Advertising Free Software Projects

Today I just noticed the following advert on one of my web pages:
MINIX3 is a new reliable
free operating system. Smaller
than Linux. Try it It’s free!

This made me think about some of the potential ways of advertising free software projects. It seems that in some ways Google Adwords is not the only way that can be used for advertising free software, and in some ways isn’t the most effective.

I believe that the most effective method would be to ask people to advertise the project. I am generally positive towards the aims of the Minix project and am happy to give them some free advertising if asked (I’ve just given them a free advert above without being asked).

While Google adlinks and equivalent things in blog posts are easy to set up, effective advertising may require something more. A series of pictures (in different sizes and color schemes) for the link would help, and the project would ideally have a specific landing site for people who see the advert. Someone who sees an advert targeted to newbies will have different requirements from the web site to someone who already knows about it and typed the URL in from memory! For a big campaign you would probably want to have multiple landing sites for different adverts targetted at different people.

One example of how this can be used is my Bonnie++ page which gets about 6000 hits a month – many of which are from users of proprietary Unix. Linux users often have Bonnie++ as part of their distribution and don’t have much of a need to visit my web site so I expect that even though the vast majority of Bonnie++ users run Linux the proportion of site visitors might not be so strongly in favour of Linux. I would be happy to place an advert on that page to encourage proprietary Unix users to use the most free distribution of Linux if someone was to prepare the advert and give me some HTML code I can easily add to my site.

To some extent the web site for every free software project could be used to advertise some related projects (or projects that are liked by the people who run the site).

If you are a contributor to a free software project that you think I would like then feel free to prepare an advert and send it to me. If it fits with what I’m doing then I’ll give you some free advertising!

Blogs are also a good mechanism for advertising free software projects, but it seems that this is already being used a lot – having said that…

As a gratuitous plug: my favourite distribution of Linux is Debian (here are my Debian blog entries) and I run NSA Security Enhanced Linux (SE Linux) on all my machines (here are my SE Linux blog entries).

6 comments to Advertising Free Software Projects

  • If you’ve got a Debian-related project and you’re a member of the Debian Administration website you can submit adverts which will be shown instead of google adsense links to our visitors.

    I envisioned this as a simple way for the community to advertise the projects they were involved with; unfortunately I seem to get few advert submissoins, even though there is a wide readership and no cost!

  • Debian Administration website requires me to pass an eyetest for registration. Why not OpenID?

  • (Pingback service appears broken: adding manually) “That’s one reason why I’m glad to see the suggestion of etbe: Advertising Free Software Projects – nearly every free software project would be better off improving their web sites and building more sustainable traffic, instead of wasting resources competing in the Google-ad Games.”

  • No OpenID because I’ve not yet coded it. The Perl OpenID modules are a pain to work with and I’ve not managed to find time to revisit the idea yet.

    Hopefully it will happen sometime this year, but not in the immediate future.

    Eye-test is a pain, but spam is a worse problem.

  • The worse problem probably depends on whether the judge can pass the eye-tests reliably :-P

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