[In the news] Fedora and GNOME branding drama: Missing the big picture

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier xonker at gmail.com
Thu Apr 21 19:10:38 UTC 2011

On Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 1:51 PM, inode0 <inode0 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM, Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier
> <xonker at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 11:57 PM, Frankie Mangoa
>> <frankiemangoa at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Why? Because the end user wouldn't know otherwise?
> It seems to me watching this drama from the outside that the reason
> for branding has little to do with the end user although even with the
> end user it might promote brand loyalty. Virtually everything I use is
> branded. My pocket knife has a Chris Reeve logo on it. My cell phone
> has Motorola, Verizon, and Google on it. The monitor I am staring at
> now has Dell on it. And on and on and on. Oh, the desktop I am using
> has a little Shadowman logo in the upper left corner too. I know who
> made all these things as the end user and it seems all these marketing
> people are out to lunch if you are right?! The only difference I can
> think of between all these other things that take such interest in
> branding is that they make money from their brands while Fedora itself
> doesn't (although I imagine the Fedora brand could conceivably have
> economic value of some sort to Red Hat).

The reasons that your cell phone has a Verizon / Google and whatever
logo on it are not particularly relevant to whether Fedora should or
shouldn't ship stock GNOME wallpaper.

Are the marketing people out to lunch? That's a whole 'nother
discussion. The reasons I've seen put forward for inclusion of Fedora
branding, however, are tenuous at best. I seem to recall one going on
about users not knowing they're running Fedora - which is highly

Google, et al, want their logos on phones because there's a lot of
people who really won't know that they're using Android without a big
green guy on the phone. So building awareness there is relevant. But
very, very few people wind up with Fedora on their desktop without
knowing what it is and how it got there - and that it's Fedora.

>> When there are too few hands to do the available work, it seems to me
>> a massive waste to argue over the amount of pixels given to $distro
>> vs. $desktop branding when millions of people still haven't even heard
>> of Linux -- so effort *could* go towards making marketing materials
>> and such to promote Fedora *externally* rather than reinforcing pride
>> on behalf of people who are already converted.
> Don't sell reinforcing pride among the "converted" too short. Pride in
> Fedora, the project and the distribution is a strong glue bonding a
> community largely composed of volunteers together. Without it, why
> would we even want to promote Fedora externally?

If you really need a pre-shipped logo to validate or enforce your
community bond... I don't know what to say.

>> Sure, internal drama that distracts team members from working together
>> and making forward progress is *always* healthy. </sarcasm>
> If this is trivial, then the debranding/rebranding push could be
> dropped just as easily as the debranding/rebranding backlash could be
> dropped. Community frustration tends to evidence itself in response to
> some particular trigger event, in this case the desktop changes for
> F15 but I think the frustration runs a little deeper and you are
> missing something if you think this is just about an icon on a
> desktop.

No - I get that this is about a deeper issue, but I think it's damn
silly to debate this particular issue - so why not just have it out
and state the issue up-front?

As I alluded to in a previous post, I suspect this is a reaction to
what appears to be RHAT making a decision by fiat and people feeling
upset about that. This may be legitimate, but at the same time, RHAT
puts in ridiculous amounts of resources into Fedora so maybe it'd be
equally valid to get over it and do something positive instead of
people digging in heels over something that is really, deeply trivial.

My, flawed, analogy would be this:

Every six months, RHAT throws a big community party. It asks for help
from the community, and usually the community gets to pick the
decorations and food served at the party. Red Hat pays to throw the
party, does much of the prep work, and hires people to coordinate the

On this occasion, Red Hat's coordinators have a special event they
want to celebrate - so they pick out the decorations and want to
provide the food.

Some of the other contributors who usually help are pissed because
their usual decisions/contributions are being passed over. So there's
a fair amount of tension and drama leading up to the event.

Neither RHAT or the contributors want to back down. Meanwhile, outside
observers are 1) put off by the drama and 2) really don't care if the
party has pizza or Thai food, so long as it's good. And there's
Guinness. (This is my analogy, so I'm going to pick a good beer.)

My suggestion? Remember that what you're trying to do here is throw a
party, and who's ponying up the biggest contribution. Maybe what's
more important is having more people at the party and getting the
invites out, than whether the decorations are red or blue.


Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier <jzb at zonker.net>
About: http://www.dissociatedpress.net/about/

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