Why Google and Ubuntu don't say “Linux”

Summary:Some people are complaining that neither Google nor Ubuntu refer to their operating systems as Linux, here's why they don't use the "L" word.

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You may see Linux, as Tux, superhero, but that's not how most people see Linux.

The most popular  mobile operating system is Android . One of the most popular non-Windows operating systems is Canonical's Ubuntu. And, Google's is really pushing its Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks in the retail market. What does all this have in common? Each operating system is based on Linux and neither Google nor Canonical is mentioning that fact.

That has some Linux fans upset. I've been getting mail from users who are ticked off that Linux isn't getting mentioned more. It bugs me a bit too, but you know what? I understand exactly why Google and Canonical are doing this.

Think about it. If you're a Linux user, what do you think of when you hear “Linux.” You think about stability, security, open-source, flexibility, power, and control. You probably also think about Tux, the Linux penguin.

But, now what do the 95% plus of the population who don't use Linux directly think about it when they hear “Linux.” They think, hard-to-use, command-line, something that only a techie geek—and I don't mean that in a fun Big Bang Theory kind of way—could use, never mind enjoy using.

Just read the trolls that infect my comment sections. They recycle the same old anti-Linux FUD about hard it is to use and how there are no applications for it constantly.  Never mind the reality that desktop Linux is easy to use and there's nothing that 99% of users can't do on Linux that they can do on Windows or Mac OS X.

You see this isn't about reality. It's about perception. Canonical and Google rather than try to fight how Linux is seen by most people and the Microsoft trolls who do their best to keep the Linux lies alive, have chosen to dodge the Linux brand issue entirely.

Hence, Google emphasizes Android and Chrome OS and Canonical talks about Ubuntu. They're doing this because this works. By doing this, they avoid all the negative FUD that Microsoft fans and trolls keep throwing at Linux and they get to set the conversation. My wife, Clara Boza, a branding expert and former CMO, tells me that this is smart marketing and that it works. Given Android's success and that Chrome OS and Ubuntu seem to be among the most popular Linux distributions, I think she's right.

For those of who are Linux fans, it's annoying. We should keep in mind though that the end goal is getting Linux into the hands of users. If they happen to call it Android, Chrome OS, or Ubuntu is that really such a bad thing? I don't think so.

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Topics: Linux, Google, Software, Ubuntu

About

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it.His work has been published in everything from highly technical publications... Full Bio

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