Linux desktops grow and grow and grow
A dream no more
Use of the Linux operating system on desktop machines is continuing to grow with small and medium business showing the most enthusiasm for the open source software.
The Linux Foundation annual survey really runs till the end of the month but entries are drying up, and they've already received 20,000 responses, so they've started crunching the numbers. The Linux Foundation was previously known as Free Standards Group and the Open Source Developer Labs - the two groups merged in January.
Just over half of respondents were from Europe and 35.8 per cent from the US.
The majority, 68.4 per cent, of Linux desktops are in small and home office set-ups or small businesses with less than 100 machines. Medium businesses of between 101 and 500 PCs account for 9.7 per cent and companies with between 1,001 and 5,000 account for 6.2 per cent of Linux desktops. Some 39.5 per cent of respondents use Linux on more than half of their machines, but 59.6 per cent of those surveyed are using Windows on more than half their machines.
In terms of flavours of Linux the "Ubuntu family" accounts for 54.1 per cent followed by Red Hat versions with 50.2 per cent, while Novell SUSE picks up 35.2 per cent. (Eagle-eyed readers may notice this adds up to more than 100 per cent because many groups have not settled on just one Linux version in their office or organisation.)
Ubuntu scores slightly higher with personal users at 55.4 per cent, followed by Debian at 22.2 per cent and Gentoo 10.2 per cent, then Knoppix at 7.1 per cent.
Device support remains an issue for Linux users, with printers over Wi-Fi connections being top irritant this year.
The applications users would most like to get their hands on are Adobe's Photoshop and Dreamweaver - second place is held by AutoCAD.
More from the Linux Foundation here. ®
Number of Linux users hard to account for...
The problem with determining the true numbers of Linux users is due to the fact that the OS is free! When someone buys a Window$ License they are accounted for, however when a new user installs Linux there's no way to know about it since it's free and freely distributed.... I suspect that the true numbers of Linux users are greatly underestimated. In my case, of the 40 or so people I know who acquired a new laptop within the last year or so, 23 of them paid the M$ tax but reformatted the drive to install a Linux distro. That translates to 40 M$ licenses, but 23 new Linux laptops! Then there are all the people who share a Live CD and either install a dual-boot or single distro of Linux. At home I have 3 desktops and one laptop for the family and all are running Ubuntu 7.10 then there's my 40 yr old sister who converted a few months ago to Ubuntu as well as my 70 yr old mother who uses Ubuntu on her desktop as well as on the dual-boot laptop she takes to Florida for the winter, and aside from a few calls to me everythings fine, in fact Mom requires less phone support from me since she's using Linux (I admit I was with her for the install)... I have burned a dozen Live-CDs that are in circulation in my area schools. The numbers of Linux users are increasing every day but not everyone gets on the soapbox to proclaim it... Most people are not serious gamers and find most if not all of the bundled software covers all their needs... If this trend continues Linux users may eventually become the silent majority... ;)
> I think a lot of people are getting the impression that they do. [Linux users expecting Windows users to transfer]
Ah yes - that's likely to be certain sections of the media at work, busily quoting fanboy hype as fact...
> A constant problem on Windows forums is Linux Fanboys telling everyone that the solution to every problem they have is to "install Ubuntu".
Yep, that drives me mad too! But these rabid fanboys pop up on SUSE-related groups saying the same thing so they're just trolls - not even fanboys.
> XX this - I'm going to install Linux!" - because, unfortunately, the Fanboys have made them think that they won't have driver issues, bugs, problems to solve and so on on Linux - that it will "just work".
That's an unfortunate end result because although very many Windows problems simply don't exist in Linux (and for most users requiring 'ordinary' email/browsing etc. it *does* "just work"), there may still be the odd tweak required - witness the situation you commented on about the garbled display. Certain manufacturers don't help much by anally refusing to issue any details on their chippery (yes Broadcomm, I'm scowling at *you*) which leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the newly-converted Linux user - the very last person who should suffer from this deliberate information drought. The solution is simple, but I can appreciate that for a Windows user who would have this support built-in (since Broadcomm won't speak anything *but* Windows) it would seem an additional complication to apply the sideways step of having to ask, find and install the wrapper which make the Windows drivers work under Linux. (once past that, the Wireless setup's about as quick & dull as it is with Windows)
> which they won't if they've got an SiS chipset, a PS/2 mouse
Hmm - quirks with various SiS chipsets seem to pop up all over the place. There was a similar thing with the early SATA implementations too, unless the motherboard used a particularly well-documented chipset (the name of which escapes me now!).
> Presumably the next thing they do is buy a Mac. Or a Speak and Spell.
Well I'm sure you've seen Mac fanboys trumpeting the life-enhancing aspects of the Mac in Windows groups - they're a regular "attraction" in Linux groups too. But I can't say I've seen any Speak-n-Spell fanboys. Too busy thumping the keys with their knuckles, I expect :)
> there *are* some Linux users who enjoy parading their superior knowledge rather than actually helping.
Absolutely; they're a royal pain in the sit-upon. Er, but I've known more than a handful of MCSE's who like to tell us how *easy* it is to just click a button - they're generally silenced the next time the wheels drop off the (Windows) print server and an office floor is left without printers.
> There are newbies, mostly from Windows, who have swallowed the crap and start acting like divs when they find that *they've still got to learn how to use it!*
This is by far the most difficult obstacle I've encountered, and I often feel like sticking pins into a little Gates manikin for being responsible for a whole generation of computer "users" who have been encouraged to have absolutely no understanding of any aspect of it. But they always seem to forget that once, they had to learn how to use Windows...
> The question is, then, how to tone down the Fanboys, since they're the root cause
My weapon of choice would be a flame-thrower, but I can't find an IP-enabled one.
> We need to make people aware that Linux is *not* a Windows replacement
Absolutely, if all they expect to do is flop down in front of the keyboard and assume everything will be identical. Much of it is very similar (same with switching to a Mac, really) but they still need to be aware that although it's just a tool and they can make it do everything they're used to doing with Windows, it's still a different tool which needs a modicum of re-learning to achieve the same ends.
Hmm well, do everything except games - but they're heavily wrapped up in the proprietary DX9/10. Once upon a time MS was all behind Open/GL: how different things would have been if they'd continued. Which, of course, explains why they didn't.
> But if your idea is a PC which works *out of the box* to play music, watch telly and surf the web, then actually I'd point at a pre-installed Vista Home Premium (with Firefox, naturally ;) )
Heh - Firefox GOOD! Actually (and having fairly recently installed WinXP), I'm amazed at just how *bad* a Windows new installation experience still is. On the same hardware I'd installed KUbuntu and aside from supplying a few bits of LAN-related information, I didn't have to provide anything else before being rewarded with a 1680x1050 24-bit desktop with my three sound cards, Bluetooth, DVD/CD writers etc. all working perfectly. For the "domestic" user, there will always be issues with immediately playable commercial DVDs because of the licensing situation wrt CSS: with Linux being open-source, there's no company with which to strike a deal and have the support built-in. Distribution suppliers will probably always fight shy of including it by default (especially in the USA and Germany, where to do so would be illegal) until the media pigopolists finally realise they're shooting themselves in the foot. But... it's a simple download and a right-click|install to add the necessary support to play commercial DVDs.
> But enough musing. I've got to try to build this bleedin' thing I need on OpenSuSE now.
Nah, it's easy! All you need to do is make/make install and then edit the... Oops, sorry!
Thanks for the chat, and have fun with Linux.
Yeah but no but yeah but
>> But don't expect the vast majority of Windows users to transfer if you make it difficult.
>It's not difficult; just NOT WINDOWS and as far as I know, Linux users don't really *have* any expectations of Windows users transferring to Linux - theres no "battle for hearts & minds" going on. If they want to use Linux: meh, great; if they want to stay with Windows: meh, great. It's not like there's a commercial organisation dependent on hoovering up new users to remain successful.
I think a lot of people are getting the impression that they do. A constant problem on Windows forums is Linux Fanboys telling everyone that the solution to every problem they have is to "install Ubuntu".
But I take your points. I've often seen Windows users, when presented with a solution, say "**** this, I'm going to install Linux!" - because, unfortunately, the Fanboys have made them think that they won't have driver issues, bugs, problems to solve and so on on Linux - that it will "just work". It'd be interesting to see if a month later they're bitching that they can't get their mouse to work on Ubuntu (which they won't if they've got an SiS chipset, a PS/2 mouse and haven't edited the kernel line, for example). Presumably the next thing they do is buy a Mac. Or a Speak and Spell.
So, where are we?
I think we'd agree that there *are* some Linux users who enjoy parading their superior knowledge rather than actually helping. There *are* some Fanboys out there who think they're on a mission from Linus to get everyone using Linux, and that is best done by implying that all their woes will be gone the moment they slide the Ubundu DVD into their drive. There are newbies, mostly from Windows, who have swallowed the crap and start acting like divs when they find that *they've still got to learn how to use it!*
The question is, then, how to tone down the Fanboys, since they're the root cause, along with Lusers who expect to be able to use their computer - Windows or Linux - whilst knowing bugger all about how it works? We need to make people aware that Linux is *not* a Windows replacement - it is a different approach, a different OS which *may* suit some users better. To me, as an IT professional, it's a tool - I'm currently evaluating a Linux solution and a Windows server solution to the same problem, and it's far from clear so far who's going to win. But if your idea is a PC which works *out of the box* to play music, watch telly and surf the web, then actually I'd point at a pre-installed Vista Home Premium (with Firefox, naturally ;) )
But enough musing. I've got to try to build this bleedin' thing I need on OpenSuSE now.