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Editor's Note: Good News to Be Thankful For

Nov 24, 2004, 23:30 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

This holiday week was marked by some really great news for the Linux community in the form of stats.

Statistics should always be taken with a grain of salt, but I don't think anyone really got too picky with the news that Web stat firm OneStat had declared that Internet explorer had dropped below 90% usage--directly because of the advent of Firefox. Not bad for a few weeks of gold release. It will be interesting to note how the numbers pan out over the holidays... I suspect they'll flatten a bit, then pick back up when office workers go back to work after New Year's and start loading Firefox on their office machines after playing with the browser during their vacations. Just a theory, mind you.

I do have one minor bone to pick with the developers in and around FireFox: I think their open-source bios is showing. I installed FireFox on a friend's Windows XP machine last week (part of my patented get-em-hooked-on-a-taste migration plan) and then happily started showing him all the cool extensions. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that (at the time) there were quite a few extentions that I use on Linux that weren't ready for Windows.

Sage and Tabbrowser Extensions, for instance, were not availble for Windows XP, even though they were ready pretty much on day 1 of the 1.0 release for Linux. (Sage, as of this writing, is available on Windows now.) Not that I see anything wrong with this, but initially I just thought it was funny. In my job, I am constantly running into people, friendly or otherwise, that ask me how I can every do all of my work in Linux. Linux, they tell me, just doesn't have the features of Windows. How nice to have a succinct new example to point them to show their error--again.

I also wonder if this is the way things will be as we move into an era of wider open-source adoption. After all, if a company announces they are going to open their code, it's a pretty sure bet that they are developing or have developed a Linux-platform version of their product. In this instance, we can presume a pre-existing Windows version with a new Linux version.

With new companies (or organizations like Mozilla), you can't make that presumption. If I form company Z and declare my open source intentions, then it is very likely that I will develop to Linux first. Even if I eventually move to Windows or OS X, the Linux version will likely have a bit of a feature/release edge. It was the flagship, after all.

So, as open source grows, will it grow faster on Linux than the other platforms? This seems an obvious yes, but if we truly play out a faster and broader open source base across all platforms, the answer might not quite be so glaring.

Another great stat that was announced just today is the new IDC report that states over $1 billion (yes, $1 Billion with a pinky in the corner of the mouth) of Linux server sales for the third quarter of 2004. Sure, $1 billion isn't a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but what really interested me was the growth rate: 43% more. Quarter after quarter, we keep seeing these kinds of rates: 30, 40, even 50+ percent. My math skills are rusty: assuming a 50% growth rate every quarter, that's y=1.5x, I think. Not an exponential, but still a nice curve. [Actually, if you read the talkbacks below, you will see that this is wrong, and there's a reason why I am not using my Physics degree.]

I am sure that a lot of people will point out flaws in these stats, particularly the IDC one. These server figures are usually based on optimistic sales and business reports, so they're even less reliable than the browser stats. Still, no matter the margin of error, the growth rate of Linux is clearly positive, which I think is something we all can be thankful for.

Other things to be thankful for: family and friends. I hope you enjoy the company of your loved ones during this holiday weekend (or any other day, for that matter). Linux Today will be in weekend/holiday mode throughout the weekend as I take some time off. Back on Monday, rested and relaxed.

Peace!