Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Gnu is an Endangered Species?

After the Opinion column in Full Circle Magazine #39 drew a letter of criticism, my response in the letters page of Full Circle Magazine #40 got curtailed just as it got to the interesting part!

Herewith the full text which gets to the real point after the *

It appears there was a mixed reception to the last (apparently 'mindless') Opinion column. Frank, you deserve a prize; first reader to miss the point. Not sure I appreciate the 'WTF' exclamations from a man preaching about attitude, but each to their own... 
As for [Dominic Humphries' article], I am very familiar with it and applaud it heartily. Sadly I doubt many Linux newcomers will ever find it, much less read it to the end.

Let's get this straight: I am not demeaning GNU, or Unix, or the legions of people over the last thirty years who have shaped and formalised the free software movement to the healthy state it's in today. There are many people who are rarely credited for their original contributions to things we now take for granted; Nikolai Tesla, Edward Jenner, Mel Blanc.

* What should we tell our prospective users? By all means explain that Free, Open-Source Software is, in fact, free. Free to use, free to distribute, free to modify. Do explain that there's a vibrant, lively community supporting FOSS at many levels. Tell them about all of Linux in it's various flavours and invite them to sample as many as they need to find one they like.

But please don't expect me to call the blasted thing 'GNU-slash-Linux' or demand everyone else call it 'GNU-slash-Linux.' Normal people don't (I/we/you are not 'normal people'). You may ask "what's in a name" and I'll introduce you to my marketing clients who will bang on endlessly about the importance of product naming and how a bad one will sink the best product ever invented. The 'GNU-slash' prefix will not bring one new user to Linux; not one consumer, not one corporate IT director, not one Windows Sysadmin looking for something better. 'GNU-slash' is impenetrable geek-speak that does not belong in a mass-market brand - for that is what we are building.

The long tail of 'GNU-slash-Linux' that remains is all about /attitude/. It's something we need to roll into every FOSS distro, program, man-page, forum and blog 'we' create. The ethos of free should be promoted by us all. But don't demand the equivalent of a 'TM', 'R' and 'copyright' mark in the title; and don't ram a history lesson down my throat every time we name a part. By the way - humour... you remember that?  RC

No comments:

Post a Comment

At least try to be nice, it won't kill you...