The FOSS Force Poll
The voting is over in the first round of our annual GNU/Linux distro poll, which sought an answer to the simple question, “What Linux distro do you currently use most?” The result was a complete surprise, at least to us. By a decisive margin, you voted for Arch Linux. The poll was certainly one for the record books. By the time it was closed to voting, a total of 5,784 of you had cast votes, more than double from any previous FOSS Force poll. The poll was online for approximately one week.
But this was just round one of a two part polling process, and the round two poll is already up and running. In the second round, we’ve taken the top fourteen winning distros from the first poll and asked a slightly different question: “Which of the GNU/Linux distros listed below would you choose to win the FOSS Force ‘Best Desktop Distro’ Award for 2015?” As the question implies, this new poll will be used to bestow the honor of “Best Linux Distro 2015,” which will be based entirely on this poll. It’s winner-take-all, with you as the deciding factor.
We’ll have more on that later, after we look at the first round of voting.
The poll offered nine of the top ten distros from DistroWatch’s “Page Hit Ranking,” placed in the order they appeared on the list when we created the poll. Although the DistroWatch list isn’t a metric of a distro’s actual use — as the name implys, it merely measures the number of visits to each distro’s page — it’s often seen as the best metric we have for determining the usage and popularity of the nearly 300 “official” Linux distros. We assumed that the results of our poll would come close to mirroring DistroWatch’s list, which didn’t happen. It wasn’t even close.
|Tiny Core Linux
Arch Linux, the winner of our poll — gathering 1,378 votes or 23.8 percent of the total votes cast — occupies the number nine spot on DistroWatch’s list (it shows up in the eighth position on our poll because we didn’t include CentOS since it’s not primarily a desktop distro). DistroWatch’s top distro, Mint, only made a fourth place showing here — although until the last couple of days of polling it often occupied the top spot, and seemed to be in a race with Ubuntu and Fedora, which ended up placing fifth and second respectively.
The results of our survey probably speaks more to the strength of a distro’s community, as well as to the passion of its users, than to actual usage or even popularity. In the article introducing the poll, we encouraged our readers to get-out-the-vote, writing: “Get to your distro’s forums, post on your favorite email lists, go social — like a good political boss working out of a smoke filled room in Chicago, it’s up to you to get the vote out for your distro, because if you don’t do it…who will?” Evidently the folks at Arch, Fedora, Debian, and even Mint and Ubuntu took heed.
As did users of Slackware, Gentoo and Tiny Core, three distros not on our list but which did extremely well as write in candidates, where votes are much harder to get. Pretty impressive, we think, for distros listed as 31, 45 and 49 on DistroWatch’s list. Way to go, guys and gals. A total of 62 distros received write-in votes.
Another thing we were interested in finding out with this first round poll was how many of you most often use an operating system other than Linux. The results here weren’t surprising in the least, with only 1.8 percent of you indicating you use something other than Linux as your go-to operating system. One percent of voters were evenly split in their indication of Windows and OS X use, with 0.7 percent indicating a use of *BSD. GNU/Hurd usage was at 0.1 percent, not surprising as it’s not yet ready for prime time. The numbers here should be considered on the low side, as we can be certain that Microsoft and Apple weren’t pushing their users to vote on a FOSS site.
But now it’s on to round two, to determine which Linux distro gets bragging rights as the winner of “FOSS Force Best Linux Distro 2015.” There’s not much at stake here other than bragging rights (we won’t be writing a big check to the winner because…well, it would bounce). However, we will be displaying a “winner of” logo on our front page until next January, when the 2016 winner will be decided. We will also be reviewing distros placing in the top three spots within a month of two — complete with screen shots — and will certainly review others over time.
If you support a distro that’s in our poll, you might as well go to your community and get out the vote, because an open poll like this automatically measures community support as much as it measures anything else. Since we can’t hand pick voters or weigh the results in any meaningful fashion as takes place in scientific polling, we couldn’t stop community involvement even if that was what we wanted — which it’s not — so poll’s such as ours are always, to one degree or another, a measure of the community.
The new poll went online early yesterday evening EST. In early voting Arch already has a commanding lead with 43.9 percent of the vote as we ready this article for publication, followed by Slackware with 11.8 percent. However, it’s early and less than 250 votes have been cast so far, so things could rapidly change.
Let’s have fun with this poll. After the fun is done and the dust has settled, we can crunch the numbers and see what we’ve learned.
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