[linux-elitists] how many Linux programmers are out there

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Sun May 30 00:28:10 PDT 2004

Please set your mailer/editor linewrap to 68-75 characters.  I strongly
recommend 72 as a good default.

While many mail clients will accomodate unwrapped text:

  - Some don't.  Be considerate.

  - Many more fail to wrap and attribute quotes properly.

  - Many web-based list archives render unwrapped text as very long
    lines, e.g.:


Thank you.

on Sun, May 30, 2004 at 01:51:29AM +0000, wuonm (wuonm@wanadoo.es) wrote:
> This morning in my school (yes, I'm diversifying with an MBA) the prof
> was talking about standards and of course Linux come into the picture.
> She said that there is about 100 millions Linux programmers (I presume
> she included also users) in the world.

Most "user" figures have been floating around the 10 - 30 million mark.

I was looking at some web stats reporting which shows GNU/Linux as ~2-3%
of all hits.  A value I suspect is underreporting as GNU/Linux users may
be more inclined to obscure OS information on browsers for either
privacy or functionality reasons (e.g.:  browser exclusion by websites).
The "undetermined" range typically ranges from 2-5% in such reports, so
I'd put usage at ~3-8%.

If there are 800m systems deployed (I don't know, but 600m was a common
figure 3-4 years ago), that works out to 24 - 64 million GNU/Linux

So 100m GNU/Linux *users* isn't a far off bet, but would be ~12%

If you swallow the standard FUD that you have to be a programmer to use
GNU/Linux, then her statement follows ipso facto.  But it's pretty
suspect methodology.

> I didn't correct her because I didn't know a better answer.
> Later on I googled for it but didn't found a convincing answer.

Nobody's got a real handle on this.  It's frustrating for GNU/Linux
proponents naturally, but it's got to be equally frustrating for the
folks in Redmond who're trying to assess the threat.

IDC seems to have among the better and more widely reported numbers.
Even they are very careful to:

  - Distinguish shipments, dollar volume, actual deployment, and actual
    end-users.  Shipments are generally pre-packaged major
    vendor-supplied systems, and excludes systems bought bare,
    converted, or obtained through smaller regional "white box" vendors.
    Dollar volume tends to understate GNU/Linux for reasons well
    understood here, essentially:  it's economical.  Deployment would
    include any conversions or white-box systems, but is hard to count.
    And usage tends to assume/presume desktops, and introduces all sorts
    of questions over what exactly constitues a "user".

  - Note that true deployment and usage is difficult to measure.  See

  - Hold numbers close to their chest.  Both for the reasons above and
    that they charge for the data.

I'll typically see reported figures once or twice a year, but they're
hazy.  I recall an item by Robin Miller some months back on this.
> Has anyone estimated the number of programmers Linux has vs.
> non-Linux? 

Hell.  A total "programmer" count would be of interest.  That's a hard
thing to pin down.  In large part because a lot of de facto programmres
don't consider themselves same.

> A start can be the number of OpenSource projects (being them mainly
> Linux based). Sourceforge.net has about 81000 projects and 850000
> users. Assuming sf.net is the biggest project farm for
> opensource/linux based projects, how much more projects farms of this
> size exists? 3? None?

There is a study of Apache which covers its development trends.  IIRC, a
core of a dozen or so developers, a larger semi-active group of a few
dozen, and perhaps 300 total contributors worldwide, at any one time.
Written up in a paper 2-3 years ago (possibly earlier).  I'd consider
Apache to be among the larger projects.

There's also Debian, which has 1000+ "developers" (read:  package
maintainers -- though they can be involved in significant development
activities), covering over 14,000 packages.  There's a pretty strong
Poisson distribution in packages per developer, and a fair amount of
flux (cf:  DWN's weekly list of orphaned packages).  Again, among the
larger development teams, but also often _not_ including the upstream
developers who actually produce/maintain a given project.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Kerry '04               http://www.johnkerry.com/
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: Digital signature
Url : http://allium.zgp.org/pipermail/linux-elitists/attachments/20040530/fd799792/attachment.pgp 

More information about the linux-elitists mailing list