Top Linux and open-source programs survey results

LinuxQuestions' annual members choice survey is in and the top Linux distributions and open-source programs are sometimes quite surprising
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

LinuxQuestions, a leading Linux fan and user support site, has just completed its annual members choice survey to see which Linux distributions and open-source programs are the most popular and the results may surprise you.

The LinuxQuestions annual survey is in and the results are an interesting mix.

For starters, guess which Linux distribution is the most popular according to LinuxQuestions members? DistroWatch, the popular site that monitors all Linux distributions, shows Linux Mint as being the most popular of current distributions. But, that's not the one most favored by LinuxQuestions' folks.

Instead, Slackware is LinuxQuestions' desktop distribution of the year with 20.59% of the vote. "Slackware!?" Many of you are probably asking. "What's that?" Slackware is one of the oldest Linux distributions that's still in production. It was perhaps the first truly popular Linux distribution and it started in 1993. Today, it's not that well known... except in hard core Linux fan circles. In second and third place Mint and Ubuntu were duking it out.

When it comes to the Linux desktop interface, KDE is the number once choice, followed by Xfce. GNOME, once the favorite. has dropped to third place, and its close relative, Cinnamon, is rapidly gaining on it.

For the top server Linux distributions, Debian came out on top. For a group that so strongly supported Slackware that can come as no surprise. Here, Slackware came in second and CentOS, the popular Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone took third.

This vote reflects fannish appeal rather than business deployments. While Debian always has its supporters and CentOS is a popular choice for Web hosting companies, RHEL, as Red Hat's ever growing numbers shows, is still the giant of Linux server distributions.

Other results were not so surprisingly. When it comes to mobile devices Android is the top operating system choice.

It's also interesting to note that while Fedora and openSUSE are abandoning MySQL for MariaDB, LinuxQuestions members still favor MySQL. They also prefer Postgresql, sqlite, and Firebird over MariaDB. On the NoSQL front, MongoDB), to no surprise, is the leading database management system (DBMS).

When it comes to office suites, though, the LinuxQuestions readers are in agreement with the Linux distributors. LibreOffice, not OpenOffice, is now the open-source office suite of choice by a wide majority.

For browsers, Firefox may no longer be as popular as it once was in most circles, but the LinuxQuestions crew still likes it. Google's Chrome, and its pure open-source brother Chromium are in second and third.

Would you believe that a Microsoft product also took a top spot on a Linux application list? Believe it. Skype, yes Microsoft's Skype for Linux, is, by a vast majority, Linux's most popular Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) program. Who knew!?

Finally, I also think it's noteworthy that when it comes to virtualization, LinuxQuestions' crew prefer Oracle's VirtualBox over Linux's own native KVM.

Taken all-in-all, I found this survey's results to be quite interesting. On one side, the results are very old-school Linux—Slackware and Debian—but at the same time, the survey respondents clearly aren't locked into the way Linux was in the 90s or 00s—LibreOffice, Skype and VirtualBox.

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