Re: Debian and Redhat - are most linux users missing the point?
On Wed, 3 Mar 1999, Ed Cogburn wrote:
> > I dunno. There's a lot of people who would like to find out about
> > Linux, but aren't prepared to bet the whole farm on it sight unseen.
> Without advertising, how are we supposed to get to these
> prospective customers before RH does?
Advertising is expensive and not exactly what I had in mind. I'm not
sugggesting we rely on millions of consumers marching off to computer
dealers shouting "We must have Debian on our new systems"-- nice as
that might be. What I'm suggesting is that when the customer finally
takes his/her machine from the dealer and gets the empty boxes that
contained his video card, etc, the Windows 98 CD-ROM in its jewel
case, the wad of component documentation, etc., that a couple of
Debian CD-ROMs could also be in the handover, and that it would be
even nicer if some standard really bug-free distribution had been
installed on a partition of that 6.3 or 8.4 or 10 Gigabyte disk.
I.e., we can get something out there in the hands of consumers if
we're willing to give that something for nothing. This would not
be cheap from our viewpoint admittedly, and one could argue we'd
not be getting exactly the new "customers" we wanted. But over time,
we'd be getting a fair number of people who felt that a computer
wasn't complete with Linux, and a fair number who made the mental
equation "Linux=Debian." Some of these folks would eventually be
in a position to affect corporate purchasing.
The trick is to do this at minimal cost, financially and otherwise.
For a first hack, I suppose we might approach PC sellers with
"Here's something you can throw in for all your customers really
really cheap that adds lots of functionality and makes your outfit
stand out from CompUSA and all its clones." (Unless we swing over
CompUSA of course..)
> Short of DOJ intervention, M$ has made sure the OEMs don't ship
> their machines with anything other than a M$ OS. Even the dealers
> don't dare advertise their support of Linux, for fear of M$
> retribution. We have to understand their position; they are
> *scared* of M$ revenge tactics.
Well, we might get the DOJ intervention the way things are
going. But I'd be surprised even now if Microsoft really has the
power to keep PC sellers from putting Linux on their machines,
especially if Linux goes on as a second operating system at no charge.
And while MS may have friendly arrangements with gateway and Dell
and Packard Bell and so forth, I doubt that it has bothered to make
contracts with any teeth that apply to the thousands of hole in the
wall retailers who put together and sell 25 % or so of the computers
sold in the USA.
> I thought there was something of a consensus that Deb wasn't as
> easy to install as RH? Although I like it, I can understand the
> complaints about dselect.
That's another issue. We'd need an initial setup system that would
let users play around with Linux for several months and get
comfortable with the OS before they had to start adding packages.
That might mean tailoring Debian to half a dozen likely hardware
configurations, but if I read the computer ads correctly, half a
dozen configurations (PII with 64M SDRAM, 56 K modem, Sound Blaster
clone, 3D accelerator video card, etc, for example) make up most
of the market for new machines.
Alternately, we'd need to coach the dealers through their initial
installations. Anybody here a dealer?
Alternately alternately, we could just hand over CD-ROMs with a
couple of printed sheets to guide the buyer through the installation
process, but this would probably be a waste of resources.
California State University, Northridge
Graduate Student, Dept. of Anthropology