[Slightly OT] Re: Ranter or evangelist?

gilpel at altern.org gilpel at altern.org
Fri Jul 24 05:24:27 UTC 2009

Peter Gordon wrote:

> On Wed, 2009-07-22 at 11:33 +0500, gilpel at altern.org wrote:
>> Microsoft has 90% of market share, Linux only 1% and people at Microsoft
>> certainly are very glad. So, why should we be sad? Wouldn't this be
>> giving
>> Microsoft an edge in gladness?
> First of all, Linux market share is a very difficult number to predict,
> but is fairly significant and nearly always underestimated.

The only way to estimate the marketshare of Linux is reading the headers
of people who connect to servers. That's what hitslink does... or claims
to do, since I never could find out which servers are surveyed. But, to
me, living in Canada, 1% seems more than what I see around.

At LinuxCounter, Canada ranks 42nd, in the user/population list(1), but I
believe that Antartica ranking first makes much more sense. I know some
people in Canada who installed Linux, ran to LinuxCounter, never used it
and have boasted being part of the happy few ever since :) This list means
absolutely nothing.

(1) http://counter.li.org/reports/arearank.php

Is Wikipedia biaised too?

"Estimates for the desktop market share of Linux range from less than one
percent to almost two percent. In comparison, Microsoft operating systems
hold more than 90%."


So, let's say that, at he very best. it's a 45:1 ratio which, after 18
years, can't be evaluated otherwise than as a real problem.

> Not only is
> there not accurate method of acquiring the numbers data, but Linux runs
> on vastly more hardware than Microsoft Windows,

Yes, but the Intel/IBM PC base is what accounts for 99% of the hardware
which all desktop OS run on. (OS X also runs on Intel/IBM PC hardware.)
Certain... err... experts see the ARM processor ready to resuscitate, but
they never expected Microsoft to adapt to the NetBook trend nor that the
OLPC project would offer their Netbooks with Windows...

The difference between Microsoft and Linux seems to be that only Microsoft
believes in market share, and they're really playing hardball.

> and one copy of
> GNU/Linux (downloaded, bought in a store, given by a friend, etc.) can
> be shared so readily that attempting to count it would be fruitless: it
> could be one simple desktop installation, or shared among a class of
> 50-100 students, installed on thousands of a company's servers, or
> distributed even further.

In the HS Internet LiveCD era, what happens much more often is people
download 10 different distros before they install one.

> There is a brief article called "Debunking the
> Linux-Windows market-share myth" (linked below) written in 2003 by
> Nicholas Petreley that I suggest you read. It's old, but its reasons for
> such disparate numbers are still just as valid.
> "Debunking the Linux-Windows market-share myth":
> http://linux.sys-con.com/node/32648

After debunking all you want, I'm afraid the fact remains that Linux is
lagging so much behind the Microsoft empire that the game Microsoft played
with the doc/xls formats is now being played with the WMV format.

> Secondly, even if this WERE a valid market share estimate, you're
> missing out on just how big 1% can really be.

I don't miss it. When political choices are being made, 1% is still
qualified as irrelevant because the 99% that adopt Windows/OS X have no
idea of what open source is all about. Otherwise, is there any chance they
would let themselves be put into serfdom with a smile?

> Microsoft has such a high market share because their software comes
> pre-installed with machines through most PC vendors and because it is
> unfortunately what many have learned to use computers with. It is
> nothing more than a defacto standard.

Absolutely. Proprietary formats and linked sales are the two teats that
keep Microsoft striving.

> GNU/Linux, indeed most F/OSS on the other hand, has been spread by
> advocacy, passed among friends, et al. We don't have more than 12
> million users because we're defacto. Not by a long shot. We as a
> community have EARNED those 12-point-something million users through
> merit: because we're just that awesome at doing what we do! We *want*
> people to go and improve upon our code. We *want* people to share it
> with others. We *want* people to be productive. We *want* people to use
> their computers, not as dictated by their vendors or software companies,
> but _however_they_see_fit_.

So you thing that enlarging Linux's market share would make it less usable
for people who now use it? That's what you gather from what I said?

Well, I must confess that already, silly moves have been made. For
instance, now, by default, a double click on an application title bar
unmaximizes the window, just as in Windows. Then, when people use the
GIMP, they find it's ackward.

But, when you know that this is not right setting, and you set the
double-click to shade a windows, using the GIMP becomes a blessing: you
can work on your pictures without an interface. It's even more convenient
when you use KDE and a mouseover unshades menu windows!

See? That's silly thinking.

OTOH, would having a version of Brasero that works in the default
installation of Fedora 11 -- there was an upgrade available today, I
believe. Not sure what it will change -- make geeks cry? If they really
want to face challenges, they may use rawhide, but when you confront
non-programmers to something they can't do anything about, of couse, they
don't appreciate.

The "Release early, release often" moto was aimed at programmers, not
normal users. I believe Fedora and other distros should decide what they
are releasing for whom.

In "Last adjustments", I note many problems that pretty much all pertain
to the clipboard. One of those problems is that "New file" often gets
copied to the clipboard even though you make sure to just type over it
without reselecting it.

The first time I tried GNOME, maybe 4 or 5 years ago, I had this problem.
It's still present and, since nobody answered, it seems there's no
solution to this bug. Let's suppose nobody filed a bug report, is it
really possible that not a single GNOME developer noticed the problem?
Didn't any developer notice that it's stir crazy to have Glipper slowly
unfold a list of entries to the first one, soon as the list is longer that
one screen? Etc., etc.

There's a list of such bugs that could go on forever and that are never
fixed. Or, sometimes, they're fixed -- such as selecting the URLBAR with
one clic in Firefox -- and, surprizingly, they come back. Then, all the
community is expected to struggle and fight to get their point through in

Mac users are paying a fortune just to have those silly bugs ironed out
and not to have to lose their time with bugzillas. They're close to 10% of
the market share ready to move to Linux if things were done right. Why are
people reminding the bare facts treated like traitors(1)?

(1) BTW, the only "Karl 1.2" on this list is the allusion made by Tim.
When I'm told I have a model, I'd really appreciate to know who he is.
Please give the reference!

> But I digress...

So do I, then! But it seems to me like a pretty fundamental digression.

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