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OpenSUSE Feedback

Luis Villa posted some commentary on the openSUSE launch. Luis essentially says that way Novell speaks about openSUSE smells too much of marketing hullabaloo.

I prefer a simple-statements approach, exemplified by many open source projects. For example, “F-spot is an application designed to provide personal photo management to the GNOME desktop. Features include import, export, printing and advanced sorting of digital images.” There’s not much of a B.S. factor to that. (Well, okay, since it’s a Mono app, it doesn’t really need the GNOME bit, but just ignore that–it’s hacker squabble and beside the main point.)

So I reviewed some of the openSUSE documents, and you know what? Luis makes a good point. As a fellow admirer of the Cluetrain‘s spirit and intent, and as a Novell insider, I decided to request some initial changes, starting with the positioning.

So, for those who are interested in this kind of thing, here’s a bit of internal dialog. I sent these comments in an email to my colleague who is responsible for marketing:

[name prudently withheld]:
I have been looking through the marketing documents for openSUSE. There are some suggestions I’d like to make on some of the positioning statements.

Original: “openSUSE is a community program sponsored by Novell aimed at promoting the use of Linux everywhere.”
Suggestion: “OpenSUSE is a community project to promote the use of Linux everywhere.”
I changed “program” to “project” in order to be consistent with (later) “…the project features…extensive community development programs…”
Also, I moved the “sponsored by Novell” out of the opening so that community becomes the focus. We’ll recover it again in the following suggestion, where it can fit in naturally without risk of appearing like openSUSE is mostly just about Novell.

Original: “The program provides anyone free and easy access to the world’s most usable Linux distribution, SUSE Linux. openSUSE gives Linux developers and enthusiasts everything they need to get started with Linux.
“Hosted at opensuse.org, the project features easy access to builds and releases for all, and extensive community development programs for open access to the development process for SUSE Linux.”

I think that there are 3 ideas that we are trying to get across with these two paragraphs, but there is some overlap that makes it appear that they were possibly intended to be used in separate contexts. But, since they all appear on a single slide, a suggestion would be to break them into three distinct statements as follows.

One: “The project makes access to the world’s most usable Linux distribution, SUSE Linux, free and easy for everyone.”
Slightly rearranged, and set with an active verb, this statement focuses on the most significant part of the project: free, easy access to SUSE Linux. It also uses replaces “anyone” with “everyone” to evoke more inclusiveness and numerousness.

Two: “Through extensive community programs, the project opens access and influence into the SUSE Linux development process.”
This one focuses on just the open development process. Also, I added “influence” to suggest that it is not for code contributors only. I would further suggest using “various” instead of “extensive,” since the latter smacks a touch like the project may be aggrandizing itself.

Three: “Hosted at opensuse.org and sponsored by Novell, openSUSE gives new users, enthusiasts and developers everything they need to get started with Linux.”
I moved this concept to the end because to me it makes a good wrap up statement. We bring in “sponsored by Novell” along with the project site, where it fits more nonchalantly. We also add “new users” as one of the three target audiences, since you suggest this audience with “get started with Linux.” Another approach to “get started with Linux” could be “get involved with Linux,” which easily still includes new users, but evokes more of a spirit of participation.

I hope all this helps,

–Ted

What I hope is to help make openSUSE positioning a little more straightforward.

Comments? As always, you can post a response or send email to met at novell.com using reverendted before the @, if you know what I mean.

–Rev

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