Linux users from around the world are filling out the Linux Foundation's desktop survey. But what John Cherry, the foundation's director of global Linux workgroups, wants to know is, "Where are the responses from the North America?"
About midway through the survey, there have been what Cherry calls "extraordinary numbers. With over 10,000 respondents in so far, the survey has been taken by 6,206 English speakers; 3,684 Russian speakers; 1,198 French speakers; but only 118 Spanish and 51 Japanese speakers. The curious thing about the English language users is that 63 percent of the English responses have come from Europe, with only 22.9 percent from North America."
The LF, not to mention Desktop Linux from its own surveys, knows darn well that there are far more than 1,500 American, English-speaking Desktop Linux users. The Spanish and Japanese numbers are also low, but there the LF said the problem may simply be that the word hasn't gotten out enough in Spain, Latin America and Japan. The San Francisco-based foundation is working on getting more publicity for the survey in those countries.
In early results, the survey is finding that Linux desktops are used far more in SMBs (small and midsize businesses) than in any other office environment. In any business with Linux desktops, you're also almost certainly going to find Windows desktop users. The Mac OS, while lagging far behind the others, is still showing up in higher numbers than most desktop surveys indicate.
Another interesting early result is that, while you might expect offices that use Linux to use Linux on the server more than on the desktop, that's not true. While Linux server use is quite common, the single greatest percentage of Linux use in this survey is on the client desktop, followed by the developer desktop.
If these numbers hold up, the conventional wisdom that business Linux use is driven primarily by server adoption and by programmers and engineers on their desktops will need to be re-examined. While software developers are still the group most likely to use Linux as a desktop, IT managers, senior IT staff, and project and program managers are also turning to the Linux desktop.
The survey also clearly indicates that users aren't exploring the Linux desktop for possible deployment; they're already putting it into use. Almost 60 percent have already deployed Linux desktops.
And what desktop are most of them using? Would anyone be surprised to know that it's Ubuntu or the other members of its official family--Kubuntu, Xubuntu or Edubuntu? At this point, it has more than half of the users saying it's their desktop of choice. That's followed by Debian. If, however, you count Red Hat and Fedora as one desktop and SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) and OpenSUSE as one, then the list becomes Ubuntu as No. 1, with Red Hat and SUSE in a close race for Nos. 2 and 3, and trailing a bit behind them Debian. In this survey, other desktop Linuxes that are regarded as being very popular, such as PCLinuxOS, don't register well at all.
On those desktops, users said they consider the mission-critical applications to be e-mail, Web browsers and office productivity tools. On the flip side, Linux desktop users don't feel any pressing need for audio or video creation or editing tools or anti-viral programs.
Desktop Linux users also want some Windows applications on their systems. In particular--pay attention, Adobe--they really, really want to see native Linux versions of Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Illustrator. Other programs Linux users want are Autodesk AutoCAD and Microsoft Visio.
As usual, Linux users want better device support. In particular, they want better support for printers, scanners, USB storage devices and Wi-Fi.
They would also like Linux developers and ISVs to continue to work on cross-distribution Linux desktop standards. The sooner these come, the more likely it is that ISVs--such as Adobe, they hope--will start porting and creating native Linux applications.
Want to get your 2 cents in? The survey continues until Nov. 30. Chinese and Portuguese versions of the survey will be available starting Oct. 24 on the same Web site.