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There are over 1 million Linux system deployments worldwide. No, make that 2 million. Wait, it's really closer to 3 million. Ok, I really have it this time--there are over 3.5 million Linux deployments worldwide as of January 7, 2009. But according to the Linux Counter, there's fewer than 150,000.

So how many Linux systems are deployed worldwide?

The answer is that no one knows how many and any guesses are purely WAGs.

The fact is that Linux deployments are like an iceberg with only about 10 percent showing up in the light of day with the other 90% under the radar.

Why is this important?

Just think of the possibilities if we knew about all those deployments that are under the radar. With closer to real data, we might be able to leverage more commercial support for applications, drivers, and products for Linux and those derived from Linux. I believe a lot of commercial entities still see Linux as a geek toy and not as a real operating system with a substantial user base.

The solution is to have Linux phone home every so often like Windows and Macs do. Some people wouldn't like this, of course, and would disable that functionality but it would be very useful information for the above reasons.

Each system has a unique identifier and could check in to a repository database every so often to check for yum/apt-get/smart updates and exchange information on its operating system, location, and some hardware info. Nothing particularly intrusive and certainly nothing bandwidth intensive. This lightweight gathering of information could make a world of difference to the worldwide Linux community and would benefit us all.

A 3.5 million strong user base has a lot more power behind it to demand commercial driver and application support than does 150,000 geek toy users--wouldn't you agree?

Here's how to help in this effort: Let's all drop a short note to the Linux Foundation to assist in this effort to orchestrate a Linux Census so that our collective voice can be heard. I, for one, am ready to have better commercial support for Linux.

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Last Post by khess
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Each system has a unique identifier and could check in to a repository database every so often to check for yum/apt-get/smart updates and exchange information on its operating system, location, and some hardware info

Its called popularity-contest and is built into debian and ubuntu but disabled by default

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Yes! Right and it skews the numbers to the detriment of all who use Linux. It should be enabled by default and on all Linux systems and distributions. It's our leverage to show our numbers.

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>It should be enabled by default and on all Linux systems and distributions.
Alright.... and just how do you imagine accomplishing that?

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There's also smolt, an upstream project used by Fedora and openSUSE. It also allows the user to report hardware, so statistics can be gathered about what hardware users are running and support can be allocated by kernel developers and others who write drivers for Linux.

The Fedora Project publishes its statistical usage, such as number of downloads, BitTorrents, and IP addresses checking in for updates, on the Fedora wiki: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Statistics -- it would be nice if all distributions did this openly too.

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@John A

I would ask the distribution folk to enable the app by default.

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@dietrich

Great! Now let's get everyone to do this. We need a concerted effort. Engage the Linux Foundation and let's call this the Linux Census project.

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Considering that Ubuntu was guesstimated at about 8 million users, Fedora had a metric for about 9 million (and the fedora public stats indicate around 11), OpenSuse 11.1 comes up third at smolt despite a rather recent deployment so we can expect it to be in the same range.
Only these three distros together give a rather impressive number close to 20M (if we believe the stats from Ubuntu and Fedora).
Considering that Linux comes up at 0.8 - 2 % (average around 1) on various web metrics - which only includes computers that are actively browsing the web (that is - only desktop computers). I would expect it to be a number quite a bit higher than 3.5 million. (because there should definitely be more than 350 million computers actively browsing - especially since mobile phones etc also get counted)

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It's not a technical problem it's a legal problem.
In most coutries around the world there are limits on what information companies can collect about thair users. Definatly in australia and i am reasonably certan that it is the same accross europe and most of the world it is illegal to create an opt-out system for collecting such data.

As mentioned above debian (and ubuntu) have the popularity contestwhere your machine will send a list of package installed and a random unique id, if you want to have your computers counted install this.

while you could install this by default and have it enabled it may make the product illegal in probably half the world.

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I understand fully about privacy concerns but remember, I'm not talking about user info but only to count a unique installation. Hardware info doesn't even have to be collected, just a unique system ID would suffice.

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