25 August, 2013

On Distributions, Numbers and Breaking Prism

A week or two ago I noticed the prism-break.org site. It's quite cool to see a site offer some concrete links on how to opt out of the global data surveillance. Granted, I already use Linux and I cryptographically sign (not encrypt) almost all my mails because Kontact makes it so easy. Otherwise, I'm not particularly careful - my main mail account is still GMail (although work mail is on SUSE's servers) and I extensively use Google Plus and to a lesser extend Facebook and Twitter.

What distro is popular and easy to use?

The site has many interesting tools listed but obviously my eye was drawn to the Operating Systems on top. I notice that Ubuntu hasn't made the cut due to some of the stuff they've pulled recently. And I see Fedora appointed as 'most popular' with Linux Mint Debian Edition as 'easiest to use'. I tweeted to Peng Zhong that I find it hard to not disagree with these choices...

Fact or fiction

We all prefer our technology to speak for itself. Yet, better technology often looses out. And I thus feel I should at least try to correct common misconceptions.

Statistics presented at the openSUSE Conference show over twice as many unique IP's connect regularly to the openSUSE update servers compared to Fedora. We know that these numbers are not terribly reliable: a more reliable method has shown the IP addresses to over-estimate our user base by about a factor 10. But both being equally biased, we can assume they are comparable.

That is not to say that Fedora isn't doing awesome stuff - they're the ones pushing a lot of technology like systemd and GNOME Shell. But many end users did pick a more conservative OS like openSUSE. And they probably appreciate our work on improving YaST or technologies One Click Install!

More fiction?

About the ease of use - the recommended distribution there is Mint Debian edition and I would find it hard to argue that it is easier to use than openSUSE (the Mint team talks about 'rough edges' and 'less easy to use'). But I'd leave that to random choice as facts seem to bear very little on what is considered 'easy to use'...

Of course, if you mean with popular "the number of articles on LWN" or a metric like that, well, Fedora and Mint probably win.