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Operating Systems Linux

The 'Linux Inside' Stigma 366

Posted by Soulskill
from the someday-they'll-even-come-up-with-a-linux-phone dept.
New submitter dtschmitz highlights the success of the Google Chromebook to underscore what, in his view, is a serious Linux brand image problem. "It's remarkable how Google doesn't mention the word Linux anywhere in their marketing of the Google Chromebook. I mean, it's running the Linux Kernel, so shouldn't it be Google Linux instead of ChromeOS? Why did Google carefully avoid references to Linux? It's all a very carefully crafted, well executed plan of elegant branding and image making. ... The profile of this user is that of someone who really doesn't care anything about the technical underpinnings of a device. They are not sophisticated technophiles by any means. They have a set number of things which they wish to do--recreational surfing, banking, email, an occasional letter, not complicated. ... Google didn't mention Linux because they know it will scare buyers away. That's unfortunate, but true. And we need to come to terms with that fact and work towards improving the 'Linux Inside' brand image.
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The 'Linux Inside' Stigma

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  • Does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:10PM (#43371423)

    There are lots of things for which that level of detail is lost on the target consumer.

  • It's simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:13PM (#43371463)

    Because people don't give a fuck what's inside their computers. They want their magic boxes to just work, without knowing all the innards.

    You can blame Apple for making people less technologically astute, or praise them for raising the bar for every other manufacturer.

  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:13PM (#43371465) Homepage

    I think the reason why they don't mention Linux is simply because the thing isn't meant to run Linux software. It doesn't really matter that it uses Linux underneath when you never get to directly access it and instead are limited to whatever layer they strapped on top of it. Android isn't marketed as a Linux for the same reason, the Linux is simply an implementation detail, not an end user visible feature.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:14PM (#43371475)

    Lets say the product is a big success. They want the positive experience attributed to "CHROME", a trademark they own, versus "Linux", one they don't.

  • Why would we? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:15PM (#43371481)

    Who actually cares?

    Not everything needs a nice friendly brand.

  • by Duncan J Murray (1678632) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:17PM (#43371509) Homepage

    I somewhat take Linus's view - who cares?

    -Interview with Linus last year (http://www.techradar.com/news/software/why-linus-torvalds-would-rather-code-than-make-money-1112900)

    LT: "Technical people will complain 'it's Linux, and now people don't know they're using Linux'. Which is true, a lot of people don't even know they're using Linux"

    LXF: "And that doesn't bother you?"

    LT: "And that doesn't bother me at all, because I'm interested in the technical side. And I actually think it's the right thing to do, to say: "Hey, we're doing our OS".

    And when they say OS, they mean more than just a kernel, and when I say OS I usually mean just the kernel.

    But if you're doing your OS, Linux is a central, but it's still just a small part of the overall thing - you shouldn't need to name your stuff just because you use the Linux kernel.

    So, I actually wouldn't want to use the trademark thing, plus I think it would be stupid anyway because I think people should just rename their things."

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:18PM (#43371517)

    Hold your horses. It runs linux software, what do you think that browser is and for some folks android being linux is a selling point. For me for example, I like having busybox right on my phone.

    The reality is they don't own the linux trademark, nor is helping its brand doing google any good.

  • Re:Alone. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by loufoque (1400831) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:18PM (#43371519)

    Oops, wrong story.

  • Do we? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gallondr00nk (868673) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:19PM (#43371555)

    And we need to come to terms with that fact and work towards improving the 'Linux Inside' brand image.

    I wasn't aware that there was even a need to have a brand image for Linux, let alone improve it.

  • Re:Easy to answer. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Synerg1y (2169962) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:23PM (#43371605)

    The ugly fat guy doesn't care. It's the people who want Linux to go mainstream that need to understand this.

  • Re:It's simple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:30PM (#43371685)

    I don't think it has been done since P.T. Barnum took his final bow.

    I dunno, the drug companies created a market for a drug that numbs your legs by inventing "restless legs syndrome". I think Barnum would be proud.

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:31PM (#43371691)

    They also don't tell consumers that the OS was written in a mixture of C and C++. Why are they hiding this too? Obviously, because it doesn't matter to the end user.

    It doesn't change the user experience knowing the underlying implementation. If anything, by telling people that it is Linux, it will raise expectations that they can run all the software that they have heard about on Linux. I think that the name Chrome is more relevant to the nature of the platform than Linux because it is designed to work with web applications, not programs written to run on Linux distros.

  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:37PM (#43371753)

    Ubuntu doesn't even mention the word Linux on their own front-page, go take a look. You'll have a hard time finding any reference to Linux without some serious digging.

    Why? Pretty simple really. Ubuntu and others are looking to create their own "platform" ala Android, with Linux as the base kernel. It saves millions in R&D to have to create your own and the userland stuff can usualy be rebuilt. Beyond that? Neither Google nor Ubuntu (just as an example) really care if Linux benefits, if Linux is promoted. They're not interested in promoting a product that you can download for free and hack on yourself, that's not a wise way to lock people into a platform. They're interested in promoting their own products, and Linux quite simply is nothing more than a way for them to save money doing it.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:42PM (#43371813) Journal

    it would start with there being an actual linux stigma, which is something that doesn't even exist in the first place. People just don't like things they don't undestand.

  • Re:Easy to answer. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:43PM (#43371817)

    Because "linux" is toxic to 90% of the population out there.

    "Windows" is the status quo, "mac" is sexy, and "linux" is that ugly fat guy in IT who smells bad and makes you change your passwords every other day.

    Google is right to avoid "linux" like the plague.

    I don't think Linux is "toxic" to 90% of the population, it's just meaningless... much like like "BSD kernel", "Mach", or "Microkernel" would be... putting a linux-inside sticker adds nothing of value, anyone that cares about Linux already knows that it's based on a Linux kernel.

    But the real reason there's no Linux-inside sticker is because there's no "Linux, Inc" to pay for it - the reason every Intel laptop has "Intel-inside" stickers is not because PC makers thought it would sell more laptops, it's because Intel paid for those stickers (or at least negotiated it as a part of volume purchase deals) for the brand recognition.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:44PM (#43371847)

    A lot of other devices run Linux kernels without mentioning it, likely for the reasons you mention. Home routers and Android phones come to mind as two very common consumer-oriented examples.

  • Re:Easy to answer. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:46PM (#43371885)

    The ugly fat guy doesn't care. It's the people who want Linux to go mainstream that need to understand this.

    Linux is mainstream. It just isn't called "Linux". Everybody with a Galaxy III, a Nook, or a Kindle is using Linux. Personally, I don't really care what it is called.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:47PM (#43371893)
    How many people know or care that their Sony TV runs Linux [sony.com]?
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:48PM (#43371909)

    "I think the reason why they don't mention Linux is simply because the thing isn't meant to run Linux software."

    I think even more to the point is that Google doesn't mention Linux for the simple reason that they only want the Google name to be on it.

    It's not so much of a Linux "branding" issue as it is simply a Google branding issue.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:56PM (#43372023)
    in branding. Not because of any stigma (most of their audience never heard of Linux anyway); rather because the could not control the Linux brand. Anyone could build a LinuxBook "just like Google's" whereas only Google builds a ChromeBook. They can create a specific brand to differentiate their product from generic Linux machines; and use that to carve out a market niche.
  • by Loughla (2531696) on Friday April 05, 2013 @04:11PM (#43372193)

    Like it or not, you are simply denying the fact that most people, if they even know what linux is, assume that it's only for someone who is very tech savvy and technical minded. Most people see Linux as a neat hobby for hardcore nerds. Most people believe it is damned near impossible to use unless you have countless hours to devote to fixing compatibility/other sundry issues. For many, many years, Linux was only spoken about on-line, and if you actually ran across a conversation in real life, it was in some sort of deep-tech/troubleshooting capacity.

    Denying that there isn't a stigma attached to Linux doesn't make it go away. And, waving away the very real stigma attached to this product, while simultaneously calling the end-users stupid (which you essentially do by saying that the only reason people don't run linux is because they don't understand it) just makes you come across as an arrogant fan-boy. Which, by the way is about 99% of the image problem here. You want people to use it, don't be an ass.

  • Re:Does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NatasRevol (731260) on Friday April 05, 2013 @04:17PM (#43372257) Journal

    "sophisticated technophiles" are not consumers, by any large corporation's definition. They're a rounding error. So why try to sell to them?

  • Re:Easy to answer. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unrtst (777550) on Friday April 05, 2013 @04:17PM (#43372261)

    There's a much easier answer to all of this.
    Windows 3.1 didn't have stickers saying "DOS Inside!". Nor did Winodws 95.
    None of them said "Win32 Inside" (any more than ChromeOS says it runs on a Linux kernel).
    Windows 2000 didn't say "NT kernel inside".
    Ubuntu's front page has a box that says, "What is Ubuntu?", with the answer that "...the world's favorite free operating system..." and no mention of Linux. And, surprising to me, if you click on that for more information, there's still no mention of Linux on a whole page devoted to "What is Ubuntu". Shouldn't it say, somewhere on there, "a Debian based GNU/Linux distribution"???

    The easy answer - no one does this. "Intel Inside" is the exception, not the norm. And the "Intel Inside" is talking about the hardware inside the computer, just as the Windows sticker denoties what it is running as the OS. They don't need to go into every little detail. If ChromeOS were to put an "... inside" type of tag on itself, Linux is pretty low on the core technology list (as in, it could easily be replaced by Solaris, any bsd, or even Windows, and it'd still be ChromeOS).

    This complaint is right in line with Stallman's "GNU/Linux", except Stallman makes a much better, more sound case. "GNU/kFreeBSD" realizes much of that case, and yet we all commonly refer to "Linux distributions" and "Ubuntu" and "Linux", when we really mean the whole kit and kaboodle.

    This article is a troll :-)

  • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Friday April 05, 2013 @04:22PM (#43372317) Journal

    ChromeOS the shiny coating on the ugly steel Linux framework. Makes sense to me. nobody ever really complains when you say see that chrome bumper...That bumper is actually steel with a chrome coating on the outside. It's know to those who it matters to and everyone else just likes the facade.

  • by martas (1439879) on Friday April 05, 2013 @04:50PM (#43372673)
    Could you possibly be confusing stigma with obscurity? I have never met anyone outside the tech world who had ever even heard the word Linux in their lives (that they could remember). Perhaps Google avoided it because every word in marketing is precious, and specifying a detail that won't help sales (even if it won't hurt, either) is a waste.
  • by chipschap (1444407) on Friday April 05, 2013 @04:51PM (#43372683)
    Do most computer users know what Linux is? Have they even heard of it? And do they care?

    I think "no" is the correct answer to all of these, especially about whether they care.

    I've set up Linux systems for casual users (and I believe most users are casual users; that is not a slam, just an observation), people who just want to do Facebook and YouTube and some general browsing and email, maybe play a couple of on-line games. They run it and have little idea that they're running Linux. Half of them think they're running Windows because that's the only brand name they know. They're happy, they're getting everything they want.

    So you hardly have to be an expert to use Linux. Maybe to set it up and maintain it--- then you need to know a little more. But to use it? Nah.

    There are, of course, Linux fans who /want/ it to be difficult so they can claim elite status. I don't find that approach especially helpful. If you want to be a Linux hacker, cool, there's plenty to work with, way beyond Windows (because of source code). But Linux really can be for everyone, and it behooves the Linux community to drop the elite attitude, if that's what you have, and just help people set it up and use it. When they see what they all get for free, they may be convinced, as I have seen with quite a number of people.

  • Re:Easy to answer. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:04PM (#43372881) Journal

    A common misconception (usually harbored by OS geeks) is that the OS kernel needs to be in your face. Apparently, someone has decided that because Windows does it, Linux needs to do it too.

    The most successful software in the universe is completely indetectable. The Year of the Linux (set|table|palm)top has arrived. Because it doesn't come with a huge ugly "Linux Inside!" label, it's not a failure. It's succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of anyone with a clue.

  • by barjam (37372) on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:05PM (#43372885)

    I understand it just fine. I run linux on a server and have it installed in various VMs to mess with. I wouldn't dream of running it as my main machine as I feel Linux just isn't ready for prime time on the desktop.

    I have no problem fixing various things when they come up but they come up far, far too frequently for a consumer level OS.

  • by Pseudonym (62607) on Friday April 05, 2013 @07:06PM (#43374033)

    Oh, we're happy to call it Linux, just not GNU/Linux.

    I do have to wonder why the kernel is singled out for special treatment and not, say, WebKit (well, for the time being at least).

  • by Velex (120469) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:02PM (#43374893) Homepage Journal

    But... but... why do we care?

    It even gives me an excuse to not fix co-workers' personal computers for free. "I don't use Windows at home, and I haven't done help desk in ages."

    No, seriously. Why?

    Linux works for what I want to do. I have a hobby. I don't need everybody in the world to share my hobby to feel good about myself or about my hobby. I don't care what the marketshare of my hobby is. And, there seems to be no shortage of people on the internet with similar hobbies.

    I have a phone and a tablet that run Linux, but I don't see either manufacture of either of those devices jumping up and down about how Linux is the kernel, and I don't see anyone pushing for Android/Linux (as opposed to GNU/Linux) to be used instead of just "Android," although I suppose the tablet I'm typing this on would be GNU/Android/Linux.

    I guess I just don't get why I should care that Linux has a "stigma?" Is it supposed to reflect on me personally somehow? Stamp collecting has a stigma, too. People still do it.

    Most people wouldn't even know or care what to do with a general purpose computer. They're not hobbists, and they just want a way to talk to their friends and families and do things like sharing pictures and arranging get-togethers. All they care about computers is that they're magical boxes that get you to Facebook and Tumblr. They either buy a Windows machine or a Mac if they're feeling hip and trendy, they turn it on, and then they open the internet (you know, that blue E, that's where the internet is) where the places they want to go, like Facebook, are.

    Face it. The year of the Linux desktop is here. Just like nobody talks about NT or BSD, nobody's talking about Linux.

    Should BSD users feel ashamed that Apple doesn't cry out from the rooftops that OS X is a BSD?

    No, the only "stigma" I see here is a news site owned by Dice trying to stir up some social inferiority complex it assumes its nerdy readerbase has (or what's left of it, god only knows why I'm still here).

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