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Microsoft Software Linux

Debunking Linux-Windows Market Share Myths 631

bc90021 writes "Nicholas Petreley has a great article over at LinuxWorld explaining why it seems that Windows has such a high market share when 40% of developers are focusing on Linux. From the summary: "There are dozens of reasons why people have underestimated how quickly Linux has been grabbing Windows' market share. Windows starts out with a false boost and maintains its illusory market share even as it gets replaced by Linux. In 2004, don't be surprised when Linux overtakes Windows to become the main focus for developers.""
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Debunking Linux-Windows Market Share Myths

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  • by lord sibn ( 649162 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:06AM (#5528252)
    You may recall that lately he wrote yet-another-gnome-sucks editorial (completely disregarding the notion of "user preference," which generally disregards technical aspects of a situation in the first place).

    I hope he's right about this, but I look at it with cautios optimism. One can never really know for sure whether what you are getting is a factual account ot the way things are, or the way he thinks they oughtta be.
  • 40% of developers?!? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TrailerTrash ( 91309 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:25AM (#5528342)
    If 40% of developers are developing for Linux, where are the commercial apps? The big ones seem to be a handful. Freshmeat is great but doesn't represent the huge crashing wave of developer support. We all have our short list of apps we wish were ported.

    I have a very hard time with this article - (1) no methodology is given, so the results are as suspect as Microsoft funded surveys; and (2) if 40% of all developers of all sizes are focusing on Windows, wouldn't driver support be 1000% better?

    Nick appears to be dressing up wishes in the emporer's clothing of misleading "facts". Again. Anyone else remember his weekly diatribes of the vast superiority and impending market conversion to OS/2 in Infoworld?
  • by wordisms ( 624668 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:29AM (#5528365)

    I definitely think this article is talking about "enterprise" share of the market. Which is definitely important, because as developers, that is where alot of the money is made.

    And as more server/enterprise software is developed, it will only create more familiarity among developers and companies, eventually encouraging more spill-over into the desktop market.

    As a graduating CS senior, every company I interviewed with wanted me to have Linux familiarity, or told me I would be working with it (primarily government contractors). This is anecdotal, but I think it just adds to the credibility of the articles main idea, but who can say what a survey statistics are really representing.

  • by brinkster ( 523812 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:36AM (#5528403)
    Default setting:

    kio_http: (638) ============ Sending Header:
    kio_http: (638) GET /forums/all HTTP/1.1
    kio_http: (638) Connection: Keep-Alive
    kio_http: (638) User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/3.1; Linux)
    kio_http: (638) Accept: text/*, image/jpeg, image/png, image/*, */*
    kio_http: (638) Accept-Encoding: x-gzip, x-deflate, gzip, deflate, identity
    kio_http: (638) Accept-Charset: iso-8859-1, utf-8;q=0.5, *;q=0.5
    kio_http: (638) Accept-Language: en, POSIX

    or the same browser prentending to be a MS OS:

    kio_http: (638) ============ Sending Header:
    kio_http: (638) GET /forums/all HTTP/1.1
    kio_http: (638) Connection: Keep-Alive
    kio_http: (638) User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)
    kio_http: (638) Accept: text/*, image/jpeg, image/png, image/*, */*
    kio_http: (638) Accept-Encoding: x-gzip, x-deflate, gzip, deflate, identity
    kio_http: (638) Accept-Charset: iso-8859-1, utf-8;q=0.5, *;q=0.5
    kio_http: (638) Accept-Language: en, POSIX
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:44AM (#5528440)
    So what you're basically saying is that Linux OS's are lying about the fact that they are Linux?

    Many browsers are lying, but Linux doesn't. I would normally suggest you try nmap against a Linux box, but I don't believe you're technically competent enough to understand any of this.

    Are they ashamed?

    You clearly do not understand the reasons for doing so, and I do not intend to explain it to you (Why waste my time and get RSI?). Suffice to say that Opera (Which also runs on Windows) regurlarly does this, as do many Mac browsers.

    I'll start believing the hype around the Linux takeover the moment I see MS sales going down.

    You also don't understand markets. Both Windows and Linux are working in a growth market. There is room for both of them to expand, without causing the other the shrink.

    Still, whatever. Someone who can't understand browser spoofing or simple market dynamics will not be missed in five years time when you're looking at job openings for Linux developers.
  • Re:keyword (Score:5, Informative)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:52AM (#5528480) Homepage Journal
    Sure, first of all I use Eclipse. Which is made by sun and IBM. Also I use KDevelop which eliminates the need for me to write makefiles.

    Other than those I use emacs/nedit and a bash shell. I guess all those things like documentation, intellisense, autocompletion and makefiles are a real pain. But I prefer to write my code in a standard text editor. I never really had a need for any of that stuff.

    I guess the difference is that I have always coded using a text editor and a shell. You have spent years using Borland's tools, and you have come to rely on things like autocompletion. I usually use books to look up things I can't remember. And that's rare, because not having autocompletion forces me to remember.

    I just feel that when I'm writing code I can do a lot more in linux than I can when I'm constrained by something like VS.NET. But when I'm doing anything else doing it in linux seems like too much effort.
  • by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:55AM (#5528501)
    "But I prefer to use the Google Zeitgeist [], and it still says that only 1% of the people accessing Google are using Linux."

    The article talks about servers, not desktops. Nick is saying that Linux is displacing Windows on the server, which won't show up on browser hit counters (you don't browse the web with your servers).

    Nick is also saying that developers are increasingly focusing on Linux, but doesn't specify if those developers are focusing on the desktop or the server.

    Finally, Google will be a very poor measure of Linux desktop usage. Until recently, I've had to exclusively use Windows at work for everything desktop related. Although I used Mozilla, I was still counted as a Windows user. During the week days, I do the lion's share of web accesses at work (hence on Windows).

    At work now, fortunately, I can shift much of my development time to my Linux laptop. That allows me to use Konqueror and Mozilla for my web accesses at work too. I only touch my Windows computers to use Lotus Notes and to maintain those legacy programs I was compelled to write in VB (which are getting ported to Qt/C++, by the way).

    The full truth of just how successful Linux penetration has been follows a complicated trail.
  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:14AM (#5528618) Homepage Journal
    That's partly true, but Opera (the only "major" browser to lie about itself) does identify itself as being IE on Linux when it's configured to report as IE. Its user agent string is something like:
    "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Linux 2.4.20-ck4 i686) Opera 7.00 [en]"
    It doesn't even hide the fact that it's Opera. Konqueror can be configured to report as IE on Windows (Or Mozilla 8.0 on VIC-20 or whatever), but it doesn't do it as default. (A nifty feature is to have IE 5.5/Windows as user agent string for difficult sites like Hotmail only.)
  • by JayateMo ( 607023 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:15AM (#5528623)
    I am using mozilla and "faking" my useragent.. I dont want to but I have to, in order to use my "internet-bank".
    The way I do it is adding

    user_pref("general.useragent.override", "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98)"); to my prefs.js.

    I have the feeling that this is common practise. I would prefer to have (like some other brilliant browser) the ability to "fake" the useragent for specific urls only.
  • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:16AM (#5528626) Homepage
    There are tons of commercial apps. Which you'll never see. Because you're looking for consumer apps, while most developers don't write for the consumer market - they write for the business market.

    I've been developing on Unix (Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX) for over a decade. Not one of the applications will ever be seen by a consumer because it's business logic and backbone server stuff. Heck, most of this stuff isn't even seen by anyone outside the company -- I think my current position is the closest to even that occuring, but realistically all a customer will see is a spec on how to interface to our system.

    As far as Nick goes - you're pretty much spot on. I was a huge OS/2 advocate and Petreley was one of the few columnists that praised OS/2. But even then he made crap up and promised things that only the most devout zealots would actually believe. Frankly, having him on the Linux bandwagon isn't exactly a great thing - he's pretty well discounted by anyone with a clue. (Of course, most of those people don't read Infoworld/eWeek/whatever anymore either -- but execs do, so he should play well in that audience).

    Oh... and we're desperately hoping to move our current app off AIX and onto Linux. AIX's linker sucks rocks with C++, and gives us problems debugging whether we're using xlC or g++.
  • Re:keyword (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @11:00AM (#5528836)
    Could you please explain which tools are you using for development, so I can use them too and make my life easier?

    GNU Emacs.

    no context-sensitive help

    Meta-X man with cursor on a keyword. By default the man page for the word under the cursor is displayed. Context sensitive help.

    no organized documentation (yes, lots of documentation, but no "central" organized index which means a research job for a fucking function declaration)

    Use doxygen (external tool) or oo-browser (integrated into emacs). Indexes EVERYTHING in your program and search path. Doxygen draws pretty diagrams too.

    no intellisense

    WTF is "intellisense"?

    no autocompletion

    Untrue. Use etags.

    and having to resort to home-brewed makefiles is just a pain in the ass.

    Having to resort to "pre-build-steps" and "post-build-steps" in MSVC is a pain in the ass.

    I hear that "kdevelop" is an IDE which is good for GUI-pointy-clicky-folks, but for the power programmer, nothing beats Emacs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @11:08AM (#5528880)
    What he was saying is that now its 50%/40% in favor of Windows, but according to the study's "plan to focus primarily on windows/linux" data, it was going to shift to something like 38%/52% in favor of Linux, but that the margin of error is enough that those numbers are essentially the same as switching it to 40%/50% in favor of Linux next year.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @11:20AM (#5528961)
    Of course, he also mentions that the overall statistics are 60%/40% in favor of windows now, and based on the "plan to" questions, it will be 40%/60% (in favor of Linux) next year. So you're numbers would be

    Microsoft developers 606 people
    Linux developers 404 people
    of which
    202 used to develop primarily for windows
    121.2 used to develop for other unixes
    80.8 used to develop for something else
  • Different Philosophy (Score:2, Informative)

    by seschmi ( 531566 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @11:24AM (#5528987)
    It's a matter of philosophy. UNIX traditionally had a "do one thing very well" approach. So a compiler should compile, an editor should be used for editing and so on.

    This led to the development of a lot of excellent tools, e.g. emacs, the GCC, CVS and hundreds of little helpers like grep or diff. grep actually is good example for a very specialized software.

    So, with Linux, you usually have an excellent tool for every task. As most of this tools are free software, no one is trying to lock you in, and you can configure (or simply change) every tool until it matches your need.

    The typical Windows-IDE follows a totally different philosophy: "Do all with one software". Normally it's configurable to some extend, and normally it tries to lock you in and to force you to buy further software from the same company (e.g. for version management).

    So developing on Windows usually drives UNIX/Linux-Developers mad and the other way round.

    While a Linux-developer will miss many tools on a Windows system and, of course, the possibility to change everything (even in the source code, if necessary), a Windows user with a Linux box will miss integration.
  • by Genus Marmota ( 59217 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @12:34PM (#5529494)
    No I don't have reliable, comprehensive survey data either (no one does AFAICT) but consider this: at our Seattle media/search company, we have striped as many as 20 workstations and 70+ rackmounts with the same linux distro. This is not an uncommon practice in my experience. I'd guess that it's standard proceedure for companies operating hi-volume backend environments.

    Example: google is running (by their own admission) on the order of 50,000 linux rackmounts. How many times do you think they downloaded the disto?

  • by WeedMonkey ( 323943 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @01:13PM (#5529758) Homepage
    Should we get out the sweat monkey's "Developers, Developers, Developers.........." Clip?

    Why not? []

  • Re:Wrong, very wrong (Score:3, Informative)

    by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @02:53PM (#5530574) Homepage

    So, what you're saying is,

    1) I'm an idiot for buying a product that's supposed to work, and expecting it to work, and,

    2) I'm an idiot because I'm able to use E Machines as reliable servers by putting Linux on them.

    I suppose most of humanity must be ignorant morons, because they pretty much all fall into #1. If everyone has to reinstall Windows, then why bother pre-installing it?

    I think that *YOU* are the ignorant moron, and a self-righteous and mouthy one at that.
  • by nurd68 ( 235535 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:39PM (#5530994) Homepage
    > No thanks. I'll stick with Windows, which allows
    > me more time to make out with my girlfriend.


    Windows: BSOD + trashed disk for the second time in six months. I'm sorry hun, I can't go out with you now, I have to reinstall my Windows box AND all the applications, AND all the configurations.

    GNU/Linux: Redhat XX has been out for awhile now. Hmm, girlfriend is going away this weekend. I suppose I'll upgrade. /usr/local? Oh, that's a separate partition. No need to worry about those programs. RPMS? They're all in one directory. rpm -U *.rpm Configuration? Maybe 1/2 hour of copying files from the old backed up /etc to the new one, and all user files are saved on /home, which is a separate partition. No fuss, no muss, no bother.

    Which saves me more time? I like GNU/Linux because computer maintenance and projects fit MY schedule, not me slaved to the schedule of an OS that is little more than the equivalent of a petulant child.

    Oh, and my girlfriend runs GNU/Linux too. All of our computers work all the time, 24/7/365, no matter what we do with them.

    The Beetle is one of them, by the way.
  • I actually disagree with you, I think a Linux user going to a Windows environment has a much easier time. In part because many things in Windows are specifically dumbed down to make them single click applications.

    Dumbed down is fine for the first week or two. After that the dumbing down may get in the way (that's my experience, but I'm a geek so I discount that anecdotal evidence). On the other hand, I've recently experienced some non-geek rommates, so their experience is more relevant to this discussion.

    When, my old roommate got to go from WIndows to Linux. His first week was like: "Hey, what's this sucky OS? Why doesn't anything work like Windows? why can't I do this?".

    After the first couple of weeks he seemed to be getting used to Linux, and after a month or two he was more of a linux missionary than even I was. I was actually surprised by his enthusiastic embrace of Linux.

    I got him using Linux because it was easier on me (he was using my box). With Linux he had his own account with it's own settings and I even had xdm set up so that ctrl-alt-F7 was him while ctrl-alt-f8 was me. No need to even logout. that was RH5.2 ~ 6.1.

    My new roommate has a friend who's WIndows box self destructed. After recovering the data on his old disk, I installed RedHat 8.0, downloaded the MP3 extensions for XMMS, set up mplayer and let him take it home. I only got 1 or 2 support calls in the first couple of days -- After that, silence. It was so quiet, I was actually wondering if he'd given up and gone back to WIndows so I called him. He was quietly happy. Linux was doing everything he needed. It just wasn't doing anything wrong.

    Now my roommate, who originally pretty much swore that he'd never move from Windows ("Everything I know how to do is on WIndows. Why would I learn another OS?"). Is starting to use the 7.3 installation that I dropped onto his system (a disk from an old computer of mine that died). I didn't even know that he was making any real use of it until he mentioned that now was a good time to install the upgrades that I'd wanted.

    You know you've got a kickin' OS when the support people are worried by the silence.

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