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Linux Software Businesses Apple

Desktop Linux Share Overtaking Macintosh 926

prostoalex writes "Business Week magazine is optimistic about desktop Linux's future, telling a story of Capital Cardiology Associates, whose 160 employees migrated to Linux desktops. Furthermore, Business Week expects IDC to announce desktop Linux installations to reach 3.2%, for the first time overtaking Macintosh market share. By 2007, IDC forecasts, Linux will be installed on 6% of the desktops. It's also worth mentioning that desktop Linux market share for 2002 was 2.8% and that year it was behind Apple's operating system."
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Desktop Linux Share Overtaking Macintosh

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:13AM (#8277459)
    i know for sure i'd be running mac os if it worked on intel
    • by diersing ( 679767 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:25AM (#8277546)
      Moderators - why is this flamebait?

      If Mac OS X ran on x86, it stands to reason the parent, myself and many others might give it a go. If you could run Mac OS X on cheap, available and upgradable hardware it would stand to reason that it would have a greater desktop share. Being that some out there view Apples as cost prohibitive. I feel the parent is on-topic, even if poorly presented/worded.

      • by rampant mac ( 561036 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:49AM (#8277682)
        "If Mac OS X ran on x86..."

        God Dammit, how many times does it need to be said? As far as the hardware debate, yes, Macs are more expensive. Yes, the retail cost of a new Mac is more than your average clone, or build-it-yourself project, and this is not where Apple is positioned.

        I purchased a Mac because I was sick and tired of "tinkering" with my computer, constantly tweaking settings, ensuring everything worked properly. I set my PowerBook up 4 months ago, and guess what... It just works. Apple can NOT provide that same advantage using cobbled-together x86 components thrown together and hope the end user experience "just works" for the average consumer.

        You really do get what you pay for.

        • by SiliconJesus101 ( 622291 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:34AM (#8277898) Homepage
          Ahhhhmen brother. As a recent Mac convert (got lazy and sick of "fiddling" with my OS and hardware); I wholeheartedly agree.

          Although my Mac is an old "Sawtooth" AGP G4 with a 1.2Ghz GigaDesigns processor in it, it would still fetch at least $600.00 or $700.00; This is for a machine that was built in 1999!! Find me a consumer grade PC worth anywhere near this that was built in 1999 and has nothing more than a new CPU upgrade and I'll [insert favorite disgusting act here] in the middle of Times Square at high noon. Part of the expense of a Mac is saved on the resale value when you sell your old Mac and buy a new one.

          • by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:09PM (#8281293)
            Find me a consumer grade PC worth anywhere near this that was built in 1999 ...

            Part of the reason why you won't find a PC from 1999 that is worth that much anymore is because for $600-$700 I could go out and build a new PC from scratch that would totally smoke your Mac (or any 1999 era PC) in terms of performance.

            Not to mention that perfectly usuable 1999-2000 era PCs (such as high end PIII's with 512MB of ram and DVD drives) go for under $200 at I'm sitting in front of one right now.

            Not that Macs aren't good computers, they are great machines. But I feel they are overpriced. Which is why I don't see myself buying one any time soon, though I enjoy using other people's Macs.
        • by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:52AM (#8278414)

          I purchased a Mac because I was sick and tired of "tinkering" with my computer, constantly tweaking settings, ensuring everything worked properly. I set my PowerBook up 4 months ago, and guess what... It just works.

          Just because MacOS X 'just works' for you, doesn't mean that it will 'just work' for me.

          If I'm not using the cursor, I'd like it to disappear. Does MacOS X 'just work' for me in that way? Is it easy to find a graphical configuration utility and make the cursor disappear after 5 seconds of inactivity?

          Oh, and I like hotkeys. Will MacOS X allow me to easily set up the combination of ctrl-j + l to switch to my web browser, and if that web browser doesn't exist, launch it?

          There's just two trivial examples I found off the top of my head. I could easily add more.

          Don't think everyone who uses the Unix-like OSes are a bunch of twiddling geeks who are content to fiddle with the OS while Mac users end up getting real work done. I'm not sure about the rest of the crowd, but the reason I use unix-like OSes is because its more efficient for me to get my work done.

          As for my x86 hardware, its performing fine, thank you very much. Unfortunately, there is cheap x86 hardware, just as there is cheap hardware for Macintosh. If you don't do your research when making a major investment, you will get burned. (Or did we already forget the Apple Cube fiasco?) A system from one manufacturer is not a guarentee of quality, nor is the inverse true. There are plenty of cheap automobiles that have problems even though they were designed by one organization. Inversely, I'm pretty sure that kitchen sink makers aren't allied with the lumber mills, and yet the roof overhead doesn't leak and my sink runs water without a problem.

        • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @05:04AM (#8278447) Journal
          I agree with you on the hardware side. My next computer purchase will be a laptop, and it will be a PowerBook. PCs, even 'integrated' ones like laptops are parts-bin machines, and will always be parts-bin machines. The Mac is more like an Audi - although it may not boast any more features than a Ford, it's better thought out and it's more likely to just work.

          Having said that, I've been using RedHat Linux 8 since it came out as my primary desktop. I've not had to tinker with it for a long time - it just works. That doesn't mean I didn't need to tinker at the start - my ancient parport scanner for example, I needed to build sane from source. But then again, the scanner isn't supported at all under Windows XP (and I suspect not under Mac OSX), so I still win. Why not buy a new one? Well, the existing one might be old but it works and I don't see the need to replace working hardware which can be fixed by 'configure; make; make install'.

      • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @09:26AM (#8279073)
        Apple hardware might not be cheap, but it is certainly upgradable and available.

        I'm sure if OS X was available on x86 you'd give it a go, but I fear it would go the way of BeOS.

        Apple couldn't survive in the x86 OS market, even with an immeasurabley superior OS than the current dug-in tick, sucking life and innovation out of the industry like the current status quo.

        OS X wouls achieve greater market share, but I fear it would be unsustainable.

        I think as Apple develops further and keeps working on their current model (like it or not, their method works for them) then Apple hardware will become cheaper.

        There's never been a better value for money range of Apple computers as there is today - from the budget laptop to the SUV 17" model that most don't need, but is there for the small niche.

        Their range of desktops is starting to look like something worth considering - from eMacs and iMacs, through MDD G4s (they do still sell them) and the mighty G5.

        I can pick up a pretty good compact laptop - the iBook for just under $1100 that is pretty perfectly specced for the market. Good battery life, reasonable power, great OS, CD burner/DVD etc. I'd certainly go with that over the same laptop I could get in the x86 world for $1100, but it's just my choice at the end of the day.

        I'd love to see Linux marketshare growing - and it is (although I've always been partial to FreeBSD myself). I hope that Apple and Linux can co-exist happily in the marketplace.
      • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @10:51AM (#8279386)
        Yeah but running on x86 means supporting all that awkward hardware that Windows, Linux have to support. Can you see Apple doing that, especially seeing as they didn't make any of it?

        I can't.

        And if for some bizarre reason they did port to x86 they would simultaneously enrage their army of zealots and negate any possible reason for buying a Mac in the first place.

        In other words, it would be suicide. With that said, I wish someone would produce a Mac OS X emulator for PCs. I have a Mac so getting the ROMs would be no problem, but it would be handy to be able to fire it up from time from my laptop.

    • by Mr Pippin ( 659094 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:32AM (#8277594)

      Regardless, I don't think this is bad for Apple.

      The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

      Apple has more to gain from Microsoft losing marketshare to Linux than themeslves losing marketshare to Linux. Apple is a Unix proponent, and friendly to Linux in that regard.

      Who knows that the future may bring!

      • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) < minus caffeine> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:43PM (#8280747)
        "Apple has more to gain from Microsoft losing marketshare to Linux than themeslves losing marketshare to Linux. Apple is a Unix proponent, and friendly to Linux in that regard."

        Not to mention that developing for Linux or Mac OS X should be easier to port things to-and-fro versus between Windows and OS X or Windows and Linux. Increasing market share for Linux or OS X means more resources devoted to open and semi open standards which promote competition versus lending support to closed and proprietary solutions from *The Monopolist.*

    • by Blic ( 672552 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @03:21AM (#8278070)
      I remember running Rhapsody DR2 on Intel - but that was back when they were working on slapping the OS9 UI onto NextStep. It never went any further than that.

      Darwin can run on x86, but, uh... =)

      In any case, it's never going to happen - Apple is first and foremost a hardware company. The make their money selling Macs, not the OS, the same way iTunes fuels iPod sales...
    • by TVC15 ( 518429 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @09:05AM (#8279004)
      i've never understood why people assume that OSX on x86 would be any (or much) more affordable than on a mac. theres no reason why steve doesnt charge $1000 for an x86 license of OSX. and another $500 for each point upgrade. not to mention that instead of charging $50 for stuff like iLife, he might charge $100-$500. after all, if macs have a 'tax' on them, why would he let software only purchasers get away with not paying it?

      of course, parent said that they would be 'running it'. perhaps i was assuming wrongly that they would be paying for it.
    • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @09:16AM (#8279044) Homepage
      i know for sure i'd be running mac os if it worked on intel

      But would you pay for it? Or would you just warez it?

    • by WillAdams ( 45638 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:48PM (#8280414) Homepage
      But NeXTstep _was_ available for x86 (and one can still find copies here and there if one looks) --- why didn't you run that? Oh yeah, it was $795 / seat w/ _extremely_ limited hardware support, and if one called in for tech support on install, one might get a tech who didn't know that (for example) ThinkPads need to have their memory size specified at boot so as to not interfere w/ APM. (Nothing personal mind, I'm just still kinda bumming I never managed to get NeXTstep running on my ThinkPad....)

      If Apple had tried to make Mac OS X available for x86, they'd've been pilloried over limited driver support --- if you don't believe that, go try out Darwin on x86. What? You don't have the exact motherboard specified? Sorry.

      Interestingly, it's looking like a _lot_ of what will be available for people using in Linux will be derived from things developed on NeXTstep (and I'm not talking about Doom, FreeHand and the World Wide Web) --- GNUstep has really improved by leaps and bounds in the past year, and a _lot_ of nifty software has come up, most notably a full-fledged PostScript / vector drawing program, Cenon available from (so one no longer need regret GYVE being given up on, or a certain Japanese company not following through on an offer to donate their internally developed drawing program).

      There's a new look, and a lot of new stuff available at --- check it out.

  • As A Mac User (Score:3, Insightful)

    by molafson ( 716807 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:15AM (#8277476)
    As a Mac user, I guess I'm supposed to be foaming at the mouth now, extolling the virtues of OS X, and denigrating the virtues of Linux. However, I won't. I don't care about Apple's market share, as long as OS X (and its requisite hardware) is available to me. I will gladly pay the price. Long live the king!
    • Re:As A Mac User (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dukael_Mikakis ( 686324 ) <andrewfoerster&gmail,com> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:22AM (#8277528)
      I think by default Apple users don't care about market share. In fact, my experience is that they abhor market share and extol the "uniqueness" and individuality that comes from being an Apple user. I mean, not any geek could hack on a purple box.

      But also, lest you forget, remember that OS X, of course is based on Unix [] itself (FreeBSD). (Does that in any way qualify OS X for a "Linux distro"?).
      • Re:As A Mac User (Score:4, Informative)

        by molafson ( 716807 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:32AM (#8277591)
        But also, lest you forget, remember that OS X, of course is based on Unix [] itself (FreeBSD). (Does that in any way qualify OS X for a "Linux distro"?).

        No, BSD is a blessed version of the old school source, Linux is a clean re-implementation. They're both good, but OS X definitely ain't a Linux distro.
      • Re:As A Mac User (Score:5, Informative)

        by burns210 ( 572621 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:33AM (#8277600) Homepage Journal
        no, it doesn't. It qualifies it as OS X, based on Darwin. Freebsd is indepedent of linux, and freebsd, netbsd, openbsd, and darwin(which borrows much from freebsd) are in no way a 'linux distro'.

        To be a linux distro, the OS has to actually USE linux. *bsd and darwin don't use linux, they use their own open(and similar to eachother, in some parts) kernel.
      • by Greenisus ( 262784 ) <michael AT mayotech DOT com> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:58AM (#8277727) Homepage
        Apple may only have 3% market share, but it's the top [] 3%.
      • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:59AM (#8277980)
        I think by default Apple users don't care about market share. In fact, my experience is that they abhor market share and extol the "uniqueness" and individuality that comes from being an Apple user.

        Actually, I just don't care about market share, with either Linux or the Macintosh. I settle for showing people(who show interest) some of the neat things about my powerbook and OS X. I'm very reserved about recommending it for someone, and there's no point in trying to get someone to switch- they have to want to, otherwise, it'll never meet their expectations.

        I mean, not any geek could hack on a purple box.

        Are you talking about SGI? If so, that'd be indigo, not purple- and one of the first Unixes I was exposed to was Irix on an old Indigo(IP12 with the "Song and Dance" graphics card, not nearly enough ram, and I think maybe 1-2GB of disk- but man, it could do some nifty graphics for the time, and it was an OLD system by the time I got my hands on it!)

        People say OS X is the first unix desktop-friendly unix(ie, no command-line necessary), and they're dead wrong- SGI had them beat by almost ten years with Irix.

        PS:hard core SGI people started on brown computers, not "purple" ones. Why Indigo, by the way? Well, the color supposedly perfectly matches Lotus Coachworks's Indigo paint(one of the top SGI execs owned a Indigo Lotus Espirit Turbo- guy had taste...)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:16AM (#8277477)
    Linux - 51%

    and Mac - 49%
  • Good news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mysterious_mark ( 577643 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:16AM (#8277481)
    WE the Mac owners wish to be a small and exclusive club. (Too bad I can't afford the new G5) MM
  • Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aitala ( 111068 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:16AM (#8277482) Homepage
    Those percentages are probably new sales and do not reflect the existing desktops out there.

    • Re:Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wankledot ( 712148 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:38AM (#8277626)
      They also don't reflect what people are choosing.

      That might be a minor point to some people, but I think the number of people that actually CHOOSE to run linux is far far less than people that choose a Mac. Very few people say "hey, I'll get a new PC, I think I'll run linux." Most of the wins in the linux market are from installations where people have no choice... enterprise and business accounts.

      • Re:Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TiMac ( 621390 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:56AM (#8277717)
        Which is probably true of many of the Windows installations out there as well. Many people use Windows because they are forced to. And this leads to buying a Windows machine at home "to stay compatible with work" (despite the other options).

        So what's the point? Hopefully if people are "forced" to use Linux at work, and find they can maintain compatibility with their Windows PC at home, they might start to realize they could maintain compatibility with their Linux machine with a Mac, too (even more so in some ways).

        I find it sad that the Mac's marketshare is represented so low, but I find OS X and Linux users on the same side of the bigger war, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend. w00t! :)

      • Re:Er... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:47AM (#8277947) Journal
        How exactly do you figure that not choice? The owner of the pc chooses the operating system. If all pc's come preloaded with one operating system then there is no choice. But if a corporation chooses to put linux on IT'S desktops then the choice was made.

        Or do you honestly believe the secretary should choose the OS on the desktop? lol

        At home it's your pc or pcs and you choose the operating system on the pcs you own. If you have 4 pcs, like I do, that counts as 4 desktops. Because my computer illiterate wife didn't choose the OS on the desktops I let her use does that mean there was no choice? Of course not, their my desktops and I chose what to run on my computers.
    • Re:Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrklin ( 608689 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nil.nek)> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:31AM (#8277873)
      Yes, this is an argument that many of my fellow Mac users would raise. They will point out this is market share data for new sales and do not reflect 1) install base and 2) mind share.

      However, the fact is new sales is what matters. Steve Jobs does not want you to keep buying the annual $129 OS upgrade (yes, yes, you don't HAVE to upgrade but this is Slashdot) to use on your G3 450 - he would also want you to buy that spanking new G5 along with the annual OS upgrades and the biannual iLife upgrades. Wall Street, Apple, IBM, Gartner, etc would all want you to buy that new Apple hardware.

      "But why should I upgrade my G3 B&W 450 when it runs OS X just fine! In fact, I pity the pathetic Windoze M$ PeeCee users who upgrade their hardware every two years!" some of my more zealous Mac users might say.

      The answer is, of course, "because they can".

      They can because Motorola took two whole frigging years to go from 0.5 Ghz to 1 Ghz while during the same time Intel went from P3 0.75 Ghz to P4 2.2Ghz. They can because IBM did not come out with the excellent and competitive G5 until late 2003. They can because the competition between nVidia and ATI produced superfast and hot GPU for PC.

      They can because the combinationof cheap and fast hardware more than make up for the deficieny of Windows.

      If Steve-Apple-IBM-Moto made it cheap for you to swap your machine every couple of years, do not tell me you wouldn't buy new Macs instead of extolling the virtue of G3 450. And if so, market share of new sales for Apple would be higher and I wouldn't have to write this!

  • FIrst post W00T (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Provocateur ( 133110 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:16AM (#8277483) Homepage
    ANd to think the halftime ad in the Superbowl featured IBM's Linux ad...

    History repeats?

  • I know, I know.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DwarfGoanna ( 447841 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:17AM (#8277492)
    This is about desktop marketshare.

    But shouldn't this be more a story of Linux gaining ground on Windows? I like and use both, but I hate to tell ya, Apple's core market is safe from Linux for the foreseeable future.

    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:36AM (#8277614) Journal
      Missing the point my friend, but then so did the poster. Nothing is said about Apple loosing ground. Just that their is now another non-windows OS out there with users in the single number percentages. That they are a fraction higher just makes for nice headlines. It is a journalist thing.

      Since real freedom fans are not out to destroy ms-windows but rather to make for a world in wich ms-windows is just another desktop this is good news. Apple and linux and bsd and beOS (whatever its new names is) SkyOS and tron and etc all have tiny shares. TOGETHER we are now beyond the 5% and closing slowly on the 10%. 1 out of 10 people is a significant number. That is the kind of number businesses have to respect or face loosing customers.

      With Office on Apple uncertain this could mean that 1 out of 10 people need to get their documents in a more open format.

      So this article shouldn't be about linux overtaking apple, wich is hardly a suprise considering it is happening on the office desktop and the gigantic price difference, but the share of non-ms-windows installations increasing.

      No MS is not going to go bankrupt over this. But with these kind of statistics IE only websites are becoming just a little bit less good business sense. That can surely only be a good thing.

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:17AM (#8277493) Journal
    The marketshare is there now right? Most linux installs are for home users who are nerds, cad engineers, and some servers here and there.

    The server software is comming and cad software is just now being ported. Home software is still nowhere in sight.

    Also most nerds now download iso's from Debian and Gentoo, and FreeBSD. They do not pay for there rpm hell anymore. Are these users being counted as well?

    If there could be a way it would tell these software makers to port home software.

    • by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) * <doug.opengeek@org> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:17AM (#8277817) Homepage Journal
      Win32 is getting a pretty nice grip on this market. Almost all of the MCAD (mechanical CAD) companies offer win32 versions of their software.

      Smaller, niche CAD players, do offer both Linux and Mac versions. PTC, one of the bigger players (for a while longer at least) does Linux today, with Mac coming.

      The problem is the number of users running strong win32 based programs. (AutoCAD, Solid Edge, Solid Works) While none of these packages offer the level of capability the bigger packages do, their numbers are creating a significant network effect. Very few mechanical engineering departments, found in small to mid-sized enterprises, run anything other than win32 systems. The big players still make good use of UNIX, with Linux being rare at this point and OS X being more rare or non-existant at best.

      These systems are increasingly being tied to back-end PDM (product data management systems) that aim to drive the product knowledge throughout the company. The reasons for doing this are sound, but the platform in the lead right now is win32. Given the strong intergration between win32 and office, additional intergration involving engineering and CRM software, Microsoft is getting hold of manufacturing and product design companies in a big way.

      Both Linux and OS X are going to have an increasingly hard time cracking this nut. All of the MCAD sales people use win32 running laptops. Older UNIX products are being ported and adapted to run win32.

      Many folks in this market do not even have Linux on their radar yet.

      Given this is my area of expertise, it is a depressing story really. Linux and OSS in general are a great story that almost never gets told in this space.

      Microsoft has been growing at the expense of commercial UNIX vendors, in this space for the last 8 years or so, almost unchecked. This is an area that Linux is ready for in many ways, due to its technical nature. The ECAD people along with the movie studios demonstrate this clearly.

      I'm afraid, without ports to Linux from the big players, the mechanical engineering and product design markets are going to be win32 for a long time to come yet. Even with the ports, the mid-range packages (having the majority of users) are win32 only at this point, because they leverage Microsoft tools at almost every level of the software.

      I fear the home software will come first. Maybe I am wrong, I hope I am.
  • This starts making Linux a very viable software platform in terms of established software companies such as Adobe and Macromedia.

    Being a designer, this is the key area I'd love to see Linux flourish in.

    To be able to ditch windows and natively run applications such as Photoshop or Dreamweaver would be a dream come true !
  • Not the point. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcsiry ( 38594 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:21AM (#8277512) Homepage
    Who cares if it's overtaking Mac- as long as the share it's taking over from is Windows.

    If Linux was *replacing* Mac on the desktop, that would be worrisome. Instead, you're seeing municipalities, counties, even countries switching from Win to Lin. You're not hearing about ad agencies doing mass migrations to Linux, replacing Photoshop with the Gimp and Quark with... with... um, well, you're not hearing about it.

    Meanwhile, the mac addicts will single-click along, content with their 3%- and happier still that they've got some stronger allies against the real threat to their desktop security.
    • Re:Not the point. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dalutong ( 260603 ) <djtansey@gmail . c om> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:47AM (#8277673)
      It seems a lot of people think that overtaking Mac is not a newsworthy feat. It is a huge deal.

      They're not replacing Photoshop with Gimp, Quark with nothing, etc. But, if they have developed Photoshop for Mac, including MacOSX, then they now have a reason to develop it for GNU/Linux. This would be a reason for a lot of businesses to get into gear and start porting.

      I am aware of all the reasons they might not -- different distros, harder to support, not as focused a userbase, etc. but at least the list no longer includes "it's not even as popular as Mac!"
      • Re:Not the point. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by great throwdini ( 118430 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:33AM (#8277888)

        But, if they have developed Photoshop for Mac, including MacOSX, then they now have a reason to develop it for GNU/Linux. This would be a reason for a lot of businesses to get into gear and start porting.

        I am aware of all the reasons they might not -- different distros, harder to support, not as focused a userbase, etc. but at least the list no longer includes "it's not even as popular as Mac!"

        Unfortunately, I think you are being a bit too optimistic, if not outright mistaken in jumping to this conclusion. Overall shifts in desktop installations for Linux compared to OS X do not translate to equivalent shifts in the interest, need, or profitability for a given application native to either platform.

        Let's use PhotoShop as an example.

        Those who are increasingly adopting Linux may not be a solid target market for (in this case) PhotoShop. Now, if one could demonstrate that all those graphic designers et al. who currently use Macs or Windows are jumping the fence for Linux, that may be the case, but greater or growing numbers overall don't mean greater or growing numbers of users who want to or are willing to purchase (in this case) PhotoShop.

        In the firm for which I work, everyone uses either OS X or Linux on the desktop. The Linux users outnumber the OS X users by a ratio of about 2:1 (and yes, there are more than 3 people in the firm). However, the number of Linux users interested in acquiring PhotoShop is zero. Anecdotal, I know, but my gut feeling is that something about my personal experience with Linux v. OS X on the desktop captures (at least a bit of) the reality in the bigger picture when it comes to this particular app.

        It's not the size of the install base, but its characteristics of that base which are most important. Mac users may have a fractional hold on the desktop market, but it's where that fraction of the whole pie has been installed and put to use (DTP, etc.) that attracts the interest of companies like Adobe at present.

        "It's not even as popular as Mac!" means a whole lot more when you ask: "Among whom?"

  • FACTS PLEASE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mitchell_pgh ( 536538 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:21AM (#8277517)
    In the unparalleled words of Jerry Mcguire "Show Me The DATA".

    I'll believe it when I see some kind of data. I have yet to see Linux being used in a desktop environment. I've seen a few macs, but a majority have been Windows based.
  • Google says 1% (Score:5, Informative)

    by bhny ( 97647 ) <bh@usa. n e t> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:21AM (#8277520) Homepage
    Google Zeitgeist [] still says Linux is 1% and Mac 3%
  • by tyrione ( 134248 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:22AM (#8277523) Homepage

    Everyone's got one.

    This presumes the rate of growth for Linux on the Desktop will be as prolific as it has been for Enterprise deployment, not to mention OS X isn't once mentioned in the article, just the Macintosh Operating System.

    Market researcher IDC expects to announce within weeks that Linux' PC market share in 2003 hit 3.2%, overtaking Apple Computer Inc.'s (NasdaqNM:AAPL - News) Macintosh (news - web sites) software.

    Macintosh software? Could this article be particularly more vague? I guess being overly general is good to cover their butts?

    Good luck on Linux overtaking OS X's momentum.

    Since over 40% of pre-OS X has switched since its inception I would expect in a year from now another 30% and climbing, especially with the G5 and soon-after G6.

    My daily OS is Debian so no I'm not coming from a Mac biased viewpoint.

  • by Hamster Of Death ( 413544 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:22AM (#8277524)
    This just goes to show that you don't need to be an 800lb Gorilla to succeed, you just need to be useful. This is where both Apple and open source competes. They are both useful to different groups (with some overlap) but since the user base of all computer users is so large, 3% is still a large number of people. I guess it's proof that if you are good at what you do, people will come to you.
  • huzzah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BortQ ( 468164 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:22AM (#8277529) Homepage Journal
    While the desktop linux market share is rising about that of macintosh, that isn't a bad thing for the mac. The loss is market share will be to windows.

    One of the driving factors behind this is cost (especially in emerging markets). The change is coming in business environments, where the macintosh has always lagged far behind windows.

    I can't see any of the traditional macintosh markets switching to linux. The same UNIX base is present on the mac along with other more exclusive things.

    Anyway, I think that this is in fact a great thing for the macintosh. The compatibility of programs is much better between os x/linux then it is between os x/windows. And Apple has been showing it is more than happy to take up open-source created standards.

    In conclusion: go linux, go mac os x, die windows die!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:23AM (#8277536)

    If desktop Linux starts to hit Microsoft where it hurts, it will happen not so much among typical office employees but among specialized workers. These include stock traders, bank tellers, engineers, customer-service reps, and warehouse employees. They rely on just a few applications and need PCs that are simple to use and rarely crash -- which Linux can handle.

    The last part from the article is an understatement, but it shows BusinessWeek gets IT. It is a pretty well written, but short article, from the business perspective.

    Some disadvantages do remain in the near future (eg., the home desktop user still has to get around to installing a working DVD player for movies), but even businesses see the snowball is gaining in size and will soon pass the critical mass (to mix metaphors)!
  • by Pathway ( 2111 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:26AM (#8277553)
    Well, I think it's important to note that it's not the MAC which is loosing ground to Linux, but rather that it's Microsoft's Windows users who are primaraly making the switch.

    I just don't think that the Mac is going to disappear because of linux. The Apple zealots are worse than Linux'es own!

  • by d.valued ( 150022 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:26AM (#8277554) Journal
    I think we're going to succeed in pissing off the Macophiles in the crowd with this one. I like OS X as much as anyone, and its multipedia capabilities are utterly obscene, but for general apps most people don't need it.

    To be fair, most people don't need the capabilities of any modern system. I'm going to get a 64-bit based laptop, and the only people I can think of who need such power are gamers, video/audio editors, and the highest of power users.

    Linux based systems tend to hold the line on excess hardware bloat. You don't need to stay on an endless treadmill of forced hardware and sofware upgrades for support; a skilled tech can keep your setup running. Security is potentially higher, with proper configuration. And virii are pretty much a null threat.

    Most office productivity can be handled with F/OSS analogues of Windows tools. Programs like OOo and FireFox, The Gimp and the myriad SQL databases do a great deal of work.
  • by Durin_Deathless ( 668544 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:27AM (#8277558) Homepage
    There strike me to be several problems with this: 1) Many linux users(myself included) download iso images, from which it is hard to get an idea of number of users 2) most linux installs are not traditional desktops, for Joe Schmo. Most are for more technical users. 3) When do they 'expire' a machine? For nubmer 3, I mean this: when is a machine no longer held to be in use? I didn't get Panther(it won't run on my Beige G3), does that mean I don't count? What about the Macintosh SE in the basement, still getting daily use? The other beige G3 here, still on OS 9? 2 or 3 years is fair for Wintel boxen as an average IIRC, but a Mac tends to outlast that. I know of several people using first generation PPC machines, simply because they do everything needed. This isn't as simple as OS sales in a given year, I would say harder for Macs than for other machines because the life of a Mac is so much longer than many other platforms, especially without any trackable upgrades. Without knowing from whence these numbers came, they are pretty meaningless.
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:27AM (#8277559) Homepage Journal
    Actually, this should not be surprising nor alarming.
    On the face of it this is a very misleading statistic and /. post. What would be more relevent would be to compare Linux penetration across hardware architectures seperately. Saying Linux has more installs than OSX is rather slanted and not all that informative since there are many more x86 compatable PC's on the market than PPC compatables. Linux is not hardware, Microsoft does not make PC's. OSX is a desktop yes, but tied to the hardware needed to run it.
    So let's see the percentile of Linux installs on x86 PC's vs Linux installs (Yellow Dog et al) on PPC architectures.
    That would give a better overall view of the marketplace and usage trends. For I'd suspect the migration to Linux from OSX would be microscopic at best while the real breakaway would those migrating from Windows.
  • Google Zeitgeist (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueEar ( 550461 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:27AM (#8277562) Homepage

    Google's Zeitgeist [] still has Linux at 1% and Mac at 3%. I also find it not very encouraging that even with Longhorn delayed by 3 or so years predicted Linux desktop share gains are 3-4%. Maybe our New Years resolution should be to install Linux on at least one computer that was monopolised by Windows. I did just that :-)

    • Re:Google Zeitgeist (Score:4, Interesting)

      by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @03:06AM (#8278016)
      Google's Zeitgeist still has Linux at 1% and Mac at 3%.

      Yes, but Google's Zeitgeist isn't an authority on the subject. They only count the unique visitors to the site. Many Linux desktops are being set up in work environments, where people may not even have a browser installed, or where work might not let them visit Google.

      At home, most linux users have static IPs, or near-static IPs via broadband. The majority of OSX and Windows users use dialup. This means they get counted multiple times.
  • It doesn't matter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hornsby ( 63501 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:30AM (#8277584) Homepage
    I'm a long time Linux user who's just about to purchase my first Mac, a G4 powerbook. I use Linux on the desktop everyday, and while I like it, I'm not afraid to admit that compared to an OSX desktop, it lacks polish. I don't blame X, Gnome, KDE, or anyone for this. I really believe it's simply a matter of Mac development being more focused due to Apple spearheading it's development.

    Linux is awesome because it's affordable to everyone, and it's become a very nice alternative to Windows; however, I don't think that it's going to steal a significant number of users from the Mac market since OSX has a major geek appeal as well.

    It's silly to think that users have to be either here or there. I plan to continue to use both Linux and OSX after the purchase of my laptop, and I don't understand why everyone is so black and white about what you run on your desktop. Anybody that's used a Mac knows what the appeal is about. Linux has a natural attraction to anybody that wants a stable and cost effective OS. Why not enjoy both?
  • Uhm... duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by solios ( 53048 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:31AM (#8277589) Homepage
    To run MacOS requires a PPC. Not just ANY PPC, a Macintosh. That's ONE breed of computer. Just one.

    To run Linux, you need a computer and some means of getting linux onto it. Linux runs on Sparcs, Ultras, SGIs, Alphas, x86, m68k, several different PPC variants, pdas, cel phones, the Game Cube, the Dreamcast, digital watches, and the IBM 390 mainframes.

    Not only does linux run on practically everything, it handles almost identically across ALL of these architectures. Your debian experience won't be much different on an Ultra III than it will be on a Dell or a Macintosh G3 (aside from hardware support, obviously).

    I can install linux on any computer I can find in the dumpster.

    Every other OS on the planet (BSDs excepted) are much less portable and available on a vastly narrower variety of hardware.

    So. DUH. Of COURSE it's a growth industry. Linux is popular on the x86- and there's got to be at least 10 PCs for every Mac, just in terms of volume of existing hardware. Linux will continue to gain marketshare because it isn't tied to any specific hardware, making the cost of entry incredibly, amazingly cheap.

    Can I get a HELL YEAH! ?
  • only 6% in 2007? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skillio ( 594945 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:33AM (#8277598)
    hmm, i wonder if they're taking into account the ever-growing usability of linux to casual desktop users when giving this projection. it seems to me that in 3-4 years, just observing the trend, adoption percentages will be much higher than that. it isnt linear because as it gets better, more people try it, recommend it, etc, and obviously the price factor is big. in addition, i'd think something like the walmart cheap PC thing will be multiplying greatly as linux is shown to be user-friendly, with many more major vendors pro-offering linux in some form on their systems. maybe i'm just being optimistic, but i'd hope linux desktop adoption in 2007 would be 10-15% or higher - i guess we can hope (:
  • by pixelgeek ( 676892 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:35AM (#8277609)
    There are lies, damn lies, and market share percentages.
  • Linux Compatibility (Score:4, Informative)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <slashdot3&phroggy,com> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:46AM (#8277668) Homepage
    This was on Mac OS Rumors [] two weeks ago; since they no longer have archives I pulled it from the Google cache:
    One of the biggest Mac OS X 10.4 features: Linux? It's that time of year again, folks - last year's big operating system release, Panther, is about to get by far its largest and most mature update yet in the form of 10.3.3 and Safari 1.2 in the next couple of weeks, and Apple's attention is beginning to turn to its next major release.

    One of our oldest sources has reported in on the beginning stages of this process, and the first item on his bullet list: Linux. Mac OS X 10.4 will more closely merge the Apple experience with that of Linux in several key ways that will visible to users as well as developers. Panther already implements a number of Linux APIs, but Apple hopes to make 10.4's adoptions higher-profile and therefore mirror (rather than cannibalize, we can hope!) Linux's success in creating an "opening wedge" into the Windows world.

    We expect to get more details as Apple fleshes out its concept work and gets coding. Stay tuned....
    Interesting follow-up to that:
    Apple's 10.4 "Linux initiative" could work both ways. Today's crop of new reports on this topic not only provide considerable confirmation that Apple is indeed pondering a "Linux adoption" move, but hint at an angle we haven't covered yet. It has been suggested that Apple could gain quite a bit of attention and support from the GNU/Linux/OSS communities by porting more of its key pieces of software to Linux: Xcode, Rendezvous, QuickTime, iTunes, and iChat have all been mentioned. More on this later in the week as we continue to analyze this particularly tantalizing line of inquiry....
  • by darnok ( 650458 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:15AM (#8277806)
    I'm now regularly "reviving" old Windows desktop boxes that didn't have enough grunt to run as Win XP systems. They still make perfectly useable Linux systems.

    The majority of these are used as firewalls or Samba servers, but some are running Mepis. There's nothing like taking a "junk" PC from someone, then "reviving" it for use as a Web browser/email/simple office PC. Many, many home users are upgrading their old PCs, and I suspect a growing number of these are now retaining their old PCs and redeploying them as simple Linux SOHO desktops.

    After all, a ~500MHz, 128Mb RAM desktop PC is barely useful for Windows 2k or XP, but still works fine as a Linux desktop.

    I doubt that these PCs are showing up as Linux PCs on any survey - they usually were originally sold with a Windows licence. As they're often "second" PCs, they might rarely get used for Internet access; instead Mum or Dad use them for work stuff while the kids are playing games on the shiny new PC.
  • by amper ( 33785 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:23AM (#8277844) Journal
    Well, I just spent the better part of my day building a new mail server.

    It's a Power Mac G3 B&W running Mac OS X 10.2.8 (6R73), with Sendmail 8.12.11, Cyrus SASL 2.1.15, Cyrus IMAPD 2.2.3, GNU Mailman 2.1.4, SquirrelMail 1.4.2, Berkeley DB 4.2.52, etc, etc--all downloaded and compiled from scratch with GNU GCC 3.3 (except Sendmail, which doesn't work with 3.3, so I used 3.1 for that).

    *And* all of this works with SMTP AUTH through SASL linked through PAM to the NetInfo database. I've done this on Mac OS X 10.3 as well.

    I could do this on Linux, too, I suppose, but then I wouldn't also get all the really cool features of Mac OS X or Apple's really cool hardware.

    BTW, just saying "Linux" is kind of misleading. Even if you only looked at the major distro's, you're still talking about several different types of systems that have significant compatibility problem between them. So, if you're going to lump all of these into one big "market share", I'd say why not lump all the commercial *NIXes together? I'm sure AIX, IRIX, Solaris, etc could add a percentage point or two to Apple's share, at the least. Hell, you could even toss in all the *BSD's, for that matter.

    The bottom line is, no matter what flavor you feel like using, it's all basically a (nearly) POSIX compliant system under the hood.

    Just so long as it's not more Windows...

    I was listening to NPR briefly today with some silly girl from Wired talking about the MS source code leak. Doesn't it amaze you how much people are talking about hackers taking advantage of the source code to attack Windows?

    Don't these people have any memories at all? I would venture to guess that *none* of the writers of the very well publicized virus attacks of the past few years needed access to the MS source code to effectively attack a large portion of the world's Windows systems. Can you say MyDoom? Melissa?

    Bah! Windows is a plague on humanity. Hopefully, the combined power of Linux, UNIX, and BSD, especially with the help of Apple, will wipe this incontinent excuse for security off the face of the world once and for all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:24AM (#8277847)
    Quote from the article:

    Munich went with Linux, but the city fathers may rue that day. BusinessWeek has learned that the project is behind schedule, bolstering Microsoft's message that Linux still isn't ready for prime time. "I haven't seen any of our customers use Linux in a mainstream way," says Martin Taylor, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy.
    [End Quote]

    Some things a Linux desktop still needs (in my opinion, in random order):

    1. Good DVD player & CD-RW that just work, without mesing around. If this software is not part of the distro, simple instructions on how to get/install it (one click?).

    2. Friends who are familiar with the OS/Distro, for the network effects and piece of mind in case something goes drastically wrong. This is where having a "critical mass" (fuzzy value) comes in - this is already happening, but the more, the better.

    3. Better Wine, but that will come with age. :) [CodeWeavers is doing a really good job, with full disclosure of the limitations, which leads to a sense of psychological well being, rather than the feeling "they are trying to take advantage of me."]

    4. Better default settings for Desktop/Window managers that make sense to a majority (and keep the ability to tweak). The "usability" improvements and surveys will help here, a lot. More needs to happen in that field.

    5. Use easier "language" - eventually (in 1-2 years) e.g., non-cryptic commands, or a *standardized* set of aliases that work on all distros. [And continue to evolve the GUI so the user doesn't HAVE TO use the CLI.]

    6. Better Grub/Lilo/equivalent that is less intimidating for new users that want multi-boot. Preferably with a easy to use GUI that detects all HDDs & partitions and tells you what's on them (with as much relevant information as possible).

    7. Some packaging system with less dependency problems. [Yes, there are a few that show very good promise, with only occasional issues surfacing.]

    8. The equivalent of a "tray" where one can see the status of the firewall, proxy server, network connection, ..., similar to a few other OSs. The lack of such status is hard to get used to, for a new/non-expert user.

    9. Few, well chosen default applications on the distro (not "give them four of everything"). [Lot of progress has already happened in this area in a few distros.]

    10. Other stuff that's been talked about in other places. :)

  • Irrelevant (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fr0dicus ( 641320 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @03:23AM (#8278079) Journal
    This is like saying "Taxi use outstripped Mercedes sales".
  • What this means (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2004 @03:32AM (#8278105)
    Please remember that "market share" refers to the percentage of units sold in a given amount of time. (In this case, the idea of "sold" has to be a little fuzzy.) IDC is saying that the market share of Linux per quarter is approaching that of the Mac OS.

    But the Mac has a 20-year headstart.

    By most estimates, there are something close to 40 million Macs in use today. (About half of these run Mac OS X, and the other half the classic Mac OS in one version or other. Many of them, of course, are older machines that are not capable of running OS X. Apple's market research says that of the users who can run OS X on their machines, something like 75% do.) There are about 400 million desktop computers in the world, total, so Apple has about 10% of the total installed base.

    It'll be a long, LONG time before Linux starts approaching those numbers.

    What IDC is saying here is that they think the rate of new installs of Linux is approaching that of the Mac. Which only makes sense, if you think about it. Linux is the hot new thing, while the Mac's growth has been pretty steady for the past six or seven years.

    What'll be illuminating is what happens to the rate of adoption of Linux after it surpasses the Mac's new adoption numbers. Will it keep going, or will it peak out and then drop off?

    (Honestly, based on past trends, it will almost certainly peak out and drop off. But time will tell for sure.)
  • by Sigh Phi ( 324315 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @03:40AM (#8278143)
    The original poster plays up one line in the Business Week article and completely skews the tenor of the article. To wit: Linux is becoming attractive in "business" -- never an Apple strength. The article's mention of Macintosh marketshare is a journalistic technique used to provide a frame of reference. Iraq is roughly the size of California, etc.

    But Macintosh and Linux have more than marketshare in common. Both platforms are committed to open standards and interoperability, the former out of necessity due to its historical role as outsider, and the latter out of philosophical conviction of its adherents. If Linux leaks into the business world, IT folks will find that the formats and APIs they're using work just as well on Macs. This could lead to a more equitable situation where people use the tools they like, rather than the tools that Bill Gates wants them to use. Joe the Administrative assistant will while away on Windows, Jane the database nerd loves her Linux cluster, and Johan the turtlenecked web designer makes merry on his Mac.

    Maybe I'm overly optimistic. IT monoculture is so annoying.
  • by Colonel Panic ( 15235 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @03:52AM (#8278190)
    I've been using Linux since '96. I've tried most of the major distros out there. I really like Linux.

    However, yesterday I got my first G4 PowerBook. I wanted to actually do some multi-media type things with my computer without having to spend hours (days) trying to get things to work. I wanted to do things like burn DVDs, edit video, play Quicktime movies. Sure, you can do these things with Linux, but I've got other things to do than spend hours/days/months trying to get everything sort-of-kind-of-working.

    So, I got a Mac. Seems like the best of both worlds.

    Am I going to dump Linux now? No way. Linux is great for lots of other things. I have to say that I actually prefer KDE or GNOME to the Mac's Aqua. The Mac doesn't have virtual desktops, it doesn't have enough mouse buttons and what's with the toolbar having to be at the top of the screen instead of on the actual application window?! (seems to harken back to the pre-OSX days when MacOS wasn't a true multitasking OS). On the otherhand, I can stick a DVD-RW in the Mac and copy a movie to it that will play on my DVD player, no muss, no fuss. I can hook up a digital camera to my Mac via the usb, download the images from it and edit the pics without having to spend hours trying to get it to work - I really like that. Now I can get on with getting some work done instead of being a sys-admin.
  • by kyshtock ( 608605 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @03:58AM (#8278221)
    How can one say such a thing? Macs are for people willing to spend extra money, for people who appreciate design and ease of use, for people who want to have a certain touch of uniqueness.

    On the other hand, Linux is for poeple who don't give a damn about the looks of their machines, for the people who aren't afraid to search the net about ten hours for the piece of code they need, and will read the docs and compile for about ten more hours. Oh, yeah, and for people with a certain cash affection.

    Oh, so you said desktop boxen! So? Check the prices: same machine, same capabilities: one computer, one operating system, one office package. Which is cheaper?

    However, gimme a Powerbook running Linux and I'll change my mind :)

    On a different level: applications. Industry uses Photoshop; industry uses Macromedia stuff, industry uses specific software which runs on more standardised systems, such as MacOS or Windows. When Photoshop and Dreamweaver and Flash and QuarkXpress, and all the software that equipment get deliverd with will work on Linux, TOO, than you can speak of a choice. Till then, you need to be extra carefull when you shop, because you new laser printer might not work on linux (been there, bought that).

    Cheers and power to the Penguin

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @05:06AM (#8278456) Homepage
    Everyone here seems to be foaming at hte mouth, "Mac vs. Linux". No. You've got it all wrong.

    That market share increase for Linux came out of MS's market share, not Apple's. This is progress.
  • by webmilhouse ( 694316 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @08:33AM (#8278934) Homepage
    I think the number of people who have predicted the death of Apple in the past is directly proportional the number of times Apple has bounced back.

    I think Linux is gaining in business desktop use because it is x86 and most businesses already have a large investment in hardware that is easy to convert to Linux rather than replace with G5s.
  • by poemtree ( 61258 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @12:07PM (#8279788)

    confuse market share for installed base. IDC (subsidiary of IDG) is one of the worst undercounters of Mac marketshare and installed base. A quick look at Google's Zeitgeist [] shows 3% Mac, 1% Linux. I know these number are not perfect as we all spoof browser IDs, but I think the the ratio of Mac to Linux boxes undercounted due to spoofing is also likely 3:1.

    Apple has sold nearly 30 million Macs since 1984. The PowerPC shipped a decade ago in 1994. Any PowerPC will run OS 9, any G3 will run 10.2, and any factory USB machine will run 10.3 (officially, XPostFacto []). That is something like 20 million machines still in use mostly as desktops.

    I don't hate free software, and I think Mac OS X and Linux complement each other. I just hate these so-called analysts with their biased numbers. My wife used to work for an economics firm that did analysis for the telecom industry. I would liken what they did to selling cosmetics to ugly people to make them look better. They tailored their reports to put the companies that were paying for the reports in the best light no matter what the truth was. IDC is no different. If Apple gave them a crapload of money, they would say Apple's marketshare far outpaces Linux.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.