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Lunduke's Random Linux Marketing Anecdotes
April 15, 2024
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My days working in Linux marketing were... interesting.  It was a truly unique experience.  Wouldn't trade a moment of it (even the less than enjoyable parts).

Because I am feeling nostalgic, here's a few little tidbits from my time selling Linux-y stuff for Linux-y companies.

SUSE - The Oldest Linux Company

I spent roughly 4 years at SUSE as -- I kid you not -- often the only person, in the entire marketing department, who actually used Linux.  As such I tended to be the guy that every random marketing idea needed to be run by... you know, just to make sure SUSE didn't end up saying something that insulted Linux-folk.

Seriously.  It was crazy.  At one point the lady who ran all of marketing -- for the oldest Linux company -- had almost no clue, whatsoever, about how to even begin using Linux.  Or what the history of Linux was.  Or what the major projects were.

It was like if the head of marketing for Coca Cola had never tasted Coke before... and refused to even take a sip.  And was only vaguely aware that it was even a liquid.

Just the same... most of the time it was pretty fun.  I kept churning out ad campaigns that were some of the biggest successes SUSE had ever had -- resulting in SUSE numbers shooting up -- and, as a result, they gave me a lot of freedom.

Of the many varied and weird marketing projects I put together at SUSE... my favorite was a music video parody of "Uptown Funk"... about Linux kernel patching.

"Uptime Funk" was a fun one.  We hired a great group of musicians and dancers -- down in Provo, Utah -- who did a stellar job.  Our cinematographer and editor was absolutely amazing.

And, most importantly, nobody messed with my lyrics.  Which made me happy.  🤣

I tell ya.  The executives almost always messed with my words.

I remember, one time I wrote a parody of Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling".  I turned it into a song about a guy eating pie a dinner... singing about how he runs Linux on absolutely everything in his house.  He compulsively installs Linux on everything.  If it has electricity, he installs Linux on it.  And then he installs Linux inside of VMs on Linux.  And he uses a remote X session to log into his crock pot.

It was glorious.  And ridiculous.

Then the powers that be swooped in.  Non-Linux-understanding marketing people got assigned to "revise" the lyrics with the explicit instruction of making it "more marketing-y".

The result was "Can't Stop the SUSE".  Which, annoyingly, still lists me as having written the lyrics.  I'll let you decide how I feel about that song.

Near the end of my tenure at SUSE, things weren't quite as fun.  At one point I recall getting into an argument with the VP of Marketing... who told me, point blank, to never use the phrase "Free Software" and to stop talking about "Open Source" so much.

Seriously.  Things were going in a weird direction.

Then I left, SUSE got a new CEO, and everything went to heck in a handbasket for the oldest Linux company.

Purism - The Linux Hardware Guys

I spent a short spell as the Director of Marketing at Purism -- a company which sells laptops and whatnot pre-loaded with Linux.  While I ended up leaving the company due to some disagreements over how the business was run... there were definitely some fun moments.

For the launch of Librem One (Purism's effort to make a privacy-respecting online service), we created a commercial.  It's just a wee bit naughty.  No swearing but... definitely a lot of innuendo.  😎

You might recognize the voice at the end.

Ultimately, the Librem One service had some success -- but was severely bogged down by technical issues, and code licensing conflicts, early on.  Which was a bummer.  Really hobbled what could have otherwise been a fun product launch.

But, heck, the commercial was fun.  So it had that going for it!

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