Linux Desktop Marketshare Continues to Rise

A few months back, I posted an article about Linux desktop marketshare passing 1% on NetApplications’ web statistics.

Using recent data from NetApplications, I have an updated the plot showing the marketshare hovering around 1%, and, in July, reaching a new high of 1.05%.


Again, NetApplications’ reports do not directly measure desktop marketshare; they measure the percentage of hits on a large collection of websites.  This quantity depends on users with spoofed OS identity, depends on the websites included etc…  The trend, however, unlike the actual number, is probably pretty robust.

W3Schools’ stats also have Linux reaching a new high in market share on their sites this month: 4.3%.  Though, I tend to believe NetApplications’ numbers are closer to the true marketshare; it is nice that both stats agree on trend.

Ubuntu Under Attack on Multiple Fronts

androidubuntu chrome01

Over the past few years, Ubuntu has slowly emerged as the champion among Linux distros – having great application support, a huge and active community and having begun making major inroads in the netbook/laptop market through the deal with Dell, UNR / Easy-Peasy remix and through an announced effort to integrate with Moblin. The only other netbook competitor being the aged Windows XP, and other Linux distros. However, Ubuntu’s gains are now under attack on all fronts from some really big names in the computer industry.  Ubuntu runs the risk of being squeezed out of its current spot in the tech and linux world.

From the right, we have Windows 7, which, if tech-pundits are to be believed, is better than Vista and quite capable on running on a netbook. What does Windows have that Ubuntu doesn’t? Since 90% + of people still use windows as their primary OS, there is a certain comfort level associated with the trademark. Add to this the fact that Microsoft has longstanding relationships with retailers, and I expect this to be the option we see most on store shelves. Canonical needs to start marketing if it expects to ever be more than hobbyist OS in this arena. They need to really push/emphasize their partnership with Dell and develop many similar relationships with other manufactures. People need to hear the Ubuntu name. Hopefully, this brings in some $ for Canoncial in the form of subscription services like Ubuntu-One (hopefully there is more to come) and other support services and maybe enterprise desktops soon.

On the left side, a couple months ago we started hearing about companies shipping netbooks with Google’s Android pre-installed. I just got a G1 phone with android and love it. Because it is Linux-based and open-source, it integrates well with the current Ubuntu Linux desktop through applications like Banshee and Amarok. It has a great app store with tons of useful programs. But, I am not really pleased to see it hitting netbooks. The problem? It is not at all clear if developer efforts to write netbook apps for android will be transferable into any benefit for the greater Linux eco-system because Android is not based on the typical – GTK/QT model. Sure, some Ubuntu developers have gotten Android apps to run, but it is basically an emulation that the lacks the typical Linux look and feel. So, if Android becomes too popular on the netbook front it might just end up pulling resources away from the typical Linux distros like Ubuntu. What Ubuntu needs to do to stop the Android threat is implement an app store and implement it quick. Synaptic is basically 90% there already. They just need to quickly add a way to sell proprietary apps (something like click-n-run integration). Synaptics free-software repos with the addition of an app store that contains things like World of Goo, Cedega, Codeweavers etc.. would be amazing – and would take away one of Android’s biggest advantages.

Finally, if Android is attacking from the Left and Windows 7 from the right, just yesterday we got news that Google was sending a second attack right up the center. Google is not stopping with just one OS – they are creating a second Linux based OS designed for hardware from netbooks up to desktops centered around their Chrome browser. It is not clear exactly what Linux components this OS will have, but I hope, at least, that apps written for Chrome-OS will be natively supported by Ubuntu and vice versa (i.e. they use the same components like / GTK/QT etc. that other distros can use). With the name recognition of Google, Chrome-OS could quickly divert a lot of attention away from Ubuntu and further fracture the Linux eco-system. It is too soon to tell how compatible Chrome-OS will be with other Linux distros. For now, let’s hope they become a good partner in the Linux world instead of a divider.

Edit:  Works With U has a nice article about why Chrome-OS may be a good thing for Ubuntu:

BerkeleyLUG Programming Classes

We are beta testing the Programming Class idea that Phil came up with during the first meeting.  Carl has volunteered to teach the first one on PERL as described in this forum thread:

The temporary time will be 3:30 pm directly after the next regular meeting on Sunday July 12.  The location will either be to remain at Bobby G’s or move to nearby location on UCB campus (I am currently looking at available space).  This timing/location will most likely not be a normal occurence.  Please comment on the forum thread above if you plan on attending.

Laptops for Uganda

After giving me some great help with my Linux laptop, Jack Deslippe has graciously invited me to post something about a little project I’ve got going in Uganda, which some of you might be interested in. I believe he has already mentioned it at the last meeting.

I was the dean of an Eastern Orthodox seminary in Kampala, Uganda for 3 years till 2007, and as a result of that, am still trying to organize support for about 25 high school kids in Kampala so they can finish their schooling. You can find a flyer about the “St Nicholas Uganda Education Fund” at a link in the right-hand column of my Africa blog,

Now, I’m a Linux novice, but you don’t need to be Linus Torvalds to see the usefulness of open-source solutions and open-source culture in Africa. Soooo…. right now I have 6 kids who are either poised to go into college, or are already in college. They all know each other, which means they can work together somehow if we can help them to organize. Their challenge, as always for Africa, is poverty. But I think most of them can get into computer studies if I can get them into college at all (that’ll take about $150/mo each, so it might not happen immediately)— and then, if they can develop as Uganda’s first Linux users, they can become the core of future total Linux domination in Africa, no?

Well, I’m dreaming. They’re actually pretty ground-floor guys, and i know only too well how plans that look soooo simple from over here in balmy Berkeley are completely unrealistic over there. Not only is Linux itself not really well known in Uganda; in fact, most people don’t even have much idea about computers. One student (not one of those i’m writing about) sat at my desk one day and studied my iMac for a while and said, “So, this is called a ‘monitor’, yes?” But on the other hand, i lent another student an old laptop and he immediately sat down and banged out 2 novels and a play! But, inexperience aside, Linux seems like a no-brainer if you’re interested in indigenous, local development, and I think there’s a real chance to get a nucleus of such development going right there…. if I can get them into school, and get laptops for them.

So what i’m looking for are

* some used laptops (maybe 3 to 6), pre-loaded with Linux, plus

* the wherewithal to Fedex them, and then

* the kind of ongoing support that this forum or others can provide.

(The Fedexing is serious: it will need about $800, most of which i may be able to raise, but help is appreciated; or at that price, it may be cost effective just to go through Nairobi on my way to Johannesburg, where i’m headed in aug/sept, and drop them off myself.)

Now, we can’t really start dreaming big things yet– these are folks who can do email, word processing, and maybe spreadsheets— and some of my friends were playing around with iMovie when I was there– but they’re very hampered by the cost of access, lack of equipment, lack of training, etc. They know nothing of command lines and stuff like that. However, those are issues that can be solved– and we really can envision some kind of professional or at least entrepreneurial development as an ultimate goal. In fact i’d suggest that three of them move into an apartment and get a wireless modem– in the right location, their front room could serve as an internet cafe and the whole operation become self-sustaining. And then open-source / Linux would begin spreading…..

It would, of course, be good if i could go back to Uganda and give direct input, but that’s not possible for now. Still, the purpose of this note is to say that, if any of you have some old laptops you’d like to place in active retirement, I know just where they can do some real good, even if this scheme doesn’t work out entirely as hoped.

And if you’ve got time on your hands and want a great vacation and would like to help directly, i can definitely hook you up with the time of your life, for pretty much not more than the cost of your plane ticket!

Electric power in Uganda is very unstable, so the laptops will need batteries that have life in them, the more the better.

I’m planning to come to the meeting this sunday, though i might be a little late, so we can talk about this then, or here, but you can email me also at jbb [at] Please do! And check out the flyer linked at the right-hand column of my Africa blog,

The Best Docks on the Linux Coast

Even Mark Shuttleworth is willing to admit that OSX has a pretty nice usable interface that is a good goal for desktop Linux to beat in the coming year or so. Even if you don’t want to replicate the mac, or if you think compiz is more useless than it is functional (how dare you!?), you might still be interested in replacing one of the two Gnome taskbars with a dock. Here is my dating history with the docks of Linux land:

AWN (Avant-Window-Navigator). This is the first dock I tried a couple years back. It looks good, is easily configurable, and has a lot of great plugins (stacks, menu’s, weather etc…). It can pretty much replace the entire gnome-panel in features. However, I only ended up sticking with AWN for a couple months because the auto-hide feature was (and still is) buggy and would crash the dock during normal operation. This should be fixed for the upcoming 0.4 release; so, I might have to give it another try at that time. The original developer works with Canonical on the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (which I love) and is definitely capable of great things.


Kiba Dock. I tried Kiba as a rebound for only two days after the AWN break up. Kiba has some great features including a pretty impressive physics engine. But, the dock was too crashy for my tastes. So, I moved on pretty quickly.


Cairo-Dock. This is the dock I ended up using for the longest period of time (so far, anyway, since I did eventually leave it). It is pretty rock solid performance wise (especially since the 2.0 release added OpenGL support). The downside is that it doesn’t really have a polished look. The default dock after installation is pretty hideous and obnoxiously busy. The configuration is a bit complicated, but if you take the effort, you can get a pretty nice looking/behaving dock out of CD. One of the nicest features is that plugins can be detached from the dock to act as compiz widgets. I left CD not so much because I was unhappy, but because I was more impressed with Gnome-Do’s offering.


Docky. This is integrated as an optional Gnome-Do interface. It is simple, looks good and works extremely well. When you use Gnome-Do to search (actually Gnome-Do is much more than search), the dock is converted into a great looking search bar. I really like having one application that fills both of these needs. Auto-hide works well. Docky is what I have been using for the last couple months, but am I truly happy in this new relationship? Not quite. I wish there was an option to only show tasks from the current workspace, and I wish there were few more plugins (and the widget feature of CD).


Will a dock ever come installed as default in a popular Linux distro? It doesn’t look like it is coming anytime soon. But, I think Gnome-Do’s docky may have a good chance of making it into Ubuntu since David Siegel (Gnome-Do’s original creator – though not docky coder) is now working at Canonical.

(Images taken from respective project websites)

Installfest this Sunday, June 21

There will be an installfest this Sunday, Fathers’ Day, 10:00 a.m. to 5 pm
at a public middle school at Geary and Scott Streets in San Francisco.
There is ample free parking.  If you are interested in showing up and you
have questions, please feel free to call Christian Einfeldt at
415-351-1300.  On the day of the event, please also feel free to call Jeff
Shippen at 5O5-8O3-3456.  Please do not contact the school, as the principal
has delegated control over these types of activities to Christian Einfeldt,
and the staff will only be confused by phone calls.

It is recommended that you approach the school from the entrance to the
parking lot, which is located at the L-shaped intersection of Pierce and
O’Farrell.  Please do NOT attempt to gain entrance to this installfest by
going to the front of the school, as the school is huge, and you will just
get lost.  Instead, please call Christian Einfeldt or Jeff Shippen at the
above numbers on the day of the event to direct you to the Linux lab where
the work will be done.

The entrance to the school parking lot is located about 40 meters from the
corner of Pierce and O’Farrell, which is an L-shaped intersection.  Please
enter this search string into your favorite mapping service:

pierce & O’Farrell San Francisco

1) triaging, repairing, and installing Linux on old computers in storage at
the school
2) supporting the installation of Linux on old computers brought to the
school by newbies.

We have ample monitors, keyboards, and mice to support the installation of
Linux on old computers brought in by newbies.  We also have lots of distros
and screwdrivers; however, we encourage people to bring their own distro
collections due to the sheer size of the distro choices availabe.  We also
encourage people to bring their own screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, and
any other tools needed to work on legacy machines.

The computers will be deployed there at the school; or given to kids who
attend that school; or will be sent to Mexico, where GNOME Foundation
Executive Director Stormy Peters is building a Linux lab at a school:


What: installfest
Where: School parking lot at Pierce and O’Farrell
When: Sunday, June 21, from 10:00 am to 5 pm

New Linux Video Contest

Some of you may have heard of the Linux Foundations’ “We’re Linux” video contest.

There is a new contest out sponsored by Novell and the Linux Foundation.  The topic is: “What do you do with Linux?” The top prizes are $2000, a laptop and a custom MP3 player.  The deadline is July 1st.  The entries so far are definitely beatable; any BerkeleyLUGers want to give it a try?


The Three Best Linux Media Centers

Let me first start off by saying that someone is likely going to be very angry at me for omitting program x, y, z or Miro. Please express that anger in the comments below. The three media centers I list are my favorites. All of them integrate easily with MythTV by adding a simple menu item, and each work greats with remotes and looks good on your TV. MythTV itself might qualify in this category. However, I find Myth makes a good OS (mythbuntu) and PVR (with a great web interface), but I think it is fairly awful at organizing your media and playing web vids. So, I leave it out of the media center category. I personally run a Mythbuntu system with the following three media centers installed on top of MythTV to organize my local media and watch web content.



This media center was designed for the original XBox hardware. However, it has since been ported to Linux, Apple and Windows (and other game systems). It has an extremely beautiful interface.  XBMC indexes the music and videos on your hard drive or networked drives and plays them back with a lot of elegance. It is easy to configure your remote control and video playback utilizes VDPAU on nvidia cards. So, you get amazing performance during playback (HD video uses less than 10% of your CPU). Beyond playing back your media, XBMC has a ton of plugins ( that let you play online content like streaming video (ex. CBS), podcasts (ex. The Onion, Game Trailers), grab subtitles for movies etc… It has a MythTV frontend plugin which is great if you have a MythTV backend somewhere on your network like me – it is pretty new, though, and I find it a little clunky compared to a real MythTV frontend. The one killer plugin that is missing is a Hulu plugin, though. This is the main reason I spend more time in Boxee.


  • Open Source
  • Beautiful Interface (Though more complex than Boxee)
  • Great Plugins
  • Very Customizable
  • MythTV Frontend
  • DVD/CD Playback


  • No Hulu Plugin
  • Less Intuitive than Boxee



Boxee is media center that was broken off of XBMC. Basically it is XBMC plus a cleaned up interface, a social network and a few more key plugins. While much of Boxee is open source – these additions are closed source, which prevents XBMC from taking advantage of the Boxee developers work. This is pretty lame of the Boxee team, but they are trying to turn Boxee into a business; so, there you have it. The social network aspect of Boxee lets your friends see what you are watching/listening to and lets you recommend shows or songs to your followers. The main reason to use Boxee over XBMC is the Hulu app based on Mozilla (and a few other apps that are missing in XBMC). It is also generally a bit simpler to use. When I installed it on Ubuntu, my MCE remote immediately worked. Its media indexing system is not very good, however. Your files have to be named in a particular way because it does not read metadata, and even after this, it still fails to index a lot of my music. Apparently metadata indexing is coming in a future release – which should fix the problem. I also don’t like having to login to my username on each launch and there is no VDPAU playback yet.  Overall, though, I spend more time in Boxee than either of the other two examples because it is clean and the plugins are awesome.


  • Based on XBMC code – (So improvements there should eventually come to Boxee)
  • Beautiful Easy Interface
  • Great Plugins Capability
  • Hulu Plugin in Particular
  • DVD/CD Playback


  • Not Very Customizable
  • No MythFrontend
  • Indexing Sucks
  • Closed Source Chunks
  • No VDPAU (Yet)



Moovida is an open-source media center from Fluendo the makers of the legal Linux gstreamer codecs. The interface is once again extremely beautiful and it works great with remotes once you get it working. However, I initially had trouble setting my MCE remote up.  The indexing system on Moovida is the best of the three media centers on this list. So, if you just want to play back local media, this is probably your best choice. While there is a plugin system, only a few plugins have been written so far. And, there is currently no Mozilla or Hulu integration. I really haven’t used Moovida as much as XBMC or Boxee, but I am going to keep a close on eye on its development over the next little while to see if it gets more impressive addons.


  • OpenSource
  • Supported by a great company
  • Beautiful Interface
  • Best Media Indexer


  • DVD Player Not Packaged By Default (Thanks Sed for pointing out  they have one)
  • Not Very Many Plugins Yet
  • No Hulu Plugin in Particular

And there you have it.  Try them out and set up a great media center.

NILFS: An interesting new file system.

“NILFS2 (New Implementation of a Log-Structured File System Version 2) is a very promising new log-structured file system that has continuous snapshots and versioning of the entire file system. This means that you can recover files that were deleted or unintentionally modified as well as perform backups at any time from a snapshot without a performance penalty normally associated with creating snapshots. In addition, there is evidence that NILFS has extremely good performance on SSD drives.”