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True Desktop Market Share for GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux at 8:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tux in money

Summary: A reader’s take on GNU/Linux market share and why some firms get it wrong

SEVERAL years ago we wrote many posts about GNU/Linux market share. We no longer do this because it’s a subject we’ve addressed very thoroughly. One reader sent us the following thoughts last night:

The problem with [Microsoft-backed] net statistics are they don't take into account 
deployments where there are less open net hits. Take academia, where hits 
might be limited to mostly intra-net, and costly outside access is limited. 
Take into account where Linux is greater in deployment in 3rd world countries.
Internet bandwidth is expensive, so open external usage is limited to those 
who can afford. Others may limit themselves to limited bandwidth with 
limited open browsing and E-mail.

So, net statistics do not tell the full picture of what is exactly out there.

The following is collated from http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp

Only annual month of May is shown for comparison:

       Win7    WinXP   MSFT   Linux   Mac    *nix
2011  36.50%  40.70%  85.20%  5.10%  8.30%  13.40%

       Win7    WinXP   MSFT   Linux   Mac    *nix
2010  18.90%  55.30%  88.30%  4.50%  6.70%  11.20%
2009   1.10%  67.20%  89.50%  4.10%  6.10%  10.20%

       Vista   WinXP   MSFT   Linux   Mac    *nix
2008   9.30%  74.00%  88.30%  3.60%  4.70%   8.30%
2007   2.80%  75.00%  87.10%  3.40%  3.90%   7.30%

       W2000   WinXP   MSFT   Linux   Mac    *nix 
2006  10.70%  74.20%  88.70%  3.40%  3.60%   7.00%
2005  19.40%  64.50%  90.00%  3.30%  2.90%   6.20%

       W2000   WinXP   MSFT   Linux   Mac    *nix
2004  29.60%  51.00%  91.10%  2.90%  2.50%   5.40%
2003  41.00%  31.40%  92.80%  2.20%  1.80%   4.00%

These show that Windows is on the decline and Linux is on the rise.

In my personal site, about 16% of the visitors (nearly 1,000 people per day) use GNU/Linux. When we had tools to check this in Techrights (before implementing heavy caching) we found that for a couple of years ~40% of our visitors used GNU/Linux.

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  1. Michael said,

    March 5, 2012 at 11:37 am


    http://www.w3schools.com as your general source of usage.


  2. George Hostler said,

    March 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm


    Michael misses the whole point completely. The comparison is what shows Linux is on the rise. Also what is missed is that using net only statistics does not speak about the user base that does not “surf” the net.

    Linux is succeeding.

    Michael Reply:

    One: who has said Linux usage is not on the rise? I have been speaking about that in COLA and noted it likely is (thought there is mixed evidence on that front).

    Two: who wants Linux to not succeed? I know I want it to do well – including on the desktop.

    I think perhaps you were thinking of someone else’s ideas when you wrote what you did?

    George Hostler Reply:

    Except you mocked the statistic Techrights quoted, instead of expressing an opinion about it substantiating it. Then you allege me thinking about someone else’s ideas when I expressed my own opinion. It sounds like your only intent is to troll.

    Michael Reply:

    I think you have me confused with someone else.

    I merely noted that basing OS stats off of w3schools is silly and biased.

    In any case, you dodged my two points… both of which has questions. Let me ask you again:

    1) Who said Linux usage was not on the rise?
    2) Who has said they do not want Linux to succeed?

    You speak of me as if I might fit one of those areas – but I do not… hence the reason I think you have me confused with someone else.

  3. George Hostler said,

    March 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm


    Michael, you speak as though you have a prior agenda. I could care less who you are.

    You are acting very Snit-ty.

    Michael Reply:

    Poor you… the best you can do is make ad hominem attacks.

    My wish – my sincere wish – is that you can rise to my level and speak in terms of data and evidence and logic… and focus on the technology and not on your own agendas.

    I do not think you will be able to do this. But I would love to be proved wrong. You can start by speaking about the topic of using the w3schools as a “reasonable” estimation of Linux usage. It is absurd. Completely. Why not speak about that. But you prefer personal attacks.

    George Hostler Reply:

    Snit, I do not care to lower myself to your level. You are ad hominem attacking me. You are the one criticising the w3schools statistics as though they are invalid, when the writer was making a point that Linux is on the rise, as illustrated by yearly increases in web hits to their site, which you are discrediting.

    You are a troll, plain and simple, and you have just shown that replying to you is a total waste of bandwidth.

    Michael Reply:

    Please try to talk about the topic and not your personal problems. Thanks!

    Michael Reply:

    Hmmmm, to be fair, you did mention the w3schools statistics.

    But the idea that those stats are in any way representative of overall trends is just silly. It is not a reasoned argument. For a better set of estimates, look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems#Web_clients

    Now you know!

  4. George Hostler said,

    March 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm


    Except Michael you ignored these statements as a link within your link:


    Measuring browser usage in the number of requests (page hits) made by each user agent can be misleading.


    Not all requests are generated by a user, as a user agent can make requests at regular time intervals without user input. In this case, the user’s activity might be overestimated. Some examples:

    Certain anti-virus products fake their user-agent to appear to be popular browsers. This is done to trick attack sites that might display clean content to the scanner, but not to the browser. The Register reported in June 2008 that traffic from AVG Linkscanner, using an IE6 user-agent, outstripped human link clicks by nearly 10 to 1.[1]
    A user who revisits a site shortly after changing or upgrading browsers may be double-counted under some methods; overall numbers at the time of a new version’s release may be skewed.[2]
    Occasionally websites are written in such a way that they effectively block certain browsers. One common reason for this is that the website has been tested to work with only a limited number of browsers, and so the site owners enforce that only tested browsers are allowed to view the content, while all other browsers are sent a ‘failure’ message, and instruction to use another browser[3]. Many of the untested browsers may still be otherwise capable of serving the content. Sophisticated users who are aware of this may then ‘spoof’ the user-agent in order to gain access to the site.


    It is also possible to underestimate the usage share by using the number of requests, for example:

    Opera and Gecko-based browsers since Firefox 1.5 use fast Document Object Model (DOM) caching. JavaScript is only executed on pageload from net or disk cache, but not if it is loaded from DOM cache. This can have an impact on JavaScript-based tracking of browser statistics.[4]
    While most browsers generate additional page hits by refreshing web pages when user navigates back through page history, some browsers (such as Opera) reuse cached content without resending requests to the server.[5][6]
    Generally, the more faithfully a browser implements HTTP’s cache specifications, the more it will be under-reported relative to browsers that implement those specifications poorly.[6]
    Some ISPs, mainly mobile network operators, have begun stripping the user agent strings.[7]


    So, your response that the statistics from w3schools that showed a trend is misleading, and the so called “proof” you provided is equally misleading.

    Michael Reply:

    I pointed you to the best data we have… much better than one tech-based site.

    If anything, Linux users are more technical and are online more than Windows users… but so be it.

    And you keep acting as though I am denying there is growth in desktop Linux usage or would not want there to be – in other words, you are merely trolling me with BS that has nothing to do with my posts.

    And you are boring. Be more interesting or be ignored.

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