2013 /r/Linux Distro Survey Results


Introduction

About one year ago, after seeing a failed comment survey on /r/Linux I decided to create a "real" survey using Google Docs to determine what Linux distributions the folks at /r/Linux were using. Last year the results of that survey were received so well I figured it would be worth doing again. You can view last year's survey.

This year's survey received significantly more responses than last year (7,698 to 4,932). Whether that could be attributed to /r/Linux's growth in active users, more interest in the survey, or just me happening to post the survey at a time it was more likely to get upvoted I cannot tell. In any case thank you to everyone who responded.

I'd also like to prefix this by saying that I'm not a statistician. If you feel I'm misrepresenting something, or have some other constructive criticism I'd really appreciate a reddit PM about it or a comment on this page's reddit thread.

Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Index
  3. Methods
  4. Results
    1. Do you use Linux on any non-server computers?
    2. Do you run Linux on any of your server computers?
    3. What Linux distro do you primarily use on your non-server computers?
    4. What other Linux distros do you use on your non-server computers?
    5. What Linux distro do you primarily use on your server computers?
    6. What Linux distros do you use on your other server computers?
    7. What is your favorite Linux graphical environment?
    8. What is your most hated Linux graphical environment?
  5. Closing Statements

Methods

Before we get down to business, I'd like to make the usual disclaimer about online polls (courtesy of Slashdot):

This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.

The survey was conducted using a Google Drive online form. The survey ran from 2013-02-16 9:22:30 UTC to 2013-03-02 16:17:18 UTC, or just short of two weeks. The survey was divided into three sections: non-server usage, server usage, and graphical environment questions. Users who answered that they did not use Linux on non-servers were not shown the non-server section, and users who answered that they did not use Linux on servers were not shown the server section. Everyone saw the graphical environment section.

There was a total of 7,698 responses. If you are so inclined, you may download all of my data for this year's survey, including gnuplot scripts and SVG files.

I processed the results using mostly LibreOffice, and rendered the graphs as SVG with gnuplot. This webpage was created with the GIMP and Notepad++ on Windows. The font used throughout is Open Sans, courtesy of Google Web Fonts.

Results

The results are broken up by question. Each question has a graph of the top ten responses, plus an "other" category which is a summation of every response that didn't make the graph.

In the results, I will sometimes make comparisons between how users of Linux on servers answered a partiticlar question and how users of Linux on not servers answered the same question. I'm not implying that any group's answer is more correct, appropriate, or better than the other's. I just wanted to see if there were any differences between these two groups, as their use cases can be quite different.

The bottom line is whether you use Linux only on your personal computer, only on your corporate server, both, or any other device under the sun that's just swell in my book.

Do you use Linux on any non-server computers?

Do you use Linux on any non-server computers?
ResponseOccurrences% of Total
Yes736795.71%
No3304.29%

The first question in the survey was simply "Do you use Linux on any non-server computers?". I should note that I purposefully left the term "server" undefined. If the user felt their device was or wasn't a server, that's up to them. We see here that the vast majority (over 95 percent) of /r/Linux users use Linux on a non-server computer. I should note that I'll refer to this group sometimes as "desktop users", but what I really mean is "not server users".

The answer to this question is used to filter later questions in the server category to see if desktop users have different server preferences than non-desktop users.

Do you run Linux on any of your server computers?

I'm going to jump out of survey question order real quick to show the results for how many of the /r/Linux responders also use Linux on servers. This is relevant to the desktop questions, as you'll see shortly.

Do you run Linux on any of your server computers?
ResponseOccurrences% of Total
Yes478562.17%
No291237.83%

Unlike the first question in the survey, this one shows a much closer divide. There is a not insignificant number of users that are not running Linux on servers. That said, it seems like most of the /r/Linux community is running Linux on a server somewhere.

What Linux distro do you primarily use on your non-server computers?

What Linux distro do you primarily use on your non-server computers?
DistroNon-Server UsersServer UsersTotal% of Total
Ubuntu8191126194526.40%
Arch Linux497988148520.16%
Linux Mint41139780810.97%
Debian1654716368.63%
Fedora1463514976.75%
Xubuntu1492103594.87%
Gentoo392102493.38%
Kubuntu1001382383.23%
Crunchbang95851802.44%
OpenSUSE47871341.82%
Other37845883611.35%

Ubuntu and Arch Linux remain the favorites of /r/Linux for another year. Linux Mint has climbed the ranks from position 5 last year with 7% of responses to position 3 this year with 11% of responses. Other than that the lineup is much the same, with OpenSUSE replacing Linux Mint Debian for tenth rank and Crunchbang appearing in position 9. There is no [no response] category for this question this year as users who did not run non-server Linux didn't see this question.

In the graph above we can also see how many "Server Users" (definined as people who answered yes to the question "Do you run Linux on any of your server computers?" later in the survey) and how many "Non-Server Users (defined as people who answered no to the question "Do you run Linux on any of your server computers?" later in the survey) made up each tally. There are some interesting trends here to notice, which are more easily seen when we compare what percent of that group chose a specific distribution.

What Linux distro do you primarily use on your non-server computers?
DistroNon-server UsersServer UsersDifference
Ubuntu28.78%24.91%3.87%
Arch Linux17.46%21.85%4.39%
Linux Mint14.44%8.78%5.66%
Debian5.80%10.42%4.62%
Fedora5.13%7.76%2.63%
Xubuntu5.24%4.64%0.60%
Gentoo1.37%4.64%3.27%
Kubuntu3.51%3.05%0.46%
Crunchbang3.34%1.88%1.46%
OpenSUSE1.65%1.92%0.27%
Other13.28%10.13%3.15%

This graph allows shows us what desktop distros server and non-server users prefer, based on what percentage of that group prefers that particular distro. This allows us to see a few interesting differences between the groups. We see the largest disparity with Linux Mint, which is preferred more strongly by people who don't use servers. After that, we see that Debian and Arch Linux are preferred more by people who do use servers.

What other Linux distros do you use on your non-server computers?

What other Linux Distros do you use on your non-server computers?
DistroResponses
Ubuntu1551
Debian1063
Arch Linux798
Linux Mint792
Fedora580
Xubuntu512
Other466
Backtrack353
CentOS333
Crunchbang305
Lubuntu248
Gentoo236
OpenSUSE231
Kubuntu220
Linux Mint Debian184
Slackware145
RHEL128
Linux Mint KDE97
Scientific Linux84
Sabayon73
Linux From Scratch40
Chakra37
SLES29
PCLinuxOS21
Mandriva16
Amazon Linux11
Oracle Enterprise Linux7

Keep in mind this was a question which allowed multiple selections, meaning the numbers can add up higher than the number of responses.

Interestingly enough, our "What other distros do you use" question came out a bit differently than the primary desktop distro question, with Debian ranking much higher than it did in the primary results. Other than that the top ten here aren't very different. We do see Backtrack displaced Gentoo in the rankings, coming in 10th place. I would posit this makes sense, as (personally) I don't see many people using Backtrack as their day-to-day distro.

What Linux distro do you primarily use on your server computers?

What Linux distro do you primarily use on your server computers?
DistroNon-desktop UsersDesktop UsersTotal% of Total
Debian711354142529.78%
Ubuntu811274135528.32%
CentOS5060065013.58%
Arch Linux133523657.63%
RHEL132492625.48%
Gentoo81361443.01%
Fedora21021042.17%
Slackware357601.25%
OpenSUSE544491.02%
Amazon Linux144450.94%
Other173093266.81%

In the primary server category, Debian barely eeks out a win over Ubuntu as the most popular server distro among /r/Linux users. Last year, Debian won out by a 4% margin. This year Debian only managed about a 1% margin. Maybe next year we'll see Ubuntu on top? The lineup this year compared to last year for server distros is actually exactly the same excluding Amazon Linux. To Amazon Linux's credit, it was a write-in only option last year, so that may account for its lack of a showing.

Responses in the graph above are colored by the respondant's answer to the question "Do you run Linux on a non-server computer?". I was hoping to see if people who didn't run desktop Linux had different server preferences than the rest of the crowd, but I fear the sample size of non-desktop users is too low to make any good guesses at it. Nevertheless, it seems Ubuntu might be more popular among non-desktop users. It's hard to say without a larger sample.

What Linux distros do you use on your other server computers?

What Linux distros do you use on your other server computers?
DistroResponses
Debian798
Ubuntu781
CentOS685
RHEL322
Arch Linux263
Fedora174
Gentoo136
SLES101
Other92
Amazon Linux79
OpenSUSE78
Scientific Linux64
Slackware56
Oracle Enterprise Linux41
Xubuntu28
Linux Mint22
Backtrack17
Linux From Scratch11
Linux Mint Debian11
Crunchbang10
Lubuntu10
Mandriva4
Kubuntu3
PCLinuxOS3
Sabayon3
Chakra1
Linux Mint KDE1

It's not much of a suprise that this graph looks so similar to our server question. What is interesting is CentOS closes with the top two on a much smaller margin. I'll admit I've experimented with CentOS a little bit myself--just to try on the Red Hat way of doing things.

What is your favorite Linux graphical environment?

Favorite Graphical Environment
EvironmentNon-Server UsersServer UsersTotal
KDE 4.x3926671059
GNOME 3.x3766271003
XFCE378605983
Unity342438780
Cinnamon378397775
GNOME 2.x213463676
Openbox166219385
Awesome109271380
xmonad79169248
i349168217
Other4307611191

Just like last year, there is a lot of variety in what /r/Linux is using as it's graphical environment of choice with "Other" being the top category. The top three are KDE 4, Gnome 3, and XFCE. That said, there has been quite a bit of movement in the rankings:

What is your most hated Linux graphical environment?

What is your most hated graphical environment?
EnvironmentNon-Server UsersServer UsersTotal
Unity85914932352
(blank)69810561754
GNOME 3.x54410321576
KDE 4.x255425680
KDE 3.x94180274
GNOME 2.x58113171
Compiz5583138
Enlightenment5961120
XFCE5752109
MATE333770
Other200253453

For the second year in a row Unity wins "Most Hated Environment" of /r/Linux, followed by GNOME 3, KDE 4, and then KDE 3. It's also noteworthy that the second most popular response was no response, meaning a large portion of /r/Linux chose to express no hate.

Closing Statements

Another year, another survey. /r/Linux remains a fairly diverse Linux community. Special thanks to everyone who participated in the survey. Feel free to PM me on reddit if you have any questions or suggestions. I'd be especially interested to hear of better ways to represent this data as well as ideas for questions in future polls.