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Debian And Ubuntu Flaunt Their Package Popularity

Two "popularity contests" in the Linux world aren't what you might think they are -- they don't track Linux's appeal at large, but rather who's installing what packages from a given Linux distribution. The results are still somewhat raw and subject to different interpretations, but eye-opening nevertheless.

Two "popularity contests" in the Linux world aren't what you might think they are -- they don't track Linux's appeal at large, but rather who's installing what packages from a given Linux distribution. The results are still somewhat raw and subject to different interpretations, but eye-opening nevertheless.

The Popularity Contest works like so: In both Debian and Ubuntu, you can participate in sharing your package usage statistics by installing a package named popularity-contest (obvious, right?) from the main repository. The data's anonymized, sliced and diced a couple of different ways, and served up with regular updates.

Bruce Byfield over at Datamation originally posted about the contest, so I headed on over to the Debian and Ubuntu stats pages and took a gander at what they had to offer. The most basic breakdowns are by processor architecture (i386 is way out in front, naturally) and by repository -- and, of course, by the differences in package selections between the Debian and Ubuntu crowds. The main difference between the two distros: the Debian folks seem to avoid unfree binary blobs whenever possible.

Again, a lot of the data provided could probably stand to be filtered a little more closely. One filter in particular I'd like to see would be one that ignores the core stuff -- the kernel, the toolchain, etc. -- and focuses on actual user applications that people run in a daily fashion. Such a refinement probably will have to wait until the next iteration of the popularity contest, though.


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