Linux OS support on Product Packaging

Category: Linux

I've written tutorials for Canon and Brother printer driver Linux installations, but there is a difference between the two printer manufacturers - Brother actually provides a Linux logo on their printer boxes. Canon does provide drivers for some of their products, but limit their OS logos to OSX and Windows. An operating system support logo is actually more for advertising than for customer education. After all, if your PC product isn't supported by OSX or Windows, then you just cut yourself off from the global market. Surprisingly, the support logos on product packaging actually affect sales. Don't believe me? Head off to any electronics store and count how many smartphone and audio accessories have the iPod and iPhone logos on their plastic packaging. Back in the 90s, the specifications would just list the type of connector and then there would be additional marketing text for the drivers it's equipped with (e.g. neodymium). These days, leaving out that iPod, iPhone, or iPad logo from your headphones or headset packaging means that 90% of the masses will ignore your audio product.

The recent netbook I purchased, an excellent Toshiba NB520, sports a Windows 7 Starter logo - but Toshiba's Harman Kardon-equipped netbook works best with Linux (due to the Intel Atom N2800 Windows limitations you can't upgrade the RAM to 4GB unless you're running Linux). If Toshiba stuck a sticker on this netbook's box boasting it supports Linux then even casual Linux users would snatch it up (experienced Linux users check the hardware specs in advance). I also purchased a fantastic Microsoft Wireless Mobile 3500 mouse and it had a logo for Mac OSX v10.4-10.7. Ten years ago, Microsoft wouldn't have even mentioned Apple, much less their operating system on their product. Why not Linux? Both my new Wireless 3500 and older Microsoft Wireless 1000 mouse work fine on my Linux machines and I prefer them over Logitech's less resilient offerings. There's really no reason why Microsoft should slap on a penguin alongside OSX on the box.

Manufacturers should be aware that adding a Linux logo or at least mentioning Linux on the packaging (since Linux technically doesn't have an official OS logo), carries weight for a lot of technical users. Contrary to popular belief, Linux users are much more prevalent than what is advertised in the news. You can find a Linux logo in some serverboards, blades, and tower packaging because manufacturers know that most servers run FreeBSD, CentOS, openSUSE, RedHat, Debian, or even Ubuntu and the guy shopping around for company hardware just loves seeing that penguin. Gigabyte, ASUS, and Intel all test their consumer motherboards and chipsets for compatibility using stable Linux releases (particularly the aforementioned openSUSE, Ubuntu, and surprisingly, Fedora). However, they don't note Linux compatibility on their packaging. This is extremely surprising considering that laptops, portables, tablets, and smartphones have crippled the market for DIY-ers. Only desktop enthusiasts shell out money for high-end and mid-range motherboards, so why not market motherboards to those hard-working and admirable Linux users who actually know how to set up RAID and build drivers from source?  

Seagate and Western Digital have it easy because storage file format is an area Linux excels. MacOSX has limited support for drives formatted using NTFS while Windows can't access OSX's unique HFS partition table. Linux can support both and the guys over at Seagate and Western Digital know this -  they've actually added Linux to some of their newer packaging.

You'll find the Linux logo in very interesting products. These products might not always have the same brand recognition but they can be exceptional, such as a Toshiba-branded Bamba 4GB USB 2.0 shock-resistant flash drive. So the next time you go out and shop for tech gear, check the operating system specifications and all things equal go for a product that lists Linux.


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