Linux, the mainstream, and market penetration

Back in January, I related a story of a billboard I’d seen in October and how the software being advertised happened to be available for Windows, Mac, AND Linux.

Everyone who cares (that’s about, what, five of us) knows about “MovieOS” or “Hollywod OS” — computer sceenshots that are obviously custom shots that are in-house artwork. You know, either the animated PlaySkool shots showing people to click on the “GO” button regarding going to their store to spend lots of money on their wares, or, it’s a screenshot that “looks” like it’s a functional computer screen but doesn’t look like any computer desktop people are familiar with or any other computer desktop on the next show or movie you watch.

I’ve been noticing things on occasion in the mainstream media for a couple of years regarding computer screenshots: Not only is it not Windows or Mac, it’s not “MovieOS” either. What you see is a variant of the Gnome desktop, usually on Ubuntu (for those of you who have no clue what to look for, watch for two white lines on the screen, one on the top of the screen, and one on the bottom, and a light brown background to the rest of the screen.)

Listen up folks, here’s one of the moments that I think Mr. Shuttleworth’s little darling is doing some good.

In late 2007, there was a CBC Marketplace report on the various download speeds of the various high-speed internet suppliers across Canada. A closeup of the download progress window made it clear that each participant was downloading the Ubuntu CD of the day.

Just today on CNN I noticed in an ad for AT&T 3G USB key for highspeed mobile internet — this is the one with Bill Curtis in a boxing ring bragging about how fast he is — and the laptops appear to be running Ubuntu.

These are the two that come to mind. However, every couple of months, what do I see? An Ubuntu screen. I rather suspect that the reason for this trend as well as most instances of “MovieOS” is that it’s cheaper — including the cost of paying the computer technician in the back the time to reformat a computer, assuming that they didn’t just ask the guys in back to lend them their laptop, or of course asking the art department to make up something that looks nice — than paying any licensing fees to MS, Apple, or anyone else. Or, they didn’t get a sweet enough product placement deal from MS or Apple or whatever computer manufacturer in the advertising department’s rolodex.

I’d say that Linux — be it Linux in general, Ubuntu, any other distro, or the fact that there is a wide choice out there, in this case I don’t care — seems to be making some headway. Here’s one of the examples where I’ll concede the point that if people think Linux, they think Ubuntu, and that that’s OK.

Linux *is* breaking into the mainstream

Back in October I saw a billboard along the highway where (probably) hundreds of thousands of people see it every day. It advertised a French-language spell-checker that I’d never heard of, despite living in a French city — in fact, the second-largest French-speaking city after Paris — and being fluent in French; I’m a native-English speaker. Go figure, chalk it up to the two solitudes.

There was a marketing pic, and four words. In large, bold type, “ANTIDOTE” (the name of the spell checker.)

And, in smaller, grey type, “Windows Mac Linux”

I’m impressed. And it made all the more an impression since I’d never heard of the product and had to look it up.

It’s a small step, of course, but to me it underlines that there is appears to be enough desktop penetration for them to not only make Linux version, but to actually bother to mention that they have a linux version in their marketing as an apparent equal alongside Windows and Mac.