Melting Down the "Linux" Global Will

Ken Hess of Daniweb posting an amusing article about marketing, his personal feelings of frustration at the inability of a group of random plebs to marshal enough resources for a prime time advertising budget.

Ken, you are a card. I know you want to make your entries interesting, but look at this:

Microsoft has that marketing engine behind it. Linux has Linus and a band of merry followers who attempt to “convert by the sword” and to convince the infidels that there’s a better way.

Does it? What is this “Linux” thing of which you speak? a kernel project? Why does a kernel project need marketing on TV? And besides, when was the last time you ever saw Linus Torvalds doing anything as brash as advertising or marketing? Linus and his merry followers have no need of adverts, they’re doing quite well, thank you very much.

Microsoft isn’t fighting Torvalds or any of the kernel programmers, not really. Why should they care if there is technical excellence over there in obscurity? No, what they are fighting with marketing is the use to which this technology is put and as Torvalds so wonderfully put:

If you’re a mad scientist, you can use GPLv2’d software for your evil plans to take over the world (“Sharks with lasers on their heads!!”), and the GPLv2 just says that you have to give source code back. And that’s OK by me. I like sharks with lasers. I just want the mad scientists of the world to pay me back in kind. I made source code available to them, they have to make their changes to it available to me. After that, they can fry me with their shark-mounted lasers all they want.

Does that sounds like someone who cares about marketing their work for business use? or any use at all?

Yes, we have The Linux Foundation, the Free Software Foundation and a few others out there displaying the white teeth and freshly scrubbed faces but have you seen a Linux commercial lately?

Ah, so now we expect the Linux Foundation (a group of business interests that surround the kernel project) and the Free Software Foundation (a group of ideal interests surrounding the Gnu project) to produce and pay for the airing of major television advertisements? Somehow I think Ken has suffered a bit of amnesia, it’s not the LF or FSF that has historically been pushing “Linux” (whatever that is) at the business world, it’s people like Red Hat and IBM.

You remember all those adverts they made?

Well my take on the reason why those adverts are not being run is simply that both companies have enough business to be getting on with. If they need to increase public awareness of their products in certain sectors, I’m sure they will invest into advertising that best targets them.

So who is Ken’s article aimed at? I don’t think it’s aimed at FOSS businesses, because they’re doing rather well out of the economic crisis. I think instead the article is aimed at the fears in the hearts of enthusiasts. People who care deeply about the spread and uptake of Free Software and with that the fair treatment by third parties. It’s a cruel way of pulling on the dark heart strings that drive advocates and I think it probably just a crass way of getting hits.

Which unfortunately this entry doesn’t help. But articles like Ken’s do help in rubbing people up the wrong way, making them angry and in some way motivated. Perhaps that’s a goal too?

In conclusion, is the Free Desktop going to suffer in economic trouble? No. Is enterprise core business process software going to die during a meltdown? No, quite the reverse it seems.