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A marketing dilemma

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memenode's picture
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I am thinking about writing an article about Free Software marketing. The goal would be to go a bit deeper into the issue, exploring what marketing really is and what exactly are we promoting by it or what we have to promote in order to be successful. It would explore what people's expectations are or what people would respond to the most.

It would also tackle the nature of Free Software as something that cannot be sold (only scarcities that surround it are sold creating what people call the "Free Software economy" and how does this affect marketing.

And yet another also... it would pose some points regarding what should be our topmost goals, bluntly said, between the promotion of an OS or promotion of Free Software or even further the promotion of a certain way of thinking, a certain mentality and analyze whether the latter could be promoted through any of the former in a real way.

Of course, I don't yet know exactly how will I put all this into a single readable article, but I haven't come to that yet. Rather I've hit a bit of a dilemma, which is slightly frustrating, but not in a very negative way. It merely makes me hungry for some healthy input on the issue, because I can't answer the question on my own.

Linux vs. GNU/Linux. Read this comment by Helios. Apparently he is leaving no other choice but to call it "Linux" in all of the marketing that he is spearheading. Not that anyone can't say "GNU/Linux" in their projects, he is just convinced that it would fail and that's pretty much the end of it.

The issue I'm having is that I feel that he is right, but because I believe it is necessary to give GNU a credit, but more importantly, to associate them with the whole "Linux success" in order to get people to look into the freedom thing as well, not just how "Linux" is better technically. So these are the questions that start pouring into my mind:

1. If we are to just put a shadow on the whole freedom idea in our marketing efforts, should we even do marketing? Is that really worth it?

2. Should we market "Linux" or something else. The Tux Project guys are mostly decided on this. It's Linux. That's the "product". And they are in it in this traditional sense. But I have BIG doubts whether this is the best approach. I'm afraid of stepping into the same trap Open Source stepped in.

3. If we don't use the "Linux" brand at all what should we say with which we could hope to achieve anything?

Well these are basically some of the crucial questions regarding this article I'm thinking about and they are just hard. There is no perfect way and yet in some dark confines in my mind I feel that there is a perfect solution, which could come together if I only think hard enough about it. And please, saying "Linux" and then pasting "it's about freedom too, you know" seems like a mere shallow version of it. I know about that quick shortcut... I just don't believe in it much... it's not about the darn OS! "

Thank you

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I just wrote a reply to

I just wrote a reply to Helios' comment and then I was thinking.. As far as I know the marketing people often ask this question: "What differentiates your product from other products on the market?"

They ask this because the best way to attract people to a new product is to convince them that this new thing is different from what they know, and this difference is exactly what makes this new product better. It is the reason why they should opt for it.

What is also desirable once the differences are established is that they can be presented by only few simple sentences, the less the better, basically a slogan, or a buzzword - something that people will immediately associate with both the product and the thing that makes it different.

So now we could come up with a lot of random things that make GNU/Linux different in a positive way from Windows, but the list of such differences is lesser when compared to Mac OS X, and then suppose there is another proprietary OS which has even more of our differences nailed out what do we get?

Also, how do we explain the differences between various flavors of GNU/Linux itself?

So all this considered, here is a thought. The reason why GNU/Linux has most of the advantages it has is freedom and even when these advantages are matched by some other proprietary OS that other proprietary OS doesn't have that last thing on top: freedom.

It's that single word, or a slogan we could think of that associates with it, that describes what makes GNU/Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris and other Free Software - different.

I'm beginning to think that the only reason why people think including the "freedom talk" in marketing wont work is either because they never actually tried it or because they never did it properly. I don't remember Helios trying it before he started with the whole Linux centered campaign!

Of course, this isn't conclusive, but it may really turn out to be quite simple - establish layers of marketing brands upon which at the top of all is one: Freedomware (a term created Land0 from Tux Project) or Free Software, with an appropriate single slogan.

And then, when mentioning GNU/Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris or any other Free Software project we seal it with that brand of freedom.

It's like FSF approving a license as a Free Software license or Open Source Initiative as an Open Source license. Once a piece of software is Free Software it gets branded under that "freedom brand" which should come to guarantee the peace of mind and the feeling of being empowered.

Maybe that's the kind of marketing we should strive for, rather than just swarming around a single OS and its controversial name. What do you think guys?

EDIT: Oh if I only had the power to create at a whim (without having to work through the burdensome software tools to make it happen) right now I would create, right out of my mind, a commercial for this free software freedom brand - and you would be blown away by it! All that is necessary is to convert the feelings I described above, peace of mind and the feeling of being empowered and touched, into pure emotion that the video ad would be perfectly designed to induce. Pity creative power is diminished by the tools that need to be used to convey it just as a thought can be diminished when conveyed through words of human language.

Thanks

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I started using GNU/Linux

I started using GNU/Linux (when posting on the internet) quite a while ago and never had problems with it.
I got used to it quite fast. (A firefox plugin automatically replacing Linux with GNU/Linux would still be nice tough.)

As for the marketing, I recently saw a GNU/Linux magazine in a kiosk clearly stating "GNU/Linux" instead of "Linux"!
It was written in a very smart way: first you see "Linux" as a big title, but near the "L", there's also "GNU" written in smaller characters.
See here: http://www.gnulinuxmag.com/

Another similar way I can think of writing it would be to make "holes" in the "L" to write "GNU" vertically.

That way you have a "non-confusing" title which also contains GNU. Smiling
I think the fact that GNU is written smaller doesn't matter that much here.

As for promoting FOSS and the GPL, I would really appreciate a "FOSS" or "GPL" label on software/games.
That's what I don't like on happypenguin.org for example: They write "license:free", but it's not clear to me if that means gratis, libre or just open-source... Sad

The same goes for some websites hosting a program/game: it's not always easy to find out the license of the product.

Here's how I would like Free/libre games to be ideally for example:
-License link indicating license of source code and game art
-Download link clearly showing all available binaries, especially GNU/Linux so that Windows users get to see there's something else.
-Loading screen showing a "designed for GNU/Linux" or "designed for 'favorite distro'" and eventually "Vista capable" Smiling

The idea is basically to make people using FOSS in Windows aware of the existence of something else.

As for the advertising movie, it would be really great if we could convince the guys who made this:
http://www.lafkon.net/tc/
to make one for us. Laughing out loud
Their movie about "trusted computing" is really great!

dylunio's picture
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Freedom is indeed the thing

Freedom is indeed the thing which makes Free operating systems such as GNU/Linux truly unique and different from proprietary operating systems such as Windows and OSX.

We people discussing here (from what I know of the people at Libervis) like Freedom in computing, thus I feel we wouldn't be true to ourselves if we marketed the 'product' in a way which doesn't adhere to our values. People who buy 'products' don't want to be sold a lie, which can be done easily if we just promote 'Linux', for instance it may be true that there are no 'viruses', however there are plenty of things such as rootkits out there ready to compromise people's computers given a chance. I don't think people like 'us' can sell 'Freedom' as a lie when it comes to GNU/Linux etc. as we believe in it ourselves - it is truer in the long term.

Of course it is up to everyone to make up their own mind how they promote Free operating systems, some like (I believe) Helios wishes to promote a certain OS and hard as possible in any way possible to get that OS to the mainstream, others of us wish to push Freedom with many operating systems and may not wish to 'compromise' for the 'quick fix' solution.

User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
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I believe that marketing

I believe that marketing Linux-based operating systems does help freedom, but it is not the best way. By marketing a certain kernel (plus the set of software it is usually combined with, such as GNU tools, XOrg, KDE/GNOME/Xfce...) one promotes a technology, and that technology is not always the best for everyone.

Freedom is an attribute of Free software. Advertising Free software in general is too vague, and advertising one Free program is too specific. I think the solution might be to try to convince people to join the community rather than trying to convince them to use Linux.

Guess what, that's what we in the Libervis network have been doing from the beginning. How can we do it better?

User offline. Last seen 10 years 4 weeks ago. Offline
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"Freedom inside"
libervisco wrote:

It's like FSF approving a license as a Free Software license or Open Source Initiative as an Open Source license. Once a piece of software is Free Software it gets branded under that "freedom brand" which should come to guarantee the peace of mind and the feeling of being empowered.

When I read this a picture came to my mind, some logo, symbolizing that the package (or project or download or whatever) is free software, featuring the slogan in my subject-line.
With my very limited graphical abilities I just inkscaped a little SVG.
Just somehow I can't seem to find a way how to attach it here...

memenode's picture
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I just copied the

I just copied the comment_upload module from Nuxified to here and enabled it. Just as on Nuxified, go to "file attachments" drop down link below the comment to upload. Smiling

You can edit your post to do that.

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KIAaze wrote: As for the
KIAaze wrote:

As for the marketing, I recently saw a GNU/Linux magazine in a kiosk clearly stating "GNU/Linux" instead of "Linux"!
It was written in a very smart way: first you see "Linux" as a big title, but near the "L", there's also "GNU" written in smaller characters.
See here: http://www.gnulinuxmag.com/

Another similar way I can think of writing it would be to make "holes" in the "L" to write "GNU" vertically.

That's indeed a nice way to make logos that contain both GNU and Linux. The problem still remains when you just write it in text or pronounce it out loud. In marketing, a message has to be consistent no matter what way it is delivered so if the logo says GNU in it somewhere so should a textual form or out loud spoken commercials for instance.

But that's at least how it would ideally be. I would say that I'm glad there is a GNU/Linux Magazine under that name and that they found a nice way to put it into a logo. Smiling

KIAze wrote:

As for promoting FOSS and the GPL, I would really appreciate a "FOSS" or "GPL" label on software/games.

Not just GPL licensed stuff, but any Free Software (fitting the Free Software Definition).

KIAze wrote:

That's what I don't like on happypenguin.org for example: They write "license:free", but it's not clear to me if that means gratis, libre or just open-source... Sad

That's what I don't like as well, which is why this "freedomware" brand would be much more obvious and very clearly defined as software that fits the Free Software Definition. Freeware and Freedomware would not be mixed. Smiling

KIAze wrote:

Here's how I would like Free/libre games to be ideally for example:
-License link indicating license of source code and game art
-Download link clearly showing all available binaries, especially GNU/Linux so that Windows users get to see there's something else.
-Loading screen showing a "designed for GNU/Linux" or "designed for 'favorite distro'" and eventually "Vista capable" Smiling

The idea is basically to make people using FOSS in Windows aware of the existence of something else.

Indeed that would be great. Nexuiz might be gaining popularity even among Windows users for example, but if it doesn't mention Free Software anywhere where people would notice or that it is GNU/Linux native, people don't exactly get mentally too drawn to Freedomware.

KIAze wrote:

Here's how I would like Free/libre games to be ideally for example:
-License link indicating license of source code and game art
-Download link clearly showing all available binaries, especially GNU/Linux so that Windows users get to see there's something else.
-Loading screen showing a "designed for GNU/Linux" or "designed for 'favorite distro'" and eventually "Vista capable" Smiling

The idea is basically to make people using FOSS in Windows aware of the existence of something else.

Yes, it's a great film. That's something to consider. I should mention it to land0 as one of the things that could be done.

Cheers

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I can't find the

I can't find the edit-button, so I'll use a reply for the upload.

Here's what I InkScaped quickly, and obviously without much talent. ;-)

memenode's picture
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dylunio wrote: We people
dylunio wrote:

We people discussing here (from what I know of the people at Libervis) like Freedom in computing, thus I feel we wouldn't be true to ourselves if we marketed the 'product' in a way which doesn't adhere to our values.

Of course, that's why there has been a continuous tendency on our part to shift existing marketing efforts towards the promotion of freedom as at least one of the crucial values of a product they market. In translation.. I've, for instance, always represented that idea to people like Helios and on Tux Project in general.. And land0, who is actually a webmaster on Tux Project, seems to share that idea from the beginning as well, hence coming up with a name "Freedomware" for it. Apparently someone else thought of it too, but nevertheless in our circles he was the first and is intending to push it via Freedomware.name and with our help, of course. Smiling

tbuitenh wrote:

I believe that marketing Linux-based operating systems does help freedom, but it is not the best way.

Exactly, yes. That's why I'm not outright rejecting Helios' efforts and of those who advertise the "Linux" brand mostly. There is some value in that. After all, GetGNULinux.org also focuses on that and I think they're doing a great job.

But then, we can go to a new level and market something more fundamental (or "basic"). We didn't have a brand for it before aside from "Open Source" and to a point "Free Software". I'm now liking "Freedomware" as such a brand. It's not a replacement for either of the previous two terms, it is just a brand that shouldn't offend neither of the "camps" while bringing them under it. It is, in a way, the new "Open Source" marketing campaign, but this time not hiding the issue of freedom as if it is something ugly and too complicate to think about. In a contrary, we put it proudly in a brand and promote the experience and the feeling that freedom can induce in people.

I'm kind of tying up on the discussion I had last night with land0 about this. He often mentioned the "zen" feeling he wants to induce in visitors of getnix.com.. looks like the same may be an objective on freedomware.name. Eye

tbuitenh wrote:

Guess what, that's what we in the Libervis network have been doing from the beginning. How can we do it better?

I think we're already on our way to doing it better - more networking with non-Libervis projects. Yet this kind of expands the Libervis community by blurring the lines between the community that isn't "Libervis" and that is. Smiling

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Man it's as if you

Man it's as if you participated in a discussion with me and land0 yesterday! Laughing out loud

We were at one point talking about a sun shaped button, only in orange colors rather than yellow-blue. If we go with the "Freedomware brand" than in addition to "freedom inside" we could also have "Freedomware inside" or just "Freedomware" if the brand is applied to software not machines.

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