Why Ubuntu just might succeed

Canonical is succeeding in large part because it's not content to be better, but also to tell the world about why it's better.

Following on the heels of my post about why the Linux desktop fails , Joe Panettieri describes precisely why Ubuntu has a chance of bucking the trend and making Linux relevant to a wider audience:

Canonical/Ubuntu gets marketing.

Speaking of Canonical's decision to cancel Ubuntu Live, Panettieri writes:

Spending big bucks on Ubuntu Live -- and preaching to a niche audience of Ubuntu fanatics -- wasn't a great use of Canonical's marketing dollars.

Instead, Canonical hosted a range of education sessions at OSCON [as as well had a presence at LinuxWorld]....Many attendees were Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SuSE Linux and Windows Server administrators, who were seeking more information about Ubuntu. In other words, Canonical was preaching to new listeners rather than the same-old Ubuntu crowd. Smart move, Canonical.

Indeed. Mark Shuttleworth and the Canonical/Ubuntu crew understand that it's not good enough to be good enough when you're trying to displace entrenched incumbents. You have to be better, and you have to tell the world why.

So many in the open-source world believe that technical superiority means that a product should win. Unfortunately, technical superiority in just about every field of endeavor - from politics to software - perhaps guarantees you a shot at the title, but the title generally goes to the contender that markets the best, not the best contender.

It's therefore refreshing to see Canonical skirmishing with the right tools. It has community fervor. It has marketing. It has an increasing array of partners and enterprise traction. It also has an excellent product. Given the four, it just might succeed.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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