FreeBSD's Visual Identity: Outdated?

Roger 'Rocky' Vetterberg listsub at
Wed Dec 29 10:40:55 PST 2004

Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:
>> -----Original Message----- From:
>> owner-freebsd-questions at 
>> [mailto:owner-freebsd-questions at]On Behalf Of Roger
>> 'Rocky' Vetterberg Sent: Monday, December 27, 2004 4:57 PM To:
>> Simon Burke Cc: freebsd-www at;
>> freebsd-arch at; freebsd-questions at;
>> freebsd-advocacy at Subject: Re: FreeBSD's Visual
>> Identity: Outdated?
>> Simon Burke wrote: [snip]
>>>> 2. If it wasn't for the interesting content and structure of
>>>> the FreeBSD website, it would be among the less beautiful.
>>>> Yes, it serves its purpose well by being simple and straight
>>>> to the point. But
>> a redesign
>>>> could offer just the same -- simplicity and accuracy --
>>>> without being ugly.
>>> Aesthetics are not everything, the web site does what its
>>> supposed to do. Also i actually like how it looks. A lot of
>>> people have strong feelings about all these all singing all 
>>> dancing webistes. There is just no need. Keep it simple and
>>> easy to navigate around thats all thats really important. If
>>> the aesthetics really matter more than function to such people
>>> who use BSD then they would probably be not using BSD but
>>> either windows or linux, where you have a nice pretty GUI to
>>> look at all the nice pretty sites.
>> This is where I think a lot of people simply does not understand
>> the problem.
> Roger I understand the problem, I wrote a book on FreeBSD
> integration in 2000.  The problem is I think you don't understand
> the problem.
>> Im a FreeBSD user. I like FreeBSD because it does not have all
>> the flashy installers and pretty GUI's that many linux distros
>> seems to have today.
> That frankly isn't the reason you should like it.  You should like
> it because it works better than most commercial operating systems
> let alone most operating systems.

"The" reason? Like there was only one reason to like an os?
I like FreeBSD due to its lack of bells and whistles, but I also like 
it due to its stability, performance, ease of use and license, among 
many other reasons. Maybe I should have made that more clear, I do not 
wish to come across as a guy that favours an os based on one reason alone.

>> But still, Ive been screaming for years for someone to improve
>> the website. Why? Anyone that has stood in front of a boardroom
>> full of CEO's or similar and tried to promote the use of FreeBSD
>> in a big organisation knows why. They might like all the facts
>> about the os, the rock-solid stability, the lightning-fast
>> performance and its solid reputation as a server os, but one look
>> at the website and they will run screaming towards the nearest
>> linux advocate instead.
> Most of the CEO's I've dealt with don't give a shit on a shingle
> about a product website.  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'

I think we have a missunderstanding here. I already work for a big 
corporation. When I said that I was trying to sell FreeBSD, I meant 
that I was trying to get the company that I work for to chose FreeBSD 
over some other product. Im not a consultant of any kind, Im a 
fulltime employed technician trying to keep my employers network up 
and running.

> FreeBSD meets criteria A and B really well but it does not meet C.
> Linux meets A and B but BARELY meets C.  Windows definitely meets C
> and usually meets B and doesen't usually meet A.
> The problem of course is that A and C are related.  If I am a CEO
> and I sign a FreeBSD or Linux deal - and you are a sole-source
> provider, then once I have all my business processes into you, I'm
> locked into you.  Once that happens my thought processes are that
> your going to become very expensive to me - why, because there's no
> competition to you out there. I'm not going to do that unless I
> trust you implicitly.  And there's very few business people I am
> ever going to trust implicitly, save perhaps unless your a son or
> daughter, and even then I may not.
> You have to understand of course that this is old-school knee-jerk 
> thinking.  The CEO's are scared to death of you Roger.  They don't 
> understand what your selling, they don't understand how to
> integrate technology into their systems, they don't even understand
> their current system.

As I explained earlier, Im not selling anything.
We are several technicians at my company, some of us prefer BSD while 
others prefer linux, windows, sun or whatever the flavour of the day 
is. Everytime we get a new bunch of servers or a new task needs to be 
done, there is a religious war before we decide what os to use.
Most of the time, the board wants a say in decisions like this, and 
BSD almost always loses this, due to a very unproffesional image. 
Since the company already has the expertise inhouse, the hardware has 
been ordered and everything is paid, they dont give a shit about 
price. When I tell them that BSD can do everything they want and do it 
good, they listen. When I tell them that its free, they listen but 
they dont really care. When the linux guys makes exactly the same 
claims and also is able to back it up with proffesional looking 
websites with success-stories cluttered all over them, they usually 
decide to go with linux and goes to lunch.

>> We, the users, might not care about our image, but if we want to
>> be taken seriously by the rest of the world we better do
>> something about it!
> 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.

As I said, Im not a consultant or anything, Im just an employee. I do 
not have a website of my own.

>> Clearly, you have not tried to "sell" FreeBSD to a big
>> corporation.
> Roger you are just being impatient.  You haven't defined 'big' here

"Big" as in 6000 employees spread across a few european countries.

>  but if you mean 'big' in that the company has over 500 employees 
> in an office building, then even you must know that the check
> signers in these companies are almost never under the age of 40.
> Most of them are over 40 and most of them came up through the sales
> ranks, and not through the technology ranks.  These are people who
> 25 years ago were partying their way through a business degree in
> some university and the only thing that they really know well is
> how to sell their companies products.  That's why they work at a
> big company, didn't you know?  Deep down they know they are
> incompetents and they are too scared to go out on their own even
> when they could make triple the money if they really knew what they
> were doing.
> They don't really understand anything about technology 
> infrastructure and they certainly didn't go to grade school or high
>  school with a personal computer in the house, like kids today.
> And the worst part is that they matriculated during the time that
> in business education in this country that the 'cog in the machine'
> aspect of workers was totally emphasized.  Their professors drilled
> into their heads the idea that every worker in the company must be 
> interchangable and they deep down detest and hate the idea of there
>  being any such thing as 'key employees'
> Why do you think that the current federal government administration
>  just takes the position that workers need to retrain to the new 
> economy, as if just retraining 100 million people every 5 years to 
> new jobs is a good way to run the economy?  This is a message that 
> comes straight out of that generation and resonates with todays big
> business movers and shakers.  That is why these people are doing 
> such a terrible job mucking up American big business today, the
> current debacle with the airline industry is proof of that, and the
> amount of bankruptcies over the last 6 years has been breathtaking.
> Very few of these idiots are anything more than closet control
> freaks.
> To be successful in todays market you have to be able to
> individualize your products to what the customers in the market
> want, and there is no way for a big business to do that without
> really drastically increasing the complexity of it's business
> workflow.  Customers today want you to stock 100 variations of your
> product and build all of them to order, and they want it for the
> same price that 20 years ago they would buy the cookie-cutter
> version you could sell them for.  The only way to do that is to
> integrate technology completely in every last speck of business
> process that a big company does, and it takes a crew of key
> technicians to do that.  The few big companies that have learned 
> this aren't asking consultants what the damn operating system is 
> going to be on the computer systems they are asking the consultants
>  to build for them.  They are telling the consultants 'this is what
>  the end result needs to be, you either figure out how to get it 
> for us using whatever things you want to use to get there, or get 
> the hell out'
> Roger, you really need to be dumbing down your presentations, these
>  CEO's your presenting to really don't understand all those big 
> words.  Instead of using "FreeBSD" use "UNIX"  It's shorter and 
> even the most sheltered of them understand that yooouu-nikx is 
> something that runs computers like winders is.  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.  Get them sold on the idea
> that your providing a -solution to their problems- not that your
> providing them some freebsd system that is real cool and does
> something they are pretty fuzzy about exactly what.  If they start
> asking you exactly how your going to do this don't get sidetracked
> into a technologists conversation.

I advocate a more proffesional looking image, and you shoot me down 
and then tells me I need more bells and whistles in my presentations?
Im confused! My arguments to improve FreeBSD's image are almost 
identical to the ones you listed above.
For all I care the firstpage of could be a big picture of 
Schwartznegger with a BSD tattoe on his biceps, but try to suggest 
even a change of font on the site and people freak out.

> In fact you might just consider hiring a professional salesperson 
> that doesen't really know too much about what your selling.  These 
> CEO's really are more interested in things like when your going to 
> be finished building the new system, who is going to train the end
> users, how is it going to help them make money, how much money are
> they going to have to pay for it upfront, and how much money they
> are going to have to pay for it ongoing.  The salesperson should be
> figuring all that out with them first.  You shouldn't even be
> talking about operating systems until you have sold them on 
> yourself and your company, and if FreeBSD really is an objection to
> them, then they should like you enough so that they want you to
> build a Linux solution for them.  Once you get them hooked and 
> after a year or so you can switch them over to FreeBSD.

I could be wrong, but I think we are suggesting basically the same 
thing, just on different places.
You seem to think that I should cover up FreeBSD's amateurish look by 
creating a protective shell of fancy words and presentations.
I suggest that we put the energy on actually fixing the image, and 
thereby eliminating the need of a shell.

Unfortunally, I have seen this discussion go down so many times by now 
that I already knows how it ends. The people that tries to make a 
difference is scared away by the "dont touch my website" crowd.
I will continue to advocate the use of FreeBSD, with or without help 
from the official website, but Im still hoping that someday maybe 
people will realize that not all decisions are made based upon the 
quality of the source, but on general appearance as well.


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