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Operating Systems Ubuntu Linux

Linux Distribution Popularity Trends Plotted 209

DeviceGuru writes "In order to get a sense of the popularity of various Linux distributions over the past several years, LinuxTrends entered their names into Google's search insights tool and grabbed images of the resulting graphs. The graphs display some fascinating trends and bode well for the future of Linux, particularly its ability to adapt to changing requirements and opportunities. What's especially noteworthy is that Android is the first Linux spin to take on a life of its own within consumer devices. It's certainly not the first use of Linux as an OS for devices; what's unique, however, is that it's the first branded Linux-based OS to be widely marketed to consumers."
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Linux Distribution Popularity Trends Plotted

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  • by omar.sahal ( 687649 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:26AM (#33324106) Homepage Journal
    I hope google is successful with android in different devices; Android on a ARM netbook for £100, even Microsoft may not be able to crush that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:32AM (#33324172)

    Maybe this is a regional thing, but who the heck uses Suse? I've been rolling out commercial products using Linux for over a decade, and I never see Suse. Ubuntu, sure. That's mostly for the Windows guys who want to look 'lite. But almost never Suse; the last time I saw it here in Silicon Valley was many years ago.

    I do consulting, and so I see a lot of what goes on in the Valley. The standard approach is to use Redhat based distros. Fedora for the cutting edge, CentOS when you need need to get something out without paying, and CentOS/Redhat when the paperpushes want the warm fuzzies of support.

  • by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:40AM (#33324254)

    Why is even Android mentioned ITFA? Android is just than: an embedded, highly tailored, and customized Linux kernel for specific, embedded hardware devices. Comparing distributions with the Linux kernel for end-user consumption in the market made to run on a plethora of hardware and architectures, great. Don't throw Android in there. To me, that's like counting apples in with the oranges.

    However, I'm glad there was some sort of data interpretation done and didn't end up being a Ubuntu flamewar. I, myself, started on Redhat 4.x and grew to love (and hate) the RPM packaging system, along with Redhat's idiosyncrasies on the distribution level. I won't say it's been easy trying to find a balance between Fedora, CentOS and RedHat, as far as when to and not-to use bleeding edge; gamble for enterprise support and stick with the community.

  • by bbands ( 1068870 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @10:53AM (#33324366)
    Would have been nice for the authors to explain the y-axis scales.
  • by segin ( 883667 ) <> on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:11AM (#33324524) Homepage

    Except that the only way that they are even going to be able to make the connection of Linux = Android is by way of the Internet. No one sells Android as Linux. The average Joe would only learn that Android is Linux-based from a technically-geared article or website, and it's also likely that said website would also refer to desktop Linux in comparison. Fuck, most Americans aren't even aware of Android - they see it, they use it, but they don't know it's called Android, or that it even has a name, and when they have a name for it, they always refer to the entire platform by the manufacturer-specific UI. Owners of Motorola DROID phones call the system DROID, in the same way people assume that the web is synonymous to, and also proprietary to, Internet Explorer.

    TL;DR: No one except for a handful of retards will make that connection. No worries.

  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:13AM (#33324532) Journal

    Your logic led to this point, but didn't come out and make it: the "look at these apps" marketing is what desktop Linux is missing. Android didn't have a market before the phones were released.

    Positioning desktop-class (including laptops, netbooks, and anything else with a desktop OS and desktop metaphor) computers as CE devices with different groups of applications available failed in the early to mid 1980's largely due to Microsoft's identification with IBM and their dirty tricks. They didn't always have a stranglehold on the market.

    For phones Apple, Nokia, and RIM were strongly established as providers of leading devices. Microsoft had a decent share of the market, too, based largely on their name form the desktop despite decent but underwhelming phone OSes. Then along comes Android, which was not compatible with any of the other phones (except a very limited source code compatibility with some Nokia devices that run other versions of Linux).

    The only desktop-class line of computers sold as a system of quality applications rather than as an open box of possibilities is the Mac. Apple, during years they've done well with the Mac, has touted it largely as just that: an application system.

    The iPod and iPhone are targeted at markets the same way, despite the "Apple factor" of coolness and sleek design. They are not sold as replacements for other products, even though there were plenty of MP3 players and cell phones when they came out. They were sold based on what they did and how well they did it, with the design thrown in.

    The Mac, likewise, is not sold as a Windows replacement, despite the "I'm a Mac" commercials. They are sold as systems which have great apps and on which the apps run without many problems. The real irony here is that Windows 7 is now being marketed based on features rather than on ubiquity.

    Broad popularity of Linux on the desktop is not even a goal of many people who develop Linux and Linux applications. It's likewise not a goal of everyone who uses it on servers. It's not even a goal for everyone who loves Linux on their own desktops, although it might make things easier on them.

    If someone wants broad popularity of Linux on the desktop, though, it needs this sort of mindset that has formed around Android. It needs it not just in marketing, but in at least part of the development and documentation community. People need to see Linux not as a check-list alternative that might be able to replace Windows for some of their needs.

    They need to see a big pool of great applications that fill their needs first. Only secondly do they need to see some benefits of that pool of applications over the one they have with Windows. Thirdly, they need to have an easy migration path from one to the other no matter which way they are going. They need to be confident in both moving to Linux and in being able to move back to Windows.

  • by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @12:07PM (#33325016)

    The real issue, and I know It's been said in other articles(but bears repeating), is that the whole Linux industry needs to get together and start, well, acting LIKE an industry. The problem is that it right now has an image amongst businesses as a bunch of guys in their garage who are tinkering with it, almost akin to shareware developers.

    If you want the public to embrace it, you have to focus on businesses embracing it first. Now, I know that there is a strong anti-corporate undertone to Linux as well, which isn't helping, but it has to be done. They need to get together, set strong standards, and start streamlining it (as well as marketing it) for business use. They need to ditch the inane "mascot" and other drivel and market it as the OS equivalent of aerospace engineering. Hardcore, no-nonsense, and efficient at what it does. If you want your business to run faster for less money, while having less problems and crashes, run this. If you want real security, even if your employees mess up and visit sites they shouldn't, run this. True, you will need more highly educated support staff, which will cost a bit extra on your payroll, but your next hardware upgrade costs will be 1/10th of what they were last time. (and so on)

    Because what we have now is the marketing equivalent of "as seen on TV" "look at this knife cut through a tin can!" type late-night advertising. So even if it is the best thing out there and is free(or nearly so), nobody in the business world wants to buy it because of the image problem that it currently has. And without big companies willing to go in a different direction, it will remain a scenario where "I'm not willing to risk my job over this" for most IT departments.

  • by asnelt ( 1837090 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @12:12PM (#33325060) Homepage

    Can you run frozen-bubble//wesnoth/sgt-puzzles/quake/openoffice on Android?

    I can. Ok, I admit that there is a Debian layer in between. But still, running a Debian chroot in Android is easy because Android is Linux based. I never really liked Maemo back in the days when I used Nokia Internet Tablets. There were just too many system parts closed and therefore alternative distributions never really took off. I don't really know about Meego but I would assume that the situation is similar. For Android on the other hand there are already several alternative mods, Cyanogen being the most popular one. Some drivers at the bottom layer are closed but I can live with that.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @01:03PM (#33325574)

    You're comparing apples to oranges.

    Consider this, Apple has their own branded stores worldwide, do TV ad campaigns and they only have a pathetic 5% on stat counter.

    Apple is selling HARDWARE that runs OS X. Apple does not sell OS X for other PCs. The only thing that officially runs OS X is Apple branded computers.

    Microsoft is selling SOFTWARE that runs on almost all Intel based PCs. It comes pre-installed on almost all of the PC compatibles sold on the market. This is why its the most popular OS.

    Linux distributions are SOFTWARE and is available free for download unlike Windows and Mac OS X which costs over a hundred dollars.

    The fact that Linux has 0.7% with absolutely no advertising is amazing in itself.

    Linux has advertising. Canonical and Red Hat spends money on advertisement. It's on the web, in computer magazines, in IT trade magazines, etc.

    The fact that the only free OS of the three can only manage 0.7% of statcounter is not that amazing. It shows that Linux still needs to overcome the momentum that Windows has in the PC compatible market. Unfortunately PC manufacturers have had a hard time selling PCs and Netbooks with Linux pre-installed in the US, and people are less likely to change from an OS that works well enough (some will say better - not me) for another one found on the internet.

    Linux's opportunity to become mainstream is in computing appliances. With tablets and smart phones becoming popular, Linux has a chance to surpass Windows' market share. Unfortunately it looks like Linux is being relegated to boot loader, low level kernel and file layer for Android than being an outright OS option in those appliances. Meaning that while Android could be technically count towards Linux it would be more accurate to say that Dalvik is built on top of the linux kernel. No native linux applications are being made and nothing prevents Android from using another kernel since everything is abstracted anyway by the Dalvik VM, unless you use the Native DK of course.

    There is still hope for "true" mobile Linux with distributions like MeeGo, but alas Google is better equipped to get hardware manufacturers to adopt their OS. MeeGo will be like Apple iOS since it will mostly exist on Nokia phones. Yet unlike iOS, Meego can be adopted by other manufacturers who don't want to use Android... oh... hope is only slight.

  • by DarwinSurvivor ( 1752106 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:51AM (#33329960)
    Not to mention some distros have much better organized wikis and documentation than others, so their users don't use google as often when searching for help as opposed to simply searching directly on the website. For instance, Arch has a very well organized wiki requiring maybe 4 clicks to find information on anything from installation to sound troubleshooting, while Ubuntu has separate pages and directories for each release and they like to rename stuff making google your best bet since most information is in forum threads instead of wikis.
  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @05:57AM (#33330508) Homepage Journal

    How much money are you willing to bet?
    There are many reasons why there is unlikely to be a significant correlation, including:
    - Distros that try not to do things their own way, and where users are far more likely to search on a package than their own distro name when they run into problems. (Personally, I tend to search for "packagename -Ubuntu" whenever I search, both because the noise-to-information ratio is higher for Ubuntu users, and because Ubuntu does everything their own way, so the risk of valid answers not applying is high.)
    - Distros that have their own search facilities and support portals likely generate fewer Google hits.
    - News releases generating search hits. ... but most of all because the Google Trends statistics are only trends, and normalised at that. They're only valid to judge how a search term varies over time compared to itself, not to anything else.

  • by judeancodersfront ( 1760122 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:00PM (#33333470)
    They also have a successful desktop OS.

    Or perhaps I am a realist that has grown tired of treating Linux like a religion.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.