Tuesday Mar 20, 2007

I'm a Mac. I'm a PC. And I'm Linux.

There's no denying the brilliance of Apple's "I'm a Mac ... and I'm a PC" commercials. Ted Haeger does a nice job of explaining how they put the Mac in the best possible light by playing off of our existing perceptions, "framing" the conversation in favorable either-or terms, and by just being funny and clever. Whether you like the product or not, you've got to appreciate its marketing.

Ted goes on to look at attempts to redirect the popularity and momentum of the ads, such as with spoofs inserting a Linux character. As he notes, these probably haven't done a very good job of making Linux look its best.

(Though in all fairness, I think the above was clearly intended just to be funny--not as an attempt to mold Linux's public image.)

Ted's clearly an optimist, though, and has set out to create his own spoofs which do make Linux look good. He describes in great detail how he and others at Novell tried to break the "either-or" framing of Apple's original commercials with a spoof casting Linux as a sexy female (though not too sexy--see his blog for the full reasoning).

The results are interesting, as is Ted's description of the thought process behind them. But I walked away thinking about one detail he didn't address. This was the work of Novell? As in the company which is well on its way to destroying any credibility it may have once had with the Linux community?

I could be wrong, but... Don't they have more immediate concerns than trying to sell Linux to the masses?

Wednesday Feb 14, 2007

Re: Is Solaris the New GNU?

Payton Byrd is wondering whether Solaris will become the new GNU. Specifically, his question seems to be whether OpenSolaris (if re-released under the GPLv3) could end up providing the preferred kernel for the GNU operating system.

It's a good opening question, but his argument then veers off with a lot of specific points which don't make a whole lot of sense. Let's look at a few examples.

Byrd: "Does the discontent this creates among Sun's engineers further push away the people who have made Solaris such an incredible product?"

What discontent? I think it's safe to say that most Solaris engineers at Sun are supportive of open source efforts and expanding the Solaris community. If adopting a more widely-accepted open source license advances those goals, I don't see why it would create discontent in our engineers.

Byrd: "If the FSF and Sun move forward with a replacement of Linux with Solaris in the GNU Operating System, I forsee a very ugly, protracted, and devastating fight that will last for years and seriously impede the progress that Linux is making into the market place. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a matter of perspective. I do know one thing, it highlights the fact that the GPL is anticompetitive because GPL v3 is looking to not only lock out IP protecting Novell, but Linux as well."

What you're calling a long and ugly fight, I would call ongoing and healthy competition. Has the existence of the BSD projects been devastating to Linux? Or vice versa? Has PostgreSQL been devastating to MySQL? Or vice versa? No. Competition is good. Where's the downside in having some competition and choice for kernels in GNU distributions. For some, Linux will continue to be the right choice. For others, a Solaris kernel may make more sense. And for both kernels' development communities, the competition and exchange of ideas will be a good thing.

As far as the "GPL is anticompetitive" statement... It makes so little sense to me that I wouldn't even know where to begin in responding.

Byrd: "I say let Sun, the FSF, and GNU fade away into oblivion!"

Huh? Earlier you say that Sun's Solaris is "probably the best kernel in the world." You correctly gave credit to GNU and the FSF for providing a huge portion of the software that people think of as "Linux". And now you're calling for all of the above to fade into oblivion, presumably because you've decided they're some kind of threat to Linux? Wow. Talk about being anticompetitive.

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