Last week, I wrote an item that mentioned that the original Ars Technica article on 10 years of Ubuntu, since rightfully edited to delete the number of countries under the sphere of Ubuntu’s influence, briefly reflected the following irksome claim:
“Today, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, estimates that there are 25 million Ubuntu users worldwide. Those users span 240 countries…”
Numbers: They may not be Canonical’s strongest suit.
I don’t blame Ars Technica for originally posting it because it’s a common claim by our friends from the Isle of Man. Also, I give Ars Technica all the credit in the world for going back and fixing it. But for the last week, it bothered me that Canonical might continue to make such a claim, knowing full well that they had erred.
I thought perhaps it was a one-off mistake, made by a marketing department flunky who had too much Red Bull while writing a press release. Being the responsible company that Canonical/Ubuntu is, and being the good FOSS community member it portrays itself to be, I assumed they’d fix the error right away and make sure that ludicrous hyperbole was not the order of the day.
Would that be asking too much?
Perhaps. Sadly, a company that claims to be a FOSS leader can’t be bothered with getting simple facts correct. An ad on LinkedIn posted a week ago today makes the same claim for a job in London. You can click on the photo to the right and read, “It is used by over 20 million people in 240 countries in 80 languages.”
This achievement — benefitting 240 countries — would normally be awe-inspiring, except the United Nations estimates that there are 196 countries in the world. Even if we are to factor in all the separatist movements around the world — and there could very well be 44 of them to complete Canonical’s 240-country world — do you honestly think that using a FOSS based operating system is in the forefront of their computer use during their struggle for independence?
Nevertheless, back on the topic, you can go ahead and do this with me — Google “canonical ubuntu 240 countries” (no quotes) — or you can just take a look at what I came up with here.
Namely, a FAQ for the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group — I didn’t know Canonical was considering naval superiority in addition to their operating system, but hey, who am I to judge? — points out the same statistic at the end of the first paragraph on the first page. Want more? OK, how about this gem? Martin Statler, Canonical’s director of global support and services, seems to live in the same 240-country world, according to this slide presentation, specifically the fourth slide.
But more directly, go to this current Ubuntu Design page on the Ubuntu web site, and there you go: designing for a good purpose in 240 countries worldwide.
Let’s assume, for a moment, that Canonical is taking into account very, very small countries, like Mylivingroomistan. In this tiny country nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains near the Pacific Ocean, there are three computer users with six computers running Linux Mint, Korora, Fedora, Debian (on a rack server), CrunchBang and, ahem, MacOS. Judging by the repositories from which Linux Mint draws software, perhaps Canonical is counting users here. Meanwhile, in the neighboring People’s Democratic Republic of Bobshouse, that principality has several Ubuntu servers and desktops, and one openSUSE laptop.
So maybe, just maybe, all these countries — large, medium, small, and minuscule-bordering-on-nonexistent — add up to a total of 240. But until someone shows me otherwise, I’m going to give Canonical the benefit of the doubt and just chalk it up to a simple error, rather than just another case in a long line of misinformation.