please, a little sanity about the logo

Steve Ireland stevei at
Mon Feb 14 17:00:43 PST 2005


As a rule I don't post to mailing lists, especially about bike 
sheds, but I have seen a firestorm on this list and questions@ 
concerning the logo and most of them are vitriol or hysteria or 
vitriolic hysteria.
First, I've been using, selling, and supporting FBSD since 2.2.2. 
In that time, I think I have become as fond of Beastie as anyone. 
While selling nearly a thousand installations (not systems), I 
have never encountered a problem over the logo, and I have put 
many a Beastie badge on a case. Changing a brand identifier is 
not something to be done on a whim. In the case of FBSD, which 
has a "community" rather than a corporate hierarchy, decisions 
like this need to be floated and allowed to settle before being 
This leads to the first question, should the logo be changed.
Frankly, I don't know. Absent marketing studies, no way exists to 
know. Were studies done? If yes, will they be shared? If studies 
were not done, what methodology was used to determine the current 
logo is a hindrance to FBSD gaining market share?
This leads to the second question, how pick the new one. 
Considering Beastie has been around since the beginning with no 
real objection until, apparently, recently, how do you (whomever 
"you" are) know the one you pick to replace it will be _better_ 
and not just different?
This leads to a suggestion others have already made, a splitting 
of FBSD into hobbyist and professional branches. The hobbyists 
keep Beastie, the .org site, and the non-profit status. The 
professionals get the new logo, the .com site, and pay for use 
and support (perhaps an annual subscription?).
Now, an issue not yet brought up. I believe the real problem with 
FBSD market share has more to do with its lack of visibilty in 
the market itself. Other than mentions so rare that links to them 
are posted on the website, I see almost no news concerning FBSD. 
Looking through advocacy@'s archive, I seen almost no pro-active 
posts. So let me make this into one.
Here are my suggestions to improve FBSD market share, regardless 
of logo change:
0. Dedicated marketing department - The Foundation as it 
currently exists is clearly insufficient to meet FBSD's needs. 
You think Redhat or Suse don't have one?
1. Advertise - There are many ways to do this besides a full-page 
glossy in Sys Admin. For instance, ask people using FBSD for 
hosting to mention that fact in their own ads. If the example of didn't come up from time to time on the lists, who 
would know they use it?
2. Make it easier for the media, etc. to find an authorative 
source - How many times have people posted "How do I find a FBSD 
spokesman" on various lists (especially questions@) and been 
given inappropriate responses from random community members. In 
my opinion, that has done more harm than any logo ever will.
3. Performance matters - As much as I hate this issue, it is a 
real one. Look at CPU, RAM, and hard drive sizes. More is better. 
A common refrain is how well *nix does on slow systems compared 
to Windows (or, emphasizing its lack of performance, Windoze). 
5.3 is observably slower and less stable than 4.11. Now I have to 
convince customers that the slower version is the better choice. 
I don't even try. I won't even mention 5.x until it is at least 
as good as 4.11.
4. Quality support for common hardware - Anyone using USB 2.0 
without problems? Trouble free installation while using a USB 
keyboard? SATA raid controllers? (Please don't give the tired 
line, "Code it yourself if you want it." That's ANOTHER reason 
FBSD suffers in the marketplace.)
To sum up, if changing the logo is being done for sound business 
reasons, based on sound business information, all well and good. 
If its being done to appease religious zealots (as seems to be 
the case), then FBSD will be a laughing-stock. All of the 
"printing" issues seems like an after-the-fact justification to 
me, especially considering that I not have ever seen any printed 
FBSD literature other than the few commercially available books. 
In either case, I doubt a logo change will have a beneficial 
impact given FBSD's other marketing shortcomings.

For better or worse,

Steve Ireland

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