I spend a lot of time in front of my computer. Probably more than most. So I want to make sure that I spend as little time as possible keeping my system running. Many years ago I used to use a Windows PC and estimate that I’d spend around 2% of my time keeping the system in good working order. That could be installing software or patches, defragging the disk, or the occasional OS reinstall. Not a huge amount of time, but it does add up. These days I use Linux, and the amount of time I spend on maintenance has easily dropped below 0.01%.
Because I use my computer all the time, I want it to be as pleasant an experience as possible. I want my computer to help me do my work, or at least not get in my way. At work I have to use Windows; while the OS has definitely improved in the last few years, I still get the feeling that I’m fighting against the OS rather than working with it. And while Windows XP looks a little nicer than its predecessor, it still feels miles behind Linux. Windows looks and feels cluttered and complex to me, and the clean and usable lines of my Gnome desktop get out of my way and let me get on with work.
Now before the Windows and Mac users go on the defensive, I’m not saying that Linux is perfect. Like most computer systems, it has its quirks, oddities and annoyances. However I truly believe that its the best operating system around, because it not only works more smoothly but also embodies an ethical stance. It will stay that way pretty much indefinitely; neither Apple nor Microsoft show any significant sign of moving away from proprietary formats, proprietary applications, and forced user lockin.
I have quite a bit of time, money and emotional attachment invested in Linux, so would hate for anything to happen to it. There have been a few moments in recent history where there future looked uncertain, but the growth of Linux in industry, along with the cooperation of large corporate firms such as IBM and Novell (who are mostly becoming involved with Free Software in a Free way rather than simply trying to take advantage of others’ work for commercial gain) seems to have secured its future, at least for the next couple of years. However I want Linux to thrive and one perceived guarantee of longevity is market share.
Currently Linux has a global market share of 2.8 percent on the desktop. It has a global market share on the server of 28.3%. While the server market is a stronghold for Linux, at first glance the desktop figure seems pretty poor. However, it’s worth putting that in perspective. 2.8% percent means that one in every 36 computers in the world is running Linux. When you think about it, that�8364;’s actually quite a lot.
Most of my friends and colleagues own at least one Linux box, and at conferences like What The Hack and FOSDEM, the halls are swarming with them. In fact spying a Windows box at one of these events is a cause for a raised eyebrow or two.
Linux doesn’t have a huge cut of the larger computer market, but it does have a strong showing in the developer sector. A good portion of developers I know are using Linux or are in the process of trying it out, which is made easy by the existence of Live CDs. This site balances between Linux, web technology, and me complaining about stuff; I don’t, unfortunately, have stats for operating system share of visitors.
So while Linux’s market share may appear small, it is actually a lot larger and more stable than you may imagine.
With apologies to Andy Budd.