KDE/Linux everywhere?

Today I saw that a drugstore where I bought a CD was using a KDE based system for managing there CDs and DVDs. This lead to the question how many hidden KDE installations – and Linux installations in general – are out there.

There are several big installations of KDE around these days – an examples is the Linux system of the city Munich, called LiMux. Other examples are some 80k school computers in Brazil and the German “Oberfinanzdirektion Hannover” with 12k KDE systems (basyskom was behind this one).

These examples are well known. However, since KDE is Open Source no one can track all installations, and several large installations might not be known yet.

The Müller drugstore chain

Today I discovered such an installation: when I bought a CD in a drugstore I realized that one of the two computers on the desk at the information was running KDE. It was heavily customized – no kmenu and a very simple browser window, for example – but kicker was obvious, and the Plastik window style is unique also. I asked the guy at the desk if that system was store wide or personal and he kindly informed me that that installation was used to look up and manage DVDs and other media.
The other computer btw. was some kind of very, very old DOS interface (you still see these often in commercial computer setups).

The drugstore was Müller, which is a drugstore chain with more than 400 shops in Germany and 60something in the rest of Europe. Every shop is running several computer stations (to get an idea: the shop I am talking about was spread over three floors!), but I’m not sure if they use the KDE system only for the media management or also for other purposes. But I think it it save to estimate that there are at least roughly 500 installations.

Of course, 500 installations alone will not change the world, but it is just one example of possibly many hidden installations – and I discovered it the first time today although I know this drugstore for more than four years. Also, as I mentioned, the other system on that desk was an old DOS system. Imagine they start upgrading these systems as well – it would be stupid upgrade these machines to yet another system so there is a good chance that these machines will be upgraded to KDE as well.

How many are we?

The question is now how many other installations are out there which no one realizes? And if you add all these up, what is the outcome? Of course Microsoft Windows is more spread (well, they do have a monopoly, after all), but Apple says itself has only 22 million installations – I wouldn’t be surprised if KDE+Gnome/Linux installations would have a bigger impact than that.

Unfortunately there are hardly any statistics. But half a year ago Mark Shuttleworth estimated 8 million (!) Ubuntu users. Also, Fedora reported almost 3 million installations of Fedora Core 6 in 26 weeks. Both numbers are impressive, but are old (in the Open Source world 6 month is old) and do not even include the corporate installations like SLED or RHEL, not to mention other Linux distributions like OpenSuse, Debian or Mandriva.

This again shows that the Linux community need to gather more statistical data: smolt and popcon are nice starts, but we need more. The best would be a cross distribution project to collect the data – at least among the community distributions, but that is unlikely anytime soon.

Still, even distribution specific data are very valuable. They show the real power behind the project, and they give the developers and the project leaders a stronger voice when these talk for example to hardware vendors about open drivers. Also, such things – done right – are good for advertising the distribution and Linux (or KDE or Gnome) in general:

Fedora Statistics - showing almost 3 million installations

Pretty nice, isn’t it? Thanks to the Fedora Statistics and Marketing people. We need more of such things!


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