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Number of GNU/Linux users (and market share)

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libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

Charles from StandardsAndFreedom.net blog (proudly hosted by.. er.. Libervis Sticking out tongue ) wrote an interesting entry: Numbers, Downloads and Straws. He points out that Fedora may have around 9.5 million users while Canonical claims 8 million, though Canonical also ships CD's too. He concludes that considering these top distributions and adding all of the other smaller distributions, GNU/Linux may be second, after windows, in the number of users, leaving Mac only the third place, and this by conservative estimates.

So I suppose it would probably be anywhere between 15 million and 20 million users.

On the other hand, Mac share has been raising lately as well (almost 8% this year) so it seems like GNU/Linux and Mac are pretty much competing for that second place. Smiling

What do you think? Do these numbers make sense?

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Joined: 2007-10-20
I have been saying that the

I have been saying that the market share of MacOS and GNU/Linux has always been very close for years. But, I would not say that GNU/Linux is in second place in market share just yet and I will explain why.

There is one simple idea, users ARE being counted twice and sometimes miscounted. Just because I download Fedora does not mean that I am a Fedora user. I could be downloading it just to have it, I could be downloading it for someone else (and once they go to update, they would be counted along with me). Or, I could be running Ubuntu, grab Fedora and install it as a virtual machine only to test different things. Now, I am counted as an Ubuntu user AND Fedora user. One can not just add the numbers together to get an accurate count. However, Microsoft does the same thing. They count licenses sold. One person might have 2 or 3 computers with Windows pre-installed. That one user has 2 or 3 licensed copies of Windows, but Microsoft then says that they have 2 or 3 users, not one user with 2 or 3 computers. Furthermore, the same is said with GNU/Linux. I can install the same version of Ubuntu on 5 different machines, but, I am still counted as 1 user.

I don't deny those numbers mentioned, but one can not just add them together to get an accurate count. It MUST be a general counting and not an absolute.

I believe that the count is more likely around 10-12 million users world wide (and growing by the day), which is around where Apple is.

Mark Shuttleworth said it correctly. It's not that Canonical is trying to compete with Microsoft, it's that they are trying to compete with Apple. It is a more realistic goal to go after the number two spot (especially with the market share that Microsoft has, that is just unattainable any time soon) than to try to tackle with the beast. By grabbing the number two spot, this will put GNU/Linux into the spot light better than if they tried to go after Microsoft (which, they would definitely fail).

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Sorry for replying late.

Sorry for replying late. Good points. I agree it's more attainable to go after Apple. After all, Apple does look like a more attractive target than Windows. Sure Vista is shiny, but what does Vista or even Windows 7 have that Mac OS X doesn't and doesn't do even better? Many things about Windows even GNU/Linux does better and the areas where it lacks have to be settled anyway if GNU/Linux as an OS is gonna be truly competitive to Apple.

I have to admit, I found myself many times drooling over Mac OS X, wishing that everything worked just so.. basically wishing that Mac OS X was Free Software and as available to all as GNU/Linux - wishful thinking of course. Eye

So if GNU/Linux can actually become that, outdo Mac OS X, and Ubuntu does seem poised as a contender for that I think many users like me may be happy and many more who would otherwise consider a Mac may decide to just pick from a variety of cool looking PC boxes and put a shiny GNU/Linux derivate on it. They'd get pretty much the same or similar experience as with Apple, for lesser price and more control should they actually need it. It's a win every way you look at it.

And that sort of thing is poised to increase market share and mind share of GNU/Linux and consequently freedomware. It's really in line with giving people what they want, as discussed previously. Smiling

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Joined: 2006-03-28
As has been said, those

As has been said, those numbers are not really what they look like.

I download two copies of Fedora, both the 32- and 64-bit versions. My PC is 64-bit, my notebook has "only" 32.
That, in the count, makes me two users.

On the other hand, I once read an article explaining the method of counting for Fedora, and although I don't remember details, it seemed to make sense.
From what I remember they don't simply count the downloads of the images, which anyway are not countable, as nowadays a lot of the distribution of such files is done through BitTorrent (I also get my Fedora-images through BT, as it usually is faster than using one of the mirrors), and I think not even through updates, but through Smolt, which submits a hardware-profile, similar to what people submit to Hardware4Linux.

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