What Ubuntu users think about Ubuntu 2012

What Ubuntu users think about Ubuntu 2012

Summary: Ubuntu's come a long way from being the popular Debian-based Linux distribution for desktops. So, who uses Ubuntu today and what do they think about where Ubuntu is now and where it's going?


What do today's Ubuntu users think about Ubuntu's future plans?

What do today's Ubuntu users think of Ubuntu's future plans.

Once upon a time Ubuntu was the popular Debian-based desktop Linux distribution that everyone-well not Debian's hardcore fans-loved. That was then. This is now. Today, Ubuntu has gotten into servers, the cloud and Canonical the company behind it, wants it to play in TVs, tablets, and smartphones. That's all well and good, but what does Ubuntu's faithful think of all this? Well Canonical asked them and this is what they had to say.

Over 17,000 Ubuntu users responded to Canonical's survey. According to Gerry Carr, Canonical's director of communications, the average Ubuntu user's age is between 25-35. Carr also found the Ubuntu's users "Overwhelmingly male. The average number of women responding is <4%. Here I do wonder how much the bias of the sampling methodology has affected the response rate - i.e. is that for whatever reason the way we reached resulted in fewer women responding than is actually reflective of the user base. We can't extrapolate from this data, but certainly such a hugely weighted response means we have to look at how we make the product, the community and probably both, more appealing to both genders."

The majority of Ubuntu users, over 80%, have been using it for at least two years. Just over a third have been using the Linux distro for five or more years.

Of those users, most of them, 67.2% came by their most current version of Ubuntu by doing a fresh install. Only 26.3% have updated their systems from a previous version. Of the vast majority who install or update Ubuntu themselves, 77% found the process easy or very easy. Only a tiny fraction, 0.1%, got their current Ubuntu system from buying it pre-installed from such vendors as Dell, System76, or ZaReason.

A first look at Ubuntu 12.04 (Gallery)

"The low number of [Ubuntu] pre-loads is certainly a concern , wrote Carr. It's "reflecting the continuing lack of availability in the market. We also probably under-counted this as we asked about the version users are currently running versus how they originally acquired a version. Still the good news from the sales team in Canonical is that 2012 should see a turnaround in this availability issue at least in many markets so again, a figure that is worth tracking over time." In other words, Canonical expects that there will be more vendors selling Ubuntu equipped PCs and laptops this year.

Looking ahead, Canonical asked how many users were using Ubuntu's personal cloud service, Ubuntu One. Somewhat to my surprise, they found that just over 40% were using this free service. While Carr thought this was an impressive number, I thought it was rather low.

Ubuntu users say they are interested in Ubuntu on Android phones, smartphones, TVs, and tablets.

Ubuntu users say they're interested in Ubuntu on Android phones, smartphones, TVs, and tablets.

Canonical also asked if its users were interested in its forthcoming Ubuntu for Android and Ubuntu on TVs, smartphones and tablets. Of these, I was interested to see that Ubuntu for Android, which involves running the Ubuntu desktop off multi-cored Android smartphones, got the most attention. 57.4% are willing to give this a shot. The other platforms all came in interest ratings in the high forties. Only 11.5% weren't interested in any of them and 11.7% are still waiting to see these products before making a decision. All-in-all though over half of Ubuntu users were willing to buy a new device with Ubuntu as its operating systems.

Carr said. "We are seeing strong interest in products especially as these products will by and large need to be purchased - that is I need to buy a TV, phone or tablet in order to experience Ubuntu on it. Again, we are polling intention and clearly a large amount of weight on the final decision to buy will depend on the quality and cost of the hardware, the software and the data."

Ubuntu users second favorite operating system is Windows.

Ubuntu users second favorite operating system is Windows.

Beyond Ubuntu, Canonical found that the most popular other operating system Ubuntu fans used was, wait for it, Windows, with 76.9%. Even in hardcore Linux circles it's hard to get away from Windows. As Carr observed, "This might be somewhat surprising to those who think of Linux communities as 'fringe' or 'zealots'. Clearly there is a lot of living in the real world and whether by choice or not there is a considerable use of other operating systems by the Ubuntu user base."

"Android is racing into second place overall [with 51.3%]" continued Carr "and a clear favourite for mobile devices amongst our users. Mac usage is strong but is one OS that drops significantly from English to Spanish to Portuguese users and is probably less prevalent overall than it is in the general population."

As for the other Linux distributions, 35.7% use other versions of Linux and 20.2% use other Ubuntu variants such as Linux Mint. Mint, which has become Ubuntu's strongest contender on the desktop, "wasn't singled out in this survey. Carr noted that "Where Linux Mint is placed between those two categories is unclear--perhaps we will call it out specifically next time."

Carr's final word on the survey was that it's "telling us that there is a strong propensity in the user base to buy an Ubuntu machine and perhaps not a single machine but multiple devices featuring Ubuntu. … Given the heterogeneity of OS usage it is also important to make sure that we continue to develop a platform that plays nice with others which seems to be correctly prioritized on the product road-maps."

I'm not so sure that users are eager to buy Ubuntu on new devices. Certainly Canonical wants its users to buy Ubuntu-branded TVs, smartphones, and tablets, but that tiny fraction who've bought Ubuntu on PCs since Dell was the first major OEM to offer Ubuntu in 2007 makes me wonder how many of them will be willing to actually buy these devices when they finally arrive.

All images courtesy of Canonical.

Related Stories:

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Is Ubuntu becoming a big name in enterprise Linux servers?

Shuttleworth on the Ubuntu Linux 12.04 beta

What does Ubuntu want to be when it grows up?

Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

Topics: Linux, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Tablets

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  • Windows fanboys don't get this

    [i]Even in hardc0re Linux circles its hard to get away from Windows. As Carr observed, This might be somewhat surprising to those who think of Linux communities as fringe or zealots. Clearly there is a lot of living in the real world and whether by choice or not there is a considerable use of other operating systems by the Ubuntu user base.[/i]

    That is so so true. It's also a dense concept for them to understand due to years of intensive conditioning and brainwashing.

    Isn't that right, fanboys? :D
    • ...they're essentially coming from a position of ignorance.

      I've long held that because of the pervasiveness of Windows, every Linux user is a Windows AND Linux user. So to _know_ both and favour Linux, is done with a deeper understanding than to just take one for a 5min spin and dismiss it because of unfamiliarity.

      There is an asymmetry here: Most Linux users can slag off Windows with some knowledge of the topic, however when most Windows users diss Linux, they are invariably talking out their a$$es (from a position of relative ignorance).
      • Meh, most people dont care at all about Linux

        And why should they?

        They have things they want to do and most of the time windows is more than enough. If they want an alternative, they go with Apple. End of story.

        Most people dont want to put in any more thought about it than that. It didnt have to be that way, but linux put ideology above marketing and so they are where they are.

        On the server side, marketing wasnt needed because people were replacing expensive crap from Sun with inexpensive hw and free software.
      • Meh, most people dont care at all about Linux

        Thats because most people don't even know about it.

        And why don't they know about it? because of microsoft.

        I know plenty of people who hate computers, but what they are hating isn't computers, they are hating windows.
        I have lost count the amount of times I have heard "I need a new computer, mines running dog slow" or "I think my computer needs a tune up, its running dog slow" or "I think my computer has a virus" etc... but there is nothing wrong with their computer, they just need to get rid of windows, they just don't know there are other options, and thats how microsoft likes it.

        OEM's get another sale, and so does microsoft.
      • That's right, and the truth will be said here regardless

        [i]There is an asymmetry here: Most Linux users can slag off Windows with some knowledge of the topic, however when most Windows users diss Linux, they are invariably talking out their a$$es (from a position of relative ignorance).[/i]

        And as stupid as they are, I think most of them are aware of this. Except for a couple of dim bulbs here, one of whom is spamming this blog as we speak.

        See, they have a big fear about leaving their comfort zone. That's why I've been flagged and anybody who supports my position has had their ratings lowered.

        But the truth will be said here, regardless of any of their nonsense.
    • Hmmmm....

      I have been Windows free for 2 years now. It is much easier to support one OS (the better one).
      But I can understand why someone may need Win machine for applications that are not available under Linux (some games for example).
      Still not good reason for me to put a substandard OS on a computer I own.
      • Re:Hmmmm....

        You do realize there is an optimized WINE for playing Games don't you? Cedega, CrossOver Games, Playonlinux, and the Optimized WINE. A huge amount of games will work fine on these.
      • @wpreece

        There are quite a few games that run under WINE but not the MMORPGs and some of the latest releases such as Mass Effect 3 or Skyrim. Those of us who play these games need a Windows based PC.
    • I've administered Unix/Linux/Windows

      Each has its merits and place in the IT world and can be argued for/against.

      Unlike someone on these boards who continually shills for Microsoft and has never used any products other than Windows yet seems to be the expert on open source systems.
      • So true

        In the server room, linux is fine--cause its just a free replacement for expensive Unix boxes.

        On the desktop, its Windows. And for some homes, maybe Apple is a good choice.
  • things are changing

    The linux landscape has changed a lot in the last year and more changes would be introduced in the coming few years. Personally, I am at a point where I have not used Windows since more than a year and a half. There are a vocal bunch who deride every new step taken, but be it Unity or Gnome Shell, change is inevitable. The newest release of Unity is snappy, and fast. While I am a GS user on ubuntu, I appreciate the advancements made in Unity. What is even more exciting is the new found focus on design and experience of the ElementaryOS and the Gnome team. We are seeing a bunch of well thought out apps and the steady increase of developer interest in linux. Things are changing.
    • blah, blah, blah, blah...boring!

      Gnome shell, Kde, compilers, ....

      Geeze, all I want to do is surf the net and do some work... Windows or Macs do all of this without all of the boring geeky details.

      Yeah, its the year of the Linux desktop.
      • Threatened much?

        If all you want to do is surf the net and do some work then why are you using windows?

        You can surf the net without the need for antivirus/antispyware software on Linux, and in a couple of years time Linux will still be running at the same speed as when you first installed it (unlike windows)

        Oh and you don't have to pay to upgrade your OS either.

        You should really try something before you knock it.
      • Re:BLah

        Hmm perhaps a live distro boot off cd and click on firefox would help...
  • My wife uses Ubuntu

    My wife uses Ubuntu 10.04 at home, but I doubt she'd know the answer in a survey.

    All she cares about is her computer does everything she needs with minimal fuss. For work, her company supplies a Windows 7 notebook, I don't have to mess with it, and she has no trouble switching back and forth.

    Everybody needs to face it that the OS only matters in selecting your hardware, the apps are what users use, things like Firefox/Chrome and web based apps make even the hardware mostly irreverent, eventually we may get to cross-platform Nirvana :)
  • What Ubuntu users think about Ubuntu 2012

    This survey confirms it, people do not want linux. I can't blame them though, look at those low percentages, 0.1% bought it pre-installed, only a quarter of them do upgrades.

    [i]Beyond Ubuntu, Canonical found that the most popular other operating system Ubuntu fans used was, wait for it, Windows, with 76.9%. Even in hardcore Linux circles it???s hard to get away from Windows. [/i]
    Even linux users abandon their own software for the more functional Microsoft Windows! This is a black eye to the linux community in general. But I can see there point, there is nothing to get excited about in the world of linux. Nothing appealing about wasting days downloading, installing, configuring, compiling, and troubleshooting an OS. That time is better spent doing other things instead of having to babysit linux.

    I'm sure this wasn't the results Canonical was looking for when they asked for survey results, but glad to see the irrefutable truth is now out there that linux is not the OS to use. But silly Canonical will continue pumping money into it with no returns. I'm going to sit here and laugh as I watch this company dig its own hole.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • linux

      It is the games that put Windows on most computers. Other apps too, but games mostly.
    • Loverock...back under the bridge ...its to early for your trolling

      so back under the bridge like a good troll.....
      Over and Out
    • Lovie maybe you should really catch up with whats happening ...

      Tech Republic had only nice thingsto say about Linux .....I think you should do some reading and venture away from windows and up date your life style.....life is passing you by...... and you FUD is so outdated it only shows your behind the times :-(

      Over and Out
      • LOL

        I about fell out of my chair when I read that list. Everything he listed is what people absolutely hate in linux. Gnome 3? Unity? Innovation? And people called me outdated and behind the times. I modded you up a point just for the pure comedy of that post. Dang, just when my afternoon was starting to get boring I read that and laughed. LOL
        Loverock Davidson-