So how many desktop Linux users are there? If you believe in Net Applications’ numbers it’s just over 1%. If you want to buy W3Counter’s numbers, 2.16% of users use Linux. Or, if you want to go by my own Web site, Practical Technology’s AWStats statistics, 29.9% of desktop users prefer Linux.
The truth is we really don’t know how many Linux desktop users there are. That’s a pity because those numbers do matter. The more Linux desktop users there are, the more likely it is that ISVs (independent software vendors) and PC manufacturers will support desktop Linux. If Linux is to ever stop being considered a ‘niche’ desktop operating system, it needs more than just users, it needs an accurate way to count those users.
Web site surveys are all well and good, but they only tell part of the story. And, as the numbers I cite above shows, Web site numbers show an enormous range. Some of that may represent bias. The Boycott Novell Web site, for example, recently proclaims that Net Applications’ operating system numbers are a “Big Lie” and pointed out that Microsoft was one of Net Applications’ biggest customers. My own site focuses a lot on Linux, so it’s no surprise that I have a high percentage of Linux-using visitors.