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December 13, 2006

Linux popularity by the cold, hard numbers

by @ 10:49 pm. Filed under General Linux

As I have always said, “Numbers talk and hoo-ha walks.” Now “hoo-ha” is a polite term for what comes out the back end of a bull. In this case, it directly relates to opinions. The more important the project, the more violent I get when I hear, “I think that…” First of all, unless you can communicate with Deity, your opinion is as interesting as used toilet paper. What option is the most likely to succeed statistically? What do the trends say? Listen to the numbers.

OK, that all said, it isn’t news that Ubuntu is incredibly popular. What I thought was interesting, however, is something I saw on Alexa. Evidently, more people are visiting lately than are visiting Again, this has nothing to do with opinions or mine is better than yours. I just thought that with the incredible popularity of Ubuntu, it was interesting to see this fact.

Maybe it is in response to Shuttleworth, or maybe it is people flocking to to see what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately, I do not have the numbers for that.

Anyway, here is the graph (click for a bigger version):

Lots of visits to


This simply denotes traffic, not necessarily popularity. If you look at Google Trends, for example, there is still quite a bit more searching online for Ubuntu than SUSE:

Ubuntu searches more frequent than SUSE searches


What’s really crazy is that Debian gets the most traffic, yet is almost the least searched.

K, well, there you are. I’m out of here.

8 Responses to “Linux popularity by the cold, hard numbers”

  1. phanatic Says:

    i thought it was pretty clear that it’s all about release dates: got more hits when fc6 came out, and some days after grew (edgy release). now gets more hits because 10.2 was released.

  2. thebluesgnr Says:

    The default homepage for Firefox on openSUSE 10.2 is, unlike Ubuntu, Fedora and Debian which have a static page installed on the local filesystem. I’m sure that should be considered when looking at these results.

  3. Scott Morris Says:

    Excellent points, both of them. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Scott Morris Says:

    Here’s the other thing, though. Technically, the alexa bar runs on Windows, unless you install the SearchStatus Firefox extension on Linux. So, that traffic is mainly measured by Windows users, and not because of the default home page on a given distribution. Anyone know anything else about this?

  5. GN Says:

    hmmm, but what about the hard numbers? these graphs don’t actually show on how much PC’s openSUSE or Fedora or Ubuntu are used, they only show the amount of search hits Google got. This doesn’t mean that every hit = downloaded/used distro. People are curious about Linux, especially those coming from Windblows, so they search for the most popular Linux distro, which is of course Ubuntu, but it doesn’t mean they’ll download it and install it


  6. Scott Morris Says:

    Well, the hard numbers generated the graph, whether they’re on it or not. 🙂 You’re exactly right. It shows visits and searching, not an install base. That kind of seems like the holy grail of measuring true popularity and install base. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  7. netmask Says:

    I would really like to know what are those letters on the second graph. 🙂

  8. Scott Morris Says:

    Maybe this will help ya’:

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