The “Linux” Brand

Part of “Technological Evangelism” according to M$ is to denigrate competitive brands. In the FLOSS world, unfortunately, there is too much of that. One item is the holding down of the “Linux” brand. Two popular examples are Android/Linux and Ubuntu GNU/Linux. “linux” turns this up:
“This entry was marked as not being an idea the 29 July 11 …

Written by talvik the 14 Feb 11 at 18:53. Related project: Status: Not an idea
When you enter You’re welcomed to a nice, informative and clean webpage.
But there is something wrong there, you can’t read the word Linux anywhere. You keep navigating on the website without seeing a single mention it.

What’s even more baffling is entering various Ubuntu Server pages and not seeing “Linux”. Doesn’t Canonical think that would help promote their server edition?
How does Canonical expect to be a major Linux provider when they don’t even bother to inform that THEY ARE A LINUX PROVIDER?!”

That seems to be a deliberate systematic avoidance of “Linux”. The same search on finds thousands of hits but still some individuals on the web declare that “Android’s not Linux” and other nonsense. There are few OEMs and retailers who mention Linux in material about Android, however.

Linux is a huge, diverse project upon which many other projects including Android/Linux and Ubuntu GNU/Linux depend. To suggest otherwise by neglecting the Linux brand is folly. While many consumers and businesses may have little awareness of Linux because they are not that intent on understanding technology but just using it, Linux is a strength and should list in the feature-set of all such great products.

Worse is the targeting of Linux or GNU/Linux as in any way inferior or lacking in merit. Lately, a supposed stalwart of journalism in IT has taken to knocking GNU/Linux at every turn:“The sad conclusion is that for the vast majority of users, Linux will be a promising first date that turns into a bad, even abusive, long-term relationship. After 15 years, I don’t want to hear any more excuses or how things will get better in the future.

If I’m dual-booting in the future, it will be with FreeBSD, not Linux. So long, and thanks for the fish.”

The fact that many millions of people have no problems with GNU/Linux compared to that other OS shows the dishonesty of such attacks. Not only has GNU/Linux held its share as the total number of users of PCs has increased over the years, but the share is increasing and the share of those using that other OS is decreasing. A PC, properly installed of GNU/Linux by an OEM and supported by an OEM, will not have any significant negatives for an end-user.

In fact, all */Linux systems have many advantages for end-users, particularly the licence which allows users to backup, restore, and copy the system any way they want unless they modify the source code and distribute the binary to others (they have to distribute the source code, not just the binary). Probably the greatest feature of GNU/Linux not found in that other OS is a simple way to update all the applications and the OS itself with one simple operation. M$ and its partners are just now thinking of doing something like that but they have a problem, squabbling over licensing fees…

On top of that Linux works with a wide variety of hardware and performs the tasks expected of an operating system and not doing the will of M$ to mess with competition and to restrict the user.

For all these reasons, the Linux brand should be promoted as a desirable feature of systems wherever it is used.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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4 Responses to The “Linux” Brand

  1. oe says:

    Probably because “Linux” is (erroneously) associated with “free” as in “cheap”, and the users of it are seen as hippies, freeloaders, cheapskates and other undesirable elements (never mind the fact it underpins the London Stock Exchange, Amazon and other not inconsequential outfits); hence its use is buried and hidden.

  2. Clarence Moon wrote, “Presumably Ubuntu and others do not want to be in violation of the law nor pay the fee”.

    I doubt Linus’ fee is too onerous for big outfits to use. Canonical is a silver member of The Linux Foundation and has paid $thousands for that privilege. Linus charges a fee for commercial use of the trademark mostly to cover costs of protecting the trademark.

    Wikipedia:”The licensing of the trademark has since been handled by the Linux Mark Institute. Torvalds has stated that he trademarked the name only to prevent someone else from using it. LMI originally charged a nominal sublicensing fee for use of the Linux name as part of trademarks,[111] but later changed this in favor of offering a free, perpetual worldwide sublicense.[112]

    Linux Mark Institute:”You need to apply for a sublicense if you are using the term “Linux” as part of your own trademark or brand identifier for Linux-based software goods or services. It doesn’t matter if your trademark is unregistered, or if you do not plan to make any money using the mark.

    Since Ubuntu does not contain the term “Linux” it may not require even a sub-licence. That does not prevent them from using the term “Linux” to describe their product more noticeably. It could be lawyer-proofing but it looks like me that they are hallucinating and see Linux as a liability instead of the asset that it is. Canonical mentions Linux in thousands of places but it’s nowhere near the front page.

  3. Clarence Moon says:

    That seems to be a deliberate systematic avoidance of “Linux”

    Perhaps you are not aware of the fact that “Linux” is trademarked (as an OS product) by Linus Torvalds and one must legally have some form of authorization to use it commercially. Linus started to enforce his mark a few years ago and there is some sort of corporation set up to collect fees for its use. It was somewhat controversial at the time although that has died down.

    Presumably Ubuntu and others do not want to be in violation of the law nor pay the fee, so there is no mention of it. In addition, along the lines of your post immediately above, a company would not ordinarily want to dilute its brand with a generic reference. Hence “Ubuntu” is used by Canonical as a complete description of its product, just as Windows is Microsoft’s branded product name for its overall line. Canonical is not interested in promoting Linux at all, it is interested in promoting Ubuntu.

    You also say that customers want a wide choice, but that is not actually the case. If a customer is presented with too wide of a variety of selections, it becomes difficult or even impossible to evaluate all the options and so the customer does not choose anything, fearing that he might make a non-optimal choice. It is marketing psychology 101 and you may not agree, but that is what they teach in school.

  4. Andrew says:

    Many of the distros released from the computer science projects in our universities tend to look like the commodity OS; In our after school programs and community centres we just let them boot to “Debian GNU/Linux – The Universal Operating System”.

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