How popular is Linux?



I am the owner of an ISP (Internet Service Provider) based in the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area in northern California.  I have recently done an analysis on two domains that are hosted on my company's servers to assess how widely Linux (and other operating systems) are being used in real life.  The domains selected have nothing directly to do with Linux or computers.  The two domains were not selected because they were expected to give any particular sort of results.  The data being analyzed here represent about two weeks worth of hits for the two domains.

Since I don't want results to be skewed in the future, I won't identify the two domains involved.  This will hopefully prevent fans of certain os types from intentionally visiting the site thousands of times to skew the results :)

The Results (Or Click Here for Newer Data!)

Domain #1
Major Client OS Type (129318 total entries) 
Windows 95                      86792   67.12% 
Windows NT                      9649    7.46% 
Windows 98                      325     0.25% 
Windows 3.1                     8186    6.33% 
Macintosh                       8216    6.35% 
All X11 (see below)             4459    3.45% 
Search Engine                   5751    4.45% 
WebTV                           1438    1.11% 
LibWWW                          613     0.47% 
OS/2                            350     0.27% 
Java                            2850    2.20% 
Prodigy                         52      0.04% 
Amiga                           6       0.00% 
Solaris (not X11?)              121     0.09% 
Linux (not X11?)                3       0.00% 
OSF                             64      0.05% 
Other Mozilla (OS?)             279     0.22% 
MSProxy                         164     0.13% 

Breakdown of X11 OS Type (4459 total entries were classified) 
SunOS           3162    70.91% 
Linux           465     10.43% 
HP              323     7.24% 
IRIX            318     7.13% 
OSF             53      1.19% 
AIX             84      1.88% 
Solaris         0       0.00% 
FreeBSD         8       0.18% 
NetBSD          4       0.09% 
BSDI            0       0.00% 
BSD/OS          29      0.65% 
VMS             12      0.27% 
SCO             1       0.02% 

Domain #2
Major Client OS Type (51129 total entries) 
Windows 95                      36090   70.59% 
Windows NT                      4711    9.21% 
Windows 98                      173     0.34% 
Windows 3.1                     3473    6.79% 
Macintosh                       4114    8.05% 
All X11 (see below)             1732    3.39% 
Search Engine                   57      0.11% 
WebTV                           234     0.46% 
LibWWW                          143     0.28% 
OS/2                            77      0.15% 
Java                            3       0.01% 
Prodigy                         24      0.05% 
Amiga                           2       0.00% 
Solaris (not X11?)              67      0.13% 
Linux (not X11?)                1       0.00% 
OSF                             19      0.04% 
Other Mozilla (OS?)             71      0.14% 
MSProxy                         138     0.27% 

Breakdown of X11 OS Type (1730 total entries were classified) 
SunOS           849     49.08% 
Linux           294     16.99% 
HP              195     11.27% 
IRIX            248     14.34% 
OSF             64      3.70% 
AIX             44      2.54% 
Solaris         0       0.00% 
FreeBSD         17      0.98% 
NetBSD          9       0.52% 
BSDI            0       0.00% 
BSD/OS          3       0.17% 
VMS             7       0.40% 
SCO             0       0.00% 


It appears that Linux is now the second most popular Unix client, behind (and behind by a significant margin) only SunOS.  I think this is an amazing achievement.  It is also my (unverified) belief that Linux is growing much faster than SunOS or any other Unix OS.

As for overall client OS's for Internet users, Linux is still just a little more than half of one percent of all installed Internet clients.  I would also expect that a higher proportion of Linux machines are actually used on the Internet than are Windows machines, since so much of the Linux community is rooted in the Internet (whereas there are likely a lot more Windows users who simply use Quicken or Word and don't even know or care about the Internet).  Therefore Linux's share of the total desktop client market is still likely less than half of one percent of all desktops, but perhaps not much less.  Still, that's not bad.  With the releases getting better and friendlier (to name a few:  Debian, Redhat, Caldera, SuSe) the market is only just beginning to open for the less-sophisticated user.

I think an analysis of server OS's would be much more in Linux's favor.  Consider that Apache is installed on 50% of all web servers; Linux is certainly disproportionately represented as a platform on which Apache runs, since Apache didn't even run on Windows at all until very recently (and still only in Beta, I believe).

For those who are interested, here is the source code for webagent.c, the program I wrote to analyze the "agent_log" put out by the Apache web server (and other servers).

For another approach to estimating the number of Linux users, see Redhat's "Linux Market" page.

Rich Drewes
Your questions and comments are welcome.

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