[IAEP] [Sur] Sugar oversight board meeting

Sean DALY sdaly.be at gmail.com
Wed Nov 6 17:35:50 EST 2013

On Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 11:05 PM, Peter Robinson <pbrobinson at gmail.com>wrote:

> But you have for a long time refused to actually even market SoaS!

That's right, at the time SoaS became an official Fedora spin, Mel and
Sebastian decided to take over marketing, which included coming up with
unmarketable names, linking with Fedora announcements, and opening a Fedora
hosted minisite (the "home" of SoaS), none of which was done with any
consultation of the SL marketing team.

This wiped out a year and a half of hard work on my part and others who
were successfully building SoaS as the pillar of our marketing strategy,
cf. BBC coverage etc. We had been marketing SoaS as a concept - "Sugar on
OLPC now available on a $5 stick". Mel's approach was to turn SoaS into an
example of how Fedora was well-suited as a technical platform for themed
spins - certainly true, but of no interest to teachers. Unfortunately, key
components for a smooth teacher experience - an up-to-date liveUSB
installer, Sugar branded first-run screens such as Trisquel - became more,
not less difficult to create with the "spin" status.

Of course, this wasn't the only effort by community members to lay claim to
SoaS; a former contributor had even registered a domain name and built a
separate SoaS minisite, hoping to obtain exclusive distribution rights, and
only closed the site under pressure.

In traditional free software projects, engineers make the decisions then
communicate (usually quite late in the process) with their marketers. This
is almost completely ineffective, which is why I wasn't prepared to
contribute time and expertise under those conditions.

The several thousand USD I had contributed to seed the marketing effort
(remember the branded USB sticks?) had allowed us to obtain excellent
results, however as of two years ago I've been unable to continue that
financing for personal reasons.

Looking forward, I myself feel prebuilt VMs with pancake installers for
Windows, OSX and GNU/Linux (including SoaS images cf. [1]) would be our
best bet to offer a Sugar experience to interested teachers. I use a
VirtualBox VM on a Mac when I present Sugar to audiences, and it works very
well, inheriting network connections, fullscreen etc. Of course, the
downside is enormous download images, and I don't underestimate the work
and infrastructure required to keep a matrix of images available.

So yes Peter, I salute your hard work on SoaS; for want of a better
strategy it has even been kept on the SL homepage for three years. However,
for SoaS to aid SL in raising awareness, allowing teachers to overcome the
installation and unfamiliarity barriers, and providing a path to non-OLPC
hardware in a world massively dropping the PC for tablets, additional
teacher-friendly components are necessary and the marketing needs to be
done by marketers.

Sugar Labs Marketing Coordinator

P.S. I'm quite interested in your proposals concerning ARM boxes; I have
always maintained that a non-OLPC OEM deal would allow us to bypass the
installation barrier. That said, my interest in the Raspberry Pi is from a
marketing standpoint - they have over a million sold, corporate
sponsorships in the UK, wide press coverage, retail distributors, only one
official SD card OS for non-advanced users, and are seeking education
partners to better reach students.

1. http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Sugar_on_a_Stick/Virtual_machines
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