If business will use Linux, software companies will write programs for it. If software companies will write programs for Linux, business will use Linux. Neither wants to be first. How do we get out of this Catch 22?
This month's Letters to the Editor includes an e-mail about the product review of Bentley Systems' MicroStation95 [July 1997] that I found quite interesting. In particular, in the last paragraph the writer, Dave Blondell, says:
Linux is now at an awkward moment. If business will use Linux, software companies will write programs for it. If software companies will write programs for Linux, business will use Linux. Neither wants to be first. How do we get out of this Catch 22?
While there is probably more than one answer to this question, one of the best and easiest is marketing. When we, as at-home Linux users, promote Linux in our workplace as an efficient, reliable and inexpensive alternative to the other available operating systems, we take the first step in solving the conundrum posed above.
Each month LJ includes a “Linux Means Business” article for the express purpose of letting the world know the many ways in which Linux is being used in the workplace. Bentley Systems might be interested in the fact that Linux is being used to design items as diverse as clothing [“Using Linux at Lectra-Systèmes”, Pierre Ficheux, April 1997] and integrated circuit boards [“An Introduction to IC Design Under Linux”, Toby Schaffer and Alan W. Glaser, July 1997]. These articles and others [e.g., “IMEC/NIT”, Erwin Glassee and Rudi Cartuyvels, December 1996] show that there are companies doing CAD work using Linux that would provide a market for products such as Bentley's MicroStation95.
Last month, Martin Sjolin provided us with a great way to promote Linux at work [“Linux Expo at UBS”, November 1997]. Mr. Sjolin along with other Linux users put on an Expo at the Union Bank of Switzerland where they are employed. His description of the steps they took to put on the Expo serves as a blueprint for others to follow.
In June of this year, the Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts (http://www.ale.com/) joined with Linux International to put on a successful, national trade show devoted exclusively to Linux: The Atlanta Linux Showcase. An article describing how your group can organize a successful show like A.L.S. appeared in Issue 19 of Linux Gazette (http://www.ssc.com/lj/issue19/trade.html): “User's Groups and Trade Shows, Lessons from the Atlanta Linux Showcase” by Andrew Newton. This paper can also be found on the G.L.U.E. (Groups of Linux Users Everywhere) web site at http://www.ssc.com/glue/. This example makes the point that users' groups and Linux Advocacy teams are always a good resource for inventive ideas for promotion—join one today.
On Sunday August 31, Linux Journal helped spread the word about Linux by sponsoring a float in the annual Kelper's Day Parade in Pacific Beach, Washington. Now, I have no idea what a Kelper is—a gatherer of kelp perhaps?—but I had a lot of fun participating in the parade. My favorite float was a front-loader with a dummy in the scoop and a sign that read: “Call 911. We Scoop and Run.”
LJ's contribution was a huge Linux Journal banner followed by Phil's old blue Mercedes with a computer fastened to the top. A bunch of us employees walked (and rode on the front fenders) the two-mile parade route giving out Linux stickers, magazines and candy. (The kids liked the candy the best.) Phil took pictures and, after the parade, fed us barbecued salmon and beer—he's a nice guy, after all. Next year he has offered to feed all the Linux geeks that show up.
And now, for a little self-promotion—Linux Journal has put together a CD containing a browser and all of the 1996 issues in HTML format. This CD is a nice, convenient way to keep all that great Linux information at your fingertips in an easy-to-search format. It also takes up a lot less space on your bookshelf than 12 printed magazines. Get yours today.