When discussing Free software, the term "installed base" seems rather popular. It is installation, not embedment or preinstallation, that tailors a product to the owner's personal needs. Unfortunately, installed base, as opposed to market share, proves to be a tricky thing to gauge.
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Endless attempts have been made to count Linux users. User base vanity harbors confidence and leads to better support from the industry. Attempts to quantify growth have included Web sites whose sole purpose is to have Linux users register and provide details about their computers. Even the most prominent among these Web sites met very limited success. They were not able to keep up with change, let alone attract and grab the attention of all Linux users. Most Linux users were simply apathetic toward this cause.
In more recent years, the ubiquity of interconnected devices and computers has played an important role in statistics. Computing units that offer Web access have generated large piles of data. Statistical analysis of this data was thought to be another opportunity to study presence and geography of Linux users around the planet. It has, however, been a very deficient analysis. For a variety of reasons, too many assumptions were made, which led to flawed conclusions. To this date, no proper and valid analysis has been carried out.
Looking more closely at some difficulties in interpreting Web statistics, there are numerous factors to consider. There are obvious problems. The sample of selectively chosen Web sites often contains particular audiences which, on average, do not represent the entire population. Additionally, due to diversity in the identity of Linux, as it comes in as just one among a large number of distributions, identification strings are hard to understand. As such, many Linux users are simply being treated as though they use an unknown operating system. This unknown component is statistically significant, yet it tends to be ignored and discarded.