OSNews and ZDNet: lies, damned lies and statistics

OSNews echoes ZDNet’s lead paragraph: Fedora takes off as Red Hat declines. “Latest statistics for the Web server market show that Fedora, Red Hat’s free Linux operating system, is growing in popularity. But the picture isn’t quite so rosy for its enterprise offering.”

But Read the Fine Article (RTFA) and you find out that 400,000 web sites are now running Fedora, placing it at number 5. And 20,000 less sites are running RedHat, which still leaves it in the top spot with 1.61 million deployments. That represents a 122% increase in the hobbyist/experimental distribution of Fedora, and a 1.2%, yes, One-Point-Two percent decrease in RedHat.

The survey cites only 4 million web sites in this survey, so this is not the same study as the March Netcraft study I pointed to earlier with sixty million sites surveyed. So what’s the subset here? The article is unclear.

Fedora had a new major release in the last year, and it is attracting attention, while RedHat Enterprise Linux 4 has just been released, after the date of the survey. RedHat is facing stiff competition with Novell/SuSE and other commercially supported versions of Linux, but still seems to be holding its own or slipping ever so slightly, though not increasing its market share. Competition is Good.

While the analysis isn’t a gross misrepresentation, if I were RedHat, with 1.6 million customers @ $349 a year (or more) each, I would see the picture as more rosy. That’s likely not the case. The original Netcraft article isn’t clear what “RedHat” is it talking about: my suspicion is that that number is a summary of RedHat 7, 8, 9 and two versions of Enterprise Linux. It would be interesting to see what the uptake of RHEL is, and whether it is RH 7.0 and 8.0 boxes that are being sent out to pasture.

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