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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 @02:10PM (#43371423)

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

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:42PM (#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.

      • by Loughla (2531696) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:11PM (#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.

        • by martas (1439879) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:50PM (#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 cptdondo (59460) on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:20PM (#43373649) Journal

          Well, I can only go by my family. We use computers, mostly for email and web browsing. My kids use googledocs in school. When their desktop died, I got a cheap laptop with Windows 8 for them. After a couple of weeks, I see my daughter using my wife's computer. So I asked "Why?" Turns out she can't use windows 8, hates the interface, and wants something that works.

          One Xubuntu CD later, she has a working laptop that now gets used all the time, and it "just works".

          Most people *don't care* what's inside. They just want it to be a part of the background so they can browse, do their stuff, and surf the web.

        • by Velex (120469) on Friday April 05, 2013 @08:02PM (#43374893) 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).

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:12PM (#43372201)

        I don't necessarily agree. Examples of marketing terms used to promote computers/smartphones that I'm sure 98% of consumers have no idea what they are:
        LTE
        Intel Core i7
        LCD
        megapixel
        WiFi b/g/n
        5MHz spectrum

        Linux does have a branding problem and it does need something on top of it to make it a true consumer product (I don't think anyone can argue anything else non-dogmatic standpoint) . I would not be surprised if Ubuntu start shying away from the Linux brand as well in order to increase public awareness.

        • by chipschap (1444407) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:51PM (#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.

          • by Tenebrousedge (1226584) <tenebrousedge@NospAM.gmail.com> on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:04PM (#43373501)

            It's not because we want it to be difficult. It's that we want it to be useful. If you keep on bumping up your feature count, you will eventually get to a point where what you have done is create a bad programming language (all programming languages are bad programming languages, but it goes double for GUI-based ones).

            Programming is more or less the ultimate tool for telling a computer what to do. It is also more or less directly opposed to simplicity. Linux is optimized for utility. You can use it to create a simple interface to the computer, at which point we generally stop calling it Linux [android.com], but you cannot simultaneously optimize in two opposite directions. You cannot build a computer appliance using the tools contained within that appliance.

            Designing interfaces is all about managing complexity. Most linux distributions opt for more complexity/utility rather than less. There is some complexity for complexity's sake, and some complexity for historical reasons, but utility is the driving force. And Linux users will get very upset at anything that detracts from that utility, as seen in (among other flamewars) the Wayland vs X11 debates.

        • by gman003 (1693318) on Friday April 05, 2013 @07:39PM (#43374727)

          No, no, people know the word "megapixel". It's the thing that makes the cameras better. Always get the one with the most megapixels. Or is it the biggest megapixels? Just get the biggest number, that's always better. All the megapixels.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by barjam (37372)

        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.

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

      by NatasRevol (731260) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:17PM (#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?

  • by PaulBu (473180) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:11PM (#43371435) Homepage

    Why the heck Apple has OS-X and no BSD inside stickers, for many years now? ;-)

    Paul B.

  • Easy to answer. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:11PM (#43371439)

    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.

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

      by Synerg1y (2169962) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:23PM (#43371605)

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

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

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:46PM (#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 westlake (615356)

          Linux is mainstream. It just isn't called "Linux". Everybody with a Galaxy III, a Nook, or a Kindle is using Linux.

          Each of these devices shoves the operating system as far into the background as is humanly possible. The Kindle user remains comfortably within the bounds of the customized Kindle UI and Amazon's Kindle app store.

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

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

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

      by synapse7 (1075571) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:42PM (#43371811)
      I bet 98% of the population doesn't know what linux is. How would google even market that?
      • Re:Easy to answer. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by oGMo (379) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:40PM (#43372515)

        Exactly why this is another troll piece. There is no evidence of "stigma" ... Linux has never had stigma attached, except maybe in the minds of Microsoft management. When has "Linux" and been "a mark or token of infamy, disgrace, or reproach"?

        As a counterexample, Steam just got released for Linux and they had a big fanfare and sale. Where's the stigma?

        There is no grand conspiracy to hide the fact it's Linux; Linux is already everywhere and it doesn't need marketing. It's cool that way.

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

      by hawguy (1600213) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:43PM (#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.

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

        by unrtst (777550) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:17PM (#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 hodet (620484) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:43PM (#43371821)
      I resent that. I do not make you change your passwords every other day.
    • Re:Easy to answer. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Antipater (2053064) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:43PM (#43371833)
      Not to mention the phrase "Linux Inside" is linguistic shit. Certain sounds work together and sound harmonious, and others don't. "Intel Inside" is alliterative and rolls off the tongue. Same with "ChromeOS".

      I'll probably get downmodded into oblivion for saying that people in marketing are something other than soulless demons, but names that sound pleasing really do sell better. And Linux is not one of them.

    • Google should co-brand, say with Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Game of Thrones. That's a laptop that will sell!
    • by MrHanky (141717)

      It's not toxic. Linux is technology. People appreciate technology, they just don't want to be forced to think about it. And there really is nothing about Linux the ordinary user needs to think about, whether it's used on the Kindle, some "smart" TV, on an Android device, on a ChromeOS laptop, or with just about any web site on the internet. These things are about how you interact with them, just not so much about interaction through the /proc and /dev file systems.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      toxic based on what? People just don't like things they perceive as complicated. For years we've said that was linux. However, user activity proves that while people say linux has a stigma, their actions show that they don't believe that even remotely.

      how many linux- based devices are in use right now? like 80% of all technology? 90%? every appliance?

      People can be afraid of linux all they want, but they're clearly using it anyway.

    • The name "linux" is not as toxic as the brand name "microsoft". Microsoft has the "(almost prime) mover advantage" of being the 800-pound gorilla after out-maneuvering IBM in their contract for MS-DOS for the IBM PC. Many people think very poorly of Microsoft products, yet MS does not realize this and keeps branding things with MS, or Windows 8 or Windows RT, because it knows that its brand name is well known.
      .
      The brand-name "Linux" is very poorly known. It's so poorly known that it's ludicrous to posit the idea that there's a toxicity to attaching that brand name to software or to hardware products containing that software. Google didn't use the name for whatever reasons they had. My guess in "reading google's mind" is that they saw no advantage to adding the linux brandname to what they sell, not that they saw a disadvantage to adding the name.
      .
      Religions have brandnames. Why do you think "Christian Science" and the "Mormons" == "Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints" both co-opt Christian nomenclature in the names of their religions? To get people to buy in that this religion is not different from the other religion (even if it really is in fact quite different).
      .
      So if Linux or even GNU/Linux (praise be to RMS, all hail gnu and yaks [yaks = yet another kind software] ) had any sort of cachet or style or fashionability to them, companies would be stampeding to brand their products as having "GNU inside" or "linux internalized just for U!". Intel and MS pay a lot for their ads. Google has gone the way of Hershey candy bars and switched over from "we're so well known that we don't have to advertise" into "we better splash our brand name out there so people pick us!" There is no corporate marketing entity behind Linux, so there is no prime director behind the brand name or promotional aspects of it. That gives it a floppy directionless kind of vibe.
      .
      Will that lack of pointed focus kill GNU and Linux? Or will it be the saving grace for GNU and Linux? I vote on the saving side. It's the same arguments made for the GPL. Some say the GPL will kill all software that is GPL'ed. Others say GPL means the software will survive while non-GPL software won't fare as well as BSD and proprietary code-bases get co-opted and hidden by corporations and brands. I vote on the side of GPL surviving. But even GPL has been divided into the GPL 2 vs. the GPL 3 camps by Tivo-ization.
      .
      Brand name fights are about marketing and building market awareness and publicity. Google wants you to believe that buying their ads and their adwords will help you succeed. If someone tries to sell you on the importance of branding, look to see what else they are trying to sell you. What they're trying to sell you is either a marketing campaign or some of their services. Don't be sidetracked.
      .
      Content is more important than form. Well, form needs to be clean and crap-free, but a beautiful shiny-candy-coated interface over crap is still just candy-coated-crap. Don't eat it. Make the content good, and let the others fight over branding and 1st place.
      .
      Keep GNU good. Keep Linux good. The Linux "brand" is NOT toxic. Those who tell you that it is toxic are trying to sell you something.
  • It's simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:13PM (#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 @02:13PM (#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 h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:18PM (#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.

      • by synapse7 (1075571)
        I use terminal to run commands with busybox. your phone may also have iptables, samba, vnc, ssh.. probably some others.
    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:44PM (#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.

    • by dgatwood (11270)

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

      Exactly. You might as well ask why nobody slaps a UNIX Inside sticker on iPhones and iPads....

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:48PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:14PM (#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 @02:15PM (#43371481)

    Who actually cares?

    Not everything needs a nice friendly brand.

    • Some people seem to be hung up on stupid marketing slogans from Intel from 1996. Nobody says computers have "Hafnium Silicates Inside" either.

  • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:15PM (#43371483) Homepage

    Its almost like no one mentions Android on their phones anymore.

    And the best selling Android tablet won't even mention it at all...

  • I think the reason they don't mention it, is that they don't want to take any reputation away from Google. If Google is using Linux inside, what's special about Google? Besides, if they do mention it, at some point in the far future which may never happen, Linus (or his inheritors) may come looking for some licensing costs. Or, here you go, when Google starts charging licensing fees, how does having Linux Inside affect that?
  • by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:16PM (#43371499)
    That their smart phone is likely running on Linux?
  • Alone. (Score:5, Funny)

    by loufoque (1400831) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:16PM (#43371503)

    An astronaut falling into a black hole would die alone.

  • Tech folks get into specific discussions about the best solution to a problem. People just want to buy 'the best'.

    If I had my way, we would not have Intel processors in machines and Windows would have ended at 3.1 when it was clear it was a poor solution. The market didn't work that way and I still have to live with bits in the wrong order and drives identified by their letter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If I had my way, we would not have Intel processors in machines and Windows would have ended at 3.1 when it was clear it was a poor solution. The market didn't work that way and I still have to live with bits in the wrong order and drives identified by their letter.

      The 6502, Z80, DEC ALPHA, Atmel AVR, VAX, and the PDP-11 were all little endian amongst other examples that can be named. Little endian has little to do with Intel, moron.

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        not quite, PDP-11 has its own mixed-endian called "PDP-endian", e.g. 2143.

        many cool processors are bi-endian, they can go either way.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Notice how many of those architectures still exist. I think the x86/x86-64 architectures are just about the only little-endian-only CPU architectures left. Everything else is bi or big.

        • The Z80 and its variants, ATmel AVR, the 65C816S, the Nios II, the Blackfin, etc. are all little endian chips still being made. The Z80 and its variants are basically one of the most widely used CPU families of all time. It eclipses Intel chips in sales and usage. So as the GP stated equivacting little endian with Intel is rather stupid.

  • by Duncan J Murray (1678632) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:17PM (#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 Ubi_NL (313657) <joris@NosPAM.ideeel.nl> on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:18PM (#43371531) Journal

    What would the benefit for google be to add this information to their product? If anything it dilutes the brand strength and confuses people. Its the same reason why apple doesnt mention bsd anywhere

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:19PM (#43371551)

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

    Why? Linux has been cruising along for a long time getting better and better, running in more and more places, first conquering servers, enveloping embedded devices, devouring the mobile phone market place, spreading into tablets, etc. It's at the core of VMware, Android, ChromeOS, and devices both on earth and in space.

    So, again, why? So teenagers will use it? Choosy Moms will choose it over Jiff?

    The brand image of Linux right now is: get shit done. well. Oh, and also do whatever you want with it.

    What people like OP need to come to terms with is the fact that Linux is successful in spite of marketing.

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

      Why? Linux has been cruising along for a long time getting better and better, running in more and more places, first conquering servers, enveloping embedded devices, devouring the mobile phone market place, spreading into tablets, etc. It's at the core of VMware, Android, ChromeOS, and devices both on earth and in space.

      So, again, why? So teenagers will use it? Choosy Moms will choose it over Jiff?

      My mom prefers Linux. She's proud to run it. She's not some super tech savvy person. She tells the IT guys at work she runs Linux, and they're impressed. They've started giving her preferential treatment even though she doesn't know what she's talking about when complaining about how much nicer it would be if her workstation was Linux instead of MS Windows. She's hasn't touched a command line since Wordperfect 5.1 days, and wouldn't even know how to "man", man.

      Regular people run Linux. Two of my mom

  • Do we? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gallondr00nk (868673) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:19PM (#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.

  • Linux is seen as a geek OS, the only way to change that is to make them leave. If you want to release something that's entirely not geeky, don't call it Linux call it something like... Android? ChromeOS? Ubuntu? Because the command-line style Linux by code warriors for code warriors isn't going to go away. Why fight an uphill battle to change it to marketing bullshit that would be patently untrue? If somebody tries to use "it's Linux" as a negative, just say "so's an Android phone, if you want an easy, user

    • by Teun (17872)
      Come on, how many of those people really know about the command line and more specifically one of the Linux command lines?

      When they ever see a computer running Linux it's with a nice desktop, be it by means of Android or something KDE or Gnome and most wouldn't know any different.

      I'm regularly at places with weird network restrictions and am one of the few able to get on it, if people borrow this Kubuntu computer and use Firefox or Opera their only comment is "Thanks, b.t.w, why is yours working?"

  • by SIGBUS (8236) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:26PM (#43371647) Homepage

    That's at least part of the story. Note how the rare attempts at selling prebuilt Linux PCs, such as the early netbooks, have tended to have oddball custom Linux distros (Linpus? WTF?) instead of, let's say, Debian, Ubuntu, or even a RHEL clone. My cynical side says that this was done on purpose as a way of discrediting Linux in the eyes of the general population.

    A more recent thing that doesn't help matters is the new X11 vs. Wayland vs. Mir kerfluffle. Considering how often I use X11 forwarding over SSH, I'm not looking forward to Wayland or Mir.

    Both good and bad: the multitude of desktop environments. As unhappy as I am with GNOME 3 and Unity, at least there are others I can fall back on. Still, I think that Ubuntu's default of sending local search results to Amazon by default is toxic.

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:31PM (#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.

  • by paulpach (798828) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:34PM (#43371717)

    Linux is just a kernel. Naming the whole system after a kernel seems a bit excessive to me, especially since it would be relatively simple to replace the kernel with other kernels such as the BSD, and no user would be able to tell the difference. Most of the software would still run without modification since the chromebooks are all about web apps and almost no native code.

    Moreover, Linus and all other kernel developers game a written consent [kernel.org] to everyone to do this.

    So the authors of the kernel are fine with this and gave written permission to do it. Google is fine with this and seeks what they perceive to be the best marketing strategy. Who are you to complain? this is really a matter to be resolved between the authors of the kernel and Google, no one else has any skin in this game.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Linux is just a kernel. Naming the whole system after a kernel seems a bit excessive to me

      Its actually GNU/Linux because desktop and laptop systems mostly use GNU software with the Linux kernel. For simplicity sake, the family of operating systems is referred to as "Linux". Most distros refer to it the same way.

  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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 promote

  • by HalAtWork (926717) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:41PM (#43371795)
    By releasing polished products that work well. Then the consumer incidentally finds out it runs on Linux and their opinion of it builds from there.
  • by morcego (260031) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:41PM (#43371801)

    It is the same reason you don't see "Linux inside" on your Android phone, or any of the other hundreds of devices you see around you that are "secretly" running Linux. Know that credit card reading machine (POS)? Almost always, Linux.

    The Operating System became a commodity, and the only think that is marketable is the interface.

  • " Google didn't mention Linux because they know it will scare buyers away."

    Or possibly, they know that 99% of non-techies have no idea what Linux is, and these non-techies are their target, and mentioning Linux will do nothing except confuse their potential customers. People don't care what's under the hood, as long as it works.

    Here, let me give you a car analogy [worldcarfans.com]
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:45PM (#43371855)

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

    That is the wrong focus unless, of course, you are selling to buyers who are more concerned about Linux than whether or not the computer they are buying will serve their needs.

    .
    A big problem that Linux faces is that it is fragmented, and the "marketing" focus has been that it is Linux. What is really amazing is that most of the pro-Linux crowd do not see the fragmentation as a disadvantage.

    With more and more computing being done on the web and in the cloud, why does it matter whether or not a computer runs Linux, Windows or whatever? That is the point that Google has realized. Consumers want functionality, not an OS.

    The sooner the Linux crowd understands that, the better off Linux will be; of course, presuming Linux is not so far gone in the public's eye that it is not redeemable.

  • its own. Nothing to do with the 'Linux' brand, whatsoever.
  • Um, Android is Linux too. So is my Linksys Router, and my cable box, my TV and probably parts of my car... really, whats the point of this article?
  • Or the install/distribution model? There are valid reasons why people don't want to mess with Linux. many don't want to get all into the technology. They just want something that works, works well, and works easily.

    Look at the Mac. It's UNIX, but people don't know or care. It's about the experience and the value they receive.
  • Google wants to build their own brand, not someone else's brand. Especially not one that any of their competition could start using as well, and undercut their pricing.
  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:56PM (#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 dickens (31040) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:04PM (#43372127) Homepage

    When I finally put a stake in the heart of the SCO UNIX system that hosted our legacy accounting system, someone commented "so I guess UNIX is dead now, isn't it?" Then I pointed out that our server infrastructure was still Linux-based, and that the Google Apps we used ran on Linux, and that the NetSuite ERP system we use ran on Oracle Linux, and that the few macs we have were BSD Unix-based, and then the iPhones, iPads, Android phones, Android tablets and well, pretty much everything except the Windows desktops were UNIX-based. I think they were more confused rather than less after that explanation, but it felt good.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday April 05, 2013 @03:12PM (#43372205) Homepage

    The thing is this: The OS/Kernel is not as important as the things you do with it. For Linux to be a "brand" is to overstate what it actually is.

    It has been pointed out numerous times that a Linux kernel is useless without an bunch of other sofware surrounding it. Sometimes it's a "Linux Distro" and sometimes it's something else like a firmware load which isn't quite a distro is it?

    It's not exactly a secret that Linux is at the core of a very large portion of today's consumer and professional hardware. Multifunction copiers, TVs, DVD/Bluray players, Virtual machine hosts, Phones and Tablets and lots, lots more. It's not the suppression of something you think we should all be proud of. It's more like presenting something which might well confuse the consumer.

    Considere this: "Intel Inside" essentially means it is running on an x86 type of processor. It implies a bit more, however, such as running Windows and other things which users believe to be the case but isn't necessarily true. (Think MacOSX, for example.)

    The problem of attempting to put "Linux Inside" would be even MORE confusing because people would tend to think and expect things about Linux powered devices may have a lot more in common with one another than they do. This is simply inappropriate for the general consumer public. It take a real geek to understand the differences of applications everywhere.

    Over time, of course, we can (and should) personally remind the public that Linux is at the core of all of these devices they enjoy so much and at the core of many extremely large operations which they know well or have heard of. Linux is not "a toy" or "for hobbyists only" because it is presently deeply entrenched into just about everything from the smallest to the largest of applications. It helps our pride to remember that and to remind others.

    But still, we hear IT leaders in business cite how important brand names are and they talk about Cisco and VMWare and all those. But my Cisco phone system is all Linux inside... and VMWare is too. These are not toys and so neither is the core technology these major brands rely on.

    No one is "keeping is secret." But it is good to be able to surprise nay-sayers with a rather long list of things they already use and depend on which are Linux powered. And for the vast majority of it all, there is no substitute.

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