Linux Market Share

by Doug.Roberts

In the course of a normal work day I take several little breaks to check the news. On my list of news sites are Slashdot, Linux Journal and Linux Today. Frequently I see something that gives me an idea for an article. Sometimes I even find an article on a topic that I was planning to write about myself. Such was the case today when I came across this well-written piece from the Royal Pingdom Blog referenced on Linux Today. It’s about the failure of desktop Linux to break the 1% market share barrier, and I confess that it left me a little depressed. But I decided to add my two cents on the subject anyhow.

Here’s a chart showing the market share of the major OS distributions over the past year, courtesy of, the same place from which the author got his data:

The Pingdom article suggested that there were several reasons for Linux not having gained greater market share than it has:

  • there are too many distributions,
  • there are too many GUIs,
  • the various Linux desktop products are not polished enough,
  • consistency and usability issues exist with the various Linux distros, and
  • the various suppliers of Linux distributions focus too much on heavy duty tech-savvy users, and not enough on normal everyday users.

I pretty much agree with all of these points. Except...

I use Windows, and I use Mac OS X. The Windows UI (XP and Vista, more than Windows 7) is notoriously inconsistent. Polished? Not a word I usually use to describe a Windows product.

Mac OSX? It’s UI is certainly different than Windows, and it seems to be more consistent than XP. It’s also less crash-prone. But...

I’d hold my Mint 9 Gnome desktop up against either of those other two in terms of stability, constancy, and that metric which has not yet been mentioned: security. Usability is harder to judge because that is determined more by one’s familiarity with the product than anything else.

Which brings me to my final point: I think the main reason that Linux has not penetrated the desktop market more than it has is because people tend to stick with what they are used to. So, I guess I’ll just have to get used to being depressed, because people are what they are, and learning a new OS is just is not that high on most folks’ “things to do” list.