Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Mar 2006 21:51 UTC, submitted by SilentBob4
Linux "This is the second in a series of two articles on Tux's move into retail. Last week's article described some of the mechanics of how free open source software is getting into retail. Today, Mad Penguin interviews Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony; Xandros CEO Andreas Typaldos; Mepis Linux founder Warren Woodford; and Kevin Jones, Micro Center Vice President of Merchandising, to get their take Tux's jump into big box retail."
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warren woodford
by mark_in_rdjbrasil on Thu 30th Mar 2006 03:35 UTC
Member since:

WW: We don't have any big retail deals and I'm not sure it would be a good thing if we did have one. We're focusing on grass roots opportunities, for example a family edition that is safe and easy for the parents as well as the kids. So far the youngest MEPIS user is about 2 years old and the oldest is about 90. We have fans and supporters literally all over the world. We think that's more important than buying shelf space.

what i am hearing warren not say is that mepis is the best linux distro that no one really knows and they should have a market in retail, the same as linspire and xandros.

Edited 2006-03-30 03:36

Reply Score: 1

RE: warren woodford
by archeas76 on Thu 30th Mar 2006 15:34 UTC in reply to "warren woodford"
archeas76 Member since:

It would be nice someday to see my favorite linux disto on the self but I would have to agree that moving linux to the shelf may not be such a hot idea. First, the average computer user on a XP machine can barely figure that out, and now we expect them to figure out Linux? The point is anyone can install a program on XP, Linux...well, there is a bit more work involved and the average consumer isn't going to have the patience for that. They just want to stick the disk in and have it install itself. Second, there is going to be more overhead for companies to release their product to the shelf. Mainly support. Not to mention any modifications to make it more user friendly will add to the overhead. To many cost will be incured for something you can download for free. We should just stick to the "underground" grassroot geeks who love Linux.

Reply Score: 1

warren woodford
by garymax on Thu 30th Mar 2006 06:44 UTC
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To be fair Warren Woodford is only one person. It takes a lot of time and man hours to get a product into channel. It would also raise the price of the product because the overhead of placing a product into channel is more than what Woodford presently has.

If you like Mepis and you want it to remain free then it would be good to support Warren and his product "as is" and not expect too big of a thing too fast.

Warren Woodford has built "it" and they will come in due time...

Reply Score: 2

RE: warren woodford
by davidiwharper on Thu 30th Mar 2006 09:55 UTC
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It takes a lot of time and man hours to get a product into channel.

Warren is also dead on when he says it costs a lot of money.

A few years ago I tried to get a tech product into a distribution network, and the prospective distributors had three questions:

(1) How much money (millions of dollars) will you put into marketing?
(2) Will you take back all the stock we don't sell (and pay us back for it)?
(3) What is the 24/7 dedicated technical support phone number?

For a one man operation none of these questions can be easily answered.

As a side note, I also had some dealings with Manaccom (, who distribute Trend Micro consumer products in Australia, about the same product. They have a clever (for them) system: they pay you a small (10%-15%) cut for every box sold at retail. A one man operation would go broke waiting for enough money to pay the bills from a "deal" like that!

Apparantly the only way Trend makes a decent amount of money out of Australia is by selling on-going subscriptions in the second and third years. This is because they net 100% of the proceeds as the renewal process is entirely electronic and Manaccom is not involved.

To relate this to Linux: Manaccom also distribute Linspire, for which the same is no doubt true - while Linspire might not make much money on initial sales they would make a fair amount on Click-n-Run subscription renewals. The good news for Linspire is that as they aren't involved in production they don't have to dedicate millions of dollars to the closed Australian market. The bad news is that they probably had to agree to share the revenue with Manaccom like they do with their Gold Builder program ( -- I can just hear the Manaccom execs demanding this as the price of entry...

All in all, getting any tech product (and especially Linux ones) into a channel is a big ask.

Edited 2006-03-30 09:58

Reply Score: 1

A hard nut to crack
by moleskine on Thu 30th Mar 2006 10:23 UTC
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The first article in this series was extremely interesting and so is this one.

I think Mr Woodford is spot on when he says, in effect, that for many Linux distros trying to do things the conventional way isn't going to work, on costs grounds if no other: "Any Linux company that has a traditional business plan, venture funding, and expectations is doomed to failure. Now that the public has endured and learned from the experience of Microsoft, any Linux company that is blatantly greedy, or has questionable up-selling tactics, or that has grossly inferior products will also fail. The Linux companies that spend all their money on marketing won't be able to keep up ..."

Just my 2 cents, but I wonder whether some co-operative Linux sales outfit might help. They would represent and market any Linux distro prepared to sign up and contribute. Perhaps such a venture would counter the "you're too small and have no money" attitude of the big retailers.

This might get around the problem where I live, which is that every square inch in the main PC stores is organized around Microsoft products. So even if a Linux distro is stocked, it ends up sitting at the bottom of an obscure rack where no one sees it because there is no natural place for it. A cop-op outfit might have the clout to negotiate shelf and display space for a "Linux area" - say, four or six different Linux distros which could then be shown off properly with some nice point of sale material.

Still, some good OEM pre-installation deals would be the biggest help, I guess.

Edited 2006-03-30 10:24

Reply Score: 2

archeas76 needs to try LinSpire or Ubunto
by Sabon on Thu 30th Mar 2006 16:04 UTC
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"First, the average computer user on a XP machine can barely figure that out, and now we expect them to figure out Linux?"

Have you tried current versions of LinSpire or Ubuntu in the last 12 months? There is no way you can yes to that statement and still believe people can't figure out how to use at least these two distros.

Reply Score: 1

archeas76 Member since:

Maybe for you, but trust me, never under estimate the stupidity of the common computer user. I have Ubuntu installed on my laptop so I know how "easy" it can be. The average user..."average", will not have the patience for even Ubuntu. I've seen some computer illiterate users and they don't know the mouse from a hole in the ground.

Reply Score: 2