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Unscientific Linux Popularity Contest

Filed under
Linux

Have you ever wondered which Linux distro is the most popular? Many people will point to the statistics at DistroWatch.com. These statistics are generated by the number of "hits" for each distro page at DistroWatch. Unfortunately, this allows the possibility of "ballot-stuffing" by making multiple visits to distro page that you like.

Therefore this data cannot be considered scientific, and it is has a high probability of being inaccurate. Even so, it still has some value. We can tell which distro has the most (real visitors + "ballet-stuffers"), which will roughly correlate to the actual popularity of the distro.

Here are some interesting long-term trends:

2002: Top 5 Distros
1. Mandrake
2. Red Hat
3. Gentoo
4. Debian
5. Sorcerer
6. Suse

Full Story.

It's not just the "ballot stuffers"

I read DistroWatch Weekly every Monday, and usually check in several times a week to see what' new. But I don't ever visit my favorite distro's page there because, quite simply, I already know its URL. And if I forget, there's always Google. So does that mean my favorite distro is less popular in the DistroWatch rankings, because people like me hardly ever look up the distros we use there? It would appear so.

In fact, about the only time I check for a distro on DistroWatch is when I can't quite remember its name. So does that mean I'm "artificially" pumping up the stats for obscure distros, in my own little way?

So, no disrespect meant for DistroWatch or its rankings, but there's more than one reason they should be taken with a grain of salt.

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