GNU/Linux Desktop Market Share

Referencing: http://techrights.org/2011/08/19/gnu-linux-on-techrights/

Roy has a post where he starts by saying “20 years old kernel finds itself everywhere”. This is a fine opening: Linux is found in many place.  It is heavily seen in the server room and in embedded devices and, now with Android, it is seen in the hands of many.  It really is quite remarkable how far and wide it has spread and how versatile it has proved to be. The only place Linux has not taken off well on is the desktop (which is a shame, given how Linus Torvalds says that is what he cares about the most).

Roy could have focused on these facts and written a post the celebrated the achievements of Linux and the open source community as a whole.  He could have written an article worthy of pointing people new to open source to – to help then to understand how ubiquitous it has become.

But as impressive as the facts about Linux are, and as amazing as the open source community can be, Roy took the low road and decided to exaggerate the truth and make false implications.  Here are some quotes from his page:

WHEN this site was a lot younger and well before it required a cache server to offload pressure, monthly “market share” statistics were occasionally posted to show that about 40% of the visitors of the site use GNU/Linux.

Why the change of topic from Linux to his site?  Seems quite odd.  And why the focus on Linux on the desktop – the most visible area where Linux has not done as well?  Roy then goes on to talk about how the stats on his site are not to be trusted:

The outcome of this was that statistics ceased to be meaningful.

And then he speaks of web stats elsewhere:

What might be worth noting here is that there is a population bias that affects how people perceive the “market share” (usage) of GNU/Linux.

What?  No: there are large stat-gathering organizations which are used by sites of all types.  They are not part of some grand conspiracy to make Linux look bad, but that is what Roy seems to think.  And then Roy concludes:

The bottom line is, as far as a site like Techrights is concerned, GNU/Linux as a desktop operating system is massive. It keeps growing, too.

As far as Techrights (Roy) is concerned, the stats on his site – a site focused on OSS topics and where he says the stats have “ceased to be meaningful”  - are as good or better of an indication of the share of Linux on the desktop as these “biased” organizations which get their information from thousands of sites of different sizes and purposes.

Roy’s claim is about as biased as you can get.  Desktop Linux usage, based on the best data we have, remains around 1%.  To claim otherwise – especially with an implication of it being near 40%, is beyond just wishful thinking – it is outright dishonest.

Roy could have focused on the truth: the truth of how well Linux has done and how versatile and widespread it is.  He could have been honest and made Linux look golden. Instead Roy opted to focus on his own site and his own irrelevant statistics and, sadly, lie about Linux to make it look more common on the desktop than it is.

He could have been honest and been successful in advocating Linux.  Instead he lied and made it look bad.

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