The Era of Linux, not the Year of Linux

Story: When Will it Really Be the Year of Linux?Total Replies: 12
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May 17, 2009
12:20 AM EST
Quoting:Desktop Linux The only market segment that Linux does not have significant penetration is the desktop, though even this is debatable given the difficulty of coming up with accurate figures, and the well-funded opposition to coming up with accurate figures. In all other arenas it is a force to be reckoned with: supercomputing, datacenter, embedded, networking, servers of all kinds. This is no small achievement for an OS that has had to succeed strictly on merit and against relentless opposition.
Yes, and once Linux desktop market penetration does become both significant and much more noticeable, then perhaps it would be best to speak of an actual Linux era instead of a "Year" of Linux.


May 17, 2009
12:35 AM EST
Well, you could define the year of Linux at the point it hits 10%, 25% or 50% marketshare.

Right now, its desktop marketshare is growing at less than 1% per year according to this website:

I plotted a chart you can see here:

It is definitely the beginning of the era of Linux, but I do think it is still fine to speak about a year of Linux, when it hits a certain threshold in users or growth of users. It will be interesting to see when that happens, and whether it starts to grow exponentially as usually these things have network effects.

May 17, 2009
1:09 AM EST
keithcu -

The problem with the year of linux is that 2000 was the year of linux and several years thereafter.

Linux has made major inroads in many spaces, but desktop space is a very tough nut to crack.

May 17, 2009
6:38 AM EST
Linux isn't growing at 'less than 1% per year':

Using the data from w3counter from may 07 until april 09 (no data previous to may 07) shows:

month, usage rate, annual growth rate may 07, 1.26%, - may 08, 1.95%, 50% april 09, 2.16%, 14%

for an overall growth of (2.16-1.26)/1.26 = ~ 71% growth rate. The surprising thing is the sharp drop in growth rate seen in the data, nor do w3counter provide much information about how the data is collected. Without more insight into how the data is gathered little can be said about the figures, aside from that usage rates appear to have increased.


May 17, 2009
8:07 AM EST

I mistated. I meant that it was increasing less than 1% per year. Or some formulation like that. ;-)

By the way, that 71% growth is over an (almost) 2 year period.


May 17, 2009
8:18 AM EST
The problem with all of that is that Linux was increasing by similar amounts from similar levels ten years ago.

Something is very strange here.

It may be a mixing of apples and oranges, or, more likely, a mixing of servers and desktops.

May 17, 2009
1:04 PM EST
I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see Linux running on the Lowe's terminal in the materials department where I was getting a quote.

Could have been customized KDE or GNOME, since it had the bar at the bottom, with a Lowe's logo in place of the applications menu button.

Their POS (multiple acronyms there) system was just Firefox, very smart way of doing things as far as I'm concerned.

I gave the associate who was helping me one of my business cards, with the comment "advice is always free." I could see the wheels turning, we'll see if it goes anywhere.

Dino, I agree, the numbers just aren't adding up. How can "double didgit growth" for 10 years be only 1%? Funny. Considering the reaction I got in a non-technical forum, it's clear that "the other side" does not play fair.

I agree that "the server" seems to have been completely lost to "the other side", maybe as a way to cut their moral losses. "Oh, sure, Linux is fine on the server, but..."

May 17, 2009
3:38 PM EST
keithcu, the term you're looking for is percentage point :)

May 17, 2009
6:35 PM EST


Actually, I think the problem is "growing by 1%" versus "growing 1%"

May 17, 2009
9:25 PM EST

A few weeks ago, I spotted Linux on an airport kiosk. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to take a picture of it:

May 18, 2009
7:45 PM EST
"I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see Linux running on the Lowe's terminal in the materials department where I was getting a quote."

yeah that is nice. they have been running it for years because IBM has their support contract and they replaced all windows stations with linux. now that makes sense to me. I can't fathom why these companies pay a windows license and then turn the workstation into a dumb terminal to access an as400 or something. I see that all the time and that is a pet peeve of mine. the workstation has nothing but a terminal emulator and a browser and they buy a windows license to run those two apps. go figure.

May 18, 2009
7:48 PM EST
It's not the year or the era of Linux. According to my watch it's about 13 minutes to the Linux hour.

May 21, 2009
2:33 PM EST
Combining statistics from W3C, At Internet Institute & NetApps (ignoring those of OneStat; they seem useless) which I found on WP:

I just calculated that the average growth of Linux marketshare is 2,4% per month.

While the statistics on their own are flawed, the same flaws come back every month, so I think using these numbers to measure growth largely cancels out those errors.

If that's correct, then I can answer the "question" of Keith by means of extrapolation: Growing from 1,13% (assumed today) to 2,13% will take 27 months. Please remind me of that prediction in August 2011. However, Firefox shows growth could be faster if it is really easy for people to switch and some other usual suspect starts respecting neutral standards; but probably that doesn't go for Linux.

The funny thing with my statistics is that if we - just like Steve Ballmer recently did in a presentation - assume Linux market share is 5%, then growing to 6% will only last 7 months.

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