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Dropping the "L" Word

linux and ubuntu

Recently on Planet Ubuntu, Ben Collins blogged about a topic near and dear to my heart. The implied comparison of a kernel to an operating system.

His thesis: "Why Linux will (has?) hit a wall in popularity with normal users..." is worth a read.

The popular belief that "Linux" = {your favourite GNU/Linux distro} is limiting, problematic, and mythological. Unlike Ben though, I don't think "Linux" fails due to "too many choices". That's a problem, but it's not the biggest one.

The root cause is branding. "Linux" (the brand) is muddy, confusing, and unfriendly to the mainstream computer user: those on the other side of the chasm. They are the exact people that we need to embrace Ubuntu and they don't *get* "Linux". They don't know what it is. They get a negative connotation when they hear the word. Don't believe me? Ask your non-techie friend or loved one. (I just asked the person beside me and the response I got was less than flattering.)

The co-joining of the words Ubuntu and Linux early on has unfortunately stuck in people's minds. This despite the fact that http://ubuntu.com and official Ubuntu marketing materials have long since dropped the term "Linux". And even more disappointingly, some advocates continue to staple the words together as if they are synonymous.

Early Adopters Wanted

In my last post entitled "Who Will Help Us Cross The Chasm" I wrote about an early bridge across the chasm that we (Advocates) can begin to build while Ubuntu developers, artists, and translators work to make the upcoming release (Maverick Meerkat) even more stunning, and pre-loaded on even more systems. I stressed the importance of finding Early Adopters and advocating Ubuntu specifically to them now. As Advocates, we wait at our peril.

So where do we find the people that are likely to adopt Ubuntu now? Where are the Early Adopters likely to hang out?

In Vancouver BC, we've noticed something interesting. The remaining (non-Ubuntized) Early Adopters aren't necessarily or usually the ones coming to events about FLOSS, Open Source, and other computer-related technology events. The people attending those events are already on board with Ubuntu, or possibly have vested interests in other free distributions.

Instead, we are finding our Early Adopters in broader community settings. Places like community markets, car-free festivals,cultural festivals, and progressive social events. Generally, people that are open to alternative ways of living or diverse cultural activities seem to be quite open and willing to also be Early Adopters of Ubuntu. They're used to change. In fact many of them crave change. Some connect computing freedom with freedom in a broader societal sense.

How about your city or town? Where have you found your Early Adopters? Have you found them all yet?

Who Will Help Us Cross The Chasm?

Ubuntu Targets

Confession time: I'm an Ubuntu advocate. And, if you're reading Planet Ubuntu I bet you are too.

At the kick-off to UDS-M, Mark Shuttleworth talked about Ubuntu's need to "cross the chasm". This got me thinking, though not in the "how do we develop the software that makes crossing the chasm easier?" sense, or about how we can install on more systems by default. That's a super important mission, but I'm not a developer.

Instead, my focus is on how we can maximize the number of people that adopt Ubuntu right now as opposed to "at a future release". Hint: Advocacy is the way. (You can't expect the world to buy the better mouse trap if they've never heard of it.)

When advocating Ubuntu, it's important to choose your "targets" carefully. There's no point in looking for "Laggards" or the "Late Majority", or even the trailing edge of the "Early Majority". We're simply not there yet and they will drain your (our) scarce energy.

Instead, seek out the rest of the Early Adopters. People who are generally open to try new things but for whatever reason haven't got around to Ubuntu yet. Maybe they haven't heard of it. Maybe they've heard of it but don't quite understand fully what it can do for them. Maybe they've dismissed it at an earlier stage of development. Make these people your priority and help them get it installed. Do what it takes to get Ubuntu to them. (Click on the thumbnail to see who I'm talking about.)

But do it soon. If we don't cross the chasm, someone else will. Or perhaps the entrenched monopoly will just hang on...

Every one of us knows at least a few people that should *get* Ubuntu now. Let's get to them!

Hello Planet Ubuntu!

This is my first post to Planet Ubuntu, so if goof up, please be kind :)

I'm Randall Ross, widely known as the Ubuntu Vancouver "Buzz Generator" and the Community Manager of the Ubuntu Vancouver LoCo.

I have been using Ubuntu on my personal computing equipment since 2006. Before that, I used a long string of GNU/Linux based distro's dating back to approximately 1996, and before that many UNIX variants. I am a strong FLOSS advocate and supporter.

Vancouver BC Canada? Remember the 2010 Winter Olympics? They were here! Want to find us? We're on the west coast of Canada. Ubuntu Vancouver LoCo is my main Ubuntu focus and it's enough to keep me *very* busy.

Ubuntu Vancouver LoCo is currently over 350 people. We meet 4-5 times a month, sometimes more. Our events are very diverse and fun: We organize parties (real ones), restaurant social events, presentations, and support events.

I believe in the need to fix Bug #1 quickly. I believe that Ubuntu represents the best chance we have to do that and even more. But, we have to hurry and we need to cross the chasm.

More to come...

IT Leaders: Have You Worked in a LORT Shop?

A colleague passed along an article today that I felt compelled to comment on. Go ahead and give it a read. Executive Summary: IT strategies are a folly.

So, "Is the best IT strategy no IT strategy"? That depends what planet you're on. On planet "tech journalism" it makes for a controversial headline. But, on planet earth a CIO with no strategy is like a ship's captain with no destination and by extension no map to get there. A CIO that operates under this slogan is an ideal customer for LORT (lots of random technology.) Have any of you worked in a LORT shop?

As a CIO, formulate a sensible strategy that is aligned with your company's (CEO) strategy. Innovate on a technology level to make it sizzle but while doing so keep your costs under control.

Hello World

This is a test to see if all of this works. There is nothing of further interest in this post. Why are you still reading?

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