[IAEP] [Marketing] [Sugar-devel] Fwd: Press release flurry planning (LinuxTag - FOSSED - NECC - GUADEC)

Sean DALY sdaly.be at gmail.com
Thu Jun 18 16:38:02 EDT 2009

For me, Sugar on a Stick (or on a liveCD, or in virtualization, or as
a session) is about a "Sugar" experience, not a "Sugar on an
underlying distro/meta-OS/hardware" experience. No disrespect to the
massive effort that goes into packaging and adapting Sugar to a distro
(and I am certainly aware that there are differences), but teachers
and Learners will and should care mostly about connecting to
classmates, Activities, and the Journal; the distro should be
secondary, as the hardware should be secondary. The cause of Sugar is
advanced by its openness to many platforms; that agnosticism is a key
tenet of Sugar Labs in my view. I don't think "Sugar on a Stick"
should "belong" to any one distro, let me explain why (and how some of
us can consider the name to mean different things too).

Let's look at this another way. The most optimistic desktop
marketshare estimates for all GNU/Linux distros combined is: under 2%.
I'm not really worried about Sugar running on all distros, hitting
that 2% (although I do often wonder why they are not more proactive in
their support); I look at Apple's 7% to 10%, but especially
Microsoft's 90%. I want to cut deep into that 90%, and in a context
where preinstallation is not yet happening (although it will), Sugar
on a Stick is the best way to sidestep the Windows barrier. We are
positioning ourselves as the very best K-6 learning system, at *any*
price, and many of our differentiators are due to our FOSS basis -
Microsoft is out for the count in a quality comparison, and out for
the count in a cost comparison too. This is an incredible opportunity
for distros to get onto netbooks and into schools, and I wonder what
they are waiting for. It's no accident that Ubuntu is the standard
default OS of the Dell education netbook, and has just been added as a
standard alternate OS on the Classmate; somebody over there is going
for that opportunity. Microsoft's marketing position by the way is
limited to "we have thousands of applications and run on any PC", an
argument worn thin by their inability to run on small-footprint
systems, which is why they are desperately trying to abolish the word

A note about wording. Extreme care goes into our press releases to
make them intelligible to teachers and educators (and funders), while
framing debates and remaining concise. I use acronyms like "SoaS" and
"ASLO" in e-mails to save time and get work done, but always talk
about "Sugar on a Stick" in marketing materials, and not the distro or
"Linux" for the reasons cited above. The journalists and bloggers who
know us look right past the PR and marketing and look at our wiki,
talk to contributors, maybe even lurk during debates like this one; if
they are fair, they will paint a true picture, warts and all (though
more growing pains than warts I'd say :-). It's that huge mass of
other journalists, who don't follow FOSS, or even tech, but who *are*
interested in education issues, who can be reached by our PR and
marketing, and who hopefully can learn that there are other ways of
using computers to aid in children's education.

At the risk of repeating myself, the incredible complexity of the
engineering going on around Sugar means we are saddled with arcane and
obscure numbering systems. SoaS-1 (F9/v0.84) is not SoaS-2
(F11/v0.84), neither one is OLPC-OS v8.2 (F9/v0.82). I proposed
simplifying this for teachers by going to an instantly understandable
"beta-1" and "v1" with Sugar on a Stick, and I became temporarily
upset with Sebastian recently when he moved up the v1 release date
three months without consulting anyone; Caroline identified the crux
of that debate as being differing interpretations of what "Sugar on a
Stick" means - for Sebastian, it is code and hacks running Sugar v0.84
over Fedora; for Caroline and myself, it is a classroom solution we
want teachers to depend on which includes a reliable USB stick loader,
documentation, a blueprint for local support, lots more testing of a
hardware compatibility matrix, Mac compatibility, etc. After
discussion and lots of reflection and a stroke of marketing genius
from Tomeu, we found a way out of the impasse: to "baptize" the v1
version (and indeed subsequent versions) as flavors, starting with
Strawberry. We even placed a strawberry logo (#06) into the boot
animation sequence; unsophisticated users will be able to tell us the
version from the boot logo color. Hiding unnecessary complexity from
end users is excellent marketing; if I say iPod, we could all sketch
one, even if Apple is on their 150th iPod SKU; we associate "iPod"
with "portable gadget for listening to music on headphones, and maybe
watching videos too". For teachers, parents, and Learners, "Sugar on a
Stick" should mean "any USB stick loaded with the Sugar Learning
Platform that can restart a computer directly into the Sugar
interface"... no more, no less. If we need to call it something else
internally (which I am sure is the case with other distros on board),
that's fine.

The Marketing team has meetings every Tuesday at 1500 UTC, it's a good
place to speak up about what we are calling things, especially to
prospective testers of Sugar.



On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 9:15 PM, David Van Assche<dvanassche at gmail.com> wrote:
> Well, that ship sailed quite a while ago. I find it hard to believe
> that you missed the significant publicity surrounding Sugar being
> available on openSUSE in ALL formats (cd/dvd/usb/vm appliance) as I've
> been touting that for at least 2 months now. In fact the collaboration
> sessions that have been advertised various times quite explicitly talk
> about the opensuse variant, which contains a large set of honey apps
> (thats what makes it different from Fedora SoaS)
> To me, saying stick = Fedora, is like saying Sugar is based solely on
> Fedora... which is just totally silly and very harmful for the
> distribution of it. Fedora is a very small community in comparison to
> the debian based world (which is approximately 60% of the market) then
> we also have Mandriva and openSUSE who take another good 25%+ of the
> market, conservatively. That leaves Fedora + derivatives with 15% of
> the market... (based on distrowatch figures) thats highly undemocratic
> to steal the term SoaS to just refer to Fedora (especially since the
> term actually came from someone who stuck Sugar on usb via Ubuntu) I
> can dig up the references for you guys if you like.
> How can Sugar on a Stick (not the term Fedora quite obviously missing
> from it) be Fedora centric?
> This smells to me like saying Office = microsoft... it smells very
> bad... which is why I'm raising my concerns over it somewhat...
> David
> On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 8:53 PM, Bert Freudenberg<bert at freudenbergs.de> wrote:
>> On 18.06.2009, at 20:28, David Van Assche wrote:
>>> Soas = sugar on a stick.... whether that be on Fedora, Suse, debian,
>>> or mandriva... they are all the same thing, and I would argue SoaS is
>>> NOT a distro... just a dsitribution mechanism... for example, I call
>>> my opensuse based sugar on stick SoaS too, as that is technically what
>>> it is...
>> You can call that whatever you want, but please not in public. SoaS
>> means a very specific distro, not just any Linux+Sugar slapped onto a
>> USB flash drive.
>>> On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 8:25 PM, Sean DALY<sdaly.be at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> I beg everyone's pardon, I was under the impression that SoaS is
>>>> Fedora-specific... are there plans to do versions based on other
>>>> distros?
>> No, there are no such plans currently.
>> IMHO we should not water down the meaning of "SoaS".
>> - Bert -
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