Tag Archives: Readers Choice

Linux Journal Readers’ Choice Awards: Ubuntu Weak, Unity Shunned

The Linux Journal Readers’ Choice Awards are out with the current issue. Let’s talk about some of them.

The number one distribution was, as usual Ubuntu. But, Ubuntu only got 16 percent, with Debian coming in second at 14.1 percent. So, one could say that Debian is strong since Ubuntu is based on Debian. One could also say that Ubuntu is surprisingly weak. One would think it would be higher. One possibility is that Linux Journal readers are pretty hard core, and might often eschew Ubuntu for other distributions that cause more pain. Face it. Real Linux users like to wear hair shirts.

I myself voted for Ubuntu when the poll came around even though at the time I was following Shawn Powers dangerous advice and had installed one of the original Unix desktops on my laptop. I totally messed up the workings of my computer and managed to simulate a recurring hardware glitch that was really just a software conflict involving the power management system. I fixed that by putting Ubuntu with Unity on a fresh install and things have been working fine since then. It was a fun trip, though, totally worth it.

The point is, I don’t like Unity, I’m unhappy with Ubuntu, but Ubuntu is the system that first got me to have a working Linux box (all prior efforts failed) and even if the Unity interface and Ubuntu’s business model compete with each other for Most Annoying Thing in the Universe I still think Ubuntu is the distribution that keeps Linux afloat at the moment. Based on Debian.

The nature of the Linux Journal Reader is revealed by examining the next few distributions in line that have numbers nearly as strong as the first two: Arch Linux at 10.8%, Linux Mint at 10.5%, Fedora at 6.9% and openSuse at 5.2 %. Remembering that Debian is pretty pure geek (I’d love to know what percentage of users compiled their own kernel) this is a list that seems to demonstrate the duality of Linux at the cutting edge. Love-hate Ubuntu, favor and use other more geeked–out distributions but there are so many Ubuntu rises to the top by default. There are, by the way, 30 distributions on the list.

Linux Journal didn’t used to give the full list of candidates and percentages, but we can look back at some old issues and see how things have changed.

During the late middle ages, in 2003, the top three distributions were, in order, something called “Debian GNU/Linux” (that’s Debian spelled PC), Mandrakelinux (one word) and Gentoo. The first incarnation of Ubuntu was 2004, and the 2005 awards have it on top already, with CentOS and Fedora Core in second and third. By 2009 Ubuntu was number one with 45%, with Debian getting an honorable mention at 10%. So, in that year, Ubuntu was far ahead of the pack with all other distributions coming in at or below 10%. That’s interesting

I don’t have the percentages for 2010 (I think you can get them somewhere) but Ubuntu is selected as best distro, with honorable mention/runner up being PCLinuxOS, with third, fourth and fifth place going to Debian, Fedora and Pardus. The following year (2011) it was Ubuntu with Debian as the runner-up. In 2012 we have the first all-data listing and that year has Ubuntu at 30.1 percent, with Debian at 14.7 followed by Mint, Arc, Fedora and so on with only Debian and Mint getting above 10%.

That looks like a big change, from 2012 to 2013, but it is partly a matter of how the counting is done. The 2012 number for Ubuntu includes all flavors, but the 2013 numbers break them down. So, Ubuntu-presumably-with-Unity gets 16, Kubuntu 2.8, Xubunto 2, Server 1.6 adding up to 23.9%

So it has been a complex horse race among various distributions post-dating 2004, with Ubuntu always on top and generally with a strong lead and other distros moving around in the lower slots. However, despite methodological changes in the polling, it does seem that Ubuntu is weakening. A separate category for best distro for netbooks or other baby hardware put Ubuntu with Unity on top with Android second, but by a nose (10.6 vs 10.4%)

Now, skipping past all the categories that I am not interested in…

The best distribution for high performa computing award is an interesting category, especially because I was thinking about doing some of that. I’m not completely sure what it is but it sounds cool. The top distros with percentages are CentOS (11.4), Other (8.6), Gentoo (7.3), Mint (7.2) and so on. This sounds like a lot of people randomly guessing to me. In any event, I’m sure the best distribution for high performance computing is the one where you compile the kernel yourself. Right?

There is a category for best desktop (as opposed to overall) distro and it runs like this: Ubuntu (23.3), Mint (16), Fedora (8.6), Debian (8.1), and so on.

The next category of interest is important. This is the best desktop environment. In some ways it is hard to separate this category from best distro because some of the distros are distinct because of their desktop (i.e, Kubuntu vs. Ubuntu with Unity). But it is a distinct category, of course. To me the most important question is where is Unity on this list. Turns out KDE is first at 17.9% with Unity running close behind at 12.9%

But there’s a catch. The third place desktop is KDE Plasma with 12.7 percent, and then, the next named desktops on the list are mostly variants of old fashioned Gnome, including Xfce, Gnome 3, Cinnamon and Gnome 2. In other words, even though Ubuntu’s Unity (which is billed as though it only runs on Ubuntu, which is funny) is just a tiny bit behind KDE, combining the desktops realistically gives us this:

KDE: 30.6
Gnomish Not Unity or KDE: 25.2
Gnome 3 cuz it’s not Unity even though it looks like Unity: 14.1
Unity: 12.9

(Other had 4.5 percent and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that “other” would fit into “Gnomish Not Unity” bringing it nearly tied with KDE.)

The Raspberry Pi was, naturally, the best gadget with nearly 70% and nobody cares about the other gadgets mainly because many of them, like the Amazon Kindle or the Roku, are not gadgets. System 76 came in as the best Linux Laptop Vender. I’d like one of those. Lenovo held second place by a tiny margin.

The best Linux Friendly hardware vendor is a strange category because what the heck is a hardware vendor? First place is Intel, second place Raspberry, third place System76 (which makes desktops and laptops), third place AMD, fourth place, Lenovo, etc. This category is a bit like the “Best Vehicle” category where number one is a Leer jet, number two is a Subaru, number three is a company that makes mountain bikes and number four is NASA’s Space Shuttle division. This category may need some reworking.

For web browsers, Firefox came in first place at 52.8 while Chrome/Chromium took second with 35.4 percent and all other browsers maxed out below 5% each. So there are two Linux browsers. Firefox is the default browser on many desktop distros, so that probably helps keep it in the lead. I stopped using Firefox years ago and I’ve not checked it out. I wonder if it still sucks compared to Chrome?

This is one worth going into the past for. In 2004, the top browser was “Mozilla” which you can think of as Firefox if you want. Second and third were Konqueror and Opera. In 2005 one and two were Mozilla Firefox and Konqueror. So, the one that was default in Gnome was first and the one that was default with KDE was second, in the old days.

Firefox (“Mozilla” label dropped) had an amazing 87% of the vote in 2009, was number one with “Chrome” in second place in 2010. The editors note that

We suggested last year that by awards time in 2010, you should “look for an inevitable battle royale if Google can deliver a polished Chrome for Linux in time for you to give it a test-drive”. Well, folks, that battle has ensued, and the era of unchallenged Firefox supremacy is over. Chrome leaped from a barely perceptible 0.35% of the vote in 2009 to 24% this year.

By 2012 Firefox had 50.3% of the votes and Chromium had 40.8%. So we seem to have reached a two year long equilibrium. Or, maybe, Firefox has improved a little and I haven’t noticed that but others have. I’ll probably build a version from source for my High Performance Computing Machine and see how it flies.

It is interesting to see LibreOffice holding supreme in the Office Suit area at 71.8%. Google drive is 11.8 percent. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that Apache is only at 6.7%, even though I get the impression Apache has more current and quicker updates. LibreOffice surpassed OpenOffice in 2011, probably because of a perception that OpenOffice had gone evil. But I’m pretty sure the Evil Empire thing is over now and it is OK to use OpenOffice. If you can get LibreOffice uninstalled from your Ubuntu distribution, that is. Good luck with that… it is installed using unholy links so you may need a priest. Another one to build from scratch for my new supercomputer.

Interestingly Nvidia took a strong first place for best video chipset, despite this:

For the cloud, Dropbox came in with a strong first at 35.5% and Ubuntu One at a weak 7.1% Your doing it wrong, Ubuntu, though I’m not sure what it is your are doing wrong exactly. I do know that the one time I tried to install Ubuntu One it simply didn’t work, and the first time I tried to install Dropbox it did.

The best package management tool was voted as apt-get with 38.5%, second best as Synaptic at 13.7. You know this is a lie, in a way. Synaptic is a graphical-ish front end for apt-get and probably gets more use. But, the truth is, you use apt-get when you want to do it quick and dirty, and either one of two things applies: You totally know exactly what you want or you totally have no clue what you want. You can use apt-get to specify the installation of a particular package you know about, or you can just guess that there might be a package out there that does a certain thing and has a certain name!

Git killed Subversion 78.3 to 11.8.

One of the most important of categories is, of course, best text editor. This is the number one thing I do on any computer. In some ways it is more important than the operating system. Here’s how that one broke down. 90.4% of those polled are going to hell. 9.6% are true believers.

What I’m waiting for is a Linux Port of BBEdit. I’ll pay for it.

File systems are important. Best Journaling Filesystem went to ext4, by a large margin. I would say don’t bother with anything else. I will be using it with my new high-powered supercomputer.

Linux file managers reached a peak with an earlier version of Nautilus and have been ruined since then. I’m seriously thinking of giving up GUI file manager totally. Anyway, Dolphin won with Nautilus close behind. But check this out:bash had 10.4% (and took third place), the Command line got 10.34 percent, Midnight Commander got 7.9% and Emacs got 1.4 %. Clearly, the majority of Linux Journal readers are unhappy with GUI file management systems in Linux at this time. But is anyone listening? ARE THEY?

The best Linux Journal Column was Shaw Powers’ “The Open-Source Classroom,” and that’s appropriate. The best Linux/OSS advocate was Linus Torvalds followed by a fair margin by a piece of software and with Richard Stallman in third place. For some reason I am not on that list.

The Worst Idea Ever award went to Gnome 3, naturally. Second, “Creating a new distro instead of a new application” and fourth Mir. Not the space station, but rather, the esoteric inner working of the computer system thingie. But since “Ubuntu going it alone” and “Ubuntu” (just by itself) adds up to a greater amount, Ubuntu is actually in third place in this important category . The LibreOffice fork is on the list, by the way. Just sayin’

Sadly, Raspberry Pi won the best new open source project for the year. Why is this sad? Because “Open Source Project” should be software and there should be a separate category for “Open Source Hardware Project.” Also sad because there is hardly anything new going on in the software area. Firefox came in second and a bunch of other stuff I never heard of is on the list.

The “Product of the Year” went to Raspberry Pi, which is perfect, then a thing called Jolla/Sailfish which is a phone, then Firefox, then a bunch of other stuff. The Roku is on that list, which I think is legit.

Beyond that the only thing I’m really interested in is the graphics stuff, and I do think this category should be broken down more. Gimp came in first with Inkscape second and Blender third, but those three applications are entirely different and do entirely different, mostly unrelated things.

Go check it out. There are a gazillion other categories that I did not mention but that you will want to know about.