Practical Technology

for practical people.

The most popular desktop Linux is…

A) Ubuntu, B) PCLinuxOS, C) Fedora, D) openSUSE or E) None of the above?

The answer is: E) None of the above.

At this point, most of you are saying “What!” or perhaps guessing “Debian, Mint, SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop), gOS or some Chinese Linux that we don’t hear a lot about in English speaking countries?” Sorry, you’re still wrong.

OK, so what is the most popular Linux desktop on the planet?

It’s Xandros.

Yes, Xandros: The oldest, by way of its ancestor, 1999’s Corel Linux, but still one of the more obscure, desktop Linuxes. While I think Xandros is an outstanding Linux for Windows users, most Linux users barely know it exists. So, how the heck can I say that Xandros is the world’s most popular distribution?

Xandros has managed this feat because it’s the Linux that underlying every Asus Linux-powered laptop on the planet. While none of the PC vendors that ship pre-installed Linux will tell anyone how many Linux PCs they’ve shipped, off-the-record I’ve talked to many of the PC OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and I’ve also been tracking retail Linux desktop sales information, such as Amazon’s PCs and equipment best-sellers list. For example, if you looked on Amazon’s list on June 2nd 2008, you’d find four Xandros Linux-powered Asus UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs).

In total, I have Asus shipping, to date, over 1.1-million Xandros Linux-equipped UMPCs. Sources close to Xandros and Asus indicate that I’m on the mark. By comparison, Dell, which is very pleased with its Ubuntu Linux sales, seems to have sold upward of 125,000 Ubuntu Linux-powered desktops and laptops. Again, Dell won’t release figures but sources tell me that I’m in the right ballpark.

Of course, when Dell releases its ‘mini-Inspiron,’ in June 2008 with Ubuntu 8.04, Ubuntu Linux may make its move to the number one spot I’m sure most of us already thought it had. UMPCs are wildly popular. They’re helping to pull desktop Linux into the mainstream more so than desktop Linux is pulling UMPCs into users hands. Together, it’s a great synergy of inexpensive hardware and open, inexpensive operating system. So great, in fact, that it already placed the relatively unknown Xandros Linux into more users’ hands than any other desktop Linux.


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  2. Ubuntu estimates they have 8 million users. You have to give rate of growth to the ASUS boxes, though. Dell is pushing (rather, its distributors are) GNU/Linux in places like India, but the volume is still small by PC standards. The “Linux enthusiast” numbers are unknown but must be a considerable number over many distros.

    It is a catchy headline, though, and by the end of the year, it may be true if ASUS executes.

    Corel, now Xandros, was an early, smooth, easy-migration distro and worthy of some play. They have been in the wilderness a long time. I hope they can run with their new-found popularity.

  3. Ubuntu’s numbers are pretty soft. I’ll believe that Ubuntu has more than a million users, but it’s hard to ‘prove’ even that many.

    Someday, probably someday soon, someone will go to the trouble and expense of pulling out hard numbers. If it came today, my bet is that the single specific distribution in the lead will soon be the Asus version of Xandros 4.1. The single ‘family’ in the lead will probably be Ubuntu, but then, of course, you start heading into “but that makes Debian #1.”


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