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Poll Results: Ubuntu & Mint End in Near Tie

The FOSS Force Linux Distro poll is now one for the record books. The poll, which ran for a week, finishing just before midnight on Wednesday, asked the simple question, “What Linux distro do you use most?”

We figured this would be a popular poll going in. What we didn’t know was exactly how popular. By the time the dust had settled, over twenty-five hundred of you had voted — more than double the previous FOSS Force poll record, set back in 2013 for the third and final round of our Best Personal Linux or FOSS Blog poll. Back then, a little over a thousand of you voted, leading us to think we’d crossed the Rainbow Bridge into Valhalla.

[yop_poll id=”43″]
Linux Distro poll results before adjusting for write-in votes. A list of the adjusted results are available at the bottom of this article.

This poll was one for the record books in other ways as well. In our article introducing the poll, published the morning after the poll went up, we invited you to share your reasons for your vote. Again, you responded with gusto, producing 100 comments — more than doubling what we’ve seen before.

The poll itself proved the old adage that things aren’t always what they seem.

When the poll went inactive on Wednesday night, it seemed that Linux Mint was the winner by the slight margin of thirteen votes over Ubuntu. However, after the write-in votes were counted, it turned out that Ubuntu had won, albeit by an even slighter margin of eleven votes, less than a half percent of the votes cast and well within the margin of error even in a scientific poll — which our poll certainly wasn’t — technically qualifying this as a tie.

Ubuntu was the only distro in the field of answers which gained additional votes from write-ins. Some Ubuntu voters, it seems, weren’t content to simply vote for Ubuntu — some wanted to make sure we knew which desktop environment they use as well. This might be because Ubuntu has made the use of various desktop environments something of a cottage industry, or it could be that Ubuntu users are prone to trying numerous desktops due to disgruntlement by some over Unity and GNOME.

Write-in votes were important to poll results in other ways as well. Two of the top ten distros got there by way of write-in votes alone — and a total of four not listed distros ended up ahead of distros offered by default by way of write-in voting.

The results also showed a paradoxical mix of diversity and conformity. Although 67 distros were included in the results, about 80 percent of the vote went to just five distros. Indeed, the top two vote getters accounted for over 35 percent of the votes cast.

Anyway, it’s all over for the Linux Distro poll. Well, maybe not — we’re considering turning this into an annual event, as we’ve done with our Desktop Environment poll.

If you’re interested in seeing how your distro fared, we’ve included the results below.

Distro Votes
Ubuntu 473
Linux Mint 462
openSUSE 417
Arch 276
Debian 192
Fedora 190
Manjaro 67
CentOS 50
*PCLinuxOS 49
*Gentoo 36
*Slackware 35
Mageia 31
*Kubuntu 30
elementary 29
Antergos 24
Xubuntu 22
Bodhi Linux 13
Lubuntu 12
Kali Linux 5
Linux Lite 5
Netrunner 5
CrunchBang 4
Korora 4
Chakra 3
MX Linux 3
Puppy Linux 3
Solydx(k) 3
Deepin 2
Funtoo Linux 2
KaOS 2
NixOS 2
OpenMandriva 2
Sabayon 2
Tiny Core Linux 2
Void Linux 2
* Write-in distros that received more votes than some of the offered poll choices.

Honorable mention to distros receiving one vote: Alpine Linux, aptosid, BackBox, Black Lab Linux, ChaletOS, Edubuntu, Fatdog64, GoboLinux, KNOPPIX, Makulu, Mozillux, Mythbuntu, Nova, Open Xange, Oracle, Peppermint, Pinguy OS, Point Linux, Raspbian, RHEL, ROSA, Salix, Scientific, SparkyLinux, Trisquel, Ultimate Edition, Voyager, VSIDO, Zorin OS and #!++ Beta.

Is there anything that you found enlightening in our poll results? Anything surprising? Maybe even disappointing? If so, let us know in the comments.


  1. Hunkah Hunkah March 21, 2015

    I seriously think that having 1000 different distros to scratch one single itch isn’t really needed. Like probably more than half of the distros available could be merged into another project. There are so many duplicated efforts to do the exact same thing. Fedora kind of does it right with “spins”, but even then, Fedora has so many other issues because of its speed of release. It never has a resting state where you can just use it for a year without needing to update to the next version.

    I kind of think that some of the desktop environments could merge as well. Like LMDE and XFCE, aren’t they doing exactly the same thing? Does anyone even use LMDE? And that whole crap with Gnome “taking away distraction”… They’re basically saying, OK everyone is stupid and basically has the attention span of a goldfish, so we’re going to remove everything you ever found useful, so that you feel as incompetent as we think you are. But we’re going to give it all back to you as patches and plugins so that you can feel sort of competent again. (Instead of admitting we were wrong).

    Distraction free is the worst insult a DE can ever say to its users. It’s saying we know you’re like a cat with a shiny object, so we’re going to dumb everything down so that you can get some work done.

  2. Stephen Green Stephen Green March 21, 2015

    Well I guess you guys know now the score..

  3. Uncle Ed Uncle Ed March 21, 2015

    >>I seriously think that having 1000 different distros
    >>to scratch one single itch isn’t really needed.
    >>Like probably more than half of the distros
    >>available could be merged into another project.

    Who says there is only ONE SINGLE ITCH to be scratched?

  4. Randy Noseworthy Randy Noseworthy March 21, 2015

    One of the neat things that Canonical/Ubuntu did lately was their rendition of the MATE Desktop. It was rather refreshing re-familiar to the first time I had fired up Fiesty Fawn and installed it on a laptop specifically for Linux.

    While, I currently have MINT MATE installed on most of my equipment, Ubuntu MATE Would be my next choice. Either one of these distro with these Desktop Environments can have the same look and feel without much effort on the users part. They do have some subtle (or not) differences, and those subtle differences might be the reasons for a person to pick one over the other.

  5. Larry Cafiero Larry Cafiero March 21, 2015

    Stephen Green — What we know from these results is that more Ubuntu folks voted for their distro than anyone else. Is there something else we should be reading into this?

    Randy Noseworthy — Interesting point. Taking it one step further, you could make the argument that Ubuntu is hedging its bets on the desktop environment front since Unity hasn’t exactly been widely embraced by the wider FOSS community. In fact, is there any other distro that’s offering it?

    Biggest surprise: openSUSE – Glad to see they did well in this poll.

  6. Andrew Andrew March 22, 2015

    Hey where’s my OS X vote! jk 😉

  7. ned flanders ned flanders March 24, 2015

    Well, at least we know what the desktop of choice for users of this site is if nothing else.

    If Unity: Desktop For Retards and Cinnamon/MATE: bastard reject demon seeds from the ugliness known as GTK and GNOME are what Linux desktops are all about, I’ll stay in the comfort of OS X.

  8. John S John S March 24, 2015

    Then there are people like me that really throw in the monkey wrench. Fluxbox WM running on a Ubuntu core with utilities and apps from Openbox, XFCE, LXDE, and Cinnamon. There’s 1,556 files installed and I know what every one does.Linux is like that.

  9. Drew Drew March 26, 2015

    No surprise on the near tie. I run Mint because of its non-tablet desktop mode. Professionally I work on embedded system projects which employ various forms of Linux kernel and filesystems. This type of small platform has evolved from EEPROM/FLASH with compressed kernel/filesystem to block mount eMMC and sdcard with live filesystems.

    Much of this embedded Linux evolution has been spurred by hobbie-style boards like beaglebone and raspberry pi. And with live filesystems in Flash, next-gen geeks are dropping Ubuntu and other ‘desktop’ distros in these embedded platforms. Not so efficient for embedded but it would be interesting to see (hint poll) which distros are most popular in the embedded domain.


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