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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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  • by Abreu (173023) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:29AM (#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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:33AM (#33324176)

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

    There, FTFY

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:33AM (#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 bsDaemon (87307) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:40AM (#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.

  • by mangu (126918) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:41AM (#33324270)

    If they associate linux = android = phone, it might hurt linux on the desktop.

    I'm not so sure about that. People always want some extra feature.

    If they install that awesome app in their phone they'll start wondering, "if the phone is like this, imagine the desktop".

  • by machinelou (1119861) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:01AM (#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 jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker AT gnu DOT org> on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:08AM (#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 rrossman2 (844318) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:17AM (#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 LingNoi (1066278) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:53AM (#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.

  • Advertising works (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zogger (617870) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @12:31PM (#33325244) Homepage Journal

    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 crazy there. This needs to be like an Apple effort, just using open source, integrated hardware and software in nice packages.

        They need a netbook (go for ARM, make the breakthrough), a full laptop with optical drive, an entry level cheapish desktop, a higher end workstation/gaming type desktop, expensive but all top shelf components, don't be scared, just do it, a SOHO tower server perhaps that comes with NAS, then a rackmount enterprise server.

      They use the LTS releases as the target OS for those machines. The main hired on devs use those machines all the time, so they really grok how to make them fly and get rock solid.

    Now, the support is two tier, you own a bonafide branded Ubuntu machine, you get first tier support. Everyone else gets second tier (which is what Ubuntu has now, pure anarchy with hardware, good luck if it works or not, go wade through the forums pages deep with "help me plz").

    first tier, separate forum, and the devs, or other offical hired on dudes, DO read the forums there and respond. And quickly. You take the people's money, you answer their questions and fix problems as fast as possible.

    First tier branded machines get the REAL "just works" treatment. The rest is like now, good luck with your hardware, might work, might not, go haunt the second tier forums, see what needs to be done there. If you want the every six month bleeding edge releases, oh well, good luck. sure you can run it..but don't expect the same support as they give people who have paid for the hardware and software. Hardware they sell should stay supported for two LTS cycles. That's more than enough now a days for people to milk their hardware out. Chances are, if the hardware and software was really a good match, it would work longer than that, but officially, make it two cycles.

      And they should be able to keep cost competitive in this, as they have the resources for economies of scale and some good Q&A before making hardware selection for the branded machines. If local mom and pops can assemble and sell generic machines, so can a big company like Canonical.

    Every new LTS release, new hardware comes out, and it "just works", everything, wireless, all of it.

    *Most* people don't give a rat's ass about upgrading their OS and machines every six months, look how many people and businesses are still running XP and some older hardware. They want "just works" and "finally, I got this freekin SOB computer figured out and can use it now" over bleeding edge every other week something new is added/updated, and something old that worked, stops working. That gets way annoying to the other 99% of the humans out there who aren't serious devs/hobbiests. Real annoying.

    You want linux mainstream on the desktop, or you want to keep it for hardcore nerds only, choose one.

  • by Abstrackt (609015) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @12:47PM (#33325378)

    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.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @01:43PM (#33326014) Homepage

    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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @03:46PM (#33327096)

    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 doesn't, so maybe the others followed as well? It could be that they didn't sell well, or at all, especially since I remember there would sometimes be multiple versions of the same distribution on the shelf for sometimes a year or more. Could have been any number of things as well, like those who already familiar with Linux knew they could just download most of them for free instead of paying actual money. It's hard to say what's keeping Linux adoption down, but until these last few years, it wasn't that it was unavailable in most major stores.

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