Linux with a haircut and shoes

Do Linux developers need an image overhaul?

commentary Peter Quinn, the former chief information officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, reckons the sandals and ponytail appearance of many Linux and open source evangelists presents a hurdle to adoption of open source software in the corporate market.
Iain Ferguson, News Editor, ZDNet Australia

Quinn believes corporate decision-makers are immediately dubious when they see the free-spirited dress code of the evangelists, with that view colouring their perspective of the software.

It is an interesting view, but I'm not sure that the sandal and ponytail look is really an issue any more.

For starters, Linux is now backed by some real heavyweights in the vendor community who are extremely unlikely to unleash anyone who does not have an acceptably corporate look on customers to explain why open source is the answer to their prayers.

Secondly, the federal and NSW governments in particular are devoting hefty resources to marketing Linux and open source software to their own departments and agencies. While other states and territories are lagging, there is no question that government in Australia is really working to build the confidence of its IT decision-makers in at least trialling Linux and open source offerings.

Thirdly, there is increasing anecdotal evidence that the impetus for Linux and open source software in many information technology shops is coming from the top down rather than the bottom up. Chief information officers and information technology managers have learned enough to make their own assessments of what is available, what it can do and what the risks are.

In short, the sandals and ponytail set are really now just a small part of the Linux and open source marketing machine. What Quinn says may have been true as recently as a couple of years ago, but the momentum and vendor backing for non-proprietary offerings is now reaching a point that principles of governance demand that decision-makers properly assess them when making procurement decisions.

What do you think? Is the sandal and ponytail crowd now virtually irrelevant when it comes to the marketing of Linux and open source software? Or should they get a haircut and shoes and "go corporate"? E-mail us at edit@zdnet.com.au and let us know.

Iain Ferguson is the News Editor of ZDNet Australia.

To take your opportunity to vent about what's bugging you in enterprise technology, visit ZDNet Australia's disaster recovery blog, penned by myself and journalist Steven Deare. The blog can be accessed at http://www.zdnet.com.au/blogs/disasterrecovery

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