Can Linux Adoption Ever be Accurately Gauged?: Page 2

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There are more problems that need to be taken into consideration. For example, data gathered by Web sites neglects to identify computers that are operated behind proxies, or even Squid. This data also assumes that everyone identifies himself or herself in a truly honest fashion. In fact, that certain Web sites were designed to reject access from every Web browser other than Internet Explorer. As a result, many Linux users are forced to pretend (by altering HTTP headers) that they use a typical Windows setup. This is known as spoofing or forging and it is a matter of convenience.

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The last factor to consider here are the botnets (zombie PCs) that travel the World Wide Web. It's a relentless Web journey and this happens without the awareness of the rightful owner of the computer. This troublesome phenomenon means that large levels of Web traffic is devoured in a very wasteful fashion. It does not accurately reflect human consumption of information. Botnets act to 'pollute' log data and therefore tweak statistics. It rarely (if ever) works in favor of secure operating systems and Web browsers.

Web statistics and the research that revolves around them suffer from yet another false assumption. One must not simply accept the contention that all computers are connected to the Internet nowadays. If they are, their users do not necessarily visit an identical number of Web sites or consume an equal number of pages. Different operating systems are used in different settings. They serve a particular purpose and facilitate working tasks that might not require the Internet at all.

To use an example, Hollywood is considered a place where production studios adopt Linux, even on the desktop. In a recent interview with the press, CinePaint's Project Manager said that "Linux is the default operating [system] on desktops and servers at major animation and visual effects studios, with maybe 98 percent [or more] penetration." These computers, which include user-facing workstations, get used heavily for design and rendering work, but probably not for Web surfing.

There have been other projects that are intended to keep track of the number of Linux users by setting up a communication channel that connects a computer to the Linux distributor's servers. These projects are neither mature nor widely adopted.

On the other hand, the increasing adoption of online software repositories has made this process more feasible without it being considered "spying." And yet, the lack of a registration process leaves room for dynamic addressing, so a single unique user is still hard to identify. The user will remain a moving target on the network as long as system registration is an absent component. Free software is adverse to such privacy-compromising steps, so they are unlikely to ever become mandatory.


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