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.