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Ubuntu 10 times as popular as any other desktop Linux distribution?

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The Wikimedia Foundation publishes monthly reports with a lot of useful information about the visitors to its various web sites (mostly Wikipedia). One interesting report shows the popularity of different operating systems. Not only does it show the number of visitors using Linux, but also it breaks down the Linux users by distribution. The below chart summarizes the popularity of various distributions from April 2009 to May 2010. (Note that the chart shows only desktop Linux distributions; e.g., it omits Android, the mobile distribution.)

Visitors to Wikimedia web sites by Linux distribution

Not surprisingly, Ubuntu is on top; this distribution is often considered to be the most popular among desktop users. What is perhaps surprising is the magnitude of its popularity: in May 2010 it was more than 10 times as popular as its nearest competitor (SUSE).

Of course, a few caveats are in order:

  • Drawing broad conclusions based on the visitors to a particular web site can be problematic; the visitors to the web site may not be representative of all users. (Still, Wikipedia is one of the most popular sites on the entire web, with literally billions of visits every month, from all over the world; it seems unlikely that Wikipedia’s visitor data would be heavily biased towards any particular desktop Linux distribution.)
  • Obviously, the data only measure desktop Linux users; they do not reflect the popularity of server Linux distributions.
  • In the data, not all Linux users are placed in a specific distribution; some are placed in a generic “Linux” category. (Presumably the user’s browser did not report a specific distribution.)

Monitor “out of range” when installing Ubuntu Lucid Lynx

Friday, May 7th, 2010

On some computers, it seems that running the Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) installer (the standard desktop installer) results in a blank screen and the error message “out of range.”

(At least, that was the error message generated on one monitor. The message was generated by the on-screen display of the monitor itself, so results may vary. You may observe a different error message, smoke coming out the back of the monitor, etc.)

You can read about it in this forum thread; to summarize, the workaround is as follows:

  1. When running the installer, just before the error occurs, you will see this cryptic screen:

    Ubuntu Lucid Lynx installer

    That cryptic little keyboard next to that cryptic little man apparently means “press any key.” If you do that, a menu will pop up. First, select a language, then press F6 (“Other Options”). A new menu will pop up; use the arrow keys to move to “nomodeset”, and press Enter to select it. Press Esc to dismiss the menu. Then you can proceed with the installation as normal.

  2. Of course, this only works for the installer. When you first try to boot your newly installed system, you will get the same error as before. To boot, you will need to add nomodeset to the kernel command line. When you boot the machine, wait for the GRUB menu to appear. (If the menu does not appear, you may need to hold down the Shift key when booting.)

    GRUB menu

    Press e to edit the kernel command line:

    Editing the kernel command line

    Add nomodeset right after quiet splash:

    Adding "nomodeset" to the kernel command line

    Press Ctrl+x to boot.

  3. Of course, editing the kernel command line only affects the current boot process; the next time you boot the machine, you will have to manually add nomodeset again. To fix the problem permanently:

    1. If you have an NVIDIA video card, installing the proprietary NVIDIA driver may make the problem go away.
    2. Alternatively, you can edit the file /etc/default/grub and change the line



      Then run

      sudo update-grub

      See the release notes for details.