Oh, the irony

What happened to me just 15 minutes ago is extremely ironic. Here is the chronology of events (note: the server time that this blog is hosted at is 1 hour off):

10:30 AM PST: I read that Mark Shuttleworth announced a yet another Ubuntu flavor, this one focuses only on Free software.
11:10 AM PST: I send an email to Mark to tell him that what he does by allowing many projects to use the Ubuntu name (instead of only focusing on Ubuntu and Ubuntu Server) is bad marketing as it confuses new users, fragments their own market share and creates more bugs. (Mark replies that he prefers Ubuntu to be an umbrella project).
1:05 PM PST: I call my brother. He tells me that someone gave him an old PC to play around. Our conversation:
Me: Put Ubuntu in there. The new version comes out in a week from now.
Teo: Kubuntu? I heard of this.
Me: I said “Ubuntu”, not “Kubuntu”.
Teo: What’s the difference? I am sure we are talking about the same thing.
Me: They are not the same exactly. They use different graphical interfaces.
Teo: I don’t know what you are talking about.

I found validation in my claims in less than 2 hours. I think that “Ubuntu as a brand name and product” would be more successful if there was a streamline clear-cut product rather than an umbrella of other projects that confuse potential new users. I mean, without focus you can’t solve bug #1.

11 Comments »

Tom Dison wrote on April 12th, 2007 at 10:02 AM PST:

To me, Ubuntu is the main flavor, and it is what I tell others to try. The only time I mention the others is to a more experienced user who says “But I like KDE!”. Tell your brother the other versions are for experts. That’s probably true, because most magazines with tutorial articles or HOWTO’s will most likely be assuming Ubuntu.

I like the fact that I can install Ubuntu from a single CD. If they tried to blend all of them, the might wind up like Fedora that takes about 6 CD’s. Of course, one of these days I’ll get a DVD burner (yes, I live in the dark ages).

If I had to choose, I would choose Ubuntu.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on April 12th, 2007 at 10:05 AM PST:

What *I* tell to my friends is not the point. The point is that these friends are getting confused by things they heard, and by things they read. Ubuntu has way too many flavors and creates marketing confusion to new adopters. This is my problem with the situation, not what my brother eventually decides to do. From what I know of my brother, he will probably just put Win98 in there at the end.


Tom Dison wrote on April 12th, 2007 at 10:13 AM PST:

You have a point. Maybe they should all be named Ubuntu, and then we could give the different versions names like:

Ubuntu Home Basic
Ubuntu Home Premium
Ubuntu Business
Ubuntu Ultimate
Ubuntu Enterprise

:}

Seriously, I like the idea that they would all be called Ubuntu. Maybe they could go by colors, or something – Ubuntu Brown (Gnome), Blue (KDE), etc.

Then we can tell our friends we are running “Ubuntu Feisty Fawn Blue” and they will really look at us funny.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on April 12th, 2007 at 10:17 AM PST:

This is equally as confusing. Canonical must focus. And focus means ONLY Ubuntu and Ubuntu server (in 32bit and 64bit). Nothing else. The other distros, like Kubuntu or Xubuntu, must not be allowed to use the ubuntu name, not because I don’t want them too, but because unintentionally they create a huge confusion to potential new users.


Tom Dison wrote on April 12th, 2007 at 10:30 AM PST:

OK. how about these three (or similar names):

Ubuntu Freedom Edition [gNewSense]
Ubuntu Consumer Edition
Ubuntu Server Edition

I would like for these three editions to remain. It would be fine with me if Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Edubuntu went back to being unofficial projects.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on April 12th, 2007 at 10:35 AM PST:

Being “unofficial” does not solve the problem. They must change names too. As for the 3 versions you suggest, I don’t see the point of the Freedom edition at all. For a Windows user that wants to jump to Linux, this is not an edition that makes sense to even exist. Let the zealot GPL users to simply get gNewSense, and let everyone else to only have to choose between Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server. What Canonical did today was to fragment their own user base even more and create new bugs. They added more headaches while they didn’t solve any problem.

Whenever you make a decision you should always ask yourself “what problem do I solve by doing this”. And Glossy Gnu-whatever, does not solve any real problem. The small “zealot” problem it solves was already solved by gNewSense.


blag wrote on April 12th, 2007 at 11:31 AM PST:

This is equally as confusing. Canonical must focus. And focus means ONLY Ubuntu and Ubuntu server (in 32bit and 64bit). Nothing else. The other distros, like Kubuntu or Xubuntu, must not be allowed to use the ubuntu name, not because I don’t want them too, but because unintentionally they create a huge confusion to potential new users.”

I agree with you on this. I’ve been concerned with this emerging nature in Ubuntu for a while. Kubuntu is basically just ‘kdecore’–just as Red Hat and Debian and every other distro with a repository have– therefore, I don’t understand why it needs extra and as you have said, confusing branding.

Canonical has so few employees that it seems to me that they need to refocus on their core strengths. I also saw very few “here’s how we’ll improve the desktop…” ideas from Mark’s announcemen;, it seemed like 3d (old, from Dapper) and then server stuff. That’s the most baffling to me–I thought that’s what Debian stable was for?


billg wrote on April 13th, 2007 at 3:03 AM PST:

Your point can be applied to the wider world of Linux, too. If you’re not geeky enough to already know what’s going on, you’d have every reason to think that Linux, like Windows and OS X, has one, and only one, design. The usual response is that it’s all choice, which must be good, right? Well, choice is only good if the chooser knows enough to be discerning. One big reason that Linux isn’t popular is that it’s much simpler for people to stick with what they’re using than take the trouble to learn enough to figure out which Linux flavor they should try.


memson wrote on April 13th, 2007 at 9:01 AM PST:

That is not irony. That is a coincidence. Irony must involve a twist. This is irony as Alanis Morrisette defines it ;-)

Irony would be if your brother had said “hey I have a new PC that someone gave me with Ubuntu on it.” and you said “How do you find it?” and he said “Well, I love the KDE, it’s working well for me.” The twist is that he obviously has Kubuntu installed. However, even this is only _just_ ironic.

Another better example, taken from the Alanis song:

“It’s like a traffic jam when you’re already late”.. That’s not ironic, it’s unfortunate. Now if you were a traffic cop or a town planner in charge of relieving traffic congestion, that would be ironic.

I point this out because a lot of English speakers (from a large geographic region, in which you reside in part) have a problem defining what Irony is.


tOnGAs wrote on April 13th, 2007 at 12:48 PM PST:

Adobe has done something similar with it’s latest Creative Suite. With only 4 different packages : Design Premium, Master Collection, Web Premium and Production Premium. And then you’ll have Photoshop CS3 and another Photoshop CS3 Extended.
Talk about confusing.


Shawn wrote on April 14th, 2007 at 11:43 AM PST:

I can almost completely agree with the view on this.

The GNU/Linux world already has enough fragmentation. Ubuntu fragmenting itself is practically suicide.

I think you’re right about the “Freedom Edition” too. No one but GPL zealots care. The average user just wants to use their computer and do what needs to be done, and maybe play a few games.

I also think that having Kubuntu as its own distirbution was a horrible mistake. If only because it shares the same name.

Ubuntu’s initial focus on a single desktop and distribution is what I believe was the key to their initial success and continues to be the key to their continued success. If they lose sight of that, they will end up only a little better than every other distribution.


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