Tech Ubuntu

Popularity of Ubuntu - is it really declining ?

by  posted on Sunday, 27 November 2011 07:52

The tech news sites claim on declining popularity of Ubuntu is entirely based on unreliable statistics. Ubuntu is still the popular Linux distribution used by millions of people around the world. Tech Ubuntu lists out the facts about the malicious campaign of a few tech news sites.

Citing Distrowatch as the source, many tech news sites started to claim that the popularity of Ubuntu is declining and people are moving to Linux Mint. The switch to Unity desktop is cited as the major reason for the decline in the popularity of Ubuntu.

The Fact

Distrowatch statistics is based on hits by the users who visit the site. That is more people are clicking the Mint page at DistroWatch. So it  is something to do with DistroWatch’s audience than anything.

I am an Ubuntu user for the past 10 years and I rarely visit Distrowatch. Similarly there are millions of Ubuntu users who never visit Distrowatch. There are thousands of new users who hit download at the Ubuntu.com everyday. A majority of them dont go to Distrowatch.

It is totally wrong to say that the popularity of Ubuntu is declining just by citing the hit count at a website. Though distrowatch is popular, it is often frequented by distro hunters and not by everyday users.

Google trends, though argued as more reliable than the distrowatch, cannot be taken to judge the popularity of a Linux distro. My neighbour is a Ubuntu user and he often spends time in enjoying Youtube videos rather than Googling for the term Ubuntu frequently. Like him, there are millions around the world.

If one argues Distrowatch as the reliable source, then why cant we compare the number of posts made in Ubuntu and Linux Mint forums? Can we take such sources to predict or judge the popularity of a Linux distro?  No we can't.

The average Linux user cares about checking his facebook, managing his spreadsheets, listening to music, twittering and making a skype call – all of which Ubuntu with Unity does extremely well.  It is the dream that we all talked about for 10+ years. Ubuntu took Linux close to the heart of millions of computer users who longed for a viable, cost-effective alternative for Windows. Ubuntu did it and continues to do it.

Unity is the Best Desktop

I think Unity is the best thing that has ever happened to Ubuntu. I hear everyone blaming Unity as the reason for the decline in the "so called popularity."  I agree that it is buggy and has a number of things to be fixed.

It has just made its debut and it will certainly improve in the upcoming releases. Why can't we give some time for the Canonical and Ubuntu folks to fix things and make Unity to deliver a great desktop experience ? Is it absolutely necessary for an everyday user to blame the Unity and move to Linux Mint?

Ubuntu is the best thing that has happened to the world of Linux. Like me, there are millions out there who believe in Ubuntu. The mis-informed campaigns such as the current one will not deter their belief.

Ramesh Elamathi

Ubuntu enthusiast. Creator and Editor of TechUbuntu.com.

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