More Ubuntu Server Edition statistics

Some people may say that I am a statistics junky... Well that's certainly true! But what do you want, being a product manager for a product that does not require ANY form of user registration, you have a tendancy to cling to any piece of data you may find that shows that you are not working in vain. Indeed, and to the opposite of most, if not all, of our competitors, we have absolutely no way to determine what is our install base.  We don't control our mirors, we don't have any ping back home mechanisms, and we are not considering adding any.  So, here I am, collecting as much information I can from outside sources...

Well, october was not too bad in that sense:

Personally I consider the outage that Netcraft highlight here as a good sign of success as the reason is that our ever increasing bandwidth for release day maxes out.  Since I could not find any comparative numbers by OS from netcraft, I have to consider that 1.4 million is quite a significant number, so that makes me really happy...  Should I?


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The raw survey data is more valuable than the summary article.

To get details stats on OS breakdown from netcraft to put that 1.4 million in the correct context… you have to purchase their data product if you really want to know. Problem is… they also restrict how youcan use that data so even if Canonical purchased it for you to look probably couldn't comment on it publicly.

The other link you give to the purchasing survey is a really mixed bag of news when you read the whole article and look at the raw data. The article really begs the question… where is that stated growth of Ubuntu server deployments coming from? The article specifically makes the claim that windows to linux migrations are stalling and that people are less likely to dump windows for linux. So where's the Ubuntu serve deployment growth being generated? Virtualization maybe? Not according to the raw survey results.

If you dig into the raw data…you'll see that exactly one survery respondent(out of 459) said they were using Ubuntu/Debian based KVM for virtualization. And more sobering only one respondent (out of 449) said they planned to deploy Ubuntu/Debian based KVM in the next 12 months. That should raise some eyebrows inside the Canonical fenceline. Doesn't that survey result run counter to pretty much everything Canonical its its mineralization partners have been saying?

But more generally speaking I'm not sure that any of the survey results are self-consistent enough to be reliable. For example look at questions 22 and 67.

question 22: Which server operating systems do you currently have installed? (Select all that apply.)

question 67: Which of the following Linux distributions/o­perating systems do you currently use on your servers? (Select all that apply.)

The numbers don't compare well across those two questions. There is at best a 10% point discrepancy in the Red Hat deployment percentages between those two questions. There is a similar discrepancy in the CentOS numbers. That's not a good sign for survey accuracy. If there really is a 10% point error, that potentially wipes out the implied Ubuntu growth in the summary article.

And I'm not saying that the Ubuntu growth does not exist. What I am saying is that when you look really closely at the survey data.. the survey does not appear to be accurate enough to say anything statistically significant about Ubuntu growth if the noise floor in the survey really is 10%.

The point I'm trying to make…to everyone.. is that you can't just throw numbers up without considering the accuracy of the methodology. For this survey in particular… If they can't get Red Hat deployment numbers accurate to 10% between question 22. and 67..the linux distribution with the most respondents and therefor the best statistical accuracy. then you can't really expect the other linux distribution numbers to be more accurate.

  • jef

Very good points

Very good points Jef, thanks a lot for the long reply and the detailed analysis. I understand very well the accuracy problem, but since surveys of that type are the only data I have, I can only hope that the more indicators I get showing a growth in Ubuntu Server deployments, the more certain I can be when claiming that we're gaining serious ground.

You want reliable stats?

You want reliable stats? Publish quarterly statistics about the number of actively managed systems in Landscape. Growth of paying landscape subscriptions would be the most solid indicator I can think of that you have in house. Is Canonical prepared to be that transparent about its Landscape service? If your serious about trending'll either generate your own internal metrics or you'll pay out of pocket for something like netcraft's full data product and you'll walk away from easy to obtain but marginally statistically useful survey polls.

  • jef

Not sure I am following you

Not sure I am following you. What would Landscape stats give us about Ubuntu Server? Nobody is forced to use landscape, and even if quite a few have chosen to do so, I know plenty that have not. I don't see how this would be relevant. Netstat data? Didn't you say yourself in your original comment that even if Canonical had purchased them, we would not be able to publish them?

News in mass-media should be a sign

Well, it is pretty bad to work not having reliable statistics. You are not able to see tendancies or results of your work in general. But I think such news like this one…l-and-ubuntu should be a sign that Ubuntu takes strong position in the market and the situation will improve every year. As more people become better computer users they take conscious decisions what to install on the computer.


nice article! it is very informative , i enjoyed reading it, keep it up guys!

Problem with activation

Hi there, I dont know if I am writing in a proper board but I have got a problem with activation, link i receive in email is not working...,

What activation?


Could you please provide me with a bit more details on what you call activation? Are you trying to create an account on this site?

Thanks, Nick

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