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Debunking Linux-Windows Market Share Myths

Hemos posted more than 11 years ago | from the trying-to-make-sense-of-the-numbers dept.

Microsoft 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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As a concerned American patriot, (-1, Offtopic)

patr10t (659651) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528240)

I am ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas. I sure didn't elect that cowboy!

Re:As a concerned American patriot, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528248)

Relax. Nobody's blaming YOU!

Re:As a concerned American patriot, (-1, Funny)

patr10t (659651) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528249)

A yes, before anybody mods parent down as offtopic: Linux is a hacker's OS, only used by pir8es, and as everybody knows, piracy funds terrorism.

Re:As a concerned American patriot, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528257)

Uhhhh...what are you one of the Dixie Chicks? :-P

How original. st00p1d l4m3erZ

Re:As a concerned American patriot, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528274)

Better than your post, be a lame sheep and give your ass to Bush Jr., asshole!

Re:As a concerned American patriot, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528261)

I put off my hat to you man, whoever you are. I wish more people were as wise as you.

Re:As a concerned American patriot, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528277)

I am ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas. I sure didn't elect that cowboy!

Now _this_ would make an interesting topic!

BTW. You did vote, did't you?

Re:As a concerned American patriot, (-1, Flamebait)

DixieChicks (659653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528331)

I did vote, but my vote wasn't counted.

I didn't vote... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528351)

I am not on the Supreme Court.

Re:As a concerned American patriot, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528353)

And I am proud of the president (even if he is from Texas ;-). Seriously, I think that he is making the best choice (in this case, going to war) that can be made given an impossible sticky situation.

I wish him and the American and British forces well in the coming battle. I also hold out hope (real hope for the first time in a long time!) for the betterment of Iraq and her people. May Iraq prosper in times to come!

Another patriot

fdf (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528244)

Linux again?
Quick, someone make a BW cluster out of legos!

Third post ! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528250)

Yeah ! SUckers, go and give your ass to Bush Jr., you like it, bloody yanks !

-1, Flamebait (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528251)

Damn trolls.

About Nicholas Petreley (5, Informative)

lord sibn (649162) | more than 11 years ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528368)

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.

Who cares about developers ? (5, Insightful)

thinktank2 (595484) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528256)

90% of the end users wonder "what is Linux ?". To them - Windows is the computer.

Re:Who cares about developers ? (5, Insightful)

Deth_Master (598324) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528318)

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...

Re:Who cares about developers ? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Who cares about developers ? (1, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528349)

The messiah of Windows a.k.a His Billness cares enough about developers. Enough to spend four days in India (yes, the third owrld country with less than 0.5% global Windows base) and convince IT firms there to give up Linux. (Infosys and Wipro)

Bill Gates recently presided over an IIT alumni meeting in CA - and these IITians are elite developers, not users. Even Stevie goes bonkers when he utters the word Developers.

Truth can stand naked. Lies need statistics.

Re:Who cares about developers ? (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528363)

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.

This is like saying ... (-1, Flamebait)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528394)

... "who cares about the Iraqis?" in response to an article about Iraq.

This article is *about* developers, so therefore, anyone who cares to read the article, cares about developers.

Freakin' loser.

Re:Who cares about developers ? (5, Interesting)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528398)

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."

Linux needs snoopware! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528259)

I wonder if a little kernel-level snoopware accounting could help provide some solid usage numbers once and for all. We could just have the network stack send every machine's IP/MAC to Real Networks, for example.

Reminds me of video card market share... (5, Insightful)

georgep77 (97111) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528262)

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.


Re:Reminds me of video card market share... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528337)

The difference is, non-geeks don't use Linux, whereas non-geeks do use Intel video-cludge. What percentage of users are geeks, 0.5%? Yet geeks spend all their computing time around other geeks. Nowonder Linux users have got such a warped idea about Linux's marketshare. I'm not being a troll, I'm just trying to be realistic.

Re:Reminds me of video card market share... (1)

_pruegel_ (581143) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528425)

An integrated Intel video chip costs next to nothing. A bundled Windows license still costs some $//whatever. Not many people buy a computer with a bundled Windows license and then use Linux.

Say what you want... (5, Interesting)

GroovBird (209391) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528263)

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".


Re:Say what you want... (5, Insightful)

dkf (304284) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528291)

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.

Re:Say what you want... (-1, Troll)

GroovBird (209391) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528301)

So what you're basically saying is that Linux OS's are lying about the fact that they are Linux?

Are they ashamed? Or is it a global Linux plot to conquer the world overnight?

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


Re:Say what you want... (1)

jacoplane (78110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528302)

I wonder, if Konqueror claims to be IE, does the OS then also get counted as Windows? And what is the default setting? I'd imagine most people simply use the default setting.

Re:Say what you want... (2, Informative)

brinkster (523812) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528403)

Default setting:

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

or the same browser prentending to be a MS OS:

kio_http: (638) ============ Sending Header:
kio_http: (638) GET /forums/all HTTP/1.1
kio_http: (638) Connection: Keep-Alive
kio_http: (638) User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)
kio_http: (638) Accept: text/*, image/jpeg, image/png, image/*, */*
kio_http: (638) Accept-Encoding: x-gzip, x-deflate, gzip, deflate, identity
kio_http: (638) Accept-Charset: iso-8859-1, utf-8;q=0.5, *;q=0.5
kio_http: (638) Accept-Language: en, POSIX

Re:Say what you want... (4, Insightful)

MCMLXXVI (601095) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Say what you want... (2)

GroovBird (209391) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528329)

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? That was in the 1.2 days of course. I'm not gonna judge the quality of Java today.

Short version: 90% of all statistics are biased.


Re:Say what you want... (4, Funny)

MaxQuordlepleen (236397) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528402)

50% of the Linux developers at my firm use Windows as the desktop. The other half (me) use Linux :)

Is that statistic meaningful?

Re:Say what you want... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528304)

Exactly, it's like saying that America controls Israel, when it's exactly the opposite ! []
Real Americans, let's unite against jewish invasion !
Bush lets our army be led by a jew named Rumsfeld, no wonder we're giving billions of our hard-earned taxes to those wogs !

Re:Say what you want... (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528305)

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.

Re:Say what you want... (0)

inteller (599544) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528369)

heh... yeah and we all know that servers reading Google is a lot more important that people sitting at desktops reading google. Give me a break.

Re:Say what you want... (1)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528316)

Yeah, but what's with the 4% "other" ? Are we to assume this is things like BSD, or is it all dreamcasts and set-top boxes?


Re:Say what you want... (1)

kuiken (115647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528361)

Yes but where i am sitting a some odd 100 linux/unix machines ar humming away behind the door infornt of me none of em will ever access google, but my laptop running windows (I have to run windows for some corporete apps and pollicy) will multiple times a day.
While it is a some mesure for desktop acceptance it in no way shows the number of linux machines out there

I have my doubts about zeitgeist (4, Interesting)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528371)

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.

Re:Say what you want... (4, Interesting)

fruey (563914) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528397)

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.

Re:Say what you want... (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528422)

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.)

Re:Say what you want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528424)

38% of hits to my website are from Linux, and that's before getting into the User-Agent spoofing argument.

Okay, so I mainly carry Linux software. But trying to estimate what OS people are using just from their browser is not going to get you any kind of meaningful number.

Except perhaps to tell you that a lot of people use the net from work. On machines they don't own. That run Windows.

The reason is easy (2, Funny)

jedijacket (614666) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528264)

85% of statistics are made up! :)

Re:The reason is easy (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528343)

85% of statistics are made up! :)

no no no... its 87.5%

Re:The reason is easy (2, Funny)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528354)

Last year, it was still 90%. So there is some progress :).

Its all about Java and Linux (5, Interesting)

thammoud (193905) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Its all about Java and Linux (1, Offtopic)

bratmobile (550334) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528285)

No it won't. .Net will fill the gap of Java quite nicely. Not to say that Linux doesn't have other advantages (easy remote admin, etc.), but Java / managed execution is one area where Microsoft is NOT weak.

Re:Its all about Java and Linux (1)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528407)

But what kind of machines do you need to run a .NET enterprise solution? Windows on the server side is a hog of resources. What kind of server needs a GUI for a start? Which system services that you don't use can you reliably disable?

You could run a Java/Linux enterprise solution on a cluster of any middle to high-end PCs with maybe a bit more RAM.


Re:Its all about Java and Linux (4, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528432)

.Net will fill the gap of Java quite nicely.

Not really. It is quite likely that an enterprise using Java does so to avoid the liability OS lock in. .net is not likely to provide that! Another reason to use Java is percieved security from the sandbox. MS doesn't have a very good reputation for security consciousness. They made a lot of noise about focusing on security, but so far, the trivial exploits just keep coming. Even assuming the MS was being sincere, they are still handicapped by their lack of experiance. More and more decision makers are coming to understand that one cannot just say 'today, I will be mindful of security' and magically, the next version is 'secure'.

Re:Its all about Java and Linux (-1, Flamebait)

inteller (599544) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528381)

remind me not to use your client for any financial matters.

Re:Its all about Java and Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528412)

That made alot of sense.

His client? That he's writing the financial software for? Or the client software(which he's not writing)?

And why not use it?

We must be talking infrastructure development (3, Insightful)

bjb (3050) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528282)

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.

Re:We must be talking infrastructure development (2, Informative)

wordisms (624668) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528365)

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

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

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

YES! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528286)

I'm the first person ever to coin the phrase "windows is dying"! You heard it here first on slashdot.

linux will take over the desktop, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528287)

oh, so now linux will overtake in 2004? just like it did in '98 '99 '00 '01 '02 '03? somehow i cant help but not take those predictions seriously

2 words (2)

epicstruggle (311178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528289)

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 (4, Interesting)

koh (124962) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528292)

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.

Bias ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528295)

Of course an article on a Linux site wouldnt be biased against MS would it ? what would we say if this was an article on a MS site ? condemm no doubt

this article just screams of fanatiscm and shows you how far Linux (and its marketing) must come in order to be taken more seriously, comparisons like this on a Linux advocacy site are not going to enhance its reputation amongst potential users and are certainly not going to influence anyones choices in the boardroom, do not prove "immature marketing for a immature product" to be right

don't stoop to the levels of other such companies, rise above them, if the product is good, people will come especially when Linux is free.

Sheesh. (5, Insightful)

Emmettfish (573105) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528298)

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 (4, Interesting)

Apreche (239272) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528300)

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 (5, Insightful)

Gheesh (191858) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528355)

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 (1)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528423)

Most of Borlands tools are available on Linux if you really want them. And what do you mean about no central organized index? Ever heard of "man" pages?


Re:keyword (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528376)

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 assertions turning against them.

Same as Apple Share, skewed statistics (4, Insightful)

adzoox (615327) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528306)

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.

Linux is like a religion (no flames please) (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528307)

Truth can stand naked... lies need good clothing. Linux does not need props from the Gartners and the Aberdeens for it's success. It is non-proletycizing (is my spelling OK?) like Hinduism, say. It is tough as hell to understand Linux through the narrow prism of the Windows experience.

Once the principles of Linux (GNU and GPL rather) are truly understood and assimilated, the computer becomes an object of enjoyment, not a distrurtful, supercillous tool. This feeling of freedom and power is propogated to fellow enthusiasts and thus pervades the minds of developers and users alike.

Windows is just a faith.
Linux is the actual Experience.

Why not use UserAgent? (3, Interesting)

Quixote (154172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528314)

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).


Re:Why not use UserAgent? (0)

$$$exy Gwen Araujo (654821) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528379)

Because browsing the web is not the be-all and end-all of computers.

Re:Why not use UserAgent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528385)

Yeah yeah the firewalling won't matter ...
Let's see, I work at an organization with 30k people and about 18k machines all behind big CISCO fw hardware. Those should all get counted like one jimmy-jo-bob win95 box.

Re:Why not use UserAgent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528399)

This has been done all over the place, and has consistantly shown Linux usage to be 1% tops. Consider Linux users are far more likely to be web junkies, this does not bode well for Linux's market share. There're roughly ~750,000 Linux users per 100,000,000 internet users.

Re:Why not use UserAgent? (4, Interesting)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528431)

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?

What was the population? (3, Insightful)

benevold (589793) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528319)

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.

Sounds fishy to me... (4, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528320)

"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 (5, Interesting)

jbrocklin (613326) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528322)

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....


This guy's article sounds like a myth... (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528323)

His..uh...'sources'...yah I dunno about those.

The original MS strategy (2, Insightful)

fw3 (523647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528334)

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)

Sharon to Peres : "WE control America" ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528338)

Sharon said earlier that Israel controls America ! []
Real Americans, let's unite against jewish invasion !
Bush lets our army be led by a jew named Rumsfeld, no wonder we're giving billions of our hard-earned taxes to those wogs !

Re:Sharon to Peres : "WE control America" ! (-1, Offtopic)

DebianDog (472284) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528418)

Hah! Wogs. That does not sound American. I'm glad the Jews bombed the Iraqi reactor back in 1980 or we would have had a nuclear 9/11 and there would be no NYC.

And you call yourself an American you sound like a German or a Frog!

Define "market" (2, Insightful)

e8johan (605347) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528339)

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.

Re:Define "market" (1)

jbrocklin (613326) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528360)

...we can beat Windows, let's work as much as possible producing quality software.
Exactly...worry less about what the actual numbers are, keep producing quailty code for apps that people want to use, and things will change for the better!


Wishful thinking (5, Interesting)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wishful thinking (2, Insightful)

Erwos (553607) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528411)

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 show us the answer soon. It's sure as hell more economical than running the infamous PC upgrade treadmill.


40% of developers?!? (5, Informative)

TrailerTrash (91309) | more than 11 years ago | (#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?

Re:40% of developers?!? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528437)

Define commercial apps. Oh, you mean boxed apps sitting on computer store shelves from companies like, macromedia, borland, microsoft, corel, etc. Well guess what maybe in your narrow world those are the only "commercial" apps, but they really are just a very small nitch. There are LOTS of commercial apps for Linux, you just need to know what you are looking for.

Pinch of NaCl (5, Insightful)

IceFreak2000 (564869) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528344)

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.

What a sad article (1, Interesting)

vandenh (224583) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528346)

What is this conspiracy theory? Is the media against Linux? Somebody is tweaking the stats?

I don't think so.. Linux has gotten a lot of good media coverage and that is more important than these made up numbers. As long as Linux has the feel-good factor market share will rise slowly. Why this sudden urge to beat Windows in 1 year time? If it will happen... it will happen, no need to pretend and make up silly articles like this.

Try this (1)

shish (588640) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528352)

which is *used* most though?

People may think that they're using windows, and look down upon "OSes made by an infinine number of spotty teenagers" (quote dad), but Google uses linux, and 99% of everyone uses that over the microsoft search engine

FUD (4, Interesting)

Bozovision (107228) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528357)

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.

What are the developers working on? (1)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528359)

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.

Kernel service to call Linus? (1)

Andreas Rueckert (138510) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528367)

There's only one solution to this problem. Linus should add a service to the kernel, so that he's contacted each time a Linux machine boots up. It should provide some info on the hardware...uhhh...maybe some info what kinda music the user likes to listen to...uhhh...what software is installed on the machine...uhhh...well, you know what I mean. I guess noone has ever did this before? ;-)

Microsoft tax (4, Insightful)

kinnell (607819) | more than 11 years ago | (#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? (2, Insightful)

HeavyJeffD (659657) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528396)

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 (3, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528401)

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.

Must be a conicidence but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5528404)

10 minutes ago i got recruited to migrate a small company's backend over to linux..


Client vs Server (3, Insightful)

m00nun1t (588082) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528413)

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.

non- traditional surveys (2, Interesting)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Hmm, reporting bias? (3, Insightful)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528419)

Just like to remind evreybody that this is from LinuxWorld [] . Not exactally a bastion of unbiased reporting when it comes to operating systems.

How to lie with statistics (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Microsoft and Linux- Conspiricay at Slashdot.... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528434)

I'm amazed while reading articles on these two topics at Slashdot. Articles on Linux (and other Free/ Open Source products as well) seem to generate limited comment. This is despite the fact that readers stand to gain a lot from them.

On the contrary, pro-Microsoft articles typically get published around this time, and generate flame-wars in the community. Even 16-hour old-news (an oxymoron right?) on Microsoft is 'delayed' to fit into the Slashdot-MS schedule. (case in point: the SQL-database-patent-case).

Every pro-Linux comment these days is hair-split by the MS apologists - I doubt new readers can ever get to experience the Slashdot of 2000. Mod points seem to be heavily stacked in favor of the MS lobby as well.

I also suspect the Linux-geek crowd waste a lot of their otherwise productive time, defending their views. Time for some spirited defence I'd say.

Truth can stand naked. Lies need good clothing.

OMG! (1)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5528436)

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 :)
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