Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Linux Software

Timeline Chart or Graph of GNU/Linux Adoption? 49

DNAman asks: "I'm preparing a presentation for the use of GNU/Linux in the biological sciences. One recurring comment that comes up is 'Linux is not mainstream, why should we be interested in it?' While we could debate the definition of mainstream, I think it would be more productive to illustrate the trend in use / adoption of GNU/Linux as a platform. Do any of you have decent data sources for this type of trend?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Timeline Chart or Graph of GNU/Linux Adoption?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think first you need to ask yourself why you want to move to linux. If your current platform works, there shouldn't be a reason to change.
    • Probably because some of the apps I want use have problems with Cygwin. Have you got libsndfile to complete make check successfully with Cygwin? If so, the maintainer wants to hear about what you did.

    • If your current platform works, there shouldn't be a reason to change.

      Anyone who says something like this is just looking to argue (oops, I have been trolled). Computing platforms have been rapidly changing since the invention of the computer. I would peg full upgrade cycles at around five years on average (and interestingly this is how long it takes to fully depreciate the value of a computer purchase according to the IRS). This means that about every five years you are fully reinvesting in new hardware
      • by Anonymous Coward
        That's business (and not even very serious business). This is science.

        We regularly use software that's 20 years old. It's essential that any software we use produce the correct results every time we use it. Bogus results for any reason invalidates your work and reduces your credibility as a scientist. It regularly takes software 5-7 years just to get to the point where we're confident in it. The idea that we'd be replacing all of our software every 5 years is laughable.

        Ask anyone in the financial ind
        • Hmmm. So are you making the case for not migrating to Linux as soon as possible or what? What you describe are even more compelling reasons to switch to Linux ASAP. The system code is available, thus making it much more likely that someone down the road (either geographically or sequentially) will be able to duplicate your results. Ditto for the peer review aspects of the work, open code is, well, open-- meaning that software flaws can at least be analyzed.

          As for the rest of what you said, the types of s
    • There were comments about Windows on ATM's, and how insecure ATM's already are, not very long ago on slashdot.

      Question -- If running naked through the street with my hair on fire has always worked for me, why would I want to change?

      Or how about this: Using 30-year-old encryption for everything my bank does works. Why would I want to try something new?

      Doh! Because new things can be better!

      Why would I want a new job? Maybe I get payed more! Why would I want a new OS? Maybe it will run faster / n

      • >Because new things can be better!

        But they are not ALWAYS better. In all the cases you specify there is a better way of doing things, but sometimes the new way is not a better way.

        Thats what his point is. Is adopting something new better and is it worth all the trouble?
        • No, but most often, you want to check out something new at least. His point was, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, if my car was leaking oil all the time, I might assume it was normal, and "ain't broke", and never fix it. But if I got a new car, I'd realize that it actually was broken.

          Be open-minded -- both to the fact that there may be something new and better, and there may not.
    • I think I smell a...whatchamacallit...ah yes, pragmatic fallacy. Just because something "works" does not mean that it is the best feasible solution.
  • by asterism ( 148910 ) on Saturday September 20, 2003 @03:05AM (#7010661)
    Linux is not the most popular operating system in the world, why should we be interested.

    Science is not the most popular way of looking at the world, why should we be interested.

    I'm not sure that numbers are what you need.
    • Athlon XP has fewer clock cycles than the Pentium IV I could get for the same amount of money. So why should I get Athlon?

      You can't just say "Because it's different". That's retarted.

      You can, though, say "Because Athlon XP consistantly benchmarks faster than Pentium IV for the same speeds -- and they're cheaper."

      Numbers do matter.
  • Unbelievable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Saturday September 20, 2003 @03:43AM (#7010728) Homepage Journal
    Turn it around: why should they be interested in Linux? Because it is not mainstream.

    Mainstream is for the unwashed masses (or maybe the washed masses, depending on the accuracy of the Linux geek stereotype). Mainstream is for people who want to surf the web and forward letters to everyone on their email list. If they never see how their computer works, so much the better; and mainstream continually works toward that goal.

    Linux, on the other hand, is developed by people who have a similar mindset to scientists. It's a system that allows and encourages experimentation, and reinforces the truth that there is never only one way to do something. There are no artificial limits set to prevent you from getting uncomfortable because you're not sure what you're looking at.

    It's also the closest thing to an objective OS you can get. If results are called into question, you're out of luck with Windows: "Oh, it must have been a glitch. Let me reboot this...." With Linux you can figure out what's going on behind the scenes.

    I can't imagine scientists who willingly reject going a different direction from mainstream. Science is not mainstream.
    • The idea that something is better because it is not mainstream is simple elitism and it is as thoughtless a bias as any other. "Men are better than women because they are men." "Ford cars are better than GM cars because they are from Ford."

      It's also the closest thing to an objective OS you can get. If results are called into question, you're out of luck with Windows: "Oh, it must have been a glitch. Let me reboot this...." With Linux you can figure out what's going on behind the scenes.

      I'm sorry, that

      • Re:Unbelievable. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by yerricde ( 125198 )

        the code will give the same result no matter what operating system it is running under.

        Unless the code is being timed. A scientific program has little use if an inefficient scheduler and an antivirus program eat all the CPU cycles.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        "Ford cars are better than GM cars because they are from Ford."
        No, Ford cars are better than GM cars because they're *not* from GM.
      • Didn't say it was better because it wasn't mainstream; I said Linux was more in tune with the ideals scientists follow in pursuit of truth. Mainstream OSes exist for one purpose, Linux exists for others.
        • You said: "Why should they be interested in Linux? Because it is not mainstream." If an operating system is better because it is not mainstream, then GEOS or IRIX must be the best! You did go on to say a bunch of other stuff that was wrong but at least based in some kind of logic, but I think that your true emotions showed up in the first line. Linux is not what the plebes use therefore it is better. You did, after all, use the term "unwashed masses" which is a catchword for elitists.
        • >I said Linux was more in tune with the ideals scientists follow in pursuit of truth.

          What world do you live in where all scientists are not pure-truth fanatics.

          And how is Linux in tune with the "truth"? Linux has a philosophy of community and sharing, but I don't see how that is the "truth".
      • Re:Unbelievable. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WindBourne ( 631190 )
        This stuff about a reboot is just FUD, pure and simple.

        Uh, no. That is not FUD. Nor is looking at TCO or ROI. The area that the oringal poster should be looking at is the systems that need 24x7 uptime while doing huge computations. That would be hollywood and biological sciences.
        Hollywood does a large amount of rendering on movie frames and these need to come as quickly and cheaply as possible.
        Titantic was one fo the first to switch (google is your friend). In addtion, Dreamworks and all the major stud
    • Linux is just the kernel though, if you were to get usage stats for GNU software such as compilers and editors then this would be more assuring to those switching over from commercial software to free software.

      GCC is for example a fairly mainstream compiler.
    • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Saturday September 20, 2003 @03:44PM (#7013142) Journal

      I'm not implying that they are dumb or anything but just that these are not COMPUTER Scientists.

      When a video technican goes home to tape a tv show, does he want something which can do it in a few buttons or does he want to use something like he has at work and manually control the audio/balance etc?

      >With Linux you can figure out what's going on behind the scenes.

      Comptuers are a tool for research in this case, they don't want to play around with it.

      A good example in the chemical research area is .html
      Do you want to play around with things or do you just want it to work and be fully supported by the company who developed it?

      And the old argument "Not there? Well program it!" is a negative here because these people want to research in their area, not research/code in computer science.

      In reality, having their standard tools mainstream is good.
  • Easy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Feztaa ( 633745 ) on Saturday September 20, 2003 @03:53AM (#7010746) Homepage
    Scientists should be interested in linux because linux is developed in much the same way that scientific theories are developed.

    That is, nobody will ever respect a theory untill it has undergone peer review. Other scientists scrutinize the theory, and try to disprove it. If they fail to disprove it, then it becomes accepted as the best theory.

    In Linux, it's much the same. Somebody writes a program, and in doing so, claims that their program is the best way to solve that given problem. Other programmers will scrutinize the code, and try to find better ways of solving the problem. They can develop entirely new ways that replace the old ways, or they can incrementally improve the current ways. Either way, the end result is a higher quality of code, in a general sense.

    I mean, Linux Just Makes Sense (TM) for the scientific community. They both heavily rely on peer review to ensure that things are reliable and trustworthy.

    Would anybody trust a scientific theory that was developed by secretive scientists who won't publish what experiments they did to come up with their ideas? If we can't verify that what they did was the right way to do things, how can we trust their results? Of course you don't, which is the same reason that proprietary software is so crappy. You can't see their methods, only their results, and the results are often sub-par.
    • While this is persuasive in what might be called an ethical sense, I don't think it really addresses the question, which involves convincing people that using Linux is not only feel-good, but also makes practical sense.

      And, honestly, depending on who'd be using it, Linux may well not be the best solution. It's much easier to FUBAR a Linux machine, and often harder to use, especially if the user is both computer inexperienced, and has only used Windows or a Mac.

      Linux may make an emotional sense... and its
    • by Clansman ( 6514 )
      But. From what I see, mostly people just start again rather than review the code (and what, fork?).

      In fact both free and non-free software follow this model with whole new applications competing.

      So I'm not really disagreeing that competitive processes are at work, just that they are not the sole preserve of free software

  • by Feztaa ( 633745 ) on Saturday September 20, 2003 @04:05AM (#7010764) Homepage
    I think it would be more productive to illustrate the trend in use / adoption of GNU/Linux as a platform. Do any of you have decent data sources for this type of trend?

    Any such sources are inherently biased against linux.

    The standard way for measuring the market share of a given operating system is to look at the vendor's sales. This has tons of problems.

    First, linux ISOs can be freely downloaded without any sale taking place, so lots of people can (and do) install linux without showing up on any company's sales figures.

    Second, even if you buy a boxed set of RedHat 9, you can install that on as many computers as you want. So if RedHat says they sold x copies of their OS, that could easily represent 2x or 3x installations of the OS.

    Third, all new PCs come with Windows preloaded, and count towards Microsoft's market share. Even if the first thing you do with your new PC is install linux on it, it's still a Windows box, as far as Microsoft's sales figures will show.

    So, sales figures are totally unreliable in gauging anybody's market share. You could turn to Netcraft, which is amazingly accurate... except that it only cares about servers. Desktops don't even show up at all.

    If you want numbers, you're totally SOL. Even if you found the numbers, they don't mean anything. Ok, I'll tell you the numbers right now: Linux has 50% of the market. I pulled that number out of my ass, but it's about as reliable as you'll find anywhere else.
  • an answer... (Score:5, Informative)

    by kevin lyda ( 4803 ) * on Saturday September 20, 2003 @05:46AM (#7010953) Homepage
    ok, while morons babble about whether you should ask your question or not, i'll actually point you at an answer: []

    "linux usage" is hard to gauge. there's no central licensing authority (despite a certain moronic company's attempt). of course that argument is rather silly as closed software companies have to guess at their user base. for instance i count as 2 solaris users and around 10 windows users if you go by licenses purchased but i don't use either of those os's.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Someone in the BSD section keeps on quoting it all the time!

  • by agentk ( 74906 ) on Saturday September 20, 2003 @08:32AM (#7011283) Homepage
    The best numbers you can get are probably from your own university's IT department. In fact I will bet that the computer science department is at least 50/50 Linux/Windows if not more.

  • This one's easy... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kevin Burtch ( 13372 ) on Saturday September 20, 2003 @08:51AM (#7011344)
    All you have to do if you want to show the scientific community's interest in Linux, is to show the scientific community's use of Linux: The 500 most powerful computer installations in the world... [] many of which run Linux, including the the 2nd fastest system in the world [] (and all of which are used by members of the scientific community).

    You could also use these simple searches on slashdot [] (here is another []) and google [] to collect some very interesting data.

    For example, here's a nice tidbit [] that may be the exact community you're looking to impress.

    Granted, these do not give you a timeline, but it should be enough data for you to be able to ask them "Why are we not using Linux?".

    • links -width 100 -dump | grep -i linux

      yields (with a little hand-scrubbing):

      3 Linux Networx 7634.00 Lawrence Livermore National
      57 Linux Networx 1007.00 Argonne National Laboratory
      78 Linux Networx 840.50 Los Alamos National Laboratory
      107 Linux Labs 680.30 American Museum of Natural
      296 Linux Networx 390.20 Fraunhofer ITWM
      356 Linux Networx 347.00 Boeing Shared Services
      407 Linux Networx 295.90 Boein
  • by ( 687626 ) *
    I don't see how you can get any kind of information since there is no definitive info on Linux usage. You can't simply go by sales the way you could with commercial software. You also can't go by downloads, since some people download the software more then once, especially if network installs are supported.

    IMO, the great thing about free software is that it doesn't exist to win popularity contest but to serve the interests of the public good. It is also a testament to the generosity of developers. (And to
    • ou can't simply go by sales the way you could with commercial software.

      I would personally be interested in that figure though, and I am sure that commercial software developers would be interested too. If someone payed $50-100 for a boxed version of Linux, then there is a strong possibility that they would also pay for commercial software on that distribution. You could probably only count about 6 months to a years worth of purchaces as a valid population, since of upgrading. Does anybody know how man

  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Saturday September 20, 2003 @02:35PM (#7012827) Homepage

    It's not 'hard numbers', but then, a lot of people have already pointed out that hard numbers may not REALLY be what you want. (After all, since when is "Everybody's doin' it" a persuasive argument for a good scientist?)

    On the other hand, I see there are still lots of applications listed at the Scientific Applications on Linux [] site and the NCBI Toolbox of Bioinformatics code [] compiles and runs just fine on my linux box, and BioPerl [], BioJava [], and BioPython [] all run just fine on Linux (there are even a couple of fledgling BioPHP projects out just getting started out there, which will obviously also work.

    Disclaimer - both of the semi-active "BioPHP" type projects that I know of - Here [] and here [] - were started independently by individual amateurs...and one of them is me. Both projects are still in the early stages (Genephp has more code available at the moment) and have different development approaches, but are slowly working on trying to combine development towards a 'formal' set of "BioPHP" modules. Blatant plug - if you are interested in helping with friendly advice or actual development or testing, please join the mailing list which both projects use [])

  • Usually, we speak about mainstream vs. heterodoxy (or "minority") when we discuss about competing theoretical approaches in Research. Linux is not a theoretical approach but a technological paradigm. As a technological paradigm, Linux is becoming a big player. Data about Linux and, in general, open source projects can be found on and These data highlight the increasing weigh of Linux and open source in the market for SW.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky