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Debian Software

The Secret Lives of Ubuntu and Debian Users 501

Posted by kdawson
from the self-selected-statistics dept.
jammag points out a look at statistics from the Popularity Contest projects on Debian and Ubuntu. These projects track the download and upgrade habits of their respective distributions' users, revealing — no surprise here — that Ubuntu users are more likely to be newbies than Debian users. The numbers reveal, for instance, that 86 percent of Ubuntu machines use the proprietary NVidia driver, where only a mere sliver of Debian machines do. Likewise, Debian users are far more eclectic in their software choice, less likely to use any default options. The article concludes with a look at the limits of what conclusions can be drawn from statistics like these. "In general, Debian users seem more eclectic in their use of software than Ubuntu users, and less likely to use an application simply because it is included by default. Debian users also seem more likely to be concerned to maintain a free installation than Ubuntu users — a conclusion that is hardly surprising when you consider Debian's reputation for freedom, but is still interesting to see being supported by statistics. ... To what extent last week's figures are typical is uncertain. Very likely, studying the figures over a longer period would produce different results. Possibly, too, those who participate in the Popularity Contests are not typical users of either Ubuntu or Debian. "
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The Secret Lives of Ubuntu and Debian Users

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  • by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:23AM (#26481317)
    Seriously, do you /really/ want to know what they do behind closed doors?

    Because I certainly don't.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:25AM (#26481333)

      Obviously they are scheming to prevent people from taking online courses. Haven't you paid attention to the news?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        On that note, congratulations to the Linux community! You have exposed yourselves as pretentious twats that you are, and generated tons of great press (sarcasm) for your cause. Morons.

        Update to the original story here [wkowtv.com].

        Seriously, with all the attention this story has gotten, all sorts of normal people will not want anything to do with Linux now. Way to F'n go.
        • by Darundal (891860)
          What is more surprising is that generally the Ubuntu community is more accepting than the communities around other distros. I am scared to think about what would have happened if it were a distro with a less open and accepting community.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196)

          "unscrupulous reporting" is a pretty good description of what the so-called journalist did.

          Although a more accurate description would be amateur.

          The "journalist" clearly didn't examine the facts before publishing.

          The bit about "accidentally buying Ubuntu" just takes the cake...

          • The bit about "accidentally buying Ubuntu" just takes the cake...

            So you're saying she purposely bought Ubuntu? The chick had no idea what Ubuntu is, what makes you think it was a conscious decision to purchase it?

            • by not already in use (972294) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:00AM (#26481747)
              I suppose I should clarify my comment. She bought a computer with Ubuntu on it. Yes, I understand what you're saying. Clearly the journalist what no tech expert, which obviously the Linux community has no patience for. So next time you're in getting your car fixed and you don't know what a lower control arm is, I hope they call you an idiot.
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Gordonjcp (186804)

                So next time you're in getting your car fixed and you don't know what a lower control arm is, I hope they call you an idiot.

                I certainly would. If you don't know what something means, you can find out. If you don't, and you get ripped off, then you've only got your own lazy self to blame.

                • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:48AM (#26482437)

                  I certainly would. If you don't know what something means, you can find out. If you don't, and you get ripped off, then you've only got your own lazy self to blame.

                  While I'm all for "buyer beware" and having some knowledge about the services I'm hiring, I'd also still consider a con man a con man whether he was preying on my ignorance or not (and so would any other decent service tech - be it IT, auto mechanics, or what have you).

              • by Nebu (566313) <.nebu. .at. .gta.igs.net.> on Friday January 16, 2009 @01:05PM (#26483465) Homepage

                Clearly the journalist what no tech expert, which obviously the Linux community has no patience for. So next time you're in getting your car fixed and you don't know what a lower control arm is, I hope they call you an idiot.

                This was moderated "insightful"?

                Maybe it's my Buddhist influence speaking, but personally, I think the world could learn more patience. The next time you're in getting your car fixed, and you don't know what a lower control arm is, I hope they try their best to be courteous and helpful, and try explaining what a lower control arm is to you (assuming this knowledge is even at all relevant to solving whatever problem your car is having).

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jedidiah (1196)

              Why? Because Dell doesn't exactly make it easy on you.

              Anyone that bothered to fact check this story would see that right away.

              Something like this should leave the random user knowing something
              they didn't before, something meaningful rather than just being
              sensational.

              This is a key difference between journalism and trolling.

              What would Murrow do with this story?

        • by jason.sweet (1272826) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:13AM (#26481923)
          I can say now, with absolute certainty, that 2009 will be the year of the linux desktop.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          That's also when the comments - many of them angry, rude, and hateful - started pouring in. Some Ubuntu users accused 27 News of "unscrupulous reporting," hitting a "new low for local news," and writing an "atrocious article." Many Ubuntu users also wrote very personal attacks about the young lady who was having trouble using the operating system. They called her "lazy," "a dumb girl," and "not worthy of a college degree." The young woman also contacted 27 News to report she's being harassed on her Faceboo

    • Ezmode (Score:2, Informative)

      by mfh (56)

      These guys do the same stuff that everyone else does, except they do it with style because they use Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pooh666 (624584)
      ok raise hands, how many people wash, EVERY day. Ok, now how many people read Slashdot every day?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wild_quinine (998562)

      Seriously, do you /really/ want to know what they do behind closed doors?

      That's funny, don't get me wrong, it is.

      But if Microsoft had published this kind of data on users downloading habits, this would have been published under YRO.

      • by KasperMeerts (1305097) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:24AM (#26482077)
        I don't think so. This was completely voluntary. The tracking is disabled by default.
        They could very easily track everything at the repository servers, but they're not doing that because that would harm your privacy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Moebius Loop (135536)

        ...if Microsoft had published this kind of data on users downloading habits, this would have been published under YRO.

        That's because if Microsoft tracked this information, they wouldn't have asked your permission to opt-in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Locklin (1074657)

        I'm sure it's posted elsewhere, but you have to go out of your way to opt-in to send these statistics off. Theres no coercion involved, and you know exactly what it's for when you check that box.

        Sure there is plenty of anti-ms sentiment here, but your claim of hypocrisy, in this case, is unfounded and borderline troll.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by harry666t (1062422)
        You can tick/untick that lil checkbox that says "participate in popcon".

        You can "sudo dpkg -r popularity-contest".

        You can "less /usr/sbin/popularity-contest" (it's a perl script), read the source, and see what it does.

        There are some huge differences.

        Reminds me of this: http://www.linuxgenuineadvantage.org/
  • by arudloff (564805) * on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:27AM (#26481359) Homepage
    I use ubuntu and love it. Some of us aren't worried about free as in whatever debates and more interested in usable *nix, and for that ubuntu is fantastic.
    • by domatic (1128127) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:37AM (#26481465)

      Even though I won't use a sackcloth-and-ashes-free-only computer, those issues are important. "Pragmatism" in the short term is anything but in the long term. If effort isn't exerted to keep platforms from being closed and replacements developed for things that are closed but commonly used then eventually it will be others who dictate how you compute and what sort of computing is permissible. Myself, I prefer to own my own media and hardware and to connect (ethically) to whatever machines on the Internet I see fit, use whatever protocols I see fit, and adapt any device I own to any purpose that I might desire. Annoying as they may often be, we ignore the proponents of openness and freedom at our peril.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:09AM (#26481881) Journal
        I use the latest Ubuntu on my desktop, stable Debian on my server. I expect my desktop to just work, I expect my server to be secure.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by eudaemon (320983)

          Been a UNIX sysadmin since 1984. What's on my desktop? Ubuntu. Why? My wife uses it and it works just fine for her.
          It replaced a Vista desktop and frankly Ubuntu makes much better use of the hardware. She's never installed a package
          and she never will, but when she docks her camera it works. When she docks a USB stick it works. Same for Youtube video, etc.
          It all just works. So I share your sentiment. My firewall / server is openbsd. I can ssh into it from my G1 phone. Eventually
          I'll set up VPN for s

    • by pzs (857406) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:39AM (#26481497)

      Agreed. I've also been using Linux since the mid 90s. I think people underestimate how much even experienced users appreciate a slightly more polished and easy-to-user product.

      I love Linux and would still use a raw distribution if I really had to. However, the fact that Ubuntu has an effective GUI, updates "just work" and that installing new software is so easy is a massive bonus. Now I can get on with actually getting my work done rather than dicking about with configuration files and Make for hours.

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:58AM (#26481725)
        All modern desktop distros are as functional and easy to use as Ubuntu. We have moved past the days of dicking about with autoconf and makefiles for hours just to get X11 to start up. Ubuntu is not really special; the Ubuntu team just got lucky, because Mandriva was on the verge of collapse right at the time when Ubuntu was getting started, so they rushed in to fill the void of "easy desktop linux." Fedora also works out of the box now (and yes, before someone gives me an Ubuntu-worked-Fedora-didn't story, I have plenty of stories of Ubuntu not working when Fedora did; so what?), Mandriva is back on its feet, OpenSUSE is less of a pain, etc. Seriously, why do people focus on Ubuntu?
        • by Zelet (515452) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:46AM (#26482421) Journal
          It doesn't work as a user-friendly desktop OS. I've used Linux for a long time, I'm not a novice user. I put Ubuntu in a VM and it installed fine, everything worked great. Then I went to delete a folder off the desktop by dragging it into the trash. It wouldn't let me. Didn't tell me why, didn't give me the ability to authenticate to delete it, nothing. I had to drop to the terminal to delete the file. Would a new-to-Linux user know that he has to drop to terminal to delete a file sitting on his desktop? Who would expect that dragging a file from a CD onto the desktop then trying to delete it would require a sudo command to delete? Linux is not even remotely close to ready for the desktop.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Draek (916851)

            On Xubuntu 8.10 at least, you drag it into the trash and it's moved there, then you empty the trash and it's gone, just as with a regular file.

            Still, even if it didn't let you all you had to do would be to remove the read-only flag from the file before deleting it, just as with Windows, and you don't need a terminal for that. Don't overreact.

      • by garcia (6573) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:10AM (#26481905) Homepage

        I love Linux and would still use a raw distribution if I really had to.

        Debian is not "raw" in the least. In fact, when I did a fresh install of etch recently, I was honestly surprised at how easy the installation process had become (the last time I did a full reinstall was probably 2002 when I bought the machine that I was replacing).

        I am not going to claim that I walked uphill both ways when I started with Linux but after looking at the differences in installing Debian in 2002 vs 2008, it certainly made Slackware's 1996 install and RedHat 5.2 for Alpha look like a fucking walk in the park.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pzs (857406)

          Debian is not "raw" in the least. In fact, when I did a fresh install of etch recently, I was honestly surprised at how easy the installation process had become (the last time I did a full reinstall was probably 2002 when I bought the machine that I was replacing).

          I wasn't trying to say that modern Debian was raw, but rather that the polish of modern distros (including Debian) not only lowers the barrier to entry for Linux in general, but also is very important to people who are capable of the more advanced stuff.

          In summary: so far, making Linux easier for newbies has also make it better for experts. This might sound obvious, but I don't think one necessarily follows from the other.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Draek (916851)

            In summary: so far, making Linux easier for newbies has also make it better for experts. This might sound obvious, but I don't think one necessarily follows from the other.

            It doesn't. Take a look at Windows 2K vs XP for instance, setting up a LAN with shared internet connection is, for someone who knows what he's doing, as trivial as it'd be on UNIX/Linux. But try doing the same on XP without all the goddamned tutorials and talking dogs driving you crazy. So it's commendable that Debian's changes have mostly been not only beneficial for the newbies, but also for us experts at the same time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fallingcow (213461)

        Ubuntu won me over from Gentoo, which certainly has an image of being one of the more "hardcore" distros.

        Why?

        Ubuntu had nearly Debian-level stability, but new-ish packages, so it wasn't like the dunking-your-head-in-a-bucket-of-cold-water experience of going from bleeding-edge Gentoo to Debian Unstable or whatever. Everything was new enough that at least you wouldn't have to compile updated libraries to get some app from outside the repositories to build properly.

        Ubuntu automated the stuff that I wanted to

    • by Psiren (6145) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:45AM (#26481561)

      Second that. I've been using Ubuntu for about 2 years, before that it was Debian. Frankly I haven't got time to piss about, I just want it working. I don't have a problem with binary only drivers like NVidia. I support the idea of free software as far as possible, but if it doesn't do the job, then I'm not going to go without.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cexshun (770970)
        Yep. I started with Slackware. Used it for a good 6 years solid. Got a new PC, and I figured I earned the right to use an easy, "just works" distro. Back then, dependency hell was a daily occurrence. With Ubuntu, I've only once ran into dependency issues. I must say, I do occasionally miss the random error resulting from running make, and then spending an hour trying to figure out wtf is going on. Plus, my wife and my 4 year old can both easily use my computer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Risen888 (306092)

        "Those who would give up essential liberty for a video driver deserve neither liberty nor video drivers." -someone else's sig

        All cheekiness aside, if you want to be stuck with shitty unsupportable binary-only drivers forever, by all means keep using nVidia. Every time you install that damn thing it tells them that you're willing to put up with their bullshit and please sir may I have another.

        I'm not. I demand shit that works. Failing that, I demand to be able to find out why. If my shit doesn't work and I c

    • by b4upoo (166390) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:06AM (#26481833)

      These days there are a number of OSs derived from Debian and Ubuntu that should be considered. Mint is superior. Also Mepis, I believe is now based upon Debian.
                    I suspect that many Ubuntu users who try these lesser known derived distros would prefer them.

  • Odd stats - (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nursie (632944) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:28AM (#26481363)

    "GNOME is installed on 85% of Ubuntu installations and 50% of Debian installations, and has been used recently by 78% of Ubuntu users and 55% of Debian users."

    Does this mean that they track per user rather than per box?

    I'd also be interested in architectures, does Ubuntu support anywhere near the same range?

    I'm a bit of a die-hard debian user because for me it works well and doesn't try to hide settings and operations like ubuntu sometimes does. This is one of the things that put me off windows and I don't like it replicated on Linux in the name of ease of use. I also realise this puts me firmly in the "geek that likes to tinker" category.

    • Re:Odd stats - (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RobBebop (947356) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:40AM (#26481509) Homepage Journal

      I'd also be interested in architectures, does Ubuntu support anywhere near the same range?

      I've got little experience with Debian, but can compare Ubuntu to Fedora and say that Ubuntu sacrifices bells and whistles that a "tinker" like yourself would prefer so that it can deliver ease-of-use. The most glaring difference that I've noticed is right at the very beginning while you're installing it... Fedora presents you with a list of hundreds of packages/application to install and Ubuntu (if I recall correctly) just sets you up with a system that's good for "most purposes" without giving you the same wide options.

      As my choice for a computer that's doing anything besides web-browsing, word processing, picture editing, and music playing... I'd avoid Ubuntu. However, I'm proud to run Ubuntu on my laptop because that's all I use it for.

      • by Nursie (632944)

        I don't use mine for much more. I have Debian on a couple of (ARM) servers and ran Ubuntu on my laptop for a while, until X started bombing out when it was in nVidia mode and attached to its dock. Tried all the available driver versions, including brand new betas, no joy, gave up. Went back to Debian and it "just worked".

        I probably couldn't actually put my finger on what's different between them, in general, as user of debian testing.

      • Re:Odd stats - (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:53AM (#26481673) Homepage

        pppffftt

        Why burden the end user at install time when you've got such a cool
        package manager as apt-get or synaptic waiting for them on the other
        side? You can literally start with the Debian net installer, use the
        most barest of options and have a functioning system afterwards that
        can easily add anything else you want.

        You don't need an F-350 full of water bottles on the front lawn.

        You've got indoor plumbing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jonaskoelker (922170)

          Why burden the end user at install time when you've got such a cool package manager [...] [Debian net installer, most barest of options, easily add anything else you want.]

          I'd guess that most people see waiting as an easy burden to shoulder--you read today's paper while doing it--while having to install everything in itty bitty increments and not knowing what to install is a much harder burden.

          Given that Ubuntu is aimed at satisfying the needs and wants of "most people", I think Canonical made the right choice for Ubuntu.

          By the way, the Debian project also made the right choice for Debian.

  • by lowlymarine (1172723) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:31AM (#26481397)
    Using the proprietary nVidia driver makes you a "newbie"? When you consider that the open-source driver doesn't fully support a lot of modern cards (last I checked, everything from the 8-series on), and provides inferior performance to the proprietary one on most of the cards it does support, I'd have to wonder how you figure people who haven't yet replaced the included driver aren't the "newbies." Or perhaps it's buying nVidia cards that makes you a "newbie"? Real nerds use Intel GMA 900s!
    • by characterZer0 (138196) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:39AM (#26481487)

      I use the proprietary ATI driver.
      I have Gnome installed, but my desktop environment is e17, installed in /usr/local.
      I must be a newbie.

      • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:06AM (#26481837)
        I use the proprietary NVIDIA driver, but I just use the ones straight from NVIDIA [nvnews.net] rather than do it "the Debian way", or use someone else's bundled package. I wonder how many other debian users are doing that as well? As far as I know, this behavior wouldn't show up in the package tracking system. I do have gnome installed, but I never use it, also using e17, but I compile it from source using the svn repo., which also wouldn't show up in the package tracking system. I suppose the point is moot though, because I also don't have the package tracking system installed (I'm a big fan of only having the things that I want on my computer).

        I suspect that my behavior is actually about par for Debian users, i.e. as TFA says, Debian users don't tend to install the default packages. I know I don't. I usually start with just the basic install and add the desktop packages I want because there are so many packages included in the default desktop that I don't want.
    • by R2.0 (532027) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:41AM (#26481523)

      "Real nerds use Intel GMA 900s!"

      REAL nerds use ASCII graphics, you poser!

    • by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:41AM (#26481527) Homepage

      Real nerds contribute to X. *hint, hint*

      On another note, nouveau provides EXA, which makes it faster than nvidia for 2D on all the cards it supports. Just FYI. (They're working on 3D, too, but it'll take a bit since nVidia's still firmly in kitten-killing territory.)

      • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:41AM (#26482345)

        On another note, nouveau provides EXA, which makes it faster than nvidia for 2D on all the cards it supports. Just FYI. (They're working on 3D, too, but it'll take a bit since nVidia's still firmly in kitten-killing territory.)

        Yup - 'cause when I'm driving home from Fry's with a brand spankin' new Nividia card in my hot little hands, the whole way I'm thinking "oh boy is Open Office gonna scream now!" :)

        (Although I really am looking forward to when the 3D support gets hashed out)

    • by capn_nemo (667943) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:48AM (#26481619) Homepage

      Having *just* installed Hardy Heron, I also note that upon first booting the machine and logging in, an icon shows up next to the "updates available" icon that looks like a little graphics card, and when you click on it, it points out that you have *not* installed the proprietary nvidia driver, but by golly, click here and we'll do it right now! Which I did. Which helped performance. So while it may not be done by default, it's something any user would notice immediately (any user of Ubuntu).

      Maybe a new install of Etch + Gnome would exhibit the same behavior, but really, if the OS *tells you* up front that you're missing an important (albeit proprietary) driver specific to your hardware, the likelihood of that driver then being installed is bound to go way up.

      I will also say, it's gratifying to have the *option* to install a proprietary driver clearly presented, with a commentary about what "proprietary driver" actually means, and why / why not I should install this driver. Some will choose to use the nvidia driver, and some will not, but educating the end user about what their options are and what they mean is really a great feature in Ubuntu, and I think nicely bridges the gap between "must be free" and "just do it for me".

      $.02

      Neil

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by value_added (719364)

      Or perhaps it's buying nVidia cards that makes you a "newbie"? Real nerds use Intel GMA 900s!

      And those who use a serial console or an ssh terminal session are considered what?

    • Newbie, no. But it does reveal some of your beliefs about free software.

    • by Thelasko (1196535) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:30AM (#26482163) Journal

      Using the proprietary nVidia driver makes you a "newbie"?

      I think these statistics reflect adherence to the Debian's social contract [debian.org] more than number of noobs.

      Debian users care most about using open source software, where Ubuntu users care most about what "just works."

  • Users vs. Uses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pieterh (196118) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:32AM (#26481403) Homepage

    In my firm we've used Debian for 10 years or so for all our servers. Clearly the choice of packages is a big part of keeping the systems clean and secure, and the most exotic hardware issues were with RAID disks.

    Contrast that with my last desktop install where a fresh Kubuntu can't do better than 800x600 until the Nvidia drivers were activated.

    The main advantage of Ubuntu is the speed which which it adapts to new hardware, but non-free drivers is part of the price to pay for that. (Another part is the instability in new versions.)

  • Recruitment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pzs (857406) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:33AM (#26481423)

    Since 2009 is the Year of the Linux Desktop (!), the number of Ubuntu users is probably going to continue to grow. While this is great, these statistics show that an Ubuntu user is not (yet) as useful to the community as a Debian user.

    It would be good if statistics like this could be used to start grooming the next generation of contributors to these projects. Just because they're n00bs (and not necessarily programmers) doesn't mean they can't be useful in reporting bugs, testing new features, amending documentation, suggesting UI improvements and so on.

    Knowing what activities people engage in will help decide where to aim appeals for help and how to improve and facilitate contributions at the first level. The larger this group of low level helpers, the greater the number who can be converted into more serious contributors.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ash Vince (602485)

      Just because they're n00bs (and not necessarily programmers) doesn't mean they can't be useful in reporting bugs, testing new features, amending documentation, suggesting UI improvements and so on.

      I am a programmer and even I never bother with bug reports any more, especially with regard to usability enhancements. All that ever happens is some dev looks at it from a technical developer perspective and marks it INVALID-WONTFIX.

      The reason Ubuntu has so many users is that the developers get given stuff to fix, not comment on why they think it is not a bug. Quite often software developers are not able to put themselves in the shoes of a user and see how inconvenient or annoying certain "features" are. In

  • by sseaman (931799) <sean@seaman.gmail@com> on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:35AM (#26481431) Homepage Journal
    I run Debian on my server and Ubuntu on my laptop. I have no need for NVidia drivers or a web browser for my server. I also use more manually installed software on my server as there is no default server software configuration that will meet anyone's needs, while the default Ubuntu installation serves most of my productivity needs.
    • by Enry (630)

      Let me second this. I my desktop/laptop systems that run Ubuntu, but all my servers are running Debian.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:35AM (#26481433) Journal

    I know when I install Debian, I don't even bother with any of the major metapackages. I just install a base system, and apt-get whatever I need. That way, I know everything that is on the machine, and it's all stuff I use. Of course, doing this in Ubuntu would defeat the whole point, which is to have a well managed set of applications preinstalled for you. So it seems obvious that Ubuntu users would use a lot more of the same software than Debian users.

  • Gnome users (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:36AM (#26481447) Homepage

    The relatively low number of Debian [Gnome] users is probably explained by the fact that [...] users are more likely to choose one of the dozens of alternative desktops.

    No, it's probably explained by Debian's heavier use in reliability-focused server environments where a desktop is a waste of resources.

  • by Chemisor (97276) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:37AM (#26481467)

    > Debian users are far more eclectic in their software choice, less likely to use any default options.

    When most of your experienced users think your default options are crap and refuse to use any of them, perhaps it is a good time to change those defaults, eh?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krmt (91422)
      I've run Debian for close to a decade now, and I doubt that most Debian users think that the defaults are bad, so much as just not what they're used to. Most of us have our peculiar choices that we've made and like to stick with. If you want a full featured vim on your system rather than the stripped down default, you need to install the appropriate packages. If you want emacs, you have to install it. If you don't like xchat because you've been using irssi for years, you have to install it. If you have no n
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      To what? If you have 100 users and 99 of those users change their defaults to one setting, yes, it should be adopted as the new default. But if you have them changing to 99 different defaults then what should you change it to? Most of the debian defaults I've found allow the package to 'work'.

  • Interesting note (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dfdashh (1060546) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:38AM (#26481471)

    Using the Popularity Contest package, these two projects collect and post weekly anonymous reports about the software used on each system on which they're installed.

    In Ubuntu's case, the collected information is also used for software ratings in Add/Remove Software.

    Cool to know that's where they are pulling their package ratings info. This has been tremendously useful in my family - I just tell the wife "I dunno, install the one with the most stars and see how it works for you." I'll have to install the Popularity Contest package so I can add to their data, even though I don't subscribe to idea of having a "contest" at all.

  • what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X_Bones (93097) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `31zronad'> on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:38AM (#26481475) Homepage Journal
    [...] Ubuntu users are more likely to be newbies than Debian users. The numbers reveal, for instance, that 86 percent of Ubuntu machines use the proprietary NVidia driver, where only a mere sliver of Debian machines do.

    How does that classify a user as a newbie instead of just someone interested in playing games through WINE, or someone interested in graphics performance?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:40AM (#26481503)

    Regular people just want their computers to fucking work.

    It's also why Apple keeps selling computers.

    If you can't understand that, then you're clueless.

  • freedom? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:42AM (#26481533) Homepage

    Using the NVidia driver gives me more freedom, not less. It gives me the freedom to run 3d apps, while the open source driver gives me no extra freedom as I have zero intention of fiddling with its source code.

    • Re:freedom? (Score:5, Funny)

      by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:01AM (#26481771)

      Ah, but does it give you the ability to be a smug about your choice of computer software?

      I think not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by skeeto (1138903)

      Using the NVidia driver gives me more freedom

      Only in the short term, and it's detrimental for freedom the long term.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonaskoelker (922170)

      It gives me the freedom to run 3d apps

      No, it gives you the ability to (meaningfully) run certain apps. Your right and freedom to do so is not affected by your choice of driver.

      while the open source driver gives me no extra freedom as I have zero intention of fiddling with its source code.

      What you want to do is not the same as what you're allowed to do. You're not allowed all the four freedoms with the non-free nvidia driver, you are with the open source one. Just because you don't want to exercise the freedom you have doesn't mean you don't have it.

      The nvidia driver is probably the better choice for you: by your own words, you'd rather run certain appl

  • So therefore nVidia drivers are irrelevant to me - does that get factored in, or am I "a debian user who does not use nvidia drivers" ?

  • I really wish that the RPM vs. DEB debate. I wish it would be settled. I have Mandriva machines and I have Ubuntu machines. I really wish that I could install RPMs or DEBs on both distributions transparently. It doesn't necessarily mean that there has to be the exclusion of RPMs or DEBs, I just wish that I didn't need to use utilities like Alien to convert one package type to another. I wish I could use both package formats, at least for non-critical systems interchangably, and if Ubuntu has a DEB for somet

  • nvidia (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hierophant7 (962972) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:47AM (#26481601)
    The numbers on the official NVidia driver must be skewed. When using Debian, I've found it far easier to download the installer from nvidia.com rather than through apt-get, which would bypass the whole Popularity Contest project, I think.
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Friday January 16, 2009 @12:30PM (#26483013) Homepage

    Having used primarily Debian at home for years, I installed Ubuntu a couple of days ago (a switch from Windows, as I tend to run side-by-side but lost the use of one PC about a year ago).

    Ubuntu dropped me right into a nice desktop with zero configuration, then asked me if I wanted to install the nvidia driver.

    I seem to remember that every time I installed Debian, it left me on the console or failed to start X despite trying, after asking a bunch of configuration questions. I usually ended up doing everything by hand and installing only what I wanted, because whenever I asked for "the defaults" they just didnt work. Debian certainly never asked me to install the Nvidia driver- the only way to do so would be to go get it myself. Lack of a working 3d driver is why I was on Windows for so long, and I only went back to Linux because I was sick of trying to get cygwin to do what I wanted.

    Now I'm in Linux, with 3d and sound working perfectly. It only dropped me to console once (and once is enough to mean I'd never recommend it for ANYONE). Using default options for nearly everything. Tablet still doesn't work correctly, I've yet to meet a Linux where it does, but I can live without pressure sensitivity for a week or so.

    In short: people don't use defaults in debian because they are broken and suck. People use proprietary software in Ubuntu because they're given the option.

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Friday January 16, 2009 @01:29PM (#26483833)
    at least these people can have secret lives
  • by The Master Control P (655590) <<ejkeever> <at> <nerdshack.com>> on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:56PM (#26485271)

    These projects track the download and upgrade habits of their respective distributions' users, revealing â" no surprise here â" that Ubuntu users are more likely to be newbies than Debian users. The numbers reveal, for instance, that 86 percent of Ubuntu machines use the proprietary NVidia driver, where only a mere sliver of Debian machines do.

    And we wonder why Linux can't seem to make inroads onto the desktop, when the headline and no small number of posters here are not at all subtle about looking down their noses at anyone who isn't dedicated enough to an ideology to intentionally cripple their machine's 3D performance.

    Face facts: 95% of people who use X do not and never will care about the ideology behind X for all X in Software. If you insist on demeaning them or inconveniencing them with your ideology, they won't use your software. I'm going to go play a 3D game that's not a slideshow now...

  • by Xouba (456926) on Friday January 16, 2009 @03:48PM (#26486347) Homepage

    Many Debian users like to tweak their systems just for fun, not because it's useful. They like the feeling of control when they know everything that's installed. They like the feeling of understanding how everything fits in their systems. And that's good. It's fun and you learn a lot.

    But these things about "ubuntu hiding things" just mean that some of them are becoming obsolete. They miss the times when Linux was simple: kernel, userland, X server, applications. All clearly separated, all easy to grasp. With all these "new" things like udev, hal, upstart ("how do they dare to remove /etc/inittab?!?!?") ... they feel they're losing control. They no longer know everything. So the first reaction is refusal: Ubuntu must be bad.

    Ubuntu is great. I've used Debian for more than ten years, and I'm still using that for work. I love it: it works and it's rock solid (usually). It's well thought and sysadmin-friendly. I was a (bad) debian developer. But Ubuntu is good too. It works. And it's still Debian. All Debian goodies are there.

    And if many people are switching to Ubuntu, if the level of Ubuntu users is not so "elite" like Debian users, that's a good sign. It's new blood.

    We complain for years and years saying that Linux can be used by "normal users" (when, let's face it, we were pretty far from it), and now that it's becoming true, we are fearful of losing our aura of eliteness. We attack the ones that are achieving it because they're not "pure enough". What a band of jerks we are. How much insecurity lies in the bottom of the Linux community?

    We can't live in our ivory tower of perfect freedom and simplicity forever. Get out a bit and talk to real people. Ubuntu is Debian for real people.

  • pfft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rphenix (1454817) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:33AM (#26494701)
    "The numbers reveal, for instance, that 86 percent of Ubuntu machines use the proprietary NVidia driver, where only a mere sliver of Debian machines do." What do most people use for a server? Debian workstation? Ubuntu. Servers don't need fancy graphics no need for nvidia binary!

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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