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Making an os popular a cautionary tale

A presentation I gave at an operating systems conference in the Shoreditch Village Hall in London called http://operatingsystems.io/

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Making an OS popular 
A cautionary tale
Who am I? 
• Founding marketing hire at Ubuntu 
• Led most marketing efforts for the OS 
over 5 years for desktop, server, mobile, 
TV, netbooks (remember them) .... 
• Now an independent marketing consultant
What wasUbuntu trying to do? 
• A single ubiquitous open source OS that 
was the centre of the opensource 
application universe.
How? 
• Operating system would be a ‘stalking horse’ 
• Launchpad would be the bug tracker and repo for all 
projects 
• All open source projects would adopt the Ubuntu 
cadence 
• Ubuntu community would be the largest and best 
• Ubuntu would bring open source to the world
Why would the world 
flock to Ubuntu? 
• Uniquely Ubuntu would build a brand 
around an operating system 
• Ubuntu would build direct relationships 
with the manufacturers 
• <wave hands> $$$$$$$ for everyone
What happened in 
desktop market ? 
● Open Source communities were suspicious 
● PC makers were scared of MS 
● Intel had nothing much to gain 
● Public were indifferent to an OS 
● Ubuntu ‘diversified’ and users and industry 
were confused

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Making an os popular a cautionary tale

  • 1. Making an OS popular A cautionary tale
  • 2. Who am I? • Founding marketing hire at Ubuntu • Led most marketing efforts for the OS over 5 years for desktop, server, mobile, TV, netbooks (remember them) .... • Now an independent marketing consultant
  • 3. What wasUbuntu trying to do? • A single ubiquitous open source OS that was the centre of the opensource application universe.
  • 4. How? • Operating system would be a ‘stalking horse’ • Launchpad would be the bug tracker and repo for all projects • All open source projects would adopt the Ubuntu cadence • Ubuntu community would be the largest and best • Ubuntu would bring open source to the world
  • 5. Why would the world flock to Ubuntu? • Uniquely Ubuntu would build a brand around an operating system • Ubuntu would build direct relationships with the manufacturers • <wave hands> $$$$$$$ for everyone
  • 6. What happened in desktop market ? ● Open Source communities were suspicious ● PC makers were scared of MS ● Intel had nothing much to gain ● Public were indifferent to an OS ● Ubuntu ‘diversified’ and users and industry were confused
  • 7. Mission Creep ● By 2011 there was Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu for Netbook, Ubuntu (desktop), Ubuntu Cloud, Ubuntu One, Ubuntu TV, Ubuntu Mobile, Ubuntu for ARM, Ubuntu for In-Vehicle Infotainment, Juju....
  • 8. Are there lessons? ● Focus on trying to solve a solvable problem (that people care about) ● Honour your community above all others ● Be about what you are about and only that ● Don’t get led by big companies with fixed agenda ● Do not rely on others to get you there