FreeBSD's Visual Identity: Outdated?

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at
Wed Dec 29 00:22:48 PST 2004

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-freebsd-questions at
> [mailto:owner-freebsd-questions at]On Behalf Of Nikolas Britton
> Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 4:50 AM
> To: Ted Mittelstaedt
> Cc: freebsd-advocacy at; freebsd-questions at;
> freebsd-www at; freebsd-arch at; Simon Burke
> Subject: Re: FreeBSD's Visual Identity: Outdated?
> Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:
> >What they care about is: 'can what I need done
> >be done in a way that is a) cheap and b) works and c) won't lock me
> >in to you'
> >
> >
> d) support. e) what everyone else uses. Most companys only care about d
> and e as windows is nether a, b, or c... umm how'd it go... "No one ever
> got fired for buying IBM"

If you think about it, d and e are the same thing as a and c.

What does support constitute to the average CEO?  If you asked them they
would say that it's the ability to
pick up the phone and get the problem fixed, right?

Well guess what - you can do that with FreeBSD, there's paid incident

about the same cost as the Microsoft offering, as a matter of fact.

If you tell them that, they will sit back, scratch their head, and
say something along the lines of 'well I can just call any joe blow in
the yellow pages for windows questions'

And they are right.  Because there's lots of so-called 'windows consultants'
out there who are to put it bluntly, so piss-poor that they will give you
gobs of free-but-worthless support over the phone in an attempt to get
an appointment with you for some billable time.  And if that doesen't work
well, my kid brother has a computer that he plays Doom on all the time so
he must be a computer sexpert, right?

The people selling commercial FreeBSD support want a lot of money - but in
exchange you get support that is actually worth what you pay for.

The people selling commercial Windows support are all over the map - some
do want a lot of money for good support, others will take a little bit of
money for crap support.

The CEOs that don't know any better figure that the cheap support is as
good as the expensive support - so they then classify the expensive
support (both windows and freebsd) in the 'nonexistent' category and
then tell you with a straight face that freebsd is not supported.

Now, if your talking hardware support - then please, yes there's lots of
cheapskates running offices who are buying winprinters so they can save
$50, we know that.  And paying double for the ink cartridges, yes I know
that one too.

And as for the every one else uses it - where do you see this most?  It's
in the companies that don't want to spend a cent on training people.  They
want to hire their secretaries out of the local 1 year business prep school
and put them to work writing letters with Microsoft Word, because that
is all the business prep school trains them to do.  What is missed of course
is that since those sorts of people are only good for plunking down in
front of a Windows XP system with Microsoft Word on it, after those people
get finished writing your Microsoft Word document, they spend the last
6 hours of the day downloading new screensavers, changing the fonts on
their computers, instant messaging their friends, etc.

If instead you plunked them down in front of a FreeBSD system running
XFree, after they got done with writing the memo you wanted them to write,
they would be unable to idle away time on the computer, and you might
actually get some useful work out of them.

If you don't believe this take a look at the Microsoft desktop
offerings.  Microsoft is belatedly waking up to this and ever since
NT, a skilled Windows admin can go in and lock down every scrap of
anything on all his Windows NT, 2K, or XP desktops so that the
secretaries can't do anything other than what their job is.  And more
and more companies are starting to do this, or at least try
doing it.

> Know your market, we are not trying to get them to switch to FreeBSD
> from Windows, we are the alternative to the alternative for a company
> that has already decide to go with the alternative instead of windows.

you might be.  But your fighting the hardest battle.  Unlike you I'm
out there showing them how many tens of thousands of dollars they are
going to save by not buying a new server that is running XP Pro Server,
and Microsoft Exchange, and all the other nasty proprietary business
software that Microsoft has designed to leech onto your company.

> >  VERY few customers are willing to deviate
> >from Microsoft, at least not in the Western states.
> >
> On the desktop yes, but where not talking about desktops here, where
> talking about servers and Linux has its claws all over the server market.

The Linux people are also talking about desktops.  In fact, they are
concentrating more on the desktops now than on the servers, that is why
the Linux distros all have GUI installers and the like.  When was the
last time you installed Linux?  Today's Linux is designed to be installed
by a non-technical user, same as Windows.

> >
> >I would suggest that if you really are this lit up about this issue
> >that you direct your customers to you OWN website which is quite
> obviously
> >superior to the FreeBSD one.
> >
> >
> Now thats just asinine.

Not it is not.  He is trying to sell himself and his company.  Why
in the heck shouldn't he be directing his customers to himself and
his companies website?

Geeze - the FreeBSD website not only has FreeBSD info it has lists of
OTHER consultants.  Why on earth would a consultant making a presentation
want to direct the customer to a site that would give the customer
a list of competitors?

> >
> I'm sorry to say but anyone outside of IT/IS/MIS has no clue what UNIX
> is. at best they mistake it for Linux.

Then don't even mention UNIX or Windows at all.

> >And rather
> >than telling them how many mega-bytes and giga-bits the nice
> >new server is going to run at, just tell them it's going to be
> >big, and fast and powerful like Arnold Schwartznegger.
> >
> I agree with you about the megabit and bytes but you have gone to far to
> the other extreme, they are not stupid, the CEO's job is to keep the
> company afloat not know what a megabyte is, this is why we have CTOs and
> CIOs.

Exactly - which is why as I said before (and you cut) the sales presentation
is going to be a dud if all you do is sit there talking about how great
this FreeBSD product is.

When you go into one of these sales deals the CEO should be told exactly
TWO things: that you can solve his problem, and how much it's going to
cost.  Everything else in the presentation is simply a lead in for these
two things.

The problem is that too many people that do these kinds of presentations
don't understand that what they are selling is themselves.  They think
that "I'm going to try to go into that there customer and sell them a
new server"  Nowhere in their thought processes is the idea that they
are there to find out what the customers problem is exactly, and
sell THEMSELVES as the solution to it.

I've seen a lot of these presentations and
been in a lot where the customer tells the presenter what his problem
is and the first words out of the presenters mouth is 'well you need a
new server'  It's like you might as well leave then.  The presenter should
be saying 'well you don't have enough space/you don't have enough speed/
your network has no virus protection/you don't have a database/etc/etc/etc
and WE CAN FIX that.  In short, the presenter needs to regurgitate the
customers problem,
and tell the customer they can fix it, and how much it is gonna cost.
Period.  It's not the presenters job to tell the customer how they are
going to fix it - if the customer knew that, the presenter wouldn't
even be there.

> Again this is are target market; consultants, integrators, vars, etc.  I
> bet 80% of them don't even know FreeBSD exists and of the 20% that do
> only 20% would consider using and recommending it based on technical
> merit alone.

A var that has a thriving Linux consultancy and no FreeBSD experience
isn't going to buy into FreeBSD. The only time your going to get a
consultant with no FreeBSD experience into looking at FreeBSD is if they
can't make a go of it with their existing product line, or if they have
never done consulting before and
are just starting out.

The var/integrator/consultancy market has a certain amount of attrition
year, companies form and break up every year.  There's always new people
into the market and old people leaving it.  Some of those new consultants
are going to have prior FreeBSD experience and will want to leverage that.
The support they need from the FreeBSD Project is stuff like my book,
good tech support assistance, and overall a strong stable OS.


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