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The HeliOS Project is now.....
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Leave It To The Little Guys...

I had the pleasure of meeting many of the "giants" of Linux not too long ago. I dined and absorbed potables with people who have shaped and changed the Linux Experience for over a decade. It took a full day in that environment to get over being star-struck.

The Second Annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit.....those were the giants of Linux I met...many of them anyway.

And the "Little Guy?"

When I speak of "Little guys", I'm talking about the people that go out every day to make a living AND a difference in what we do.

The two are not mutually exclusive...some would have you believe they are.

I'm talking about people who are not corporate the ones who dotted the panels during the summit. The giants I measure the rest of us against are IBM, HP, Dell...the movers and shakers in corporate Linux. The 1000 dollar suits many of us stand in awe of and strive to match in stature and wealth.

The Little Guy I speak of are those of us who are not those people. And yes, I am struggling to keep from a single reference of David and Goliath here...wish me luck.

One of the Panel Suits told me as I stood in front of 400 people, that they don't take an interest in advertising Linux because...

We offer solutions, not systems.

Now, to those of you who operate under the assumption that Corporate Linux has any viable interest in the Linux Desktop, I am about to cause you great amounts of disappointment and angst. You in particular need to pay attention to what is said from this point and absorb it to the best of your ability. Your life may need to take a new direction if yours hinges on the Linux Corporate working with the Linux Community At Large. Again...

We offer solutions, not systems.

The person who told me that was Dan Frye, VP in charge of the Linux Technology Center for IBM., not systems...right?

And what is your relationship with Levono? You know, the computer manufacturer that was part of IBM then wasn't then partnered with them...and then broke away? You may be "legally" separated from them but not by much. Yeah maybe IBM does "offer systems, not solutions".

But you are sleeping with someone who whores for Microsoft like she has no choice.

If it makes you feel any better, I can post graphics for about every major computer manufacturer in the market and show the same thing. I simply don't because they had sense enough not to make such egregious statements.

You sat in that chair and told me in front of 400 people that IBM wasn't particularly interested in Linux as a "product"...Linux is only a "component".

Well that "component" has lined your pockets in gold. You've benefited from the work of thousands of developers over a decade on order for you to use that "component". More importantly, The Linux Desktop stands as a digital salvation for those who don't know they have a viable choice in the way they operate their computers. Somehow I get the impression that those people don't rate your attention or concern.

They don't buy Big Iron. And that's what it all boils down to for you isn't it? Big iron.

So yeah, ok...I get it. You make money with Linux, you expand your product line with Linux and sure, you even pay for some development of Linux...thanks.

Now tell me who ultimately benefits from you doing so....developing this "component".

So in reality you aren't "giving" us anything. It's actually a gift of of convenience. And yeah, I understand business...but there comes a time in every prosperous enterprise that you acknowledge those that helped you get there. I don't think it's in you to do so.

You can't advertise Linux because Microsoft has threatened you with exorbitant licensing fees and other sanctions if you do. That would be my guess. In fact, If I were to guess further, I would hazard a guess that those top-secret vendor agreements Microsoft demanded you sign actually states that you cannot actively advertise or promote Linux. I could be wrong...but if I am I'm not far off.

And if I have my way, there will come a day I will lay hands on one of those vendor agreements. On that day or shortly after, we're all going to meet right here and have a good long look at it...then we'll know. Again, I could be way wrong.

But in this case, I'd rather be wrong than gullible.

I want the readers of this article to watch the clip in the link coming up soon. I am going to ask you to pay particular attention to their body language and the way they choose to answer the questions asked them. I attended this summit just for the chance to do this...and as you watch, notice the reaction of the people around me. Focus too, on the single woman on the panel. Her name is Christy Wyatt and she is the VP of Software Platforms at Motorola. Credentials man, Credentials...those alone would disqualify her from the ignorance she displays in her response.

Listen to what she has to say. It seems that Ms. Wyatt is perfectly happy to allow Linux to work in complete obscurity on some nameless set top box. A nameless technology on a nameless set top box? She's perfectly happy with that. Again, watch some of the people around me... They want to know the answers to these questions too. I won't use the word condescending...that is until I find one that fits their responses better.

It seems they found the question amusing.

This is Corporate Linux looking out after the open source their best.

What I find most troubling is that Jim Zemlin, the head honcho at The Linux Foundation stood in front of Tom King and myself at that event and fairly well echoed the same thing. That is disturbing beyond my ability to simply put it aside.

So listen Big Giants of Techno-Industry...relax, the pressure's off now. While you set at your conferences and feed us platitudes and excuses, someone has gotten tired of waiting on you and done it himself.

The Little Guy. He's made an ad...the first of many.

Along with the well-known names at that summit, I met people with names you haven't heard and probably never will.

The one's that make a difference, not necessarily a profit.

Here's hoping a ocean liner full of profits to one person in particular.

Loye Young.

I attended a few meetings and seminars with Loye but I got to know what he was all about on the last night of the event. The Linux Foundation, say what you will about them, knows how to treat their guests. It was an upscale Austin-type bistro with Southwestern food and a bar that would rival anywhere in the world. The food was exceptionally good, especially so because I didn't have to pay for it.

It was during that last dinner that I got to know Loye Young...and what he was doing.

Down at the very southern tip of Texas...and I mean if you go any farther south you are in Mexico...down Larado way, Loye Young and his partner wanted to build a computer manufacturing company. But not any computers were they to build. These were to be hi-spec Linux machines. Loye explained his reasoning simply.

"Software's free, and that's the way we think it ought to be."

Loye Young is a breed of Texan I've both grown to admire and trust. When you look him in the eye and he tells you something...then you can take it to that bank that it's going to happen. His firm gaze and handshake assure you immediately that you are doing business with someone who rather lose his money than take yours by other than honest means.

Linux means a lot to Loye Young...

So does the Truth.

Linux isn't a "component" of his effort, it's the backbone.

So much so that he started a computer company devoted to manufacturing just a few excellent Linux machines. Last week, Issac & Young Computer Company released their first product...and it's a beauty. The President of Issac and Young Computer Company is as comfortable working in his own production facility as he is in his office. In fact, Loye went out of his way to prove a point. Not only is he proud to offer Linux products...

He isn't afraid of Microsoft And here's his ad to prove it.

And via his message, you can spread this ad far and wide...even to the gates of Castle Redmond.

And then maybe to IBM, HP and Dell.

The Little Guy might be able to teach you a thing or two about Linux.

Alrighty Then...


FelixTheCat said...

It honestly left me drop-jawed when they said this. Don't get me wrong, they've done a LOT for the Linux kernel and other FOSS projects. It just gets under my skin that they've enjoyed GNU/Linux and the benefit of volunteers world-wide working on GNU/Linux, yet they won't be caught dead giving it the same visibility as Winders.

Think of this irony: "We advertise solutions, not operating systems." Yet, look at every one of their sites and what do they have? "We recommend Microsoft Blah" Really??? You don't advertise operating systems???? Seriously?????

That kind of irony makes me ill.

Aye, I also think there is more to that mindset than meets the eye. Think about it - not even government entities are allowed to divulge the details of their MS contracts, yet governments are supposedly supposed to be open with those kinds of things. That means MS wields a LOT more power than they really should.

Anonymous said...

You make a good point. Where the vendor agreements are most harmful is in the schools. I personally believe what they've done with the schools is illegal. As a taxpayer, I should be able to know what my school district spends my money on. Helios has brought this up before and still they get away with it. Powerful indeed.

Anonymous said...

I was just looking through the ads for Linux that were there with the video you had up, and the only one that I saw that got it was the Red flag ad, the other amateur examples spent too much time focusing on Windows.

The thing is Linux shouldn't be "the best OS" it needs to be "in [Name of Chain] stores near you.. $49.99, as for it by name" or "as recommended by [name]" or similar.

Back to the subject, it really is two faced of IBM and especially HP and Dell to say they don't advertise Linux because it's a component, while advertising "we recommend Windows Vista Home basic". Most of the time they don't even bother to include the fact that their hardware works out of the box with Linux. They do nothing, not even the smallest of things, most of the time, to legitimise Linux on the Desktop.


Anonymous said...

Now I know why Mrs. Panik can not
find out how much her university is
paying to the terrorist in Redmond.

Ryan said it well, that is tax payer
loot they are sending to Redmond.

If the government don't get ya the
corporations will. /°_°

Anonymous said...

I read an article on a few days ago about the Linux Foundation refusing to let the media into their events and meetings. Now it is making sense. When people like helios have the stones to stand up in front of those "movers and shakers" and front them off like that, the last thing they want is responses like Mr. Fry's making the news.

I used to think helios was just a guy tossing flamebait out on his blog. I guess he does walk the walk. Sorry for doubting you old man...We Brits tend to be a bit cynical so don't take offense. It is also good to hear people like Mr. Young stepping up. That commercial sounds spot on and it gets your attention from the very first. Here's hoping a fleet of ship's worth of profit to him. One question though. Do you think it's wise to use MS keyboards and mice for a linux setup?

Jeremy Mykes

kozmcrae said...

I believe a little bit of methyl ethyl ketone on a clean cloth will turn any Microsoft keyboard and mouse into a generic keyboard and mouse.

Anonymous said...

My only point was that by purchasing MS products, you are feeding the monster.


kozmcrae said...

True, we don't want feed the bloated beast. I fed him before I saw the Linux light. I built my own system in 2003 and switched over to Linux 15 months later. I still have the Windows XP Home Edition disk around here somewhere. I would have been better off if I had flushed the $100 bucks down the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Dude, do you have a professional death wish? I mea, any one of those people can make your life hell if they chose to. Some things just need to be let go man. All you've done is paint a big target on your chest.

einfeldt said...

Hi Helios,

First, the MP3 at the end of this blog post is great. Very professional ad for Linux systems. I recommend that people listen to if if they get a chance.

About IBM etc advertising desktop Linux. I have not been able to see the video, because it is no longer available.

I understand your frustration, Helios, because you want to see desktop Linux advance quickly. But please read Clayton Christensen's book "The Innovator's Solution." That book helps me get into Jim Zemlin's head. To summarize, it's a case of "proper tool for the proper job." Publicly-traded companies can't support desktop Linux _to the extent that you and I would like_ right now because there is not enough brand-name recognition, despite the fact that IBM and Novell and Red Hat have spent millions of dollars advertising. Microsoft's brand is like a huge iceberg. It will take time to pick it apart.

Hence the importance of community projects such as Lindependence and the Digital Tipping Point projects. Studies show that it takes many, many advertising impressions to change or form lasting public opinion about a brand. We are not going to do this overnight. A real world digital tipping point is coming. There will be "sudden" reversal of fortune. FOSS will come out on top. But we have to work long and hard to create brand acceptance in North America.

Other parts of the world are different. North Americans are very accustomed to dealing with each other in commercial fashion through the market. That is not quite as true in other countries, where the government plays a greater role in culture. North Americans, and particularly US residents, are more suspicious of government solutions than other parts of the world, and trust market-based solutions more than other parts of the world.

But corporate sponsors can have requirements for return-on-investment (ROI) for ad campaigns. They can only start an ad campaign where they can reasonably predict x dollars increase in sales.

IBM has spent big money advertising Linux and so has Novel and so has Red Hat. They haven't spent the money we would like to see, but they will come around to it. But as I have said often, the real world digital tipping point will come to North America last.

Unfortunately, we still have lots of work ahead of us.

IBM and Red Hat and Novell will come through, as will the Linux Foundation, as they have in the past. It is good that you are pushing them to do more. We just need to keep chipping away at that big iceberg. You certainly have done your share of work with this blog and with Lindependence. We need to just keep it up. It's exhausting, I know. I am often tired. Look outside the US for your renewal of spirit. The world is a very big place, and it is full of FOSS fans. Millions of them. We are not alone.

Your friend, Christian Einfeldt

Anonymous said...

> Anonymous said ... Dude, do you have a professional death wish?

Some people don't know Helios very well, do they. :)

As for the system, not bad and reasonably priced. Definitely worth considering for those in the market for a fully preloaded system.

r_a_trip said...

Are we in the least surprised? MS is a master at Faustian deals. They have maneuvered IHV's in a co-dependent position.

The vendor agreements are only one part of the equation. The "ad rebates" are the other. MS has used their coffers to inject money into IHV's, who then used that money in the following formula: underpriced hardware + MS money = profit. The margins are now so thin, that a loss of the "ad rebates" is certain death.

I don't think MS has to put exclusivity clauses in the vendor agreements anymore. They merely have to hint that the vendor isn't promoting MS enough, if GNU/Linux "rears its ugly head". A veiled threat of withdrawing the "ad rebates" and GNU/Linux mysteriously disappears to a page twenty unadvertised links deep, if not off the face of the earth...

That Issac & Young are not afraid of MS is not surprising, they are not drinking the poison milk from MS's breast. (How many nipples does a behemoth have?) MS has nothing to leverage on a pure GNU/Linux shop, except some blustering about "IP" and "undisclosed liabilities on the balance sheet". All the incumbent manufacturers are on MS's leash. It's a huge advantage to starting businesses to be able to advertise GNU/Linux and not have any competition in that space from the big guys.

Anonymous said...

It would appear that Helios' straight shot to their weakness put them on the spot. In some I could see real confusion. It never occurs to these people that they may have a moral obligation to give back. But I also wonder if they need to keep Linux nameless on some set top box. That way they aren't responsible for any brand recognition of the product.

Nice shot to the midsection helios. You stood and MADE them expose themselves for what they are. More impotantly, you made them expose themselves for what they are not.

All in all, extremely good show.

I'm also impressed with the Texan advertising his product. Strong honest voice, confident and masculine. That should sell a slew of computers.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add to Christian Einfeldt's closing remark re the rest of the world.

It IS happening more and more. Last week I read several comments from the state of Kerala in India re the effort to migrate several thousands of desktops to GNU/Linux (once for Richard) and FOSS. The same thing is happening in a neighboring state (I'm sorry, I forget its name and my apologies to everyone there).

Another is Russia. The teacher that was going to be sent to jail for pirating winDOHs was granted a reprieve by Putin. Then they decided, to avoid any further pirating mishaps, they will move to Linux and FOSS. A roll-out of several thousands of desktops is under way there, too.

And it's happening in South Africa, South America, China, and probably many more places that I'm too forgetful to mention.

These countries will have an edge on the countries that choose to stay locked in w/m$. They will experience all the benefits that we (the Linux supporters/promoters) know only too well. But the one advantage that will prove to be the biggest will be the skills developed because these people can modify the code.

Anonymous said...

Helios man, I have to tell you, if nothing else, you have rocks. You didn't let the little "explain away" comments deter you from getting an answer. I get the feeling that one of those panel members is going to regret making that statement here shortly.

Good going man. Now my question is, what do we do about it. I guess fronting them off like that is a start but I mean, what possible sanctions can be brought against them. I agree wholly with you but they are totally within the it or not, they've really done nothing wrong.

I mean aside from being leaches upon the community that is.

Anonymous said...

> Now my question is, what do we do about it.

Hit them where they'll feel it, in the pocketbook. Don't buy from any company that sells "solutions, not operating systems". Buy from ZAReason, Isaac & Young, System76, or any of a number of other vendors who support Linux on the desktop. If you in the market for a high end machine, buy from Pogo Linux or Penguin Computing, both of whom have supported Linux almost since it began.

And more importantly, let them know when you do so. Tell them upfront that you bought from someone else (perhaps at a higher price) because they support desktop Linux.

These folks are making a financial decision. They'll only change their mind when they learn there are financial consequences to that decision.

Anonymous said...

"Now my question is, what do we do about it"

It's already been done. News of this blog will eventually catch someone's eye, and I mean an eye with some clout or persuasive means. Dan Frye will probably issue a statement saying that he "was taken out of context" or something like that but the damage is done. There is no "context" to his statement. The author stood his ground and made these people respond. Good on him. And who was that guy at the end that said something about getting publicity if you can't get advertising. Did he call him "Bruce". It was odd the way the whole thing kind of folded. Like the moderator and panel were relieved to be off the hook. Shame that, I would of liked to watch them squirm a bit longer. I will post this down here and about and see if I can get it some attention.

Aussie Don

Anonymous said...

Helios, Carla Schroeder just published an extremely nice piece talking about some of the work you do. It was flattering to say the least. There is one comment though and it pretty much flames both you and her. He made one point that I wanted you to see.

"Does Helios not know that companies are in business to make money, especially zero investment, zero cost things like "We recommend Windows" brag tags?"

If the person that posted that isn't smart enough to know that they "we recommend Windows" tags are done upon the threat of financial death, then I wonder who typed the comment for him. He used words in his post that someone that uneducated wouldn't know.

Besides, he mentions nothing about your charity work...I don't think it even comes into his awareness to participate in getting under privileged kids computers of their own. Thank you for all you do for them helios.

Just keepin' you up to date friend.

Mike J. (We met in Felton)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so hard on IBM. IBM is a computer manufacturer. They are not interested in the OS wars to be perfectly honest with you. They have their hands in every OS. I am IBM certified and I do work very closely with IBM. Now you tell me what IBM system IBM has that comes pre-installed with Windows?

They are making very significant decisions to separate themselves from being part of the OS market. I know this because I work with their products every single day...and only Lenovo products come with OS's installed, and that's because it's a desktop product.

Anyway, the QS21 system, a cell blade system, does not support Windows. It only supports Linux and AIX.

Anyway, don't beat on IBM...they are not in bed with Microsoft as much as you think they are. They are distancing themselves....they do not give credit to Microsoft *or* Linux....the only OS they will ever give credit to is AIX (and maybe OS/2).

IBM has always ignored the OS wars...they give grants and money to all kinds of ventures, both Linux and MS based. All the while, they develop their own OS, AIX.

Anyway...just keep in mind that IBM is vendor neutral in the OS arena...and that is the reason why I am an IBM Certified Expert on Bladecenters. I don't do vendor specific certs...and I am a very supportive Linux fan.

But I only hold CompTIA and IBM certifications for one reason: Vendor neutrality in the marketplace. IBM has provided very generous funding to just about keep the competition strong.

They are not in bed with MS...or Linux. AIX is their lover...and it will remain that way forever.