Operating system advocacy

Operating system advocacy

Operating system advocacy is the practice of attempting to increase the awareness and improve the perception of a computer operating system. The motivation behind this may be to increase the number of users of a system, to assert the superiority of one choice over another or out of brand loyalty, pride in an operating system's abilities, or to persuade software vendors to port specific applications or device drivers to the platform.

Operating system advocacy can vary widely in tone and form, from published comparisons to heated debates on mailing lists and other forums. In its most extreme forms it can veer into zealotry. Advocates are often normal users who devote their spare time to advocacy of their operating system of choice; many have a deep and abiding interest in the use, design and construction of operating systems and an emotional investment in their favourite operating system.

Operating system advocacy can be compared to advocacy in other fields, particularly browser and editor wars, but also advocacy of programming languages and video game consoles.


Usenet and other advocacy forums

Due to the often emotional nature of advocacy debate and its sometimes narrow appeal to the wider user population, forums for discussion of advocacy are often separate from those for general discussion. For example, the comp.os.ms-windows Usenet hierarchy has a group reserved solely for advocacy—the Guide to the Windows newsgroups exhorts Usenet posters not to "get involved in arguments about Windows vs. OS/2 vs. Macintosh vs. NeXTSTEP except in the comp.os.ms-windows.advocacy group."[1]

Operating system advocacy discussions, on Usenet and elsewhere, have spawned a variety of jargon describing commonly seen behaviour, including "MicroDroid"[2] and "Amiga Persecution Complex".[3] The emotional form and negative characteristics often associated with operating system advocacy have led some to create guidelines explaining what they consider to be positive advocacy, such as the Linux Advocacy Guidelines[4] and the Guidelines for Effective OS/2 Advocacy.[5]

Advocacy and specific operating systems


FreeBSD is served by a mailing list specifically for advocacy discussion. Advocacy-related materials and links are provided on the FreeBSD website, including a page of logos.


As there are a large number of Linux distributions, there are many organizations involved in Linux advocacy, including companies directly involved in the development of distributions as well as purely advocacy-based groups, such as SEUL. Promotion takes on a wide variety of forms from Tux plush toys to t-shirts and posters, and even to more unorthodox forms, such as body paints and video games.

Macintosh OS

From the 1984 Super Bowl advertisement and "Test Drive a Macintosh" to the Apple Switch and Get a Mac advertising campaigns, Apple Computer has a long history of advocating its platform through innovative techniques in traditional media. This also covers advocacy of the Macintosh hardware, peripherals and even lifestyle choices, with both fans and the company projecting a hip and trendy image while negatively portraying Microsoft Windows, IBM or other competitors as anything from awkward and dated to a totalitarian Big Brother figure.

Microsoft Windows

Neowin.net wrote editorials opposing Windows-bashing in the media.[6] Microsoft has attempted to boost popularity of Windows 7 with a launch party program. [7]


Like FreeBSD, the NetBSD Foundation hosts a mailing list especially for advocacy. This mailing list is automatically archived and made accessible online.[8] They also provide some official advocacy material, such as posters and flyers and an official "powered by" logo[9] with a license permitting use on any product running NetBSD.


Like FreeBSD and NetBSD, the OpenBSD project provides a mailing list specifically intended for advocacy, advocacy@openbsd.org. It was created on July 21, 1998 for discussion of user groups, stickers, shirts and the promotion of OpenBSD's image and also to host all flame-worthy discussions. As a part of its advocacy, the project also maintains a list of consulting firms and individual consultants around the world on its website[10] and has produced a number of slogans, including "Free, Functional & Secure", "Secure by default", and "Power. Security. Flexibility." Each OpenBSD release features an original song[11] and a variety of artwork.[12]


OS/2 is the only operating system which saw the creation of a semi-formal advocates organization. Named Team OS/2, it was a grassroots organization conceived by an IBM employee and initially joined by other IBMers which quickly spread outside IBM. Whether IBM employees or not, Team OS/2 members initially volunteered their time and passion without official sanction from or connection to IBM. Members would promote OS/2 at trade shows, conferences, fairs, and in stores, participate in operating system discussions on CompuServe, Prodigy, Fidonet and Usenet, throw parties, help users install OS/2, contact media figures to explain OS/2 and generate interest, and in general exercise creativity and initiative in helping popularize OS/2.[13] The industry dynamics that gave rise to such passionate advocacy were multi-faceted. Perhaps the leading cause was antipathy for the idea that Microsoft could and would establish a monopoly for Windows and DOS, widely deemed as far inferior to OS/2. Additionally, many users feared that IBM, who had proven eminently capable of developing a superior PC operating system, knew very little about consumer marketing in the high-tech marketplace or establishing even a superior product as a standard in the cut-throat, get-there-first-at-any-cost arena dominated by Microsoft. Finally, the mere fact that so many copies of Windows were shipping to users (whom OS/2 advocates viewed as uncritical and uninformed), coupled with the fact that so many in the industry had so much riding on the success of OS/2, created conditions ripe for so many trying to take matters into their own hands. The only spark that was needed for this combustible situation to ignite was an example of evangelism provided by the "new IBM" - a few employees who took "empowerment" seriously, able to coordinate their efforts through participation in TEAMOS2 FORUM, an internal IBM discussion group) - and passionate supporters outside IBM who adopted the ideas and modeled the behaviors of those who were early activists within IBM..

See also


External links

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