If you don't agree with me now, just wait five years.

"Marketers! Marketers! Marketers!"

Date/Time Permalink: 05/17/07 12:07:42 pm
Category: General

I'm pretty shocked and betrayed to see a site like Nuxified jump on the name, blame, and shame bandwagon. This has stopped being about Tux500 a _long_ time ago. Reason #3 of that article goes on yet again to paint anybody who doesn't support Tux500 as the mortal enemy of Linux. I hope it was worth the Indy 500 coffee mug, Danijel Orsolic!

What an utter bunch of illogical nonsense it all is! Millions of dollars are raised through the FSF, EFF, OSAIA, and the individual projects which make Linux Linux... and all you have to do is close your eyes and pretend not to see it and insist that if people don't support Tux500, then they're an enemy of Linux.

But let's examine some history, shall we? Linux is just over 15 years old. Now, why do I use Linux, why are you, dear reader, reading about Linux, why do sites like Nuxified even exist? Why does Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have fits and throw tantrums about Linux? Is it because Linux has been advertising for 15 years, be it upon a race car, a blimp, or a bicycle?

Why do companies like IBM and websites like Slashdot popularize Linux so? Why is the NYSE today putting its faith in Linux? How did Linux get such powerful allies? Think hard here: Did Linux get where it is today based on marketing? Even a tiny little bit? So, why are we even caring about Linux enough to have this discussion?

Taking off our glass-is-half-empty glasses for a minute: has it occurred to anybody lately to think, maybe, just for a moment, that Linux has already won? We have just won a different kind of game. The game of marketing hype, which is the ONLY reason Microsoft got where it is today, is kind of like chess. The game that Linux has won is kind of like Go. And, like Go, it takes some experience to even be able to tell when you've won! One of the chief differences in Go between an amateur and a master in the "dan" rankings is that a master knows the exact moment to resign the game or declare victory, whereas an amateur will continue playing in the face of crushing defeat... or even ruin a game he has already won!

Linux got where it is today based on one word and one word alone: quality. A quality effort by a gifted team of developers, released under a quality license that has stood the test of time, promoted not by some rag-tag gaggle of market drones but by professionals with IT careers! Don't judge Linux's success by whether or not Joe Sixpack uses it: Joe Sixpack doesn't know any better and probably never will.

Linux is never going away! It is too established! It cannot be wiped out. And that is when you've won. Not when you're being hauled into court on anti-trust charges - that's when you've ruined the game you already won.

But to Nuxified's article: Honestly? To suggest that we don't want Linux to succeed! Sure, that's why I post tutorials in Gimp showing people how to do stuff they only thought it was possible to do in Photoshop, because I want to keep Linux all to myself. That's why I cheer on gaming on Linux when it makes progress, because I don't want people to use Linux. That's why I recognize computer manufacturers who aren't afraid of the big bad Microsoft wolf and brazenly offer Linux computers, because I don't want Linux to win. That's what the whole HOWTOs and Guides section is about, like showing people how to develop Flash animations on Linux - which a Google search will show that a lot of people didn't know was possible - because I'm an elitist who wants to keep Linux a big secret.

Fortunately, my past helpful tutorial articles have drawn comments from people thanking me for explaining things clearly. Gladly, I have seen people come by this site and report on their success stories in switching to Linux, in part due to sites like mine. It's going to take more than a few trolls kicking me in the teeth to bring my spirits down. The Indy 500 race will be over in two weeks. The value contributed by the people who were into Linux since day one will last a lifetime.

Danijel Orsolic says, "We are prepared to take questions of the new mainstream GNU/Linux users, and to adapt to their needs and desires, to help them as they break their Microsoft addiction. Are you?" Yeah, we were doing that the first day we answered a question in linuxquestions.org, the first day we showed somebody else how to use Linux, the first time we recommended a Linux solution at work, the day we registered our domains for our Linux-centric websites, the first day we coded some neat little hack to make Linux do something new and showed everybody how to do it. If you must succeed by putting down all that came before you, then you have lost already!

And that Slashdot editor saying that he didn't care if Tux500 cures cancer, he's not going to promote it. Right, I suppose that means Slashdot "would even like GNU/Linux to be even less known than it is. This probably gives them a sense of being special, and in an elite."

And we have to go so far as to malign users of other distros, such as Slackware, attacking them as the exclusive domain of elitists?

Because if there's nothing else that readers learn today, learn this: the so-called "elitist" distros are WHERE ALL THE DEVELOPMENT COMES FROM! Distros like Debian, Slackware, and Red Hat / Fedora build Linux; distros that are targeted at new-to-Linux users are just sub-sets of the package archive from those distros with some glossy paint. Whatever else you have to say about Debian and Ubuntu, Debian could survive without Ubuntu, but Ubuntu without Debian is a dead duck.

Steve Ballmer isn't the only one who should be doing the monkey-boy dance about "Developers! Developers! Developers!" Without developers, there is no Linux. Without marketers, Linux makes the same progress it has made for the past 15 years.

Remember the article on Linux Weekly News about corporate funding of developers. They pay... who? A marketer hawking race car stickers? No, they fund the actual building of Linux. Maybe they know where it's important to spend the money? And Ken Starks is out there blowing raspberries at the likes of Google, HP, Red Hat, and Intel for not giving him money for his race car project. If we have to choose between Tux500 and the whole industry which supports Linux, I think I know which side is more valuable to stick with. "With us or against us." is a strategy that has lost before.

The LWN article concludes, at corporate sponsorship of 65% of kernel development, that probably less than 1/3 of kernel development is volunteer effort - but that's still volunteers who accept donations. To say nothing of the programs built on top of Linux: a vast, uncountable horde of software stretching out to infinity, *MOST* of which is done out-of-pocket.

We're forgetting that end users have a finite amount of money to spend: every dollar we contribute to a marketing plan is a dollar out of the pocket of a developer who is building that Linux you claim so loudly and vulgarly to support. $600,000 dollars motivates a LOT of developers, or it gives one marketer a new yacht.

But besides the money; can you ever quantify the human expense of spitting on those developers by calling them elitists, of mocking the core Linux distros for not being marketing machines, of turning your backs on the web's most successful sites for not shilling for your scam, and of alienating the people who use Linux in their business and advocate it to every paying customer? That's the part that bugs me, more so than the money. Your race car may drag in five new Linux users, but your witch-burning hatred for everyone who doesn't give you money or shill for you scares away thousands!

Even this Nuxified article says, "Fine! Go move to OpenSolaris or BSD!" Good call; hey, everybody, let's all take our skills where they're appreciated. See how far Linux gets without the people who got it where it is today. If that thought doesn't make the average Linux user sick with grief, they should check to make sure they still have a pulse.

The dangerous confusion of ideas that have been snow-balling around Linux since the century turned are coming to a head. Forgetting who built their pyramid, they throw out the engineers and worship golden statues. Ignoring software development because it's "too hard" and fit only for "elitists", they would take Linux away from the people who built it and run it into the ground in an attempt to make a buck. Linux, meet your new pointy-haired-boss overlords!

All marketing, no developing. Sound familiar? It's killed a lot of IT startups. And it will kill Linux, too. This is Bill Gates' happiest dream, and Tux500 is making it happen.

Follow me on Twitter for an update every time this blog gets a post.
Stumble it Reddit this share on Facebook

suddenly the moon