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Red Army Embraces Desktop Linux

BrainShare in Salt Lake City is winding down, and my accelerated schedule is starting to slacken enough that I can share some of what has been going on.

First mention is that we have been overjoyed about the reception for Novell Linux Desktop at BrainShare. This is the first major event involving the loyal Novell customer base since we released Novell Linux Desktop. And while my team and my product management peer Bryan Cardoza’s team have been hoping for a warm welcome of the product, we were not sure whether it would get the love we wanted it to.

Any minor trepidation we had over this vanished immediately. Out counter in the BrainShare technology lab was constantly abuzz with customer inquiry all week. I finally had a chance to talk to some customers and answer questions last night and found that the enthusiasm for this product is huge.

Novell’s opportunity here may be unique. We have masses of loyal Novell enthusiasts who have been working in influntial IT roles for years now looking at how they can start bring desktop Linux into their organizations. So, with their help, this year may be the year that we begin to see serious traction for desktop Linux.

We did a lot of activities to help accelerate the situation. All of our Novell Linux Desktop sessions drove our main message about finding right-fit roles for desktop Linux. We even had a pretty well attended session called “Selling Your Boss and Your Boss’ Boss on Novell Linux Desktop,” which focused on how to properly advocate using desktop Linux in your organization without getting mired in the technical issues with people who want to know the business drivers and advantages.

We’re also trying to build “the Cult of NLD.” On of my team produced a computer decal to replace the “Designed for Microsoft Windows XP” foil sticker that comes on machines. The decal came adhered to a card showing very straightforward instructions on how use the new decal in place of the old. It was a huge hit and now we have to find a way to offer these through some kind of online ordering system.

The Novell “Red Army” has always been Novell’s power base, the lifeblood of the company’s historic success. (Andreas Bach sent me an email chronicling how his flight got grounded in Minneapolis, so he and his friends rented a car and drove to Salt Lake City–1350 miles–in order to get to BrainShare!) Having these die-hards embrace Linux on the desktop may prove to be a watershed event for Linux. These people have the experience and tenacity to take Linux in force into places it has so far only dabbled in, places like the business desktop.


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