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Re: Why does Ubuntu have all the ideas?

Fredag 28 juli 2006 21:35, skrev Katrina Jackson:

> You say Ubuntu has better publicity, which it does.  But why is this
> the case?  I know Mark has more money, but since you have so many
> programmers, and seem so passionate about your OS, why aren't you as
> successful getting publicity?  I'm not accusing anyone.  I guess I
> just really would like to know:

Two things first. 

1. Good press coverage don't get the software installed on the
   computers. People that believe that the software will work for the
   required use cases, does the job installing the software on the
   computers. Good press coverage helps out, but it's a big step from
   having positive press coverage, to get the software installed.

   A collection[1] of different press coverage, and a voluntary
   registration[2] of Skolelinux installations should give a picture:

   1. http://d.skolelinux.no/artikler.html

2. The +400 articles in different news media the last 5 year and 60 in
   2006, have not given 400 Skolelinux installations. Hard work, both
   voluntary and by professional sale of Skolelinux pre-installed on
   the hardware as a package solution with server(s) and reused client
   machines has given a considerable marked share.

> A.)  Could Debian do anything to get better publicity and change
> people's perceptions.  (For instance, if Debian is so more "well
> build" then Ubuntu why don't the press keep mentioning this?

The press coverage of Debian after the Sarge release was positive in
general. The improved installation routine got a lot of kudos. No
other distro support the amount of platforms and the number of
software packages that Debian does. But a lot of journalists wrote
that the 3 year between Woody and Sarge was to long, and that is
perceived as a negative thing. Also the lack of support for a newer
hardware 6-12 months after a stable Debian is released is also
addressed in some articles.

Ubuntu have inherently some of the feautures from Debian because it's
made from the unstable branch. One of them is the text based
installer. A lot of different reviews in computer articles has praised
that installer because it recognise the hardware automaticly. It was
the manual choosing of hardware that people hated. That
shows that the graphical installer was not as important compared to
automation. User friendliness was a different thing than making the
installation graphical. Anyway, now there is a graphical installer
with Ubuntu live CD, and it will probably be something similar with
Debian.  So we got the best from two worlds :)

This efforts makes the adoption of free software more easy. But the
thing that really will give impact, is to get Kubuntu/Debian/SuSE of
the shelf preinstalled on the hardware without paying Microsoft. Since
1998 municipalities and schools in Norway have signed School Agreement
with Microsoft that states that the schools have to pay Microsoft
licence also on machines installed with Linux, Apple or other
competing PC system. The schools that buy hardware with no MS Windows
installed, and not having a school agreement saves 175 Euro for every
machine. The Norwegian Competitive Authorities investigates[3] the
School Agreements from Microsoft. In Great Britain MS School Agreement
is not allowed, so I'm fairly optimistic that we will get more access
to the hardware marked.

3. http://www.aftenposten.no/english/business/article1023195.ece

> B.)  Why hasn't more been done?  Why isn't there any major reports by
> like PC World which say "Ubuntu is top 100 products, but man if you
> want a better distro, more well built etc.. you should check out
> Debian.

The question you ask is biased, where the selection of distribution is
more complicated than an impression of which of the distroes the press
put as their preferred solution. I've gone trough some numbers easily
reachable on the net.

A google search world wide gives 148,000,000 hits on Debian,
56,800,000 for Ubuntu, and 1,510,000 for Skolelinux. SuSE got
81,800,000 hits, and 103,000,000 for "Red Hat".

In Norway I got this results with Google:

857 000 for "Red Hat"
783 000 for Debian
749 000 for SuSE
579 000 for Skolelinux
361 000 for Ubuntu

A national news search with one of the local search engines gives 414
press hits for Skolelinux and 77 for Ubuntu. Edubuntu got 1 hit. Red
Hat got 689 hits. SuSE got 1,671 hits. 

So the question. Which has the biggest marked share at the schools in
Norway? Thats no doubt Skolelinux. Which is the biggest on the
servers. Thats probably RedHat with SuSE as a good number two, and
Debian as a number three. Debian is also popular on web servers and as
a backbone on the national science network.

What about Ubuntu? Well, they have won the end user reviews in
national computer magazines, but does this give many installations?
For a kid or a computer enthusiast it's cool to install 3 or 4
distroes at the home computer. Then (K)ubuntu is the winner. If Ubuntu
hadn't been there, it could be SuSE that was the preferred, Mandrake
or some RedHat based system. 

So the biggest impact (K)ubuntu has is on home computers and laptops
with enthusiast. When it comes to server installations they have to
compete in a different ball game where Linux is much more in use with
preinstallation on > 20% of the servers. And that's why the Ubuntu
team released Dapper with the extra quality effort that was a success
from a marketing view.  Ubuntu will need time to build up their
credibility as a server distro, and they will probably succeed. But
the marked shares is still favouring[4] Debian, and has done so for a
3-4 years now.


What's that telling me? The press coverage don't sell a distro, but it
helps. There are a lot of different marked out there with different
users. We are manoeuvring in a heterogeneous environment with lots of
different users with different needs and requirement. In some parts of
the world local distroes has done it so well that people believe any
Linux-distro installed at e.g the schools are Skolelinux, even if it
is SuSE, K12LTSP or Edubuntu. So hard work selling and installing 
systems get you a marked share, and this is not done by itself. 

From a marketing point of view, this is good. And it's better that
people base it's distro on Debian than RedHat or something else. Lets
call it "Debian inside", as I've read in an e-mail from Matt Zimmerman
a week ago (that was forwarded by Petter Reinholdtsen). In that
perspective it's more easy to look at the marketing effort done by
Ubuntu as a positive thing. And with some improvement of the patch
issues from Ubunto to Debian, the different marketing effort could
boost each other. I think this is a more constructive approach instead
of looking at diversity as a unfortunate thing. The one thing does not
exclude the other. 

> Again, I don't want to accuse anyone of anything, but it just doesn't
> seem you, with as many as you have working for you, can generate as
> much mainstream publicity.  I mean from major things like PC World,
> not just Planet Debian.

Well, the press is not a faithful ally. When the dust has settled
after the stories about Mark in space, or Ubuntu and Sun, the press
will look in other directions after what they believes is the story of
the day. Since Ubuntu will release new versions every 6th month, and
Debian will release every 18th month, the Ubuntu will probably get 2-3
more press cover over a 2 year period concerning new releases. But
there is a whole lot of stories both locally and internationally where
both parties should promote the fact that what we do, is based on
Debian. We could make this to an win-win without compromising the
differences in the different projects or distributions. 

Best regards 

Knut Yrvin

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