Linux poll results: And the winners are...

The members of LinuxQuestions have spoken about their favorite Linux and open-source programs. Their favorite Linux? Would you believe it's Slackware?
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

The votes are in. LinuxQuestions, one of the largest Linux groups with 550,000 members, has just posted the results from its latest poll. The winner for the most popular desktop distribution? Slackware!

Slackware!? Yes, one of the oldest of Linux distributions won with just over 16 percent of the vote.

If that sounds a little odd, it is. On DistroWatch, a site that covers Linux distributions like paint, the top Linux desktop distros are Mint, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Manjaro. Slackware comes in 28th place.

So why the discrepancy? With more than double the votes for any category, it appears there was vote-stuffing by Slackware fans.

Linux users love to debate about desktop environments. KDE Plasma Desktop took first by a hair's breadth over the popular lightweight Xfce desktop. Other well-regarded desktop environments, such as Cinnamon and MATE, got surprisingly few votes. The once popular GNOME still hasn't recovered from the blowback from its disliked design change from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3.

When it comes to servers, the top pick, Red Hat's community business Linux distribution CentOS, comes as no surprise whatsoever. CentOS has long been popular with Linux-savvy businesses because it's essentially Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) without the cost of a support contract. Indeed, I've been told by Red Hat staffers that CentOS is RHEL's biggest server competitor. It was followed closely by Debian, Slackware, and Ubuntu.

The mobile operating system race was a runaway for Android, with over 68 percent of the vote. Second place went to CyanogenMod, an Android clone, which recently went out of business. There have been other mobile open-source operating systems, but they've either been discontuned (Firefox OS) or simply have never gained that much of an audience (Ubuntu Touch).

LibreOffice also earned an overwhelming victory for best office suite with 89.6 percent of the vote. There's nothing shocking about this result. Its only real competition, its parent project OpenOffice, is dead for all practical purposes.

One of Linux's endless debates that started long before Linux was a twinkle in Linus Torvalds' eye is between vi, and its modern clone vim, and Emacs. Surprisingly, vim easily beat Emacs in this poll.

Firefox may struggle as a web browser in the larger world, but on Linux it's still popular. Firefox took first place with 51.7 percent of the vote. Chrome came in a distant second place, with the rest of the vote being divided between a multitude of obscure browsers.

On the hardware front, Raspberry Pi was not considered for the best single-board computer (SBC) even though it popularized SBCs, because it's not truly open source. According to one LinuxQuestions senior member, "It only acts as an open platform after everything is booted (third boot stage) and running on the CPU/ARM-core (CPU and SDRAM are disabled at boot). The main processor of the SoC is the GPU (first and second boot stage), using closed/undocumented stuff from Broadcom." So, the victory went to the Arduino SBC.

Finally, for Linux server hardware, Dell was the winner with over 39 percent of the vote.

What's really the best in all these categories? That's really up to you. One advantage Linux has over its rivals is that you're free to pick out the components that work best for you.

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