Could You Be the Face of Linux?

We've all seen them: on comes a commercial with a young, casually dressed,if somewhat unkempt, young man, and an older, portly man in a very middle-management-esque suit. The younger man announces "I'm a Mac" while the older responds "And I'm a PC," and the two go on to lament some critical design failure facing the PC to which the Mac is impervious. As Linux users, we know the basic premise of the commercial — that "I'm a PC" means "I run Windows" — is a fallacy, and what is really needed is a third cast member declaring "I'm Linux." If such a thought has ever crossed your mind, then fire up your camera, because the time to act is now.

The Linux Foundation — the Oregon-based non-profit responsible for promoting Linux and keeping developer-in-chief Linus Torvalds off the dole — is about to launch a contest aimed at filling the Linux gap left in the "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" commercials, and as one might expect, have set out a competition that highlights the collaborative nature of the Linux community. The contest is open-entry, and invites contestants to submit user-created video that "showcases just what Linux means to those who use it, and hopefully inspires many to try it." Though the Apple/Microsoft commercials are certainly the inspiration for the contest, submissions are not required to follow the established "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" format — indeed, one need not reference the "other" operating systems at all.

Entry, which begins on Monday, January 26, is open to those eighteen and over — due to legal restrictions — should be sixty seconds or less, must not be in violation of the Foundation's Terms of Service, and must be submitted by midnight Pacific time on March 15, 2009. Judges will be selected by the Foundation, and will judge submissions based on "originality, clarity of message and how much it inspires others to use Linux." The Linux community will be invited to vote and comment on submissions, and the judges will include this feedback in their decision, though a high number of votes it is not the only criteria for winning.

Multiple unique entries are encouraged, and may be as simple or elaborate as the contestant prefers. Companies and groups — for example, Canonical or Novell, Ubuntu or openSUSE — are welcome to submit one or more entries representing their group, but only individuals may win the actual prize, so a "designated winner" must be identified. Speaking of the prize, the lucky winner receives free hotel/airfare/registration for the Linux Foundation Japan Symposium, held in Narita, Japan in October.

If you've ever wanted to get your Spielberg on and spread Linux love at the same time, now is the time to get cracking. We look forward to seeing what Linux Journal readers, and all Linux users, come up with — coming from the Linux community, we know it'll be an event to remember.


Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.


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"Hi! I'm PC! My wireless

Anonymous's picture

"Hi! I'm PC! My wireless works!"
"I'm Linux! I never sleep as I cannot suspend!"

I'm a Linux - individuals only???

asmiller-ke6seh's picture

I think the point of having an INDIVIDUAL represent Linux misses a very important point - WE do not depend on a monolithic development company (a la Microsoft or Apple) for the health and functionality of our operating system.

Consider the Ununtu logo, representing PEOPLE holding hands in a CIRCLE. WE are a group of individuals, working in a COMMUNITY to make GNU/Linux (under Gnome, KDE, XCFE, or whatever interface) to make the OPERATING ENVIRONMENT with all its bits and pieces and applications into a united whole.

This is what makes GNU/Linux bigger and better than anything that the Denizens of the Pacific Northwest can produce in their little development greenhouses. It is the PEOPLE who are the USERS and the DEVELOPERS working in the OPEN in the full light of day that makes GNU/Linux great.

So, to have ONE PERSON stand up and say "I'm a Linux" is really -IMHO- pretty stupid.

I suspend my laptop all the

Anonymous's picture

I suspend my laptop all the time, Acer Gemstone running Ubuntu. Only shut it down completely to put it in my laptop bag. Sorry if your crappy laptop doesn't work right.


Jason Bourne's picture

OMG dude that is way too cool. I love that little Penguin dude.


ME! I would be perfect!

Nils Wärmegård's picture

I think I will hunt down a camera and make a nice promotionvideo.
I am a circusperformer specialized in climbing and jumping on a sixmeter pole, something that requires strenght, precision and an open mind.

(Something Like this: )

Open source - the future of computing

Roamerw1972's picture

As long as Linux stays open source, it cannot be controlled by one company (such as Novell or Redhat) or one interest (consumer group) only (The Novell deal with M$ is more than questionable.). Remember the spectacular failure of IBM's OS2? The whole community should embrace an initiative like a planned massive ad campaign that many people could be part of. The campaign should embrace the positive features of Linux and the fact that in the last decade it became much more user friendly. Oh, and it definitely needs to show that all those features that competing operating systems provide are all free in Linux. Its stability, its freedom from viruses and malware should be emphasized as well throughout the campaign. There are already existing ad initiatives that mainly compare it to Windows all over Youtube. A mass appeal to it needs to be created. Average users and small business owners would definitely start to use it if it became more unified and more user friendly. There are already signs for open source gaining ground and in my opinion open source and web applications will be the future of computing and Linux can play a tremendous role in changing the ways small businesses look at the Internet. So I definitely welcome the initiative.

I disagree that the premise

Anonymous's picture

I disagree that the premise of the Apple "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ads is that PC's run windows. I think that what the ads are saying is that PCs are ugly and cumbersome in their design, whereas Macs are a lot better looking and simple to use - Doesn't matter what OS the computer runs.

What about Mac OS on PC

Anonymous's picture

What about Mac OS on PC hardware?

Why do Linux users think

Anonymous's picture

Why do Linux users think that the people who are qualified to switch (i.e. not be told by the vast majority of Linux users to GTFO) don't already know about Linux, and, y'know, *GASP* choose, willingly, without being slaves to some vast conspiracy, to use something, *GASP* ELSE?

P.S. Good work on the part of Ubuntu of not telling the vast majority to GTFO, you have my respect, even if you use Gnome over KDE for the primary distro; now you just have to wait until people actually want to use Linux in a statistically significant number.

Imagine for a minute that

Anonymous's picture

Imagine for a minute that you've never heard of linux. Suddenly you see a commercial on it and at the very least know that it exists as an option. Surely a move on the GNU/Linux front to force their OS on everyone! Those fascists, how dare they present information on their OS just like...oh, you know, those OTHER operating systems have been doing. Curse you GNU/Linux!

"... now you just have to wait until people actually want to use Linux in a statistically significant number."

What part of waiting to improve an OS seems like a good way to draw a crowd to you? How about the more logical route: Continue to improve GNU/Linux and attract more and more people as the product evolves, rather than waiting for people to use it before working on it.

As to the original post: it's been done by Novell already. Still, I'd like to see what sort of fun users will cook up on their own. Hopefully not just a "me too" copycat of the "I'm a mac/PC" ads but something original enough to be iconic in its own right.

Novell videos at

slewis's picture

The Novell PC, Mac, Linux videos are at

Go to the "other marketing videos" section then scroll down through the BrainShare 2007 videos. There are 3 from that series.

Direct link to the first one:
(ogg also available on the Novell page)

Someone Beat Me to It

Brian Mills's picture

I remember seeing at least one video on YouTube that Novell put out. Linux was played by an attractive woman.

I'd look it up and post a link, but I'm at work right now and they frown on browsing YouTube around here.

That woman would hardly be

linuxjnl's picture

That woman would hardly be an accurate depiction of Linux. More accurate was the one that someone made where Linux was a wacky-looking, backpack-wearing, basement-dwelling, socially awkward nerd.

Same person, actually!

Jason's picture

Apparently you missed your high school reunion.

She's all grown up and she's pretty freakin' hot. Check her out again sometime.

It's been done

jonfhancock's picture

Search youtube for I'm Linux. There was a series produced by Novell.