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Re: How to compete against Ubuntu

On Sat, 2007-08-04 at 13:30 -0400, Jeremy Hogan wrote:
> Ubuntu is not worried about competing with Fedora. That's why we're
> worried about competing with them.


> That is to say, they made it a primary objective to be attractive to a
> different user than Fedora is. They went after the desktop, and wanted
> to be on OEM laptop preloads, etc.

Yes, because they offered commercial support as well.  Red Hat does too,
but with a different focus.  I agreed with Michael Tiemann when he
talked about years ago (and was quite demonized to a different effect)
that the home consumer desktop doesn't have the "economies of scale"
required, so they'd rather do it "for free" by putting its developers on
such a distribution (which became Fedora).

The ignorant IT media exclaimed "Red Hat is getting out of the desktop"
even though Red Hat Desktop went on the shelf and RHEL WS, now Client,
has been offered since RHEL 2.1 (after WS/ES were offered after the
intial Red Hat Advanced Server, now RHEL AS).  Red Hat doesn't do this,
people do it by reading into what they want, not necessarily what Red
Hat actually does.

Fedora gets the same treatment.

> They also made it a core value to be a warm and inviting community,

And Fedora is not?

> and their brand reeks of it--from their name, to their color scheme,
> to their logo.

And Fedora is not?

I'm glad you like Ubuntu's marketing.  Marketing sells mindshare.  But I
don't think Fedora (or Red Hat for that matter) need to take up the
strategy of Ubuntu (or Conical).

I think Shuttleworth's post to the SuSE list shows how wrong that can be
sometimes.  I also think Fedora (and Red Hat) _continue_ to have a 12
year history of "under-promise, over-deliver" with many, many, many

> They're also getting a lot of steam from not being Red Hat.

And that's "new"?  People who don't like Red Hat and call them the
"Microsoft of Linux" aren't people Fedora is going to reach anyway.

Heck, there is even any issue with Red Hat being an American company in
the eyes of some.  Ironic that it's the most GPL-centric, free IP
company of the lot.  Even more ironic is how more GPL-centric and free
IP-focused German-based SuSE became an American company, Novell, bought
them out.

Just goes to show that if people think such, then it really doesn't
matter, and I don't care to reach them anyway.

> Not that Red Hat is bad, but the new kid in class always gets a lot of
> attention, doesn't he? 

Here's the deal.

Before the "trademark issues," a lot of IT folk used to be able to sell
their boss on installing Red Hat(R) Linux -- because of name.  Red Hat
was the _only_ major distro that allowed free redistribution of its
trademark, which became a major legal issue for them with Sun after Sun
bought Cobalt.  And no amount of "trademark usage guidelines" seemed to
stop the abuse by companies such as Sun, nor the community demonizing a
real issue Red Hat was running into.

People don't realize that SuSE _never_ allowed its trademarks to abused,
and went after people who did.  Novell now doesn't worry as much because
they have Novell(R).  Red Hat used the same with Fedora(TM) separate
from Red Hat(R).

About 97% of people who stopped using Red Hat Linux constantly claim
this was their reason, that their boss wouldn't accept Fedora.  That's
what they complain about.  That's what their problem is.  Oh well, get
over it.

Ubuntu is going to run into similar issues if they don't watch it.
Although they do have Conical.  It will be interesting.

> I'm more of a "raise the level of the ocean, and all ships rise
> together" sort of guy, but in a competitive situation, the only way to
> "beat" Ubuntu, is to get where they are heading, and not worry about
> where they are right now.

I'm with Tiemann's long demonized speech.  The man co-founded the
_first_, _successful_ GPL/open source company in Cygnus.  He knows what
matters, what is infeasible, and what requires time to gain marketshare.
It's great that Conical/Ubuntu is addressing this, and at some point, it
may become feasible for Red Hat to offer competing, commercial support.

But I seriously doubt Fedora ever will, by the very nature of its
creation.  At the same time, Fedora is not "going to die."  In fact, if
and when Red Hat feels there is the "economies of scale" for a
consumer-supported version, don't be surprised when its 100% Fedora
relabeled, repackaged and rebranded.

And I'm sure people will demonize that too when that happens!  ;)

> For example, Red Hat didn't beat M$ on the desktop, they beat them to
> UNIX consolidation in the data center. So "competing" with Ubunutu
> would mean Fedora needs to make a sea change in it's core
> vision--which is working, so it would be at the expense of where
> Fedora already has an advantage or stringer brand than Ubuntu. Do we
> want that? Would going there make us weaken our stronger points, and
> thusly actually help Ubuntu? Are we willing to install non-free
> software so that folks who don't understand what's truly at stake like
> us more? Is Ubuntu actually proving the power of Linux by installing
> Adobe's Flash player? Or are they compromising the underlying values
> of F/OSS a little at a time? So what do they stand for, what would
> they flatly refuse to do, even if it put them at a competitive
> disadvantage? I don't know, but I know where Fedora stands. When
> Ubuntu wins, so does proprietary and patent encumbered software. 
> Where Fedora wins, freedom wins.
> We can be a nicer bunch of folks, we can warm up the brand, we can
> make a conscious effort to be as warm and inviting as Ubuntu, we can
> be more viral, more word of mouth. But we can't become the fresh faced
> new kid, and we can't walk away from free as in freedom. 

I really don't see it as any market Fedora or Red Hat needs to cater to.
Fedora sells on its own merits.  Let Conical/Ubuntu have its focus.

As many others have pointed out, that's always a good thing for Linux.
As far as proprietary and IP issues, that _always_ bites companies in
the end.  And Red Hat learned that long ago.

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