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Re: What is the real number of Linux users?

__/ [ Larry Qualig ] on Monday 13 March 2006 16:40 \__

> And how do we tell? Not that anyone here has the resources to
> personally determine this number but how could/should this number be
> computed.

What is a "Linux user"? How do you handle or count dual-booters? What about a
system administrator with an entire Linux cluster? Or one with 3 Linux boxes
in the house? What about legacy hardware? If it's a 486, does it count?
Judging by figures I see in my Web stats, only 70% of the world is using a
flavour of Windows. The number of ways to identify Linux leads to confusion,
especially if you rely on user-agent strings. Let's not forget that the
majority of servers run *nix.

> The typical arguments made are that you can't use dollar figures
> because Linux is free. You can't use downloads because someone
> downloads a distro then makes several copies of the CD or installs the
> same CD on multiple computers. Other issues that complicate this are
> that an ISP can't simply use IP addresses because NAT and routers can
> and will translate multiple computers into a single IP addresss.

What is the answer so important to you? I am not putting your motives to
doubt, but I am genuinely curious. Do you seek acceptance? Are you afraid
that being a minority makes you weaker? Is it that "if fewer people choose
x, x must be worse"? Don't go by the cattle effect. History indicates that
it is a bad approach by all means.

> So what is the best (read: most accurate) way of determining the real
> number of Linux users out in the world? Page hits at a generic
> web-site? Is this accurate and what is a "generic" web-site? Cnn.com,
> eBay.com, Google.com? Personally I always thought that email addresses
> are a better way of doing it. It won't tell you the exact number of
> systems but it will give you the number of users.

Linux appeals to IT-savvy people the most. Thus, you can't measure it based
on Web statistics or even E-mail traffic. Some people handle volumes an
order of magnitude higher than others, in terms of volume. Capacity is often
limited only by the tool at hand. One example among many: use IE, forget
about tabs -> lower bandwidth.

> My email for example is accessed from Windows and Linux machines. This
> would count as "one vote" for both platforms. Perhaps a more accurate
> way would be to look at the *ratio* of emails that I send with one OS
> vs. the other and do a 60-40% split or whatever the number may be. The
> added benefit to using email is that we're really interested in "users"
> rather than "machines" so one (1) user with 4-5 machines would only be
> count once.

Again, why should this matter to you? If has no purpose to be gauged.
Statistics are meaningless and I think Culley's 'statistics' are a valid
proof of this on occasions.

Best wishes,


Roy S. Schestowitz      |    "All your archives are (sic) belong to Google"
http://Schestowitz.com  |    SuSE Linux     ¦     PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
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