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Ubuntu tops the Open Source Census with 46 percent

While its data is far from perfect, the Open Source Census' overwhelming evidence that the Linux distribution is on the rise is almost impossible to dispute.

The Open Source Census rolls forward, but I'm not sure how far it has gone as yet. In the summary, it shows just 789 machines scanned (as of the time that I read it). That's not a bad start, but it is just a start. As such, it's hard to read much into the data.

To be more representative, it will need to get more responses from those employed by larger companies. With just 22 percent of respondents employed by a company with more than 1,000 people, it's clear that the Census skews toward SMBs (small and midsize businesses, with an emphasis on the "S").

It will also need a more representative geographic spread. For example, France, which always shows up as second or third, in terms of open-source adoption in every open-source survey I've seen, apparently doesn't even scrape 2 percent of participants. The United Kingdom, by contrast, is third, behind Canada, despite its dismal commercial open-source penetration.

So the data appears to be highly imperfect, but it will get better as more participate.

The data on Ubuntu's amazing adoption, however, is nigh impossible to dispute, looking at the data.

Ubuntu tops Linux distribution survey Open Source Census, 2008

It is glaringly clear (and made doubly so by corroborating surveys) that in the war of the community Linux distribution, Ubuntu is king, with 46 percent of those surveyed on Ubuntu's Gutsy or Hardy distributions, and 8 million to 9 million global installations. (I suppose the other way to look at it is that Debian is king, as it pulls in an additional 14 percent, beyond its Ubuntu descendants.)

This isn't surprising, for a few reasons. First, among the other prominent Linux providers, Ubuntu has uniquely focused on the desktop. Novell's Suse and Red Hat's Fedora have also targeted the desktop, but in very different ways. For Red Hat, the traditional desktop is a bit of a lost cause. For Novell, it is an enterprise endeavor.

For Ubuntu, it is a primary focus, and its ease of use and work with IHVs demonstrates this.

Can Canonical turn this into commercial success? It remains to be seen, but in a conversation with CEO Mark Shuttleworth the other night over dinner, it became clear that making it one is a top priority for him and the Canonical team. It's about freedom first, yes, but Mark is not one to shirk an opportunity to turn a good idea into a good business.