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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.
    • About (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As much as I'd like for Nicholas Peterely to be right, I find that linuxworld in general to be a slightly less than reliable source of information.

      These are the same guys that hired Joe Barr to write for them. This guy is about as un-professional as they come.
      Take a look at this article [] on UT2003 for linux. The article itself was pretty bad, but look at the name calling tirade he goes on when people give negative feedback in the comments section.
    • by IdleTime ( 561841 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @02:09PM (#5530231) Journal
      Well, he may have written what you would call "another gnome sucks" article, but for a lot of people that article made a lot of sense. He actually penned the feelings a lot of users have about Gnome. Please, this is not a flame war about Gnome/KDE, but about how Linux spreads and how difficult it is to get exact figure on how many people actually use Linux. And here I agree with him. The nature of Linux makes it hard to count. The nature og how MS spreads also makes it hard to get a realistic count.

      I would say it was a good article with a lot fo valid points. MS is loosing market and fast too.
  • by thinktank2 ( 595484 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:07AM (#5528256)
    90% of the end users wonder "what is Linux ?". To them - Windows is the computer.
    • by Deth_Master ( 598324 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:20AM (#5528318) Homepage Journal
      But if most developers are writing for linux, then more software will start appearing for linux. Companies hiring these linux developers will have software written for linux, and the end user will have to use it.

      It's kinda like using microsoft's tactics against them, the end users won't have another choice.

      I doubt that companies will want to develop a product for each OS, it's too costly. So, they'll pick a platform and stick with it. If most of the developers that apply for the job are specialized in linux, the company may decide that it's a good way to go, since lots of people are writing for it.

      on a more humorous note: My girlfriend cares about at least one developer...
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:31AM (#5528377)
        But if most developers are writing for linux, then more software will start appearing for linux. Companies hiring these linux developers will have software written for linux, and the end user will have to use it.
        The problem is, by numbers, most software written is either for small commercial installations, or is written by developers for developers for fun. I wouldn't be surprised if 99% of software is only used by 1% of users. Even if 80% of software written was for Linux, it doesn't mean squat, because almost all users just want IE, Word, MSN Messenger, and a few games, and nothing whatsoever beyond that.
      • hopefully game developers will focus on OpenGL instead of DX. Then it's only a matter of time before the games make their way onto linux. After that, windows (which is just an overpriced game OS) will have very little left to offer the user. Then they will collapse under their own weight MUHAHA!!!

        what, I can dream can't I.

      • by Hellkitten ( 574820 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:05AM (#5528559)

        I doubt that companies will want to develop a product for each OS, it's too costly.

        If done properly multiplatform shouldn't cost that much extra, compared to the increased number of possible customers. So for the time beeing I think we could expect quite a few multiplatform developments. Then the time will come when enough people realize that they can get all their favorite apps on both windows and linux. Then the two OS-es will finally compete on an equal footing and the customer will choose based on price and quality instead of whether ProgramX will run. I expect MS will have to change it's pricing drastically in order to stay a major player

        This is ofcource assuming MS doesn't manage to get linux outlawed as "terrorist tools" or use some other kind of legal extortion too keep it's lead.

        on a more humorous note: My girlfriend cares about at least one. developer...

        That's nice, good luck to the both of you. Could you please give me a few pointers on how to achieve this. My wife care's for me, except for the developer part, she appear to believe it interferes with our social life and keeps me from giving her the attention she deserves. I'm afraid I'll have to start keeping my computer in a locked room lest it'll be the victim of a jealousey murder :)

      • Take Marketing 101 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:13AM (#5528613)
        Any company which wants to stay in business knows that it's the Customers who drive the business. Why do you think Motorola is such a crappy company? It's run by engineers! All they do is create, create, create, but never bother to ask "does anyone want this crap?" I have Linux at home, but that doesn't mean I'm blind ... customers drive the market, not developers. Convence John Q. that Linux is superior, and then everyone will use it.
      • by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:16AM (#5528629) Journal
        Also it depends what you're defining as "developer." If you include people using multimedia presentation stuff like Director or an e-learning system like Authorware, there's really very little difference between targeting Linux -vs- Microsoft because the media these products produce runs fine under Wine when built with a windows runtime.
        These closed source tools don't have much nerd crediblity as they were built to hide the "programming" so they are often ignored by the open source community, but they're interesting because of their deep integration in education. We're talking huge taxpayer bucks have been spent on this stuff.
        I think it's really important that we get people to vote on the upcoming legislation directing government money towards open souce and education is a huge part of that. One of the arguments that you're going to hear is that the schools will have to toss all their old software because it only runs on Windows. Well, that's total bullshit. I've never seen one of these Macromedia education apps that won't run under Wine.
        If we introduce open source in the K-12 schools, it's just a matter of time till Windows becomes little more than a history lesson.
        • Wrong, very wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

          by diablobynight ( 646304 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @11:10AM (#5528895) Journal
          k-12 I used Macs in school, and I still use a XP box at home. The computers you use in school seem to have little affect as to what you use outside of school. Otherwise I would suspect that Mac would have a much larger market share.
          • Re:Wrong, very wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Trejus ( 87937 )

            I'm not sure that happens. We also used Macs k-12. But, and I know someone is going to flame me, macs sucked back then compared to your average pc. If you had access to a pc and a mac you'd notice that the applications for pc were much better. Plus it didn't help any that the computers used in school were older and slower, which was a big difference in those days. It's probably why I really hated using macs until someone with a modern G3 let me play with theirs.

            However, in my University, we use Sola

      • >>But if most developers are writing for linux, then more software will start appearing for linux. Companies hiring these linux developers will have software written for linux, and the end user will have to use it.

        Why? What does the number of developers have to do with anything? Suppose 1% of software developers work on MS-Office, what is to stop 95% of end users from using MS-Office? I just don't see the connection.

        • Assuming that developers are equally productive on both platforms. Then in the long term, an imbalance in developers inevitably leads to an imbalance in software (either more software, or higher quality, or a combination of both).

          Of course that is only the long term trend. But in the past M$ has considered it an absolute priority to capture the 'developer mindshare' and get them writing code for the Windoze platform, and only for the Windoze platform. A trend away from that will have Bill in a spin.

      • My girlfriend cares about at least one developer...

        Erm, better make that "two"... ;-)

    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:29AM (#5528363) Homepage Journal
      Indeed -- an impression that Microsoft tries to foster, of course. And built into this Windows Computer(tm) are all of these wonderful Microsoft Innovations(tm) like Word(tm) and The Internet(tm).

      But I've found that in talking to even very computer-illiterate people, it's not that hard to get them over this conceptual block. Explain in simple terms what hardware is, what an OS is, what application software is, and that you have choices in all areas, and they're pretty happy. People like having choices -- and they may be confused into thinking that Dell vs. Gateway vs. HPaq is a "choice," but once they understand the situation a little better, they'll often have the brains to make a more informed decision.

      Also, there is a growing number of people in the middle ground of computer literacy -- the world isn't just 1337 and 1uz3rz any more. These people aren't programmers, but they have some idea what's going on inside the computer, they're comfortable with fairly complex tasks in a wide variety of applications, and although they may not know a whole lot about the alternatives to Windows/Office/IE, they know that those alternatives are out there and they want to learn more.
      • by SunPin ( 596554 ) <slashspam&cyberista,com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:00AM (#5528529) Homepage
        On the money, man. I believe, however, that zealots lose focus on how to get the "middle ground" educated about alternatives. These people don't read LinuxWorld or even Slashdot yet that is where the battle against Windows--or more specifically, the battle against Microsoft's control of consumer knowledge--will be decided. More easy-to-read articles need to go into publications that don't typically discuss computer related items. Editors are always looking for interesting articles and, if the more verbally adept among us can target mainstream publications, the better chance that the Linux alternative has.

        Assuming a conspiracy against Linux gives Microsoft WAY MORE credit than they deserve. Making sarcastic comments about Linux as an OS for hackers and pirates accomplishes nothing.

        Start the battle on the premise that there are alternatives. Once people know about the alternatives, then the "Linux rulz" crowd is useful in spreading their cause. Right now, they have it backwards and Microsoft is firmly in control because of it.

    • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:36AM (#5528398) Homepage Journal
      True. I was explaining to my father just this weekend that Linux was a Free OS. He couldnt grasp what it did on that computer. I don't think his mind was able to seperate Windows from "the computer."

      Not to mention "its free, but you can buy it in CompUSA." Say what!? Nothing is free, and that just confused him, so I left him thinking he could buy it at CompUSA, but I got the hook up just in case :D

      Also, windows has the correctness connundrum. People think any mistakes are their own and not the fault of windows, automatically... I think they would be more likely to blame Linux for any shortcomings. This means more phone calls to "yours truly."
      • by TKinias ( 455818 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:54AM (#5528496)

        scripsit dnoyeb:

        Also, windows has the correctness connundrum. People think any mistakes are their own and not the fault of windows, automatically... I think they would be more likely to blame Linux for any shortcomings.

        Hmm. This isn't, I think, restricted to Windows. I had an interesting OS X experience over the weekend. An acquaintance was having trouble with a USB external hard drive. OS X was locking up hard (at least keyboard and mouse, there was no network so I don't know if I could have ssh'd in) when the device was disconnected the ``Mac way'' (i.e., drag to trash or select File | Eject). The user assumed he was doing something wrong. To me it was obvious that this is some kind of bug in OS X's USB support, but a user not confident in his skills assumed the error to be his own.

        The same goes, by the way, for other devices. I don't really have any insecurities about my telephone-using skills, so if I encounter a mobile phone which isn't easily usable I blame a bad UI. Other people seem to think it's their own fault if they can't immediately grok a bad UI.

    • by Kynde ( 324134 ) <kynde&iki,fi> on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:06AM (#5528567)
      90% of the end users wonder "what is Linux ?". To them - Windows is the computer.

      Actually, who cares about end users?

      I'm dead serious here. As a linux user I couldn't care less what the windows using 90 per cent does. Tell you the truth I'm more than happy that they're using windows and hopefully would stay there. Especially if the developement focus is moving towards linux.

      I don't see any need for linux to overtake M$. Things are good as they are. I'm afraid they'll only get worse with more computer-illiterates changing sides.

      The worst phenomenon by far to-date is the assimilation of windows ui. We'd be far better off sticking to new inventions and new paradigms and not just idiotically copy the mistakes made in windows ui developement. I understand that that is important if we want that 90% to shift over, but what's the point in that if the cost is making major distro desktops like windoze.
      • The worst phenomenon by far to-date is the assimilation of windows ui. We'd be far better off sticking to new inventions and new paradigms and not just idiotically copy the mistakes made in windows ui developement.

        Not sure I can follow you here. First off, 90% of the Windows UI is really the Apple UI which is really the PARC UI. What's more, a lot of the UNIX/Linux UI work that is going on today *is* innovating, just not by throwing out 30 years of history. There are elements that have been absorbed from
    • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:40AM (#5528742)
      To them - Windows is the computer.

      No. To them, their applications are the computer. I've heard people respond "Windows 97" when asked what version they're using, because that's the version of Office that they use all (day, everyday).

      To most people, the OS is utterly irrelevant. It's just the thing that they know has to load before they can load the programs that they actually want and need to use.
    • Who cares about developers? Well, apparently, this guy [] cares about them.
    • by corvi42 ( 235814 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @11:12AM (#5528905) Homepage Journal
      Supply and Demand, it's as simple as that.

      Developers are the suppliers of product, desktop users are the consumers of same. The suppliers have to be anticipating upcoming trends in consumer tastes and responding to that. If they guess wrong then they can suffer inordinately, even go out of business. So it's a reliable indicator of what trends the market will be feeling down the road if the producers ( as a body, not as individuals ) are gearing up for a particular shift in their production.

      If there is a definite noticeable shift on the part of developers to a different target platform, then that indicates one of a few things, as I see it:

      1) There will be an upcoming shift in tastes on the part of consumers to that different platform. Developers see this upcoming shift and jump ( en masse ) to anticipate it. Or that because the developers shift, the consumers follow to gain the advantages of new products. Most likely a combination of the above.

      2) Developers can continue to produce for the current tastes of consumers while lowering their own costs of production. It could be that there is no impending shift of demand to the linux platform, but the ability to build cross-platform apps using linux technology gives developers an edge while lowering their own costs.

      3) The entire body of developers, as a class of informed professionals, are all self-delusional. They have bought into the Linux hype and are making the worst decision of their careers, and hence are heading over a cliff like so many lemmings. It seems to me that this argument will be very hard to defend.

      The dynamic of supply and demand simply won't allow large scale trends NOT to be based upon advantages and improvements in the market. That's why we should care about these statistics about developers.
  • by georgep77 ( 97111 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:08AM (#5528262) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly the same thing that is happening in the video card market. Intel is considered the #2 video card (chip?) supplier because they ships tonnes of motherboards with integrated video. Lots of these systems have a 3rd party video card added onto it and the integrated video disabled, yet Intel still scores market share points with these disabled video chips. Linux is up against the same thing with ALL brand name computers bundled with Windows.

  • Say what you want... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GroovBird ( 209391 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:08AM (#5528263) Homepage Journal
    But I prefer to use the Google Zeitgeist [], and it still says that only 1% of the people accessing Google are using Linux.

    Trying to be totally unbiased here, but all these stats are making me confused about the "truth".

    • by dkf ( 304284 ) <> on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:14AM (#5528291) Homepage
      But that doesn't count, since many browsers are configured to lie about what they are to work around stupid JavaScript/Website constraints.

      95.7% of statistics are meaningless.
      • 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 MCMLXXVI ( 601095 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:17AM (#5528299)
      How is that an effective way to check? As a network admin I have 12 Linux servers and a Windows machine as my workstation. Guess which one racks up all the web stats on Google.

      Keep in mind most Linux machines are servers and most people don't browse the internet with their servers.
      • Interesting point, but the article is about Developers. I don't think there is a 1-to-1 relationship between developers and machines.

        Surely those who target primarily Linux use it as their main desktop OS. It really is comparing apples and oranges, I know.

        It reminds me of how a few years ago Sun claimed that they had like millions of developers in the Java camp, and it was all based on the number of JDK downloads.

        Sure I downloaded it, even installed it, and then removed it. Am I part of the Java camp now
    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:17AM (#5528305) Homepage Journal
      Zeitgeist, we can assume, overwhelmingly refelects desktops, not servers. The article's author doesn't make to too clear, but it sounds like he's (mostly) talking about servers.

      I'm also, I have to say, doubtful that any browser-sniffing gives an accurate picture of what people out there are using, because so many people set Opera et al (on any OS) to report itself as IE for Windows. Personally I think that's a terrible idea -- if I find a site that refuses to work with my preferred setup (Mozilla on OS X) I figure, well, what the hell, I didn't really need to look at that site anyway -- but an awful lot of people do it.
      • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:19AM (#5528648)
        Servers are invisible. Linux could run on every server in the world and remain essentially unknown to desktop users.

        No matter how good Linux is from a technical pespective, it won't threaten Microsoft on the desktop until Linux developers offer consumers a non-ideological incentive to go to all the hassle and risk of abandoning Windows. I think it will take something along these lines:

        1) Create Linux applications that do compelling and unique things that Microsoft apps don't (being "as good as" Office won't cut it for most people, any more than Texturized Soy Protein outsells real beef);

        2) Slap a $39.95 price sticker on those apps, write good documentation, stuff 'em in cute shrinkwrapped boxes and get them onto store shelves;

        3) Create a "wedge" of non-geek, non-techie "real" people using Linux and exploit their existence to the hilt. Convince ordinary people that Linux is for them. (See Apple's "Switch" campaign.)

        4. Build Linux installation software that allows a new user to stick a CD in the slot, click "Go", walk away, and come back 15 minutes later to find Windows gone, Linux up and running, and all his Windows-created data and files preserved and migrated to the right Linux apps.

        Good luck, and have fun.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        At my University there is a website meant for checking enrolement details, booking tutorial times, etc. This site used to be Linux/PHP and worked fine, they then moved to a win2k box and the site seemed to suck a lot.

        They now changed the website software to some ASP thing, anyway the site _refuses_ anything but IE. But not only that, but Win98 users who haven't bothered upgrading IE can't access it either.

        A large number of the University's computers are Sun Rays which make it impossible to access this sit
    • by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:30AM (#5528371) Homepage Journal
      Consider this: most linux users have a static IP but a large fraction of MS users will have a dynamic IP. So if they are counting unique IPs it will have a heavy windows bias.

      Proxies. Again, more linux users could be behind a proxy (a few hundred linux users at my univ go through a single proxy) than windows users

      Third, some factors similar to those described in the article could be at work (linux more efficient ==> less linux servers for same job). Maybe linux users are more efficient googlers? I think this is unlikely, but still a possibiility.

      Fourth, it doesn't agree with my webserver stats (i.e, counting the hits I get from google searches). Of course, my data set is quite small, but it can not cause a threefold difference (I get 3% linux, 5-6% Mac). Maybe its because the content I have is biased towards linux users, but on the whole it makes me think that some combination of the factors above may be at work in decreasing the perceived share of linux.

      • "Consider this: most linux users have a static IP but a large fraction of MS users will have a dynamic IP. So if they are counting unique IPs it will have a heavy windows bias. "

        First, that's an unreasonable assumption. Second, I rather suspect that is calculating statistics on all hits, not just unique visitors. There's no reason to do otherwise, at least not from a statistical sampling point of view.

        "Proxies. Again, more linux users could be behind a proxy (a few hundred linux users at my u
    • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:35AM (#5528397) Homepage Journal
      You are right. Linux is not up there on the desktop. You may, however, theoretically raise the percentage of Linux "Googlers" by noting that these figures are usually calculated on a percentage of page accesses, and Windows users will, I postulate, access more pages served by Google than Linux users, since Linux desktoppers are on the cutting edge and may have better search techniques and not go trawling onto the 30th page of results in order to find something like some Windows novices. For sure, there are advanced searchers that use Windows too - don't take this as a troll.

      Now, the interesting paragraph in the article should be held up for all to see:

      The actual market-share shift from Windows to Linux is obviously more complicated. When someone purchases a PC with Windows pre-installed, and then overwrites that pre-installed Windows with Linux, nobody subtracts "one" from the installed base of Windows and then recalculates the Windows market share. So Windows starts out with a false boost and maintains its illusory market share even as it gets replaced by Linux.

      This is not important in the server market. I would be surprised to see too many people buy servers pre-installed with Windows, only to re-install Linux. Major vendors already have Linux preinstall options. I think from a desktop perspective this paragraph is valid, but we must be cautious. Maybe some low end servers are really desktops that did come pre-installed with Windows, and then there's people like me who keep dual-boot on my workstation for the inevitable crazy formatted Word/Excel/PowerPoint document that I have to edit and reply without changing any of the crazy formatting. So we can take this minus one argument with a pinch of salt, but it's still an interesting one nonetheless.

      Interesting statistics are out there though, but they're so well known... still, it's good to keep track. We are seeing big advances in web serving: Apache is now serving over 66% of active web sites (source: This is overwhelmingly not Microsoft + Apache/Win32: of 11 million sites, only appx. 10 thousand are on an MS platform (source: However, there will be a lot of people running not just GNU/Linux but also FreeBSD, Solaris, etc, and I can't find any data like that on Netcraft.

      If you look at the graph over the last few months it would also seem to suggest that recently Apache has again gained market share against Microsoft platform standards like IIS and Commerce Server. Cool.

      Now, as far as vendor evidence is concerned, IBM, Oracle and Dell have all featured Linux in advertising recently, and Linux is being used in high profile embedded apps like mobile handsets. This is excellent. Linux is being talked about more than ever, and I think it is the way forward for the IT industry in general. 2003 will be a good year for Linux, IMHO.

      Hooray for GNU/Linux! and remember, the server market share is what really matters. Microsoft will dominate the desktop for some time to come, but I believe Linux will start to make inroads on the desktop market when kernel 2.6 comes out. I have just compiled 2.5.64 and I must say the X windows experience (I was running 2.4.18 before) is fantastic. Much smoother, and less jerky, with additional perks like better ALSA support, more hardware support for USB devices and of course Bluetooth and other things starting to happen nicely. The next commit to the kernel tree will be very interesting too. I'm keeping my eyes wide open and focused on Linux. I'm already making money converting sites from ASP/MSSQL to PHP/MySQL because hosting is much more expensive on Windows platforms and customers are feeling the pinch. They are ready to invest now, to save monthly outgoings, to weather 2003's rather bleak outlook.

    • If you looked carefully at the site, you would have noticed that 4% of the browsers are reported as "other" that sure doesn't look good. It could even be that 3% of the other is Linux, thus giving linux a bigger market share than win95. But then what about BSD, Solaris... they couldn't possibly make up more than linux combined. (in the desktop area.)
    • "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
  • 85% of statistics are made up! :)
  • by thammoud ( 193905 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:10AM (#5528266)
    We are dumping Solaris and Windows servers in favor of Linux. Sun provides a great java VM for Linux that we can use to run WebLogic and JBOSS app servers. We write no native Linux apps. My client is a hedge fund and we have seen many in the financial industry following the same model.

    The Java and Linux combination rocks and will give MS fits on the server side.
  • by bjb ( 3050 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:11AM (#5528282) Homepage Journal
    Don't confuse this with regular desktop applications for home use. Though I didn't see it noted in the article, the indicator is that he mentions "Only 30% used to develop for UNIX platforms". So before someone starts sounding the trumpets that Linux is taking over the home desktop market, note that this is just for the server / back-end market. And in that realm, yes, Linux is getting much more attention, especially with all the cost cutting these days.
    • 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

  • embedded systems. This is the one obvious area where linux shines, and microsoft knows it. They will not beable to compete until the windows ce source code is more widely used and understood.

  • Difficult (Score:5, Interesting)

    by koh ( 124962 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:15AM (#5528292) Journal
    The irony here is that Windows gets an unfair market-share boost because it is inferior to Linux and requires more installations to do the same work.

    Good point. We have to stop comparing apples to oranges here, like describing windows market shares in terms of developper tastes ;)

    So we have to use a "generic" unit to compare them (like companies use man/hour or man/day to compare solutions). Of course, we have to find a "global denominator" to windows and linux to determine the unit to use.

    This global denominator will be hard to find, and won't be very accurate IMHO if we do find it. Like benchmarks, such units are likely to be quite a moving target, especially if we want to compare different versions of the OS (like, say, NT 4 vs Linux 1.2 vs XP vs Linux 2.4.20).

    So my point is : we can't do it. Like benchmarks, finding the proper unit to relatively descrimine one OS from another will never be a completed task on our list IMHO.

    Be prepared to see the figures next year : Windows 60% market share, Linux 60% market share (ideally obtained when every windows install is cleared in favor of linux). Eww.

  • Sheesh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Emmettfish ( 573105 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:16AM (#5528298) Homepage
    Remember, kids. Optimism and positive guesses are always better than verifiable empirical data.

    The number of developers for a particular platform does not have a thing in the world to do with marketshare, unless you are specifically talking about the marketshare of platforms for development-specific tasks. I'm still not quite sure how this is relevant.

    Yes, yes. It's hard to count people using Linux. So, if there's no empirical data, we should probably just move forward and operate under the assumption that Linux is going to dominate Any Day Now.

    I like Linux. I run Linux. But pieces like this remind me of 1998, when everyone in their brother was running 'If we don't know the actual numbers, than the numbers must be huge' stories about Linux adoption.

    Emmett Plant
    CEO, Foundation []

  • keyword (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:17AM (#5528300) Homepage Journal
    the key word is "developers". I'm a win2k/Mandrake dual boot guy. You know when I reboot? When I have to CODE something. Developing in a windows environment, even with something like cygwin or Visual Studio.NET just plain sucks compared to actually being in linux. Linux is a developers OS and a server OS. It is still not a desktop OS. It could be made to be, but it just isn't happening anytime soon. Look at MS desktop market share, the only one chewing on that is Mac.
    • Re:keyword (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gheesh ( 191858 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:27AM (#5528355) Homepage Journal

      Developing in a windows environment, even with something like cygwin or Visual Studio.NET just plain sucks compared to actually being in linux.

      How is this? Sorry but having coded for many years using Borland's tools in Windows I found it very very difficult to adapt to Linux development: no 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), no intellisense, no autocompletion, and having to resort to home-brewed makefiles is just a pain in the ass.

      Could you please explain which tools are you using for development, so I can use them too and make my life easier? :-)

      • 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.
      • Re:keyword (Score:4, Interesting)

        by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:02AM (#5528539)
        Well, it works both ways. I miss autocompletion as well when coding on Linux, but on the other hand when I'm on Windows (in Delphi say) I miss having a proper text editor. The Borland built-in one is good, but after using emacs for a while, I realise how much I miss stuff like typeahead find, registers (for text, not just positions), instant splits and so on.

        I haven't really found documentation to be a big problem to be honest, and although more spartan SGML or gtk-html genereated docs are far easier to read than stuff on MSDN, which invariably only looks good on huge screens (with IE of course).

        Oh, a decent command line is useful too.

    • I certainly agree that Linux is a developer's OS. However, the survey data was what the developers are developing FOR, not what they are developing ON.

      What the survey reveals is what mindshare Linux has for new software. Many claimed advantages to running Windows revolve around being able to run all of that exciting new software. If most of that software is going to be for Linux (as the developer survey suggests), that argument for Windows becomes the argument for Linux. Yet another case of MS's own asser

  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:17AM (#5528306) Journal
    Everyone equates Apple statistics the wrong way. Companies like (the desperate) Gateway even go as far as using the Megahertz myth in their ads for their Profile all in ones.

    Apple has a quarterly SALES pentration/market share of 3% to 4% but has an installed base somewhere around 11%.

    Of course we all know what "Mac People" like to point out about the RISC processor being 40% faster than an x86 and in most cases 75-90% than a Celeron. Who knows about the Centrino. (What a poor name to choose - "trino" anything sounds miniscule)

    It's the same way in the Linux community. Most versions of Linux run faster than Windows on the same hardware. (true in some cases on Mac hardware than OS X/OS 9 as well) There is a significantly higher number of 'nix users than M$ would like us to believe. I don't know the member numbers at Sourceforge & Slashdot. Not all are 'nix users but it is significantly high. That alone is large enough base. M$ wants everyone to belive that only mainstream/mass advertising companies (like themselves) have market share. They like to take advantage of the public psyche.

  • by Quixote ( 154172 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:19AM (#5528314) Homepage Journal
    The author talks about how the existing methods are inadequate for measuring Windows' marketshare. Why not use the UserAgent string (combined with IP addr) at a popular website, and see? I know, proxies etc. could skew the numbers a little, but it would give a fair idea, no?

    For a website [] that I manage, the numbers with this methodology are: 89% visitors running MSIE, and 93.91% visitors running Windows (and 3% running Macs, and 0.5% using Linux).


    • Ok, is Google popular enough?
      Zeitgeist. []

      For why this number may not be accurate, see above; boils down to 1) are you counting installations, including servers, or desktops in your evaluation? Servers naturally don't access google, but depending on the app that you're developing, a server install of Linux may or may not matter to you. 2) People forge their UA to defeat sniffers; I think less folks do that than you would think, but I think Linux users are more likely to than others.

      btw, the stats show that 1% of browsers accessing Google were using Linux; 4% were using some version of a Mac; 4% were "other"--meaning what, I dunno. Are there that many Be/Amiga users out there?
  • by benevold ( 589793 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:20AM (#5528319) Homepage Journal
    I agree that Linux is taking over Windows shares, however an article like this proves nothing. There is no statistical information, what is the population size? What type of companies were part of this "study". How were the companies included, by picking them, by them asking, or just a random sampling.
    Sure it's great to think Linux will eventual kill windows, I just don't see any proof of that yet.
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:20AM (#5528320) Homepage Journal
    "Roughly 40 percent focus primarily on Linux. These priorities will switch places almost number-for-number next year. Actually, more than 50 percent plan to focus primarily on Linux and less than 40 percent on Windows, so the switch favors Linux. But because the differences are within the margin of error, it is essentially a symmetrical reversal of fortune where Linux will take priority over Windows starting next year. "

    So the margin of error is at least in the 5-10% area? That sounds quite large, for a survey that purports to take in a wide range of developers. Methinks the author is taking an overly optimistic view of the subject matter - but that's not really surprising...

  • Windows troubles (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jbrocklin ( 613326 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:21AM (#5528322) Homepage Journal
    Its articles like these that just annoy me. Numbers get played with to come out the way they want it to, so they can stand on their pedestal and ramble off things that in the end most people will ignore. Of those who don't ignore it, most will not believe a word of it and hold it up as an example that the linux community is out for world-domination or something silly like that (not that everyone in the linux community isn't out for that...), and a few people will actually believe the words, hold them as true and walk around spouting off these numbers until someone slams it in their face.

    I'm all for linux in the enterprise and (for me) the home use, but I don't think the way to get linux into those places in the mainstream is to go around saying "Windows is better than Linux" and then stopping. The only way I see linux making strides further into to the server market is to just show people how it compares to other platforms on levels of cost, performance, and maintenance. It won't happen overnight, and it won't happen just because someone spouts off numbers that don't really mean anything - it will take time. But with the people doing the development on linux and linux apps, it will happen.

    Just my $0.02....

  • by fw3 ( 523647 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:23AM (#5528334) Homepage Journal
    Was basically, "if you can control the developers, you control the customers (killing off cp/m, os/2 ...)"

    That carried them to a point where the leverage point was effectively "if you control the desktop you can win the servers (killing off novell, banyan ...). This in turn led to "if you control the desktop and departmental servers, you can muscle into the enterprise" -- fortunately (imo) they've had less luck - despite considerable effort - in killing off Unix/Linux/BSD.

    So far at least. I don't think this games very predictable, (and the LW article is *very* thin on data, but there certainly is a deep groundswell of good things happening in OSS, and virtually all big-iron oriented code now targets Linux along with Unix).

    However it's perfectly reasonable that as developers move (back) to *nix, eventually the market will follow.

    (Remembering Grace Slick of the Starship singing about 'egg-snatchers' -- dunno the Borg's a big target, and elephants are best eaten a bite at a time)

  • Define "market" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by e8johan ( 605347 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:24AM (#5528339) Homepage Journal

    Windows is still king when it comes to desktops. Not only due to a huge market share but also FUD (not all unfair) towards Linux from common users.

    If we define the market as computers as in CPUs, I'd say that neither Linux nor Windows wins or comes even close. There must be far more 8051 controllers out there running a hand coded snippet of control code than there are 8086 derivates.

    The GNU/Linux movement shouldn't say that we have beaten Windows, let's relax. Rather we should say we can beat Windows, let's work as much as possible producing quality software.

  • Wishful thinking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:25AM (#5528341)
    Actually, I don't know anyone of my friends besides me who uses Linux at home. No one.
    I used to work in the telcom-business at a company with 120 employed (50 developers: C++/Unix/SUN), where four(!) used Linux at home. The reason for the others to have windows? Games - games - games- games - games...
    Id Software and a few others have tried, but... And, Microsoft is working very hard to redirect any proto-Linux-users to MS; and when it comes to games, they still have a magnificent lead thanks to their DirectX efforts. That lead may even be reinforced by the XBox.
    • by Erwos ( 553607 )
      Ironically, if MS gets what they want, and the XBox2 is a roaring success, there's no reason that we won't finally see the long proclaimed death of PC gaming, or at least the marginalization of it. Consoles need a little work, too, but nothing's stopping them from getting a keyboard and mouse needed to finish the control paradigm from where it stands now.

      If no one's putting out games for the PC, why not just buy a console and then wipe Windows off your box? That's a good question, and Microsoft might just
  • 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?
    • 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 t
  • Pinch of NaCl (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IceFreak2000 ( 564869 ) <ed AT edcourtenay DOT co DOT uk> on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:25AM (#5528344) Homepage

    I have to take this article with a pinch of salt - I know it's hardly empirical evidence, but almost every developer I know is not installing Linux over Windows, rather they're dual-booting their systems to run both Linux and Windows. Maybe this will change in the long run, but I doubt the swing will have been made by 2004.

    I'd love to believe what he says, but it doesn't quite ring true from my own personal experience.

  • FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bozovision ( 107228 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:28AM (#5528357) Homepage
    This is mostly a happy clappy marketing article. There is no info on the number of people surveyed, nor is there any info on how the sample was chosen, nor much detail on how the questions were phrased, nor is there any info on where the details of the survey can be found. However, if you dig deeper and look at you'll see that it is probably a reasonable survey. It's probably the North American Development Survey, but could be the Linux Development Survey.

    *BUT* folks, it is easy for Linux people to provide hard figures on the usage of Linux. If one person would care to write a small deamon that logs usage on a predictable basis and forwards this to a central location then everyone can see how Linux is doing. The package shouldn't expose a fixed ID. It should track how often Linux has been run on the machine in the last x days. It should track the distro. It should be VERY easy for every distro to adopt. Perhaps it should try to track the primary function of the machine (webserver/file server/etc). It should be under the control of the sysadmin. It should should not forward the information every time a user logs in/restart happens/whatever. Rather, it should do it every 1/1000 times (or whatever) and this should be used as a basis for a statistical calc on the number of Linux boxen ad the rate of growth.

    Would anyone care to take up the challenge? Feel free to forward this to the mailing lists, perhaps someone there would like to prove a point.

    Hard facts count. Marketing blurb doesn't.
  • While the article discusses a "massive" shift in developers. It does not address what those developers are working on. Are they working on server applications that will strenghten Linux's hold on the server market? Or are they working on desktop applications? That fact is key to interpreting the shift.

    If you told me that there was a massive shift in developers at Intuit or Adobe that would raise my eyebrows.

  • Microsoft tax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kinnell ( 607819 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:33AM (#5528388)
    I can imagine a future when although a vast majority of people are using Linux, Windows still shows up in the "statistics" as the most popular OS, just because it is shipped by default with most PCs. As long as the Microsoft spin doctors could keep the myth going, manufacturers would still ship PCs with Windows pre-installed by default, thus reinforcing the "statistics". In effect, Microsoft could still claim the "Microsoft tax" even if nobody was using their product.
  • What about gamers? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HeavyJeffD ( 659657 )
    I think the games and the gaming communit, especially with the overwhelming mass of MMORPG's and the ilk, make up a fairly significant portion of software development budgets globally. For me at least, this has been a major valley in me switching to 'nix 100%. There isn't one single game I play (yes, I'm a gamer ;P) that's available in any flavor of 'nix. A server dedicated server-side products, yes. Clients (ie: actual game), no.
  • mmm, propaganda (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:36AM (#5528401) Homepage Journal
    So a magazine called 'LinuxWorld' has an article on how Linux is going to overtake the most popular OS on the market! Wow! That's really impressive...*sarcasm*

    No offense to Linux, but 'MacWorld' and 'PCWorld' magazines probably could write the same article about their systems. Can't trust a media produced to promote things.
  • Client vs Server (Score:4, Insightful)

    by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:39AM (#5528413) Homepage
    Aren't we missing something very important here - client vs. server breakdown? The article seems to assume that it's all about clients, but I just can't believe 40% of developers are doing linux client work. Servers, of course, are another thing altogether.

    And of course we all know 1 server box (or 1 cluster) can keep several developers happily employed for years, maintaining & enhancing some line of business app/web application/etc.

    So it seems the relationship between the number of developers and number of installs is a pretty weak one.
  • by geoff lane ( 93738 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:39AM (#5528415)
    My local discount book shop already has large numbers of heavily discounted .NET related books for sale. When I look at the shelves of my local tech book store .NET books are now almost totally absent. Microsoft TV ads that used to promote .NET have been re-edited and no longer mention .NET.

    All this tends to indicate to me that .NET is a dud yet I'm sure that MS could show statistics indicating that .NET is taking over the world.
  • by SlamMan ( 221834 ) <squigit@gmail.cAAAom minus threevowels> on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:40AM (#5528419)
    Just like to remind evreybody that this is from LinuxWorld []. Not exactally a bastion of unbiased reporting when it comes to operating systems.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:43AM (#5528433)
    nicholas petreley is a moron. Let me prove my case.

    He said:

    1. Evans Data Corporation hired me to help out with a research report focused on Linux developers.

    2. Of the developers surveyed, more than 50 percent who now develop primarily for Linux used to develop primarily for Windows. Only 30 percent used to develop for some other Unix or Unix derivative. In case you missed it, the operative phrase is "used to." In other words, this is not a prediction of an emerging trend. It is cold, hard information about what has already transpired, and it withstands the scrutiny of a jeweler's eyepiece.

    Now put one and two together and what do you get?

    A statistics that is just plain wrong. By only focusing on linux developers, you cannot get accurate statistics.

    For example, assume we have.

    Microsoft developers 1000 people

    Linux developers 10 people
    of which

    5 used to develop primary for windows
    3 used to develop for other unixes
    2 otherwise.

    How can you prove anything by only doing a survey on linux developers? To get accurate info, you need to either include all developers or take a random sample of all developers.
  • It turns out there are so many jewels in the survey results that it's difficult to decide which ones to put on display here at LinuxWorld.

    After much consideration, I chose a nearly flawless diamond. It replaces the cubic zirconia otherwise known as the axiom that Linux is taking more market share from Unix than from Windows.

    This poetry is even less beleivable than the MS FUD :)
  • by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) <> on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:44AM (#5528438) Homepage Journal
    One reason why so many developers use Linux is that Linux is much more frequently used to deliver custom solutions, whereas Windows is typically used to deliver packaged solutions which need relatively little developer input.

    Rolling out 1,000 desktops requires virtually no developer input. Rolling out a unified health and social care workflow system (which is what I'm working on now) takes a lot of developer man hours - but when it's finished it will sit on one (Linux) server (and be accessed by hundreds of desktops, most of which will almost certainly run Windows).

    This does not matter

    We are not playing a numbers game. We don't need to take over the world. The fact that most users still prefer to use something else on their desktops doesn't make Linux a bad operating system, or a failure, or anything like that. Linux is very successful in a lot of niches. If it ultimately becomes more widely used than Windows, well, that will be interesting; but it won't make Linux any better (or Windows any worse).

    • I think it does matter. Not that Linux has to "win" for some abstract pride-based reason; but rather, Microsoft's immense power within the industry allows them to abuse society and retard the progress of computing. Microsoft needs to lose some of that power, and if that happens because Linux takes much of its market share, then so be it.

      In other words, it doesn't matter who wins (Linux, BSD, whoever), as long as it's not a single corporation (or even a few; oligopolies are not much better than monopolies
  • by Trurl's Machine ( 651488 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:46AM (#5528445) Journal
    "40 percent of developers"? How should I understand this figure? Do you count as one each person who just happens to develop ANYTHING, even some obscure freeware of no importance? "40 percent of developers" sounds like a shampoo commercial to me ("your hair will be 50 percent more healthy").
  • Windows Inferior? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silvakow ( 91320 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:49AM (#5528460)
    The irony here is that Windows gets an unfair market-share boost because it is inferior to Linux and requires more installations to do the same work.

    While I wholly agree with Nicholas on most of the article, this line doesn't seem to help the community. One of the stereotypes of linux users is that we think it is better than everything else in every application. This is simply not the case.

    I recently helped my grandmother purchase a computer. Her budget was large enough to get an iMac, so I suggested it, and she purchased it. I made sure she got the extended warranty from Apple because it includes phone support. She would not dial the number no matter how much I suggested it.

    She liked to get face to face help, and everyone she knows uses Windows. They couldn't help her with her Mac, even though it's the simplest thing to use. In this situation, I bought the iMac from her and replaced it with a Windows PC, and she is now satisfied.

    Every system has its place, and ignoring this fact will reflect badly on the Linux community until we realize it.
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:49AM (#5528461)
    So 40 % of developers "focus" on Linux. Even if we accept that statistic at face value (which is itself ironic in an article which seems to be at least partly about dubious statistics), it doesn't mean what I think the author intends it to mean.

    There are a disproportionate number of developers who work on Sun boxes relative to the number of Sun boxes in the whole computing market, for instance. That just means Sun machines are being used in situations where there is more custom development work going on, and in situations where companies need and can afford to pay for more people to maintain code. The proportion of Sun developers doesn't speak at all to the broader market share of Sun machines vis a vis Windows machines.

    I always get a laugh when I see an article about the misuse and misinterpration of statistics, which trots out its own to-be-misused-and-interpreted statistics. What's that old saw about lies and damn lies ?
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:54AM (#5528494) Homepage Journal

    The data gathered doesn't answer this question, but I have to wonder.

    MS has a well known habit destroying any successful developer of Windows software, either through theft in the guise of a buyout or making a knock off product then welding it into the OS.

    While the Free Software community is known for making Free versions of proprietary software (also a potential liability from a proprietary developer's standpoint), it is at least not a total wipeout. They at least know that the OS won't be changed to lock their app out.

    The more MS expands, the clearer it will become to developers that Windows development is a good way to get stomped on.

  • nobody hit on this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @09:56AM (#5528506)
    Not how the linux developers don't support the cause:

    1. They usually download it for free rather than buy a distro.
    2. They wiped the hard drive free of windows, meaning they didn't buy from a white box Linux vendor.

    With friends like this who needs enemies.
  • by MegaHamsterX ( 635632 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:09AM (#5528590)
    I do consulting, my goal is to line my pockets with the most amount of money possible.

    I give the customers two options.
    1. A windows system with a box delegated for each task and the required MS licenses.
    2. A single custom Linux box.

    I then explain Linux has no fees associated with it, but it's more expensive to setup. If they go the MS route they will need to pay a few thousand in license costs, it will cost less to initially setup, but more over it's lifetime to maintain, and to reach the same performance levels I will need multiple Windows Machines (don't even talk to me about running exchange with anything else).

    My client wins by spending less, and I win by making more.

    These are server instances though, I have only ever done a single Linux desktop at a company, and that was for a limited use workstation in a remote part of the country, it can not break unexpectedly.

    This is only me, I know the legions of cloned MCSEs outnumber me, so for every Client I flip to Linux they retain many more on the MS side.

    Run Linux and profit :-)
  • by techstar25 ( 556988 ) <> on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:13AM (#5528615) Journal
    Everybody here is like "I'll take that article with a grain of salt", or "Statistics don't mean anything".

    It seems a lot of people missed the point. That article focused less of stats and more on ways they can be interpreted.

    The author is trying to present some alternative ways of interpreting the usual old Win vs. Linux stats that we hear so much. He isn't trying to carve anything in stone. So many of you engineering folks see things in black or white, but this article says there is a grey area. You can look at the grey aread two different ways and it can seem black or white depending on how you look at it. He's not trying to tell us that it's all black or that it's all white.

    He makes a great point that there are key ideas in those stats that are often overlooked and are seldom addressed by the Linux community, and never addressed by the Win community(Win preinstalled, Lin more efficient requiring less installs, unsold copies of Win at Best Buy, etc). This is a very insightful article, and while it may be mostly speculation and interpretation, the one fact that we do know is that the Linux developer/user base is growing and will continue to grow(so let's not get hung up on how fast, etc).
  • by Lao-Tzu ( 12740 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @10:42AM (#5528753) Homepage

    I was reading this article and thinking to myself two seperate thoughts: "Well, that's odd...", and "Uh huh... who cares?".

    I work for a non-IT consulting company. Me and the team of ~20 developers here write software for engineers to use in petroleum engineering consulting. All of the software, 100% of it, it developed for Windows. I look around and see 0% Linux developers, and 100% Windows developers. But, alright, obviously my survey is baised. However, I only know one single developer here who has ever used Linux, or any operating system other than Windows. The two of us both have our shiny Powerbooks sitting next to our desktop computers while we work, for e-mail and web browsing and the occasional graphics work. I think the statistic that only 50% of developers use Windows is rather odd... since 95% of users are using Windows. Are there huge fields of programmers who develop cross-platform software and trust that it will work in Windows without testing it? Or develop server-side software only, which never sees a user?

    Secondly, who cares. I look at a project like Mozilla, and I can see that a lot of the developers are on non-Windows OSes. But I think the majority of even Mozilla users are Windows users. I advocate Mozilla to my friends and family, installing it on computers and replacing IE/OutlookE, and everyone is happy. They're using Mozilla and Windows, and I think this is highly common. FTL [] even replaced the 'INTERNET' icon on his grandmother's computer with Mozilla, and I believe the only comment she ever had was about the cute dragon. Developers may be using non-MS platforms, but they're still developing for users who are in Windows. Right? Or is half the world using Linux on their desktop, and I'm in some la-la land?

  • by mrkurt ( 613936 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @11:50AM (#5529135) Journal

    I think what Petreley says about developers programming for the server might be close to being correct-- Linux is taking market share from Microsoft, and I think it could extend to Windows server installations as well as Unix. I don't think that Linux is really having an impact on the desktop yet. The other thing he doesn't mention is whether this developer survey is just the USA or whether it's international-- it seems quite probable that Linux has more mind/market share in Europe in particular, than it does in the USA.

    My question is, why would someone go to Circuit City or Best Buy to purchase a machine that has Windows pre-installed, then take it home and install Linux? Yes, yes, you can create a dual boot system (not easily), but it would seem to be easier to buy a "naked" PC from an online builder and save yourself the Microsoft "tax", then install Linux. I realize that MS is trying to clamp down on OEMs, but naked machines are still available out there. I bought one just to assure that I could reinstall Windows 2000 (which I got elsewhere) if I had to.

    Petreley has a reputation as cheerleading for Java, too. I am surprised he didn't tell us how many of those Linux developers are using Java. I think there's a trend toward Linux, but it is developing less dramatically than Petreley would have us believe.

  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @12:12PM (#5529295)
    Nicholas Petreley worked with Evans Data Corporation on a survey which asked Linux developers about there preferences, and he learned that 50% of them were no longer developing Windows software.

    Somehow from these figures, Petreley concluded that Windows has signifigantly less developer mindshare than Linux.

    In other news...

    99.9%(with a margin of error of 5%) of respondents at a KKK rally were against affirmative action programs, from this we can clearly conclude that tea in China is selling at 50 cent per pound.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @01:55PM (#5530110) Journal
    Of the developers surveyed, more than 50 percent who now develop primarily for Linux used to develop primarily for Windows. Only 30 percent used to develop for some other Unix or Unix derivative.

    But since Linux is a posix-compliant UNIX variant, many apps developed for it can be ported straight to Unix flavors by simply recompiling. Windows is a whole different ballgame (unless you develop with the Wine libraries for portability).

    Drivers need a bit of porting, but are still 'way closer to Unix than Windows, and apps that use Lunix-specific features will need some tuning (or just not go if the whole POINT is to interact with the Linux feature).

    But when a developer switches from Unix to Windows his work is likely still available in the Unix world. (Perhaps moreso, if he's GPLing it now.) Those that switch from Windows to Linux are pretty much GONE on the Windows side of the world.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter