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Debian Software

The Secret Lives of Ubuntu and Debian Users 501

jammag points out a look at statistics from the Popularity Contest projects on Debian and Ubuntu. These projects track the download and upgrade habits of their respective distributions' users, revealing — no surprise here — that Ubuntu users are more likely to be newbies than Debian users. The numbers reveal, for instance, that 86 percent of Ubuntu machines use the proprietary NVidia driver, where only a mere sliver of Debian machines do. Likewise, Debian users are far more eclectic in their software choice, less likely to use any default options. The article concludes with a look at the limits of what conclusions can be drawn from statistics like these. "In general, Debian users seem more eclectic in their use of software than Ubuntu users, and less likely to use an application simply because it is included by default. Debian users also seem more likely to be concerned to maintain a free installation than Ubuntu users — a conclusion that is hardly surprising when you consider Debian's reputation for freedom, but is still interesting to see being supported by statistics. ... To what extent last week's figures are typical is uncertain. Very likely, studying the figures over a longer period would produce different results. Possibly, too, those who participate in the Popularity Contests are not typical users of either Ubuntu or Debian. "
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The Secret Lives of Ubuntu and Debian Users

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  • Ezmode (Score:2, Informative)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:32AM (#26481413) Homepage Journal

    These guys do the same stuff that everyone else does, except they do it with style because they use Linux.

  • by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:41AM (#26481527) Homepage

    Real nerds contribute to X. *hint, hint*

    On another note, nouveau provides EXA, which makes it faster than nvidia for 2D on all the cards it supports. Just FYI. (They're working on 3D, too, but it'll take a bit since nVidia's still firmly in kitten-killing territory.)

  • nvidia (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hierophant7 ( 962972 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:47AM (#26481601)
    The numbers on the official NVidia driver must be skewed. When using Debian, I've found it far easier to download the installer from rather than through apt-get, which would bypass the whole Popularity Contest project, I think.
  • by capn_nemo ( 667943 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:48AM (#26481619) Homepage

    Having *just* installed Hardy Heron, I also note that upon first booting the machine and logging in, an icon shows up next to the "updates available" icon that looks like a little graphics card, and when you click on it, it points out that you have *not* installed the proprietary nvidia driver, but by golly, click here and we'll do it right now! Which I did. Which helped performance. So while it may not be done by default, it's something any user would notice immediately (any user of Ubuntu).

    Maybe a new install of Etch + Gnome would exhibit the same behavior, but really, if the OS *tells you* up front that you're missing an important (albeit proprietary) driver specific to your hardware, the likelihood of that driver then being installed is bound to go way up.

    I will also say, it's gratifying to have the *option* to install a proprietary driver clearly presented, with a commentary about what "proprietary driver" actually means, and why / why not I should install this driver. Some will choose to use the nvidia driver, and some will not, but educating the end user about what their options are and what they mean is really a great feature in Ubuntu, and I think nicely bridges the gap between "must be free" and "just do it for me".



  • by not already in use ( 972294 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:49AM (#26481629)
    Umm, yes, did you?!

    That's also when the comments - many of them angry, rude, and hateful - started pouring in. Some Ubuntu users accused 27 News of "unscrupulous reporting," hitting a "new low for local news," and writing an "atrocious article." Many Ubuntu users also wrote very personal attacks about the young lady who was having trouble using the operating system. They called her "lazy," "a dumb girl," and "not worthy of a college degree." The young woman also contacted 27 News to report she's being harassed on her Facebook account by Ubuntu users.

  • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:06AM (#26481837)
    I use the proprietary NVIDIA driver, but I just use the ones straight from NVIDIA [] rather than do it "the Debian way", or use someone else's bundled package. I wonder how many other debian users are doing that as well? As far as I know, this behavior wouldn't show up in the package tracking system. I do have gnome installed, but I never use it, also using e17, but I compile it from source using the svn repo., which also wouldn't show up in the package tracking system. I suppose the point is moot though, because I also don't have the package tracking system installed (I'm a big fan of only having the things that I want on my computer).

    I suspect that my behavior is actually about par for Debian users, i.e. as TFA says, Debian users don't tend to install the default packages. I know I don't. I usually start with just the basic install and add the desktop packages I want because there are so many packages included in the default desktop that I don't want.
  • by KasperMeerts ( 1305097 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:24AM (#26482077)
    I don't think so. This was completely voluntary. The tracking is disabled by default.
    They could very easily track everything at the repository servers, but they're not doing that because that would harm your privacy.
  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:46AM (#26482415)
    RMS doesn't use Debian because it's not free enough, as in it allows you to add the non-free repository. RMS uses GNewSense.

    The name should give an idea how useful it is.
  • by Zelet ( 515452 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:46AM (#26482421) Journal
    It doesn't work as a user-friendly desktop OS. I've used Linux for a long time, I'm not a novice user. I put Ubuntu in a VM and it installed fine, everything worked great. Then I went to delete a folder off the desktop by dragging it into the trash. It wouldn't let me. Didn't tell me why, didn't give me the ability to authenticate to delete it, nothing. I had to drop to the terminal to delete the file. Would a new-to-Linux user know that he has to drop to terminal to delete a file sitting on his desktop? Who would expect that dragging a file from a CD onto the desktop then trying to delete it would require a sudo command to delete? Linux is not even remotely close to ready for the desktop.
  • by Locklin ( 1074657 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @12:15PM (#26482801) Homepage

    I'm sure it's posted elsewhere, but you have to go out of your way to opt-in to send these statistics off. Theres no coercion involved, and you know exactly what it's for when you check that box.

    Sure there is plenty of anti-ms sentiment here, but your claim of hypocrisy, in this case, is unfounded and borderline troll.

  • by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @12:16PM (#26482815) Journal

    you use Debian for security?!? Bad choice, IMO, unless you dig into unstable a lot. Debian would be my LAST choice for security - it would be my first for stability, however.

    It isn't a bad thing that Debian is built for stability - Debian is fantastic behind a firewall as a file and backup server, for instance. My Debian box backup server has an uptime of well over a year now because I rarely patch it. When I ran Debian on my web server, however, I had to have a firm hand in the unstable branch (which was usually very stable) just to keep up with web server and app server patches (and ssh, and python, and a few others), and I had to reboot every couple of months. I'd trust Ubuntu more for a web server than Debian, just because it's updated more often...

    Fedora/RedHat or SuSE (or GenToo if you feel zealous) are patched for security more often than Debian, so are better options for handling internet connections.

    Ubuntu is a nice starter Linux, and perfect as a low maintenance Linux, as well. It reminds me of my first Mandrake experience. On the opposite end was Slackware and GenToo, but I should note I was an early adopter of Slackware in the early 1990s and haven't used it since, so I'm only going by that experience.

  • by eudaemon ( 320983 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @12:24PM (#26482941)

    Been a UNIX sysadmin since 1984. What's on my desktop? Ubuntu. Why? My wife uses it and it works just fine for her.
    It replaced a Vista desktop and frankly Ubuntu makes much better use of the hardware. She's never installed a package
    and she never will, but when she docks her camera it works. When she docks a USB stick it works. Same for Youtube video, etc.
    It all just works. So I share your sentiment. My firewall / server is openbsd. I can ssh into it from my G1 phone. Eventually
    I'll set up VPN for same. The OpenBSD guys may ride roughshod over newbies but there stuff is rock solid.

  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @12:30PM (#26483013) Homepage

    Having used primarily Debian at home for years, I installed Ubuntu a couple of days ago (a switch from Windows, as I tend to run side-by-side but lost the use of one PC about a year ago).

    Ubuntu dropped me right into a nice desktop with zero configuration, then asked me if I wanted to install the nvidia driver.

    I seem to remember that every time I installed Debian, it left me on the console or failed to start X despite trying, after asking a bunch of configuration questions. I usually ended up doing everything by hand and installing only what I wanted, because whenever I asked for "the defaults" they just didnt work. Debian certainly never asked me to install the Nvidia driver- the only way to do so would be to go get it myself. Lack of a working 3d driver is why I was on Windows for so long, and I only went back to Linux because I was sick of trying to get cygwin to do what I wanted.

    Now I'm in Linux, with 3d and sound working perfectly. It only dropped me to console once (and once is enough to mean I'd never recommend it for ANYONE). Using default options for nearly everything. Tablet still doesn't work correctly, I've yet to meet a Linux where it does, but I can live without pressure sensitivity for a week or so.

    In short: people don't use defaults in debian because they are broken and suck. People use proprietary software in Ubuntu because they're given the option.

  • by Inner_Child ( 946194 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @12:30PM (#26483019)
    No, it is not *required*. Get your facts right. I've got Verizon DSL and never had to use that ridiculous cd. Good thing too, otherwise I would have had to drop out of school, since my and my wife's PCs run Linux.
  • by LateArthurDent ( 1403947 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @12:54PM (#26483333)

    When I ran Debian on my web server, however, I had to have a firm hand in the unstable branch (which was usually very stable) just to keep up with web server and app server patches (and ssh, and python, and a few others)

    Debian backports all security patches to its stable branches (that entry in your sources.list file? That's the type of stuff that goes there). The unstable updates are for features, but you don't need to be concerned about their release cycle because of security. They keep up to date.

  • Re:An interlude (Score:2, Informative)

    by Symbolis ( 1157151 ) <symbolis@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday January 16, 2009 @01:17PM (#26483641)

    The only reason they need the RJ45 to get wireless working is because they need to download the drivers, can't ship them on CD.

    If they didn't have to download them, I'm certain wireless would pop up right from the start.

  • by harry666t ( 1062422 ) <> on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:14PM (#26484549)
    You can tick/untick that lil checkbox that says "participate in popcon".

    You can "sudo dpkg -r popularity-contest".

    You can "less /usr/sbin/popularity-contest" (it's a perl script), read the source, and see what it does.

    There are some huge differences.

    Reminds me of this:
  • by Rogan's Heroes ( 1274232 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:38PM (#26484947)
    Which means this really has nothing to do with Linux as Windows would have the exact same behavior.
  • by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <[ejkeever] [at] []> on Friday January 16, 2009 @02:56PM (#26485271)

    These projects track the download and upgrade habits of their respective distributions' users, revealing â" no surprise here â" that Ubuntu users are more likely to be newbies than Debian users. The numbers reveal, for instance, that 86 percent of Ubuntu machines use the proprietary NVidia driver, where only a mere sliver of Debian machines do.

    And we wonder why Linux can't seem to make inroads onto the desktop, when the headline and no small number of posters here are not at all subtle about looking down their noses at anyone who isn't dedicated enough to an ideology to intentionally cripple their machine's 3D performance.

    Face facts: 95% of people who use X do not and never will care about the ideology behind X for all X in Software. If you insist on demeaning them or inconveniencing them with your ideology, they won't use your software. I'm going to go play a 3D game that's not a slideshow now...

  • by GiMP ( 10923 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @04:02PM (#26486715)

    Please refer to this list of several thousand video cards and type in the hexadecimal representation for your given video card and chipset as provided in the list! Note - if you get this wrong your monitor and/or video card may expel magic smoke.

This login session: $13.76, but for you $11.88.