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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At the end of the day, lets 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?