Don Marti

Wed 22 Mar 2006 11:25:59 PM PST

Stolen Christmas? Try these handy tips.

So you're a PC vendor, and a proprietary OS vendor trashed your Christmas sales by rescheduling their big product release for right after Christmas. How can you start to prevent this kind of low blow next time, without throwing big money at a desktop Free Software market that isn't big enough to justify it this year?

The good news is that it's easier and less expensive to participate in the Linux market than not to participate in the Linux market. Here are a few tips.

  1. Don't "Linux-proof" otherwise good designs with parts from suppliers that don't release needed documentation. Do a quick check of the Linux source code to make sure that support is in there. (If Cypress Semiconductor, run by notorious hard-ass TJ Rodgers, can release specs and drivers, your other vendors can too. It's good business.)

  2. Make pre-release hardware available to the appropriate projects. (If a product is small and can be hooked up to a laptop, consider shipping some to Greg Kroah-Hartman for his next driver writing tutorial.)

  3. Don't try to pick distribution winners in what's still a confusingly diverse market. You have better things to do than try to reckon up the market shares of Ubuntu vs. Fedora vs. Mandriva. Smart IT companies expose interfaces and let the market help them, Web 2.0 style.

  4. Let's do a shadow "unconference" in Seattle, and get your questions answered about how easy Linux support can be.