Many moons ago we posted some stats about TuxRadar, explaining the breakdown of our visitors, which pages were proving popular and more. That article proved popular enough with you folks that we think it's time to rinse and repeat to see what we find this time. But - thanks to sifting through 32GB of logs - we have some even more interesting numbers for you this time, showing that Ubuntu 9.10 adoption is outpacing that for both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard...
Let's start from the top: our most popular articles in the last few months have been:
- Benchmarked: Ubuntu vs Vista vs Windows 7
- OpenSolaris vs Linux
- Linux vs Windows 7
- Vista, Windows 7, Ubuntu 9.04 and Ubuntu 9.10 boot speed comparison
- Ubuntu 9.04 32-bit vs 64-bit benchmarks
- Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 hands-on
The fact that Windows 7 appears in three of the top four articles on our site should come as no surprise - we already posted about the surge that Windows 7 is bringing to Linux, and there's your proof right there. Of course, it's also clear that Ubuntu also appears in four of the top six; more on that soon.
As with last time, the long tail means that those top six articles make up only a small part - about 15% - of our total page views. To put that into perspective, our free online PHP e-book has three times more page views than those top articles combined. Articles such as Make Linux faster and lighter, How to choose the right Linux distro for you and How to set up your own Linux media server make up the remainder of the page views.
People are finding these articles in a variety of ways, but recently Digg hasn't been sending much traffic our way. From what we can tell, general Digg visitor numbers seem to be down, which makes it harder for Linux topics to have enough up-votes to become popular. Still, Google has risen to the challenge admirably, and now sends us 37% of visitors. We're always glad to see visitors from Linux Today, OS News and Tux Machines - these tend to be quite technically advanced readers (our favourite!) and usually surf through a few pages before leaving.
Much as we'd rather not have to say it, Windows users continue to be the majority around here, and in fact they have grown slightly. Here's the breakdown, with our previous figures in brackets:
- Windows: 55.47% (55.11%)
- Linux: 35.95% (34.47%)
- Macintosh: 7.29% (9.19%)
- iPhone: 0.38% (0.45%)
- Unknown: 0.36% (0.35%)
- SunOS: 0.17% (0.07%)
- iPod: 0.11% (0.14%)
- Android: 0.08% (0.05%)
- FreeBSD: 0.08% (0.08%)
- SymbianOS: 0.05% (0.03%)
- OpenBSD: 0.01% (0.01%)
As with last time, even if our Linux users increased by 50%, they still wouldn't match the Windows number.
Now, here's where the really interesting stuff can kick off. As you can imagine, the users we're really interested in are those Linux users, so we wanted to see just what kind of stats we could pull out of our logs by using a few standard commands. To start with, here's what an average page request looks like in our logs:
xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx - - [08/Nov/2009:06:47:38 +0000]
"GET /content/benchmarked-ubuntu-vs-vista-vs-windows-7 HTTP/1.1" 200 93519
&q=ubuntu+vs+windows+7&sa=Search" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:126.96.36.199)
Gecko/20091020 Ubuntu/9.10 (karmic) Firefox/3.5.3"
There are a few interesting bits in there:
- We've anonymised the IP address to xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx.
- This person visited our Benchmarked: Ubuntu vs Vista vs Windows 7 article.
- They came from the Google search "ubuntu vs windows 7"
- More specifically, they were on the Ubuntu 9.10 Google start page - that's the partner-pub bit (although it irks us that the page refers to it as Ubuntu 9.1).
- They were using Firefo 3.5.3 on Ubuntu 9.10.
- They were running a 32-bit version of Ubuntu - that's the i686 part.
So, when you dig around, you can actually tell a fair amount about visitors - as long as they identify themselves clearly. Not every distro does identify itself so nicely as Ubuntu, but it turns out that the following do:
- Ubuntu 10.04
- Ubuntu 9.10
- Ubuntu 9.04
- Ubuntu 8.10
- Ubuntu 8.04
- Fedora 12
- Fedora 11
- Fedora 10
- Mandriva 2010
- Mandriva 2009.1
- Mandriva 2009.0
- PCLinuxOS 2010
- PCLinuxOS 2009
There were a couple of other distributions that we thought we could probably guess at, but we're not really interested in guesswork: the distros above identify themselves conclusively.
So, with a list of distros we can identify conclusively, plus 32GB of log files and a lot of time on our hands, we decided to dig through and see what we could find. Let's take a look...
(NB: our site numbers fluctuate, so we're going to be talking in percentages; we used logs from our server up until November 8th)
Ubuntu continues to dominate
Let's start with a simple chart: if we add up all Linux users - identifiable and unidentifiable - how many are using Ubuntu?
The answer is an average of 54.8%, which is pretty much the same as we reported last time. Shortly after Ubuntu 9.04 was released, that number spiked up to just over 65%, but it declined pretty much from then onwards until it reached its all-time low of 47.32% just over a month before Ubuntu 9.10 came out. Karmic doesn't seem to have had such a major impact as Jaunty, which perhaps isn't surprising given some of the negative press it has received.
NB: 54.8% is a minimum figure who use Ubuntu - it doesn't include spin-off Ubuntus such as Kubuntu or Xubuntu, nor any Ubuntu user who changed their user agent or installed their own web browser.
Of course, if Distrowatch has taught us anything it's that distro spikes occur all the time; a more interesting graph for us is this one: which versions of Ubuntu are people using?
Now that is an action-packed graph. In fact, we could probably have removed the legend and you could still have figured out which line was which. There are a few interesting things to note here:
- Neither Ubuntu 8.10 or 9.04 did more than graze gently against the 80% mark - clearly not everyone is eager to take advantage of the six-monthly update cycle.
- A large group of people start testing the next Ubuntu release as soon as the beta is announced, rising further when the release candidate is announced.
- With six months still to go until the next LTS release, Hardy (the previous LTS) release has retained under 5% of the desktop market share. The drop just as Jaunty is released is quite telling - until that point it had a healthy 20% market share, but that promptly halved after Jaunty came out, presumably as people started to prize new features about stability.
- You can barely see it, Lucid Lynx - Ubuntu 10.04 - is already starting to gather some users - a mere 0.08% of Ubuntu users so far, but it only started appear in our log files from November 1st onwards so there's a long time yet.
But beyond all that, what we're interested in is the lightning-fast adoption of distros. You see, ten days ago the top bod of TechRadar (a popular mainstream geek news site) announced that "Windows 7 is already 13% of visits to TechRadar - Vista took 2 years to get to 22%." Of course, it didn't take long for our friends over at MacFormat magazine to reply, saying "And Snow Leopard accounts for 70% of MacFormat visitors. Keen upgraders, those Mac people.". To be fair, that's not really a good comparison: Windows 7 had come out one week after the Windows 7 stats figure, whereas Snow Leopard had been out for over two months by the time MacFormat looked at its numbers.
So, if Windows 7 took 7 days to get to 13% and Snow Leopard took 70 days to get to 70%, how is Ubuntu 9.10 doing? Well, here's your answer: after just 10 days, Karmic already accounts for 64.4% of all Ubuntu visits to our site. That's about seven times the adoption rate of Snow Leopard, and leaves Windows 7 in its dust. So: neener!
Fedora: quietly innovating
Such a huge amount of innovation in the Linux world is done by the Fedora team, and yet we still struggle to understand why its market share remains so low. Still, it is number two amongst our visitors, but again we should remind you that we're measuring only the distros we can track. Let's take a look at the breakdown of the three most recent Fedoras, including the just-released Fedora 12:
Forget the numbers for a moment, and instead look at the shape - it's quite different to the smooth bell curve graph of Ubuntu users, and indeed Fedora 11 seems to have suffered an early drop in users just before Ubuntu 9.04 and Mandriva 2009.1 were released. Our Fedora usage peaked at around 13% of visitors, but that has since dropped back down again, and in the current distro climate - Ubuntu 9.10, OpenSUSE 11.1 and Mandriva 2010 all jostling for attention - Fedora 12 is going to have to work very hard to pull back some users.
As with Ubuntu, Fedora users seem eager to jump onboard the latest and greatest distro as soon as it's released: Fedora 11 quintupled its market share in a week, then almost doubled it again in the following two months.
The long tail of Linuxes
Originally we had hoped to show one big chart of all the identifiable distro visitors to our site, but that got nixed early on simply because the size of Ubuntu basically flat-lined almost every thing else. And so we're going to dedicate a chart just to Mandriva and PCLinuxOS. Here goes:
Again it's easy to see the spikes and dives that occur when new distro releases occur even in this shallow end of the pool, but there's more to look at here:
- Mandriva used to be the top dog in the distro world, and now owns about 2.5% of our identifiable visitors. That's about 1.7% of our total Linux visitors, identifiable and otherwise. Is this going to be Ubuntu's fate one day? Certainly Linux users don't seem to have too much loyalty to a distro when shiny features abound elsewhere.
- PCLinuxOS is a pretty small distro, but it's also a really small team. What's more, PCLinuxOS hasn't even had an official 2010 release, and yet its users have already installed the latest packages to effectively bring themselves to where the 2010 release would be - now that shows where the really eager Linux users are.
And finally: 64-bit Linux still sucks
Linux was one of the first operating systems out of the door with full support for 64-bit x86, more than six years ago. How are we doing? Here's the chart:
As you can see, on average less than 25% of our visitors use 64-bit distros. Yes, the numbers are moving upwards ever so gently, but the rate of change is glacial at best. This is a source of worry for us in the long term, because Microsoft is pushing towards 64-bit with Windows 7 by allowing only 64-bit-capable PCs to be marked as Windows 7 ready, and most Macs running Snow Leopard are running most of their apps in 64-bit mode. Linux, it seems, is lagging behind.
What does it all mean?
We can draw a few conclusions from these numbers:
- Generally, Linux users jump to the latest distro as soon as - and often before - it's available. Yes, Ubuntu 8.04 is supported on the desktop for another 18 months, but we don't think anyone will be using it by that time.
- Adoption of Ubuntu 9.10 has been incredibly fast, and will probably pass 80% by the end of the year. This is substantially faster than both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard.
- Uptake of 64-bit distros continues to be disappointingly slow. We're really hoping that Ubuntu 10.04 will make 64-bit the standard choice when downloading, because that's the kind of thing we'd need to see in order for Linux users to move to 64-bit in the near future.
- More Linux distros should identify themselves clearly. We'd love to see OpenSUSE on these graphs, and we'd love to see Red Hat Enterprise Linux too.
We can also use this vast quantity of numbers to make a (pretty-safe, we feel) prediction: Ubuntu 10.04 will almost certainly be the first Ubuntu version since 4.10 to pass 90% market share among Ubuntu users, as the last remaining desktop LTS users will have to jump ship along with everyone making the upgrade from Karmic.
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