Editor’s Note: Good News to Be Thankful For

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

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.


Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Developer Insider for top news, trends, & analysis