Can Linux Adoption Ever be Accurately Gauged?: Page 3

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Last year, in an interview with Red Herring, Canonical's CEO Mark Shuttleworth commented about the activity on his company's repositories. At the time, at least 8 million distinct users or addresses with a particular version of his Linux distribution could be identified. That was only months after the release of this distribution, which many of us had already known as "Ubuntu."

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Regardless of the adoption rate of Linux on the desktop, Linux enjoys double-figure inter-quarter growth on the server side. This trend has sustained itself for several years. There are, however, great difficulties to overcome when it comes to tracking how widespread – not just profitable – Linux has become on in the datacenter. Market figures regularly come from analysts, but these figures are based purely on sales. They only gauge revenue. They fail to account for the fact that Linux is free and is becoming easier to set up each year. Many companies take the do-it-yourself route and build their own server farms. They do not require much assistance, so deployment can be completed without a Linux purchase – per se – ever being made. The true growth of Linux will therefore stay an enigma for quite some time to come.

At the end of the day, let’s remember that Free software was not created to thrive in profits. There is no marketing department to boast of growth, either. Yet whether we use a search engine, or connect to a mail server, or acquire some snazzy gadget, Linux is likely to be there. The desktop, however, is perceived as an ultimate destination. It has the most visibility. Laptops and desktops can demonstrate that Linux has come and that it is here to stay and thrive. The back room usually escapes people's attention, despite a gradual shift in paradigm, which encourages adoption of remote services and thinner clients.

Counting the number of Linux users might always remain an impossibility. Should you mind?


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