Well, after still coming across the comments about Linux Mint being more popular than Ubuntu, I felt it was time to show exactly where this came from, and what it actually means.

Do you know how many people are using Ubuntu right now? No? What about Linux Mint, or Debian, OpenSuse, or any distro’s? Still no?
Of course you don’t, only estimates are known. But how do we get to these estimates?

The reason Microsoft, or Apple can quite accurately estimate how many users they have is through sales, whether that be computers with OS’s preinstalled, or the sales of the OS itself.
It’s quite logical to assume that if you have 10 computers with Windows 7 on it in stock at your shop, and 7 of those get sold, that about 7 people are using Windows 7. Purely because we know that most people just use the OS that’s installed and the fact you sold 7.

But Linux in general isn’t preinstalled (in most cases) or sold (except for Enterprise Linux’s).

So, then we rely on a different measurement of estimates.
One way that never really took off was to register yourself as a Linux/Ubuntu user, you would be supplied with a user number, and that would keep a track of the amount of users.
But because only a few know about this, the number registered is far smaller than those using Ubuntu.
So then we come to the one place where all estimates come from, and is also the source of the Linux Mint claim of dominance.

Distrowatch.org

If you are unfamiliar with Distrowatch, it is basically a website that keeps a track and provides some basic news about Linux distrobutions.
It also has a ‘league table’ of the top distro’s.
The way they get their results is by the number of visitors that go to a distro’s webpage.

The problem here is that many people that visit a site may not intend to use it.

A prime example of this is to just keep an eye out for which distrobutions are about to release an update. Then before it is released, go to Distrowatch and show the table for the past 7 days and take a note of the positions and amount of visitors. Then go back to Distrowatch and do the same thing but 2 days after release.
What you will notice is that the distrobution that was about to release an update, has shot up the table and the number of visitors has gone up.

Well this is rather obvious, when a new version comes out, surely you want to see what it has to offer.

Now let me provide you with a scenario here.

I am an Ubuntu user and have tried to like OpenSuse only to realise I do not like it. However, eventhough I won’t try it again, I still like to see what they offer with a new release, especially when they introduce something as amazing as Tumbleweed. But my visit to their site will add another notch to the OpenSuse visitors, eventhough I still use Ubuntu, and used Ubuntu to go to that page. If only a handful of people on the date of OpenSuse’s release visit Ubuntu’s page, and a 1000 people visit that of OpenSuse, then obviously it would appear like OpenSuse has more appeal.

Am I trying to stick up for Ubuntu?

No, a lot of people are unhappy with Unity, and they prefer the old look that Gnome 2.x provided, and therefore a lot will have left Ubuntu for Linux Mint.
However, I do not believe this was a mass exodus.

My point here is to simply inform those who believe that Linux Mint has overtaken Ubuntu that the statistics do not count for anything since we do not have a reasonable way to measure which distro’s Linux users use.
But before you think this is another Ubuntu fanboy ranting, please try what I suggested, and see for yourself.

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