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Operating Systems Ubuntu Linux

Linux Distribution Popularity Trends Plotted 209

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-linux-on-the-toaster dept.
DeviceGuru writes "In order to get a sense of the popularity of various Linux distributions over the past several years, LinuxTrends entered their names into Google's search insights tool and grabbed images of the resulting graphs. The graphs display some fascinating trends and bode well for the future of Linux, particularly its ability to adapt to changing requirements and opportunities. What's especially noteworthy is that Android is the first Linux spin to take on a life of its own within consumer devices. It's certainly not the first use of Linux as an OS for devices; what's unique, however, is that it's the first branded Linux-based OS to be widely marketed to consumers."
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Linux Distribution Popularity Trends Plotted

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  • Where's the graph showing Linux's install base compared to the rest of the market? Is it going up, down or staying the same? Sure, Android is going up and that is good for Linux but what about the industry as a whole? Linux can't pin their 'desktop invasion' on the hopes of a mobile OS distro that most users will never fully take advantage of.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:33AM (#33324188)

      This article has absolutely nothing to do with install base, relative to the rest of the market or otherwise. It's solely google trends, and thus completely meaningless.

      • by 3vi1 (544505)

        The graphs aren't meaningless...

        But what they mean is only that the guys over at LinuxTrends watch The Linux Action Show [jupiterbroadcasting.com], who did the same thing in their Aug. 8th episode.

      • I'll bet money there is a correlation between google trends and install base, and google trends is much easier to measure than install base.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by arth1 (260657)

          How much money are you willing to bet?
          There are many reasons why there is unlikely to be a significant correlation, including:
          - Distros that try not to do things their own way, and where users are far more likely to search on a package than their own distro name when they run into problems. (Personally, I tend to search for "packagename -Ubuntu" whenever I search, both because the noise-to-information ratio is higher for Ubuntu users, and because Ubuntu does everything their own way, so the risk of valid a

    • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker&gnu,org> on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:08AM (#33324492) Homepage

      Where's the graph showing Linux's install base compared to the rest of the market?

      Yeah, I was wondering about that, and the whole "This bodes well for Linux" bit.

      I mean, all the curves are going down. Ubuntu went up at (what appears to be) all the other distros' expense, but they're going down now. Mint may be going up, but not very steadily.

      I know, Android is going up. But that's not really Linux---at least, as I understand it, not in the sense that N900 is Linux. Can you run frozen-bubble//wesnoth/sgt-puzzles/quake/openoffice on Android? (I can on my N900)

      So, in what sense does it bode well for Linux? Can anyone who reads that out of the data presented in the article explain it to me? If so, thank you very much :-)

      • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:21AM (#33324600)

        So, in what sense does it bode well for Linux?

        I don't think it does bode well for Linux. If you look at statcounter's [statcounter.com] usage stats, while Linux has finally made it above the "other" category, growth has essentially stalled. Worldwide, linux has gone from about 0.7% in 2009 to 0.8% in 2010. That's going in the right direction, it's still not terribly encouraging, at that rate Linux will never become a mainstream OS.

        • by LingNoi (1066278) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:53AM (#33324888)

          It won't become a mainstream OS until it's widely available in brick stores, and I mean like in every store. Consider this, Apple has their own branded stores worldwide, do TV ad campaigns and they only have a pathetic 5% on stat counter. The fact that Linux has 0.7% with absolutely no advertising is amazing in itself.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Abstrackt (609015)

            It won't become a mainstream OS until it's widely available in brick stores, and I mean like in every store. Consider this, Apple has their own branded stores worldwide, do TV ad campaigns and they only have a pathetic 5% on stat counter. The fact that Linux has 0.7% with absolutely no advertising is amazing in itself.

            Linux does have advertising: word of mouth.

            I've had people ask why my laptop looks so different and it's been a great opportunity to explain some of the features and benefits of running Linux. If the person is local I offer to help them install it and take it for a spin and if they're not I either give them a live CD or tell them where to download it.

            My little attempt at changing the world probably isn't making much difference on a big scale but I'd like to believe it converts at least some people.

          • Consider this, Apple has their own branded stores worldwide, do TV ad campaigns and they only have a pathetic 5% on stat counter. The fact that Linux has 0.7% with absolutely no advertising is amazing in itself.

            Yah, real amazing, considering it is free, you need to buy specific hardware for OS X, and Windows is still perennially entrenched in the minds & budgets of it's users. Oh! Actually it isn't.. amazing.. because that pretty much explained it. All you have to do is be free, or not suck, then win over hearts & minds. You already got free, I'm surprised Linux isn't doing better than the expensive OS X! /sarcasm.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            You're comparing apples to oranges.

            Consider this, Apple has their own branded stores worldwide, do TV ad campaigns and they only have a pathetic 5% on stat counter.

            Apple is selling HARDWARE that runs OS X. Apple does not sell OS X for other PCs. The only thing that officially runs OS X is Apple branded computers.

            Microsoft is selling SOFTWARE that runs on almost all Intel based PCs. It comes pre-installed on almost all of the PC compatibles sold on the market. This is why its the most popular OS.

            Linux dis

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            If that were true, then why didn't Linux pick up more in the late '90s and early 2000s? At least in the US there were many brick-and-mortar stores that sold Linux distributions. Pretty much all the larger stores that would sell computers, like Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, and Office Max, were selling Red Hat, Suse, Mandrake, et al. I haven't been to any of those places in recent years, aside from Best Buy, so I don't know if the others still offer Linux distributions on their shelves. I know Best Buy do

            • Back then, Dial-Up was king, and for most people downloading a distro was a long job. It was much easier to go to a store and buy a copy, even though what you were paying for was only the media and packaging. Now, anybody who's interested in switching to Linux probably has access to broadband and can download the .iso on their own. (I say "almost," as I do have a friend who'd like to switch over, but is stuck on Dial-Up because of financial issues.) Why pay for a copy of your distro-of-choice when it's
          • by Kjella (173770)

            It won't become a mainstream OS until it's widely available in brick stores, and I mean like in every store.

            95% of the population will not install their own OS. Ever. If you had said preinstalls, that might have made sense.

        • by Plekto (1018050) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:07AM (#33325016)

          The real issue, and I know It's been said in other articles(but bears repeating), is that the whole Linux industry needs to get together and start, well, acting LIKE an industry. The problem is that it right now has an image amongst businesses as a bunch of guys in their garage who are tinkering with it, almost akin to shareware developers.

          If you want the public to embrace it, you have to focus on businesses embracing it first. Now, I know that there is a strong anti-corporate undertone to Linux as well, which isn't helping, but it has to be done. They need to get together, set strong standards, and start streamlining it (as well as marketing it) for business use. They need to ditch the inane "mascot" and other drivel and market it as the OS equivalent of aerospace engineering. Hardcore, no-nonsense, and efficient at what it does. If you want your business to run faster for less money, while having less problems and crashes, run this. If you want real security, even if your employees mess up and visit sites they shouldn't, run this. True, you will need more highly educated support staff, which will cost a bit extra on your payroll, but your next hardware upgrade costs will be 1/10th of what they were last time. (and so on)

          Because what we have now is the marketing equivalent of "as seen on TV" "look at this knife cut through a tin can!" type late-night advertising. So even if it is the best thing out there and is free(or nearly so), nobody in the business world wants to buy it because of the image problem that it currently has. And without big companies willing to go in a different direction, it will remain a scenario where "I'm not willing to risk my job over this" for most IT departments.

          • by Kjella (173770)

            They need to ditch the inane "mascot" and other drivel and market it as the OS equivalent of aerospace engineering.

            On this point I beg to differ. Apple's well... apple is hardly more serious, a penguin is not offensive to anyone AFAIK and is a unifying symbol among all the Linux distributions, who all have their own logo. It's the easiest way to identify anything Linux or Linux-friendly. You may want to talk to GNOME and the people behind the GIMP though, and if the BSDs haven't completely toiled in obscurity already then the daemon. But then, you'd only be the 32523532th person to suggest that, I think it's become some

        • by b4upoo (166390)

          There really is a problem. I have found that people stuck in Windows environments consider thinking about a computer to be oh so yesterday. They do not want to know a thing about the PCs that they use and making a change isn't on their minds either.
          I notice these issues all the time. For example critical business security is often totally ignored and some intelligent people just do not want to believe that they can be hacked int

        • by Kjella (173770)

          I agree on a market share basis it's pretty much stalled. On NetApplication's stats their July 2010 0.93% rating is the lowest since November 2008, that's basically 1.5 years with no growth or even possibly a slight dip. On the other hand, if you look at it in absolute numbers the desktop market is still growing very fast worldwide. In 2005, 1% of the market would be 9 million people today it's 14 million people. Microsoft and Apple's number of developers is based on their employees, while developers for op

        • by Hatta (162192)

          Linux doesn't need to become a mainstream OS. It just needs enough people to sustain a healthy pace of development. I'd be more interested in these numbers plotted as absolute values instead of percentages.

        • The numbers of GNU/Linux on the desktop are still low. But in other areas it looks quite different. See for example

          Innovation mostly happens where there is freedom to innovate. On the long-term what really matters is the developer mind share. GNU/Linux on the desktop has been better in terms of robustness, speed, and security since the b

        • Yep. Android supports the argument that the only way you can ever put Linux in front of an end user is if you have completely hidden and sealed absolutely any trace of it from the user. Linux is just not making it as a consumer OS. Whatever chance it had was eaten up by OSX years ago. Its kind of sad really.

          On the other hand - at least Android for the first time can actually claim to be "Linux" without being badgered to be called "GNU/Linux"!

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by asnelt (1837090)

        Can you run frozen-bubble//wesnoth/sgt-puzzles/quake/openoffice on Android?

        I can. Ok, I admit that there is a Debian layer in between. But still, running a Debian chroot in Android is easy because Android is Linux based. I never really liked Maemo back in the days when I used Nokia Internet Tablets. There were just too many system parts closed and therefore alternative distributions never really took off. I don't really know about Meego but I would assume that the situation is similar. For Android on the other hand there are already several alternative mods, Cyanogen being the mos

      • by h00manist (800926)
        I think it does start to lead many developers away from win32, and take from the 99% share of windows users. Along with all smartphones.
        But back on the desktops-only dispute--- I'm not sure what influence those factors have on the long run.
        Desktop-linux needs reasons to encourage people to switch, and keep Linux. A users-study might show the majority are concentrated on few things-- but Linux isn't better at them. Facebook & general browsing, IM/chat, games, email, word procesing, downloading & p
      • I know, Android is going up. But that's not really Linux

        Which is why, despite criticism from some haters, I continue to use the term "GNU/Linux" to describe Ubuntu, Fedora, Maemo/MeeGo, and other "traditional" environments on top of the Linux kernel. These use a software stack with GNU components in it (glibc, Bash, Coreutils), unlike Android, OpenWrt, and the like, which use something else. I've written about my views on "GNU/Linux" [pineight.com].

      • You are aware that I and plenty of my Linux using acquantances are often forced to lie? Partly by web services that provide alternative, broken content if we admit we are using FireFox in our browser configuration: partly by hiding our deployed Linux base behind various NAT configurations, which helps protect them from scanning: partly by using robust local firewall configurations that block undesired traffic: partly by de-activating all services that can reach towards our machines, including blocking ICMP

  • by Superken7 (893292) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:25AM (#33324088) Journal

    Not a very accurate measurement IMHO, although its just "popularity" after all:

    From TFA:

    Bear in mind that the graphs do not represent distribution sales, downloads, or installed base; rather, the data is based entirely on the number of Google searches containing each distribution’s name per unit time as reported by Google’s search insights tool.

    • by Adambomb (118938) *

      IE it would be about as useful to say 'Distribution X has a higher name per unit time reported on google, thus involves searching for more help to install and administrate than Distribution Y'

      Note: I'm not saying this is the case, i'm just pointing out that the use of this metric in this way is rather pointless.

      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        It's not measuring google searches. It's measuring sites that are mention to specific keyword you put in. The idea is that you look at the trends and what everyone is talking about.

    • since 1999. I've still got Debian on the desktop and Mandriva on the laptop. I do almost no searching because I don't need to.

      • since 1999. I've still got Debian on the desktop and Mandriva on the laptop. I do almost no searching because I don't need to.

        And how many people who have been using Windows since 1999 do searches on Google for Windows?

    • Not a very accurate measurement IMHO, although its just "popularity" after all

      Google searches aren't directly related to popularity. When I first started using Ubuntu I used to do a lot of searches for "how to something ubuntu".

      These days I rarely search for "Ubuntu" anymore. I just use it on a day to day basis, at home and at work.

      When I do a search for a Linux distro it's usually about one that I had never heard of, and most probably will never use, I just want to keep tabs on what's happening.

      • These days I rarely search for "Ubuntu" anymore.

        Of course your searches for the name of your operating system decline as you use. At first, you search for it a lot while trying to set it up and get hardware to work. For example, you'll probably search for ubuntu $modelno a couple times to try to find halfway working drivers for your video card, WLAN adapter, webcam, etc., and you might search for ubuntu $gamename to learn how to work around how PulseAudio screwed up sound in a bunch of Linux games, but once setup is done, setup-related searches are done

        • This is one reason searches for Debian are so low. It has an experienced user base that doesn't search by "Debian Linux" or anything close to that, at least not in my case and I can't see that my searches would be that much different than any other reasonably experienced Debian user. I use "linux" as a search term for more than I use "debian". Why? Because most issues I would need to search Google for are issues having to do with kernel modules, wireless issues, or specific software packages such as A

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      I think the dropping number of searches over the last few years is an indication of better behaviour with hardware, and in general. I know I need to do a lot fewer searches to resolve problems than I used to, with most new install of Ubuntu and Mint working perfectly right out of the box.
    • by machinelou (1119861) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:01AM (#33324446)
      The data might reflect something like "public interest." Any gentoo user knows that to find information related to gentoo, they should go to gentoo.org or #gentoo or the gentoo-wiki. Similar parallels can probably be drawn for debian and ubuntu. So, the data probably do not reflect the number of people using those distros but people seeking more information about them who probably not already users.
      • by cynyr (703126)

        I find lots of info at planet.gentoo.org as well, but i need to use google to search that.

      • Any gentoo user knows that to find information related to gentoo, they should go to gentoo.org or #gentoo or the gentoo-wiki.

        So in this case, it depends on whether a Google search with site:gentoo.org counts as a search for Gentoo.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      I don't think it's even popularity, just interest in a keyword.

      I just googled linux mint, and it looks like they're a bit enamored of screen backgrounds and not too bright about feature prominence.

      They've got a nifty sample screen for 5 different flavors of mint (see what I did there?) but then you have to click-through just to find out what feature each has that makes it different. The one with the KDE is the only one that hints at what its thing is. (And really, is anyone excited about KDE? I bet you re

    • its just "popularity" after all

      Actually it is not even that. The article claims to measure "Linux distribution popularity trends" when in fact, as you noted, it is a measure of Linux distribution name search popularity trends.

      While the article makes an inaccurate claim the information is interesting. From my experience with freelance software development both inside and outside the United States I have the impression that CentOS, RHEL and Fedora linux distributions are much more popular than the article pre

    • by Locutus (9039)
      so anything which becomes more generally known and familiar would show a downward trend and especially if the ease of use factor increased. If they could break down the searches into informational or general info and repair, driver, or fixit types then it might be worth more.

      It is too bad IBM or others are not running any Linux type ads on TV any more. Now that Android and the term "Linux" is much more familiar, those kinds of ads would be far more effective. I'm starting to hear people saying things like
    • the data is based entirely on the number of Google searches containing each distribution’s name per unit time as reported by Google’s search insights tool.

      Even worse than that, it appears to be based off the percentage of each term related to the other ones they selected for.

    • Not a very accurate measurement IMHO, although its just "popularity" after all:

      From TFA:

      Bear in mind that the graphs do not represent distribution sales, downloads, or installed base; rather, the data is based entirely on the number of Google searches containing each distribution’s name per unit time as reported by Google’s search insights tool.

      It isn't even popularity. When I need information on Fedora or Centos, both of which I use in addition to Ubuntu, I usually go directly to their sites or (for Centos) to the EPEL repository. If you know where to go you don't need to Google.

  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:26AM (#33324106) Homepage Journal
    I hope google is successful with android in different devices; Android on a ARM netbook for £100, even Microsoft may not be able to crush that.
  • ... but that doesn't make it so.

  • by Abreu (173023) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:29AM (#33324136)

    I am increasingly convinced that Android and WebOS can't really be counted as Linux, any more than Mac OSX can be counted as Mach+BSD

    • If Android is open sourced in its entirety then why can it not be called Linux?
      • Google did things in the Android system that make a lot more sense for the mobile phone market than on the server or desktop. Much of it they did by forking the kernel in ways that were not accepted upstream. It's Linux, but in many ways it's a fork of Linux that so far hasn't been merged with the official tree.

      • by cynyr (703126)

        can I use a vanilla kernel with the android stack? can I drop in any sysvinit compatible /sbin/init? Last i knew the android drivers had been dropped from staging in the vanilla kernels, due to lack of cleanups and fixes, and such.

        • by Rennt (582550)

          What is with the vanilla fixation? It is quite an unreasonable requirement considering every major distro is expected to customize the kernel. They call it vanilla for a reason.

          The only way you'll ever get a vanilla kernel is if you compile it yourself (often breaking some functionality that your distro included). A few patches does not a fork make.

          And the init system? Irrelevant. SysV was never a requirement of a Linux system - and isn't even that popular these days.

      • It not that it is open sourced, it's wether or not Android applications can be considered Linux applications?

        Since Linux is doing all of the low-level work for Dalvik and Dalvik does a pretty good job at abstracting the underlying OS from the applications, we are in a grey area. If the OS doesn't normally run Linux programs through its shell, do we still call it Linux?

        I wouldn't consider Linux an intrinsic quality of Android.

        This argument is similar to the ones made for Windows prior to NT (and XP at hom

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Why? Perhaps it should not be counted as GNU/Linux, but it certainly uses the Linux kernel.

      This is why I prefer to use distro names like "Ubuntu" or "Fedora" when describing Linux use on the desktop: it alleviates the confusion.
      • Perhaps [Android OS] should not be counted as GNU/Linux

        I agree 100 percent, as seen in this article [pineight.com]. But a lot of haters on forums will jump on anyone who uses the term GNU/Linux, saying something like "it's called Linux, you GNU-tard hippie". Android uses Linux; MeeGo uses GNU/Linux.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Thing is - "certainly" might be going slightly too far. The kernel of Android is developed in a branched tree, the code which was contributed to the mainline - neglected and eventually deleted. Effectivelly, as it stands now, Android has forked the kernel.

    • by MrHanky (141717)

      Android uses a Linux kernel, so it's Linux. It is not, however, GNU.

    • by diegocg (1680514)

      Well, it is a collection of software built around the Linux kernel. They have their own packaging system, periodic releases etc. So it looks like a distro to me. It certainly behaves like one, they glue software and distribute it.

      (In fact, one of the things I'm missing in Android the devices is the lack of competence from another distros, because only the android distro is available. Where is my Gnome and my KDE Mobile Edition packed by some distro to replace Android in my phone?)

      • by cynyr (703126)

        Can I drop in a vanilla kernel? if not it's not quite linux, but linux based.

    • they can most definitely be counted as Linux, just not GNU/Linux.

      I agree to some extent with what you've said but at what level do we consider something a Linux distro? We are all familiar with the many FSF applications and libraries and other OSS parts and pieces which make up a 'standard' Linux distro but are these others really different when they layer a different OSS system on top of the Linux kernel? Does the kernel make the distro or does the GNU layer above make it a Linux distro?

      What would we call
      • by sznupi (719324)

        Can a kernel developed in a branched tree, with past contributions to the mainline neglected and deleted, doing things which wouldn't be accepted upstream, essentially forked as it stands now, be "most definitely" counted as Linux?

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:32AM (#33324170) Homepage
    This is utterly meaningless. These aren't graphs of the popularity of the distros, they're graphs of how often people typed their names into a web browser as search terms.
    • by dbc (135354)

      Not entirely. If I'm troubleshooting or looking for reference material, I'll include a distro name in the search terms to get more relevant results to rank higher. So these days I'm doing more searches including 'arch' than 'gentoo'. So it is strongly reflective of usage. I don't search for 'redhat' at all because I don't run it. Sure, the correlation is 1.0, but it is a positive correlation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:32AM (#33324172)

    Maybe this is a regional thing, but who the heck uses Suse? I've been rolling out commercial products using Linux for over a decade, and I never see Suse. Ubuntu, sure. That's mostly for the Windows guys who want to look 'lite. But almost never Suse; the last time I saw it here in Silicon Valley was many years ago.

    I do consulting, and so I see a lot of what goes on in the Valley. The standard approach is to use Redhat based distros. Fedora for the cutting edge, CentOS when you need need to get something out without paying, and CentOS/Redhat when the paperpushes want the warm fuzzies of support.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Maybe this is a regional thing, but who the heck uses Suse?
      Germans and then the 2004 Novell acquisition.
    • by sznupi (719324)

      Oh I don't know know, maybe somebody on the continent from which Suse originates; might help that this place is not bad when it comes to overall Linux uptake...

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I don't know why there are so big regional differences, but SUSE is big in Europe, not unlike Red Hat in the US. Whenever there was talk of enterprise support, there was either RHEL or SLES. If I would wager a guess, it's because US companies tend to primarily care about US/English everything. With SUSE being German, they're much more used to the challenges of internationalization and localization. Hell, even in 2010 I know of products that suffer bugs from such things, not surprisingly from a US company. U

    • by nukenerd (172703)

      I'm using Suse right now. My HD failed on my Kubuntu PC and Ubuntu derivatives have become too dumb to replace it. Suse is recognised as the best KDE distro, and v 11.3 got 9/10 in this month's Linux format mag, so I'm trying it, despite the possible black mark against its sponsor, Novell .

      Seems solid so far. I'll keep you posted. It is more a European distro than a US one, so not suprised you don't see it much there.

  • by adosch (1397357) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:40AM (#33324254)

    Why is even Android mentioned ITFA? Android is just than: an embedded, highly tailored, and customized Linux kernel for specific, embedded hardware devices. Comparing distributions with the Linux kernel for end-user consumption in the market made to run on a plethora of hardware and architectures, great. Don't throw Android in there. To me, that's like counting apples in with the oranges.

    However, I'm glad there was some sort of data interpretation done and didn't end up being a Ubuntu flamewar. I, myself, started on Redhat 4.x and grew to love (and hate) the RPM packaging system, along with Redhat's idiosyncrasies on the distribution level. I won't say it's been easy trying to find a balance between Fedora, CentOS and RedHat, as far as when to and not-to use bleeding edge; gamble for enterprise support and stick with the community.

    • I would beg you to remember that only the kernel is "Linux".  So a custom kernel is hardly an orange.

      And I'm not going to stop telling happy Android users that they are using Linux.  And you shouldn't, either! ;-)
  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:40AM (#33324258)

    Sure, we all know that Android is based on Linux, but is that really how its marketed to normal people? Seems to be that its marketed as the "google phone" or an "iphone killer" or "look at all these apps". If Android is doing well its not so much that Linux is getting a boost so much as that the Linux community should learn the lesson that normal people don't care about mandatory access control, line-rate packet processing, deduplication backup storage, or whatever else we're on about -- they want "apps".

    Why is Windows so successful? Not because people give a crap about Windows, but because there is a lot of software that people want to use, or need to use, and its on Windows. Why is Android popular? Because Google made it, it's not locked to AT&T, and There are lots of cool/useful programs for it. And there are lots of cool/useful programmes for it because normal people are willing to pay $1.99 for a program for their cell phone. Desktop linux is "marketed" (if you can call it that) to normal people often times on cost. It's "free". So they'd feel ripped off if they had to pay $1.99 for a program. Thus, no one charges small amounts for desktop linux programmes, and without the market there isn't that much incentive to write them.

    So, good for Google and their phone thing that I don't really want, but not sure Android has much at all to do with Linux-as-we-know-it succeeding in any meaningful way.

    • Why is Windows so successful? Not because people give a crap about Windows, but because there is a lot of software that people want to use, or need to use, and its on Windows.

      Or perhaps because it was installed by default on the overwhelming majority of PCs that people buy? Most people are not technically literate enough to know what an operating system is, let alone that they have the option to install something other than what came with their computer.

    • by mr_mischief (456295) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:13AM (#33324532) Journal

      Your logic led to this point, but didn't come out and make it: the "look at these apps" marketing is what desktop Linux is missing. Android didn't have a market before the phones were released.

      Positioning desktop-class (including laptops, netbooks, and anything else with a desktop OS and desktop metaphor) computers as CE devices with different groups of applications available failed in the early to mid 1980's largely due to Microsoft's identification with IBM and their dirty tricks. They didn't always have a stranglehold on the market.

      For phones Apple, Nokia, and RIM were strongly established as providers of leading devices. Microsoft had a decent share of the market, too, based largely on their name form the desktop despite decent but underwhelming phone OSes. Then along comes Android, which was not compatible with any of the other phones (except a very limited source code compatibility with some Nokia devices that run other versions of Linux).

      The only desktop-class line of computers sold as a system of quality applications rather than as an open box of possibilities is the Mac. Apple, during years they've done well with the Mac, has touted it largely as just that: an application system.

      The iPod and iPhone are targeted at markets the same way, despite the "Apple factor" of coolness and sleek design. They are not sold as replacements for other products, even though there were plenty of MP3 players and cell phones when they came out. They were sold based on what they did and how well they did it, with the design thrown in.

      The Mac, likewise, is not sold as a Windows replacement, despite the "I'm a Mac" commercials. They are sold as systems which have great apps and on which the apps run without many problems. The real irony here is that Windows 7 is now being marketed based on features rather than on ubiquity.

      Broad popularity of Linux on the desktop is not even a goal of many people who develop Linux and Linux applications. It's likewise not a goal of everyone who uses it on servers. It's not even a goal for everyone who loves Linux on their own desktops, although it might make things easier on them.

      If someone wants broad popularity of Linux on the desktop, though, it needs this sort of mindset that has formed around Android. It needs it not just in marketing, but in at least part of the development and documentation community. People need to see Linux not as a check-list alternative that might be able to replace Windows for some of their needs.

      They need to see a big pool of great applications that fill their needs first. Only secondly do they need to see some benefits of that pool of applications over the one they have with Windows. Thirdly, they need to have an easy migration path from one to the other no matter which way they are going. They need to be confident in both moving to Linux and in being able to move back to Windows.

      • by bsDaemon (87307)

        The reason I didn't say "go forth an develop" is basically this: develop for what? .deb or .rpm? Redhat or Suse? Debian or Ubuntu? What about Slackeware? Arch? (god for bid...)Gentoo?

        Plus, I don't really care. I'm a terrible person to ask about desktop linux. I'm not really interested in it. If it were to succeed, that's nice, but that success would largely come in spite of itself and I think we all know it. I like it well enough on servers, although I prefer BSD and currently work in a BSD shop.

        • If they did have Linux on the desktop, they'd have a couple of Windows machines around just in case anyway. I understand your points fully, and I'm typing this from a Linux desktop.

          My point ultimately is that "good enough to replace Windows for many people" is entirely the wrong mindset. If people really want Linux on the desktop to be a huge player, they need to start thinking of Linux as a great desktop in its own right and cleaning up spots where it fails as a great desktop.

          I don't think it really matter

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jedidiah (1196)

            The likes of ubuntu don't have to try and mock apple completely. They already have the AppStore style experience they just need to dress it up a bit. Seeing cydia in action makes this especially apparent. The just needs to be a 'curated' mode in synaptic. As with anything else apple has just has copied the work of others dressed it up a bit and taken all the credit.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Sure, we all know that Android is based on Linux, but is that really how its marketed to normal people?

      Sure, we all know that Ubuntu is based on Linux, but is that how it is marketed? No, but it is still Linux. You can get a full Debian on Android without additional virtualization, if that doesn't make it Linux then I don't know what does.

      So, good for Google and their phone thing that I don't really want, but not sure Android has much at all to do with Linux-as-we-know-it succeeding in any meaningful way.

      Good! I've been hoping for Linux-as-we-do-not-know-it for some time now. From what I can tell, Android is it; it's got a usable UI and it runs on small devices, yet it does not prevent you from running real Linux apps, it just doesn't help you. Others do, however, so you do

  • by bbands (1068870)
    Would have been nice for the authors to explain the y-axis scales.
    • by rcb1974 (654474)

      Exactly. I have know idea what the hell I'm looking at since the y-axis is not labelled. Any time I see an unlabelled axis, I immediately stop reading. If the author is dumb enough to not label the axis, then I begin to question the validity of the content created by that author.

  • I wasn't aware that Android ran on Linux.

    This is wonderful. It is a second example, after the Mac, of people who are totally NOT tech enthusiasts using *nix, using it easily and liking it.

  • by rrossman2 (844318) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:17AM (#33324568)
    I know it's not as popular as it once was, but after all it's the grandfather of the group. Back when I first started playing around with linux in around 95/96 the only book(s) you could really find included a copy of Slackware. I purchased two books, one with RedHat and one with Slackware. I know one of the two had a kernel in around 1.2.13 or so, and the other 1.1.something. But that was back in the days where getting X to work was part skill and part magic, among many other things that weren't nearly as easy as what you can do today. Again, just based on age and the fact it was one of the biggest Distros in years passed and helped (in my mind) pave the way for a lot of the newer distro's, I don't believe it should be in a 2nd tier but in the 1st tier myself.
    • by Xtifr (1323)

      [Slackware is] the grandfather of the group

      Depends on how you count. Slackware and Debian started the same year. Of course, Debian took a lot longer to reach the 1.0 milestone, but then they had a much more ambitious design.

  • Advertising works (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zogger (617870)

    Ubuntu took off from heavy advertising. Advertising and marketing works, and the initial "get as many free disks as you want " shipit deal helped there as well.

    Now, what they failed to do is capitalize on this advertising. They should immediately (as soon as they saw they had a hit on their hands) have gone to selling their own machines. Relying on dell. some *mart, some online mom and pop store, etc is not the same.

    They don't need every hardware config under the sun, just maybe six machines total, don't go

  • Fuck the colors of the curve and fuck the guy that made them. Could he not find less color-blind friendly colors ? I know it is difficult to pick colors when there is too may curves, but common there are 5 here. black (0,0,0), red (255,0,0), blue(0,0,255), green(0,255,0), grey(128,128,128). That's five colors that are easy to distinguished by everybody.

    Seriously, I can not see the difference between curve 1 and 5 and between curve 2 and 4. I know my eyes suck but that does not mean people should use difficu

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