux or open source software.

Canonical (and all creators of Linux distributions) could create the epitome of operating systems, the perfect environment for the desktop, but if they do not engage in some marketing, the only ones that will use it are those who already do. How in the world is Linux to gain ground using that model? It won't. This is not a youtube video that can go viral in a matter of seconds. This is an operating system that people have to willingly choose and take the time to install - or purchase a machine that has the OS pre-loaded.

And even that begets another issue. The average user is not going to install a different OS on the computer - no matter HOW easy it is to install. The average user is lucky to know where to type a URL in their browser most days!

Maybe, what Canonical needs to do is go the Apple way and have their own hardware division. They could buy a small PC manufacturer (say System76 or something like that) and then start producing the computer from top to bottom. Then all they do is deal with the devil and find a big-box store to sell their products (or even a large volume on-line store like Amazon.com).

From my vantage point, the rise of Linux is inevitable. The company that will most likely be behind this is fairly obvious. The speed at which this will happen is the big variable. Canonical could easily take their 11.04 release and, with a smart enough marketing campaign, finally start to bring in the big numbers for Linux.

Mr. Shuttleworth, you have the OS down pat. It's finally time you give that OS to the masses and the only way you are going to be able to do that is to take the time and "sell" it. Sell it to the choir, to the groundlings in the front row, to the average citizens in the middle of the house, and the elite in the box seats. Do yourself, and everyone else, a favor and bring Linux to the masses with a brilliant marketing campaign that no one can resist.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

65 comments
apotheon
apotheon

There's already too much Ubuntu marketing. I'd rather see an OS whose design compromises the actual benefits of an open source Unix-like system a bit less get a bit more of the marketing this time.

Penguiniator
Penguiniator

Word of mouth has already done what you claim needs to be done. It amazes me that people think Linux needs to be marketed on TV before anyone will notice it. People don't talk about OS X nearly as much, yet Linux is also said to have a much smaller installed base than Apple's operating system. Where is all the buzz coming from, then? And why, if it barely registers on the market share meter? Why talk about Linux, instead of OS X? :wq

jlwallen
jlwallen

So every day it seems I have read different news about Unity. One day Unity will have built-in compositing. The next it will use Compiz. One day it doesn't currently have a multi-workspace environment, the next it does. I have installed Unity on four different systems and each experience has been different. On a 10.04 system Unity was quite impressive. On a 10.10 system Unity was, well, rather boring and not very useful. It will be exciting to see what the final release of Unity looks like. What has your experience been like?

Stovies
Stovies

The command line is the thing that puts most people off and how one gets past that I do not know. I am not a developer or a programmer, although I can do some inputting to the command line. The other thing, as I have written many times, is the problem with drivers for hardware and especially software. I believe the software driver problem is because the proprietary software producer is afraid of their software being pirated; with so many programmers around. My list would be for Serif Page Plus, an excellent publisher, Solid Works CAD and so on. Sadly they are probably right to free that way, as lots of people have no qualms about pirating anything, which makes it tough of the rest of us. Sadly, unless UBUNTU works in the same way as Windows, most views will be frightened to try it for all the above reasons.

allan.liddle
allan.liddle

I think many home users will be put off by something completely else: when they find out that Word and Excel cannot run on Linux. Not that they will need it, but they will be too hesitant to switch to something like Open Office (or not even know about its availability or compatibility). I say that as a Linux and Open Office user.

allan.liddle
allan.liddle

I think many home users will be put off by something completely else: when they find out that Word and Excel cannot run on Linux. Not that they will need it, but they will be too hesitant to switch to something like Open Office (or not even know about its availability or compatibility). I say that as a Linux and Open Office user.

jlwallen
jlwallen

What would be a good slogan for this campaign?

cquirke
cquirke

Folks who install Ubuntu as a dual-boot to try it out, will usually want their default boot to remain Windows. What they don't want is an apparent inability to boot Windows at all, because grub displays no boot menu and boots straight into Ubuntu. And if they figure that out, they don't want to scratch around in a terminal window to set the boot menu to display, and boot Windows be default. What Ubuntu should always have done, is provide a step in the installation wizard where you choose which OS to boot by default and how long the boot menu should be displayed. There should also be a GUI to change this later. But as it is, the behavior smells like the same sort of vendor grabbiness one sees in Firefox (defaulting to itself as default browser, not showing the current choice of default browser) and which one usually associates with commercial software vendors and shovelware such as bundled toolbars. I'd hope for better than that, from the open source folks.

Goldcds
Goldcds

I agree wholeheartedly. I have used Ubuntu off and on mostly as a possible replacement for XP but 10.10 is no longer a possible replacement. I have gone to Ubuntu 99.9% and rarely use Windows. The more I use Ubuntu the more I hate Windows. Go Mark Go, you have now got a mainstream product that should gain steady and significant market share. I for one will never go back to M$ products ever again. Most people I know have switched to Mac, I switched my wife to Mac, because Windows is such a failure and I include Windows 7 in this. I can't imagine why people are slobbering all over W7, I think it is horrible. Also it is very telling when people are willing to pay a huge amount for a Mac over a Window machine. For instance a low end 15" W7 laptop is around $400 and the cheapest 15" Mac laptop is $1800 yet people are still buying them. Why you ask, because they are worth every penny. The HW is premium, the Mac will last 3 times longer than a Windows PC, no expensive upgrades needed, no maintenance, no expensive Security SW, they are significantly faster, etc. etc. etc. I could go on forever. I for one will never waste my money on a MS product (including MS Office, Open Office is free) ever again, they are junk and inferior in every way to Linux and Mac.

rbhebron
rbhebron

more than a progressive marketing campaign is the availability of adequate drivers for the LINUX platform. the reason of the success of any OS is the availability of suitable device drivers from most manufacturers. when you install an OS on a laptop or a desktop, the most frustrating effort is trying to find a suitable driver for the device built-in or the device that you chose to be part of the hardware system. case in point: when i tried to install windows on a core 2 duo MacBook, it was really an uphill climb. MAC made sure that the hardware drivers for windows are very difficult to find or non-existent. this will no doubt be the same battle when you install LINUX as an OS yourself. it will need all the drivers to run all the devices. perhaps its time for someone to take a more serious look at this issue too... as this will undoubtedly make the OS installation as easy as installing windows for the unforgiving potential market/users to a myriad of hardware setup... of course when you have an OS paired with the hardware, it makes a lot of sense, just like the mac; drivers for all the hardware they use on their PCs/laptops are built-in on the OS installers... but what about the 95% of potential users who bought their PCs/Laptops from just about anywhere? how do you finally convince them to switch to LINUX? more than any marketing hype, its really important that user enjoys installing it just as much as the IT tech guys... otherwise, these IT tech guys will just charge exorbitant fees to install the OS, beating any marketing effort for any meaningful impact switching to the product...

bb_apptix
bb_apptix

So... Canonical should spend a boatload of money to advertise a product that can be downloaded and used for free. Sounds like a solid business plan. Take that to the bank and see how it works out for you.

Dr.C
Dr.C

Target corporate users! The world will follow.

H3LPU
H3LPU

A small OS that is in-tune for gaming ...... perfection. Peripheral support and the use of apps like the Steam engine for downloading games ...... nice and easy. I like easy, and free. Time to experiment and spread the word. IF you are a geek, you will not pay for it. Why pay for something that is free. Why ask someone to do it when I am supposed to be able to do it, I am a geek right? And I will die a geek or try doing it myself, paying for it ..... nope not right now thanks.

john3347
john3347

The product, tho finally pointed in the right direction, is not ready for the mass market. As has been pointed out in other posts here, the masses are not going to pay for support. They (we) just want a product that works out of the box. Example: I have two Windows 7 (primary OS) computers with Linux Mint in Mint2Win configuration. Both connect normally to my router wirelessly in Windows 7, but on only one computer in Mint. No, I'm not going to take it to a shop and pay someone a chunk of money to do whatever configuration is required to get things working. I'm just not going to use the OS. (I have a Microsoft product that works.) If you (Mr. Shuttleworth, for instance) wish to sell, or give, something to the masses, it has to "just work". It has to be intuitive so the typical user can use it without spending weeks perusing non-existent user manuals, plus the few written by geeks-for geeks. This compatibility and intuitiveness is the "feature" that has to find its way into whichever Linux eventually digs into the Microsoft stronghold. At the current state of Linux development, An Apple-like business plan where the manufacturer markets a complete hardware/software package, the sales would be dismal. Mr. Shuttleworth, for instance, should he decide to build and market a complete package, probably would find a success rate equal to Walmart's experience with the Linux machine that they tried to market several months ago. If I have a driver problem such as I have with Mint on one of my machines, I want to go online, find the needed driver, click install, let it do its thing, and start using the hardware. I really also want to follow this same general procedure to install whatever software that I want. When I can do this with a Linux system, I will dump Microsoft. This mode of computer use represents the masses and Linux developers must realize this IF they want to become a major player in the home computer world.

aauser
aauser

I voted no because, unfortunately, the PC mass market does not have a compelling "need" for another operating system like Ubuntu. Ubuntu is great and getting better but it has not reached the point where a technically challenged person can use it. I think that there has to be a critical mass of user applications that are specifically designed or better used on Ubuntu before the masses convert. That opportunity is in tablets and handhelds. Unfortunately, Google and apple are way head.

bigbobby
bigbobby

Not being a marketing specialist still leaves me to believe, that you can't sell something that people don't know exists. What if Apple operated in secret?

Slayer_
Slayer_

They could then cherry pick the hardware that they have drivers for. Otherwise, Ick, Still better off with the better driver support of Mint or Mandriva as a Linux home OS.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've been saying this myself for a while, especially the point that users don't install operating systems. Who do you see as the target of this marketing campaign, average users? Businesses?

Justin James
Justin James

... when consumers aren't going to be ponying up money for support? When you make your money on support, you don't spend money marketing to people who won't pay for it. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

One of my perpetual annoyances is seeing Ubuntu pushed hard by folks like Jack, while OS's like the BSD's quietly go about their business. J.Ja

apotheon
apotheon

Obviously, people counting market share do not have accurate numbers for OSes, because most of the numbers available are based on commercial sales and inflated piracy guesstimates. Even when counting things like visitor rates at given Websites, the numbers are likely to be skewed, as people are more likely to spoof the identifier data of a different OS (MS Windows, specifically) when using an open source OS than to spoof the identifier data of any other OS when using MS Windows or MacOS X. I would not be surprised if it turned out that Linux-based systems in general use substantially outnumbered MacOS X systems, as long as we do not count the iPhone OS as "MacOS X". By the way, there's a shorter/easier way to save and exit. :x

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I figure I'll look at Unity more by mistake when I check out a later Ubuntu version. Every few generations I seem to pop a liveCD into the VM for a look.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

For a producer to release an open source proprietary program; perhaps piracy plays in that decision. If they are producing closed source proprietary compiled programs then they are no more at risk of copyright infringement then they would be on any other platform. The general reasons given by producers is market share or support. *nix family of OS have too small a measurable retail market share so vendors decide there is no business to be done with *nix users. For support, the hype is that they'd have to support hundreds of individual *nix distributions. This again supports the choice to ignore *nix users. (reality is that they need only support a few top level distros and let the rest inherit support from them) Sadly, Ubuntu is a very well marketed poor example. There are other "new user" distros which have had much better polish and hardware support. Example; Ubuntu would benefit new users far more if it included proprietary drivers like Mint and Mandriva do.

gregzeng
gregzeng

Many decent people seem to not to know about TORRENTS. That bypasses the pirating problem. High class programmers/ companies won't write for

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

when you weren't using the title to call people names.

apotheon
apotheon

This is one of the reasons that portability is important for software: because portable software serves as an excellent "gateway drug". MS Windows users can actually try out OpenOffice.org on MS Windows. If they like it as much as MS Office, there's no longer any MS Office barrier to adoption of open source OSes, because OpenOffice.org obviously runs on them too.

rmerchberger
rmerchberger

Ubuntu: We suck less than the stuff you pay for! =-=-= OK, so I am a "smart-aleck" type... ;-) Seriously, it'd be tough to come up with a slogan until you actually define the target market, wouldn't it? Atari took a nice, powerful computer system in the ST line (and I must admit - sexy - those ST's were the best looking around) and marketed it to... Musicians. That's all fine and dandy until you realize that those who are musically inclined are a very small minority, and many of those (at the time) used analog instruments and didn't actually need a computer. Hrm... I wonder why sales sucked? ;-) Marketing to a business is completely different than marketing to individuals, and until there's enough of a plan as to who to target (and why) I doubt someone would be able to come up with a "one liner" that *everybody* (or at least a majority) says: "Gosh - that works for me!" Find (or at least define) the people. Then find the slogan. Or (as my father-in-law used to say) maybe I'm just full of condensed milk. ;-) I'm just sayin'... Laterz! Roger "Merch" Merchberger

john3347
john3347

The configuration you are requesting is available in at least Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Ubuntu calls it Wubi and Linux Mint calls it Mint2Win. This configuration is selected during the install process from the standard install media for either OS. A 10 second time period to select your preferred OS is default and Windows is default OS. Even better, should you decide to uninstall the Linux system, it will uninstall just as a Windows application would uninstall. Just don't expect every piece of your Windows hardware to function normally in the Linux mode.

psuptic
psuptic

With the major GPU companies producing (to some extent at least) accelerated drivers, setting ubuntu up as a gaming platform without all the windows overhead, would be a great foot in the door point for pushing into the mainstream. Imagine if Canonical were to convince Blizzard to release native versions of StarCraft, World of Warcraft and Diablo III (and clients for the earlier ones!). Steam would probably follow along just because it would be easy. In a fairly short time you have gaming geeks running Ubuntu full time....

Slayer_
Slayer_

They just recently added a Mac version, and its booming. Though if you look at the system requirements for Mac games vs Windows games, either Mac hardware sucks, or Mac 3D software platform sucks. The requirements are frequently a generation or 2 newer. I have noticed the required specs for a Mac are often on par with the recommended specs for PC. If there is ever a steam version for Linux, hope to go Linux games are not worse than Mac.

apotheon
apotheon

> Ubuntu should be looking at tablets and handhelds I agree that this is a market where a lot more effort should be focused if open source OSes want to break into wider end-user acceptance. Netbooks serve as another good point to sneak into people's lives, and Linux has managed to make a little bit of good use of that platform, before Microsoft started trying to steal the market away from its competitors. Unfortunately, there is not nearly enough development time in the open source world going into things like touch screen support. Interactive display technology is still in relatively bad shape, compared to stuff like networking and concurrency support. > the PC mass market does not have a compelling "need" for another operating system like Ubuntu. I'd say rather that there is not much of a demand for it. There is definitely a need, but unless and until people start to recognize that need in some way, it doesn't translate into economic demand. > Ubuntu is great and getting better but it has not reached the point where a technically challenged person can use it. I disagree. Ubuntu is eminently usable by the technically challenged person. Its problems are other than that. 1. It still needs to be installed, generally, whereas MS Windows doesn't -- because it comes with the computer. 2. Finding support for Linux-based systems is actually pretty easy if you search for it, but if you want to just take your computer to something like Best Buy, you're out of luck (because Geek Squad only supports stuff that comes pre-installed on a majority of consumer systems). Once again, close that installation gap and you've overcome a major hurdle. 3. The major open source OSes do a lot of stuff that MS Windows does not, but their overlap with MS Windows for conveniently accomplishing certain tasks is unfortunately lacking in certain areas. It does not take a technically inclined person to use Ubuntu (or PC-BSD or PCLinuxOS or whatever else), but it does take a technically inclined person to use them for certain tasks. One of them is playing mainstream resource-intensive games, because the game developers and graphics hardware vendors do not support anything other than MS Windows nearly as well (if at all) as they support MS Windows. Yes, you can play WoW on a Linux-based system with the help of Wine, and even get better performance out of it than on an MS Windows system, but it takes more technical inclination to get it working. > I think that there has to be a critical mass of user applications that are specifically designed or better used on Ubuntu before the masses convert. Please, for the love of whatever you hold sacred, do not advocate for writing software that only works on Ubuntu. Intentionally eschewing portability is a cardinal sin of software development. Anyone who does this should be dragged out in the street and shot, or at least burned in effigy. There are reasons that software may not be made portable -- legitimate reasons. Doing so just to be nonportable, for reasons completely unrelated to technical issues, is just plain evil, though. At the very least, people developing software they intend to be used on a given Unix-like system should do their level best to ensure that they do not write it in a way that prevents it from being used on other Unix-like systems. It can be a lot more difficult to make something usable on both Ubuntu and MS Windows sometimes, and that's excusable -- but there is rarely any reason to make something work on Ubuntu and not on (for instance) FreeBSD, and there is definitely no reason anyone should ever write software for general use that works on Ubuntu but not on other Linux distributions, especially Debian and its derivatives. Do not advocate the evils of writing intentionally nonportable software. Doing so, if you manage to achieve all the goals of that act, will only result in an OS that is no better than what it replaces. What point is there in helping Ubuntu "win" in a market war against MS Windows if in the end you have turned it into another MS Windows? > Unfortunately, Google and apple are way head. Of course, Google's OS in that market is based on the Linux kernel. It might be quicker and easier to free Android from the chains of vendor lock-down than to replace it with another Linux-based OS targeting embedded devices as a competitor to Android. On the other hand, there's a lot of value to be had in writing applications and drivers for embedded devices that could compete with the equivalents for Android and the iPhone OS, and make them widely portable so that open source OSes in general can move into that space more easily. Why take a distro-specific approach, when one could as easily do the same for all Linux distributions and BSD Unix systems?

john3347
john3347

"you can't sell something that people don't know exists." But people do know it exists. They may not know Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Mandriva, etc., but they know that there is that "other funny OS that geeks play with".

ttsquare
ttsquare

I think you nailed Jack's point. You'll notice that the drug companies market to consumers and tell them to "ask you doctor if [xyz] prescription is right for you." While Canonical would need to do some excellent targeted marketing to system support specialists, getting the masses to ask about it would certainly make those who support computers less hesitant to give Ubuntu a try.

jlwallen
jlwallen

I think Canonical would be remiss if they slighted either user-base. In fact I think a full onslaught that targeted every community. A good slogan for the commpaign: Ubuntu. Unity. U. Or something like that.

dbc_techrepublic
dbc_techrepublic

Yeah, but consumers work somewhere and most of the ilk that would adopt the product work where they have influence. Marketing is _CRUCIAL_. I am a long term owner of various PalmOS products. They are fantastic. However look what happens when you don't market! Case in point: When Blackberry launched Word/Exel/Powerpoint functionality they took out full page ads in all the dailies. It was such a "big deal" that the news anchors bantered about it at 6:00. I'm sitting there thinking "so what, I've been able to do that for years". Look where RIM is today and look where PalmOS is today. (Yes I hope HP does well with the Palm acquisition but I'm still carrying an orphan in my pocket).

risely
risely

Look, the Linux OS is good, no doubt about it. BUT, one can't just play with an OS. Really good software is needed. Software that will do more than just one job. Too many geeks design software to do just one job (and to do it well), but time is money too and to have to swap program to program 3 times to achieve one job is not on. As for the gamers, go outside and do something useful.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You seem to see many glaring issues.. but, your in luck.. this is FOSS; pick a distroy and join the team. Put your marketing and developer skills to work. Offhand, how do peer download protocols (eg. bittorrent) bypass piracy?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Boil it down and it all reduces to ROI. Most IT shops are already aware of Linux. We've repeatedly rehashed the reasons, good or bad, why those shops select alternatives. That leaves the SOHO crowd as the market. For them, ROI may translate into something that saves time or is easy to use.

apotheon
apotheon

The Wubi install of Ubuntu lives within the MS Windows system installed on the hard drive. It is not an equal citizen on your system. Using Wubi for installation, you can later uninstall Ubuntu easily enough without affecting MS Windows, but you cannot uninstall MS Windows without destroying your Ubuntu install, as far as I'm aware. In order to really serve what I suspect are cquirke's needs, you'd need to have a system that lets you make the decisions that cquirke suggested on the way to a true dual-boot install, rather than merely faking it for a particular subset of users the way Wubi does. I do not really know much about Mint2Win, so I won't comment on that directly, but if it is at all like Wubi the same issues surely apply. Given the way Wubi installs Ubuntu, it's not surprising to me that you have hardware issues with the Ubuntu Linux install, by the way.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Or as long as it is better than a Mac's. Better than Windows would be really good, but equal to Windows would be acceptable.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't. I don't have any surveys or stats to prove it, just my personal experience. Maybe you hang with a more tech-aware crowd than I see at work.

apotheon
apotheon

That's a rather expensive way to market something, though. It requires sending ready-to-distribute products into the hands of all those support specialists free of charge and, in some cases, even provide kickbacks to those specialists when they prescribe a particular product line. In the case of prescription pharmaceuticals, that would involve giving doctors everywhere some sample packs of the drug one wants to market effectively, followed by television and magazine ads. In the case of an operating system, it would involve giving IT support consultants netbooks -- enough netbooks to just give them away to clients -- with the target OS installed on them, followed (again) by TV and magazine ads.

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

Exactly what software do you think is needed that does not already exist for *nix? And what job requires the use of 3 programs to complete under *nix that isn't done in the same manner under Windows?

Justin James
Justin James

I really don't care to "evangelize" an OS, let alone the BSD's. They are excellent for what they are, but there is little about them to inspire "religion" or "evangelism". They have excellent technical merits which are very well documented elsewhere. The "evangelism" of the type that Jack and similar writers produce, quite frankly, rubs me the wrong way. It strikes me as myopic. I can't take seriously anything positive he says about Ubuntu because he's obviously in love, and anything negative he says about anything else is immediately suspect. I don't want my readers to have that same reaction to my writing simply because I seem to pump a particular technology. When I knock a tech, I make it clear that it's either on grounds of pure personal opinion or technical merit. For me, I happen to use FreeBSD on a home server, and I occasionally wonder if I could use a BSD variant as my workhorse OS for desktop usage. I've introduced it on the job from time to time. For what I use it for, I love it (although I despise my mail server, qmail). At the same time, I use Windows for the overwhelming majority of the servers at my "day job", it is my desktop OS on a daily basis, and I use it for some personal servers as well. At the end of the day, I expect *any* competent IT pro to make their decisions based on the intersection of technical merit and business requirements, and that's how I make my decisions too. While I'm delighted to discuss the technical merits of something or how it may meet your business requirements, I feel zero desire to "evangelize" or try to make a convincing argument. J.Ja

apotheon
apotheon

I do write TechRepublic articles that mention FreeBSD fairly often, and other BSD Unix systems sometimes too. I suspect that "BSD Unix" is a term that shows up in at least as many of my articles as "Linux", and "Ubuntu" surely doesn't show up as often as "FreeBSD". Is that what you mean? Are you suggesting I should write articles that do nothing but talk about the greatness of FreeBSD? I try to be more informative, and less propagandizing, than that. If I come up with a topic like that, and I decide it is actually usefully informative, I'll write it -- but inspiration for that kind of thing doesn't really come to me easily, regardless of the OS. It doesn't come to others that easily either, from what I've seen; people tend to just write articles full of propaganda, without any actual practical use, when I see articles that propagandize an OS. I'm also unlikely to write articles like Jack Wallen's, but about FreeBSD instead of Ubuntu, for another reason. He writes his Ubuntu articles from the point of view of someone who has a deep loyalty to a particular OS. This is something that, in my experience, mostly happens with OSes like Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS, and MacOS X; they have a Unix shell with just a little of its power obscured, they have default GUI environments that try to do everything for the end user at the expense of some of the benefits a Unix-like system should normally provide, and they specifically target themselves at users who are at about the knowledge level of the common MS Windows end user. By contrast, my current favorite desktop OS is FreeBSD. I feel no particular loyalty to it at all. If, upon using OpenBSD, NetBSD, or Plan9 more I end up deciding that the technical and convenience benefits for me of one of those are greater than FreeBSD, I will have no qualms or hesitations about switching to them full-time. If I decide that one of them is better suited to use in a particular deployment, I have no qualms or hesitations about deploying one of them regardless of whether I still use FreeBSD for almost everything else. When I first made the switch to FreeBSD on my laptops, I did not get around to replacing a Debian server I had running at home for another two years, because I did not see the need -- it just wasn't about what OS I could claim I used as it was about whatever worked best for me, and at that time what worked best for me was to not have to go through the effort of replacing the Debian server with a FreeBSD server. Many Ubuntu users do their best to avoid using MS Windows in large part because they identify themselves with Ubuntu, and do not want to use anything else. By contrast, I do my reasonable best to avoid MS Windows because MS Windows lacks a lot of the capabilities and software tools I demand from my workstations, and because I do not want to have to think too much about licensing issues or spend any more time than I have to on security maintenance. Loyalty to an OS just isn't really part of the reason for any of the articles I write. My closest things to loyalty-driven articles tend to deal with subjects like licensing (copyfree vs. copyright or copyleft), security (privacy vs. authority), and economics. The reasons for these points of loyalty, however, are all centered around ethics; my topic-related loyalties (as opposed to loyalty to particular people in my personal life) tend to arise from matters of ethics, and not branding. As a result, I do not tend to feel motivated to write articles that arise from brand loyalty.

apotheon
apotheon

On open source Unix-like systems, you occasionally have to deal with hardware produced by a vendor that refuses to provide either drivers that will work (or can be made to work) on OSes other than MS Windows or the specs that would aid in the independent creation of drivers. On MS Windows systems, you have to deal with the fact that it's nigh-impossible to use for any kind of advanced tasks. Pick your poison. With that choice, it's no wonder the users in your circles consider Linux-based systems "feature limited", since they almost certainly never try to accomplish anything advanced with their systems (such as arbitrary admin scripting, which I do on a regular basis).

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

where you able to resolve teh issue and identify why Mint was not connecting? What wifi NIC was in the machine? (I ask because I've found Mint to have pretty good hardware support but am interested in what is still problem hardware for it)

john3347
john3347

This describes the group I "run with", and I am predicting that if you asked all members of that very large group who own and regularly use computers (regularly use, not just have one in the house that the kids use) for anything more than job related word processing functions, you would find that the vast majority of them have HEARD of "Linux" but have dismissed it as something that is beyond their competence level or is so feature-limited as to be worthless to their needs. I don't suggest, with this comment, whether this conception is accurate or not; just that it is the concept that the huge majority of the computer user population has with regard to "Linux". Now, I suggest that there is basis for this conception. When I am Instant Messaging with a friend in Mint and Pidgin (them on Windows and Yahoo IM) and they attempt to open a photo sharing session and nothing happens on my end, that is feature-limited. When my Windows installation connects to my router wirelessly and my LinuxMint installation, on the same computer, refuses to connect wirelessly, that is feature-limited. These are two examples of why "Linux" has gained the reputation it has among the non-technical over thirty, blue collar crowd and retirees. It is not because they simply have never heard of "Linux".

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That's why I was careful to qualify my previous post. At work I see mostly 'over 40s' and / or blue collar employees, some of whom don't yet have a computer of their own. I've had little contact with college students or 'under 30s' since I left the National Guard.

apotheon
apotheon

University students usually have some vague idea about this "Linux" thing, at least outside of fine arts degrees (I don't hang around with a lot of fine arts majors). They say "Oh is that a Linux shirt?" when they see me wearing something that has a slogan, emblem, or joke related to open source software, even if it has nothing to do with Linux per se (which annoys the crap out of me). Small business owners tend to have heard of Linux. Of course, more often than not if one brings up the idea of deploying a Linux-based server in their offices, they say "There's no way I'm putting that hacker's OS in my office!" getting both the meaning of the word "hacker" and the status and uses of open source operating systems dead wrong. People over thirty who have always had blue collar jobs, as well as retirees, on the other hand, might be largely ignorant of the existence of operating systems other than MS Windows (or of operating systems at all).

john3347
john3347

I do not have any studies or statistics to guide by either, but I "run with a crowd" who certainly could not be considered technically savvy concerning computers. Quite the contrary! I "run with a crowd" who doesn't even customize their Windows desktop when they set-up a new computer. (They are afraid to "mess with it" for fear of screwing something up.) Even this crowd has heard the word "Linux" and knows that it is "that other program that geeks play with". Therefore, (they feel that) they know it is not for them. If a Linux operating system that just works out of the box came to be, word would soon spread from typical home user to typical home user. Geeks would condemn it as some "dumbed down" system, but the non-technical home user would embrace it...........IF EVERY FEATURE AND FUNCTION JUST WORKED WITHOUT COMPLICATIONS AND PROFESSIONAL CONFIGURATION.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The standard word processing clerk probably doesn't know, but a standard power user (someone that knows how to set up their system, install programs, etc.) has a decent chance of knowing something about Linux.

risely
risely

DTP in Scribus for instance requires a pdf program in order to print. Also a photo program & Inkscape generally to be open as well. Scribus is a real good program, but folk always emphasise the free bit. Time to complete a project costs money too. Gramps program eg is so far out of touch & looks and feels like a 1985 program. Then there's the inability to scan documents or photos except in a few cases where the scanner might be recognised. A long ways to go yet. But keep trying.