NewsForge: Counting Desktop Linux Users is Impossible
Sep 19, 2002, 23:30 (20 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robin Miller)
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"IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky is one of the world's most quoted
individuals when it comes to counting computer operating system
use, especially Linux. But when you come right down to it, he's no
more certain than anyone else just how many people use Linux as a
desktop operating system.
"Not long ago, Dan was quoted in an International Herald Tribune
article as saying, 'Linux had a 3.9 percent share of desktops
worldwide, outpacing Macintosh's 3.1 percent.' It turns out that
this was a preliminary figure that didn't make it into the final
IDC report on Linux use, and that after making some adjustments
based on more research into Asian markets, Dan now believes the
desktop Linux market share is more like 1.7%, which is still up
significantly from last year's IDC count...
"The big 'but' is that, according to Dan, the 1.7% figure
accounts for 'paid shipments only,' which Dan readily admits may
only include a small fraction of all desktop Linux installations.
To begin with, he says IDC's research shows that for every 10
copies of Linux sold, approximately eight copies are downloaded
from the Internet for free, and that there may be something like 15
copies made, on average, from each downloaded or purchased copy.
Not only that, Dan says he personally knows a corporate IT manager
who made not just 10 or 20, but 6,000 (yes, that's six thousand)
copies from a single set of downloaded Linux CDs. Dan doesn't know
how many of those copies went on servers and how many went on
desktop machines, but either way, it doesn't take many corporate IT
people installing a few thousand homemade copies of their favorite
Linux distro to throw all the numbers out of whack..."