Linux Survey Results

The Trend Continues

Yesterday saw the release of some new data on the 2005 Linux desktop survey over at There are a few interesting results from this survey, and also some that are reflected when you examine the Linux flavor usage from the last couple of years. For instance, let’s take a look at the 2003/2004 results for Linux flavor choice:

2003/2004 Survey ResultsYou can see that in 2003 the winner was, by far, Debian with about 34%. However, one year later, Debian’s popularity slipped drastically, dropping to about 14% and just barely below RedHat. On the other hand, we saw Mandrake and Suse go head to head in the results to win the flavor of choice.

2005 Survey Results Just one year later we see yet another change in the leader, as it would seem that the new Ubuntu takes the slot with 53% of the vote. However, I don’t think it is quite as clear cut as that. The survey separated the Novell Suse and the new Open Suse as two separate options. Having used both personally, I can say that they are nearly identical – the Open version only having all open source packages and none of the extra software. In ‘look and feel’ though, they are the same. That considered, if we interpret the graph with both of those being the same, Suse as a whole actually takes a total of 60% of the vote. Debian is going back up slowly with 27% now, and RedHAt is continuing its very slow but steady climb. (I do think that the new push to have RedHat installed on the $100 Laptops may change this in the future) Okay, you may have noticed that those don’t add up to 100% — that is because respondents can indicate that they are using more than one of the types of Linux (a rather common occurance among Linux users).

This survey asked more questions than previous years have. When asked what the top reasons for choosing to deploy Linux, there was a bit of a surprise.

[Source.]”What was most surprising to us was probably the top two reasons given for deploying Linux on the desktop,” OSDL’s Principal Analyst Dave Rosenberg told Ziff Davis Internet. “It’s not TCO (total cost of ownership), or security, or lack of license fees. It was ’employees requesting Linux (user demand)’ and because ‘my competitors have successfully deployed Linux.'”

Unsurprisingly, the top three most critical applications to these respondents were for (in order) email, office productivity suites, and browsers. I was also a bit surprised that so many were making a full shift to Linux, not just a partial migration. The majority of respondents reported that they would be running Linux solely on a machine, rather than dual-booting it with another operating system (most commonly Windows).

Perhaps this is reflecting the environment in which more and more companies are finally making the switch. As so many responded that they chose to change to Linux because their competitors had – perhaps it’s a scenario of ‘Well, if they can go all Linux and No Windows, then so can we.’ I’m not sure, but I find it interesting. Linux has really developed as an operating system, and the many flavors of it make for a lot of choice (and at times, a lot of confusion), nevertheless, there are still some very noteable Windows-based programs that don’t have a truly comparable Linux equivalent yet. On the other hand – with the speed at which Linux is catching up in the software realm, it may not be too much longer.