What market share does Linux have?

I got into an interesting debate over Linux and the market share it has.  The die hard Windows guy I was talking to talked all about Linux losing market share and how it never even had more than 30% of the server market.  I don’t know where he gets these kind of number, but I think Linux is elusive when it comes to market share.  Linux is for the most part free to everyone and only a few versions are up for sale.  They are really not for sale, you just buy the tech support and the proprietary applications that come along with the version you purchased.  So anyway back to market share, I read an article on LinuxInsider that has some of the same thoughts.  It basically goes on to say that Linux is miss counted and that open source software is harder to track because there is no sale.  These sales would be used to help determine market share.  So another web site, Market Share says that Linux has a 1.02% share as of December 2009.

I am not sure how they came up with that number but I don’t see how it can be accurate.  I think one of the better ways to tell what kind of Operating Systems are out there is to check with web sites that monitor web traffic and other stats about Internet usage.  The example I am going to use is W3Counter, this site monitors activity on web sites, blog, and what ever else it will work with to determine what OS is being used, what browser, where they are from, and other various stats.  W3Counters web stats for December 2009 show that 2.14% of Operating Systems used to access various web sites were Linux.  Ok, this is a real stat and it is based on the last 15,000 page views to each website tracked by W3Counter. W3Counter’s sample currently includes 31,718 websites.

Now, anyone that has used Linux knows that it makes a very powerful and stable server.  So I would think that a lot of web browsing does not come from these machines.  Meaning that the W3Counter stats are good for actual desktop usage of Linux.  I myself only have one Fedora machine that I use to surf the Internet.  So how do you count the Linux servers that are web servers, Name servers, or even SQL servers.  Unfortunately I have no answer for that.

Then you have the flexibility of Linux that makes it ideal for implementation into areas that are not even counted as Linux machines.  My first thought is Vmware ESX and Xen Server, these are Linux based Operating Systems.  So where market share is counted are they counted as Linux servers, I’m not sure that they are.  Then you have other type of network gear such as NAS and SANs, routers, Firewalls, and even call managers or PBXs that run a Linux based OS.  I am sure that they are not even counted as a Linux system, so once again how do you figure out market share. Well I can’t say that you will ever find an accurate number for Linux market share, but Linux is every where.

The part of this story that I find to be really interesting it that Microsoft finds that Linux and piracy are a large blips on Microsoft’s radar.  In a speech to investors back in the beginning of 2009, Steve Balmer’s presentation showed Linux to be a bigger threat to market share than Apple.  Here is the slide to prove it:

Ok I’m not talking about Microsoft thinking they will go under because of Linux, but them admitting that Linux is a real threat is actually proof that Linux may have a little more pull than the stats say.  As new Linux distros come out that are even more user friendly or Microsoft does something like a Vista OS again, you may just see that big boost in Linux users in the near future. So I hope this help show how Linux stats are not quit accurate and if you are simply trying to answer the question, What is Linux market share?  Good luck I don’t think you will ever find the whole truth.

I really enjoy working with Linux and I also have several Windows machines as well.  I love open source and Linux is a big part of that, so for you that have never tried Linux give it a shot.  You will never know till you try.

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1 Response

  1. avatar Steve Garber says:

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