Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Linux Software

Linux Counter Hits 120,000 100

meni writes "The Linux Counter Project now has over 120,000 Linux users listed worldwide. And with their brand new AlphaServer machine, they're ready to get slashdotted. If you haven't registered yet, please go over there and do." Okay, I just tested it out. W-a-y faster than it was in the past. I'm registered, and you should be, too.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linux Counter Hits 120,000

Comments Filter:
  • When you install a smtp package one of the final options is 'send a local message from postmaster to root, send a test message to the linux counter project, dont do a test'
  • They should ask major (and minor) distros for a link on their webpage. Maybe even a prominent one. That could definately help.
  • Hi

    Below is some more info about the linux-counter project. I hope you will find it interesting:

    • For those of you desperately wanting to see at least some statistics of the "linux counter", you can get them on my home-page.
    • Privacy issues: I am working on a new interface which will allow you sending e-mails to registred users, withouth exposing their addresses. So if you are concerned about spammers and co., just say "i want to keep my addres secret" on registering. As soon as the new interface is done, you will receive an e-mail from the counter with the explanation of the new system.
    • Linux counter has a new logo. please put it on your web-pages! (as a link to linux-counter web server).
    • It would be really great if linux-vendors would give us some more support. The only vendor which does it at the moment is "Slackware" (as far as I know). So, if you know someone from RedHat/SuSe/Caldera/Debian..., please tell them to put a link to us somewhere where it will be seen.
    • There is a simple perl script for machine-registration on linux-counter web-server. It would be nice if some more people would give it a try. The prefered way of use is installing it in a crontab (as normal user, by all means!) - once it gets properly tested, we will be able to put some real-time statistics about the linux machines online (UPTIMES!).
    • We are considering e-mailing every registred user once a year - e-mail would be used to find out if the address is still OK, and it would give the registred users some info about the status of the counter... I hope one e-mail a year is not too much. WDYT?
  • The site still seems to be down. Slashdot has struck again. Kinda makes you wonder how slashdot itself stays up and running...
  • by xHost ( 93751 )
    as of 5:16pm, PST -- its down baby, its down.
  • The number of digits is approximately .24*10^10, so 100,000 digits won't even bring you close.

    I suppose you'll have some troubles working with integers this large, you'll need about 1GiB of RAM just to store one number of that size.

    Even if every elementary particle in the known universe used Linux, there wouldn't be that many Linux users.
  • NetCraft counts over four million web servers running Apache.

    I assume they count servers by IP address not by domain names right? I wonder how accurate this information is since a popular way to do virtual hosting is to assign multiple IP addresses to a single host. If there are a small number of people assigning whole sub-domains to a single machine these numbers could be an order of magnitude off.

  • OK, who will set up the win-users register site? Then if we assume that the percentages are equal and we'll get a better estimate of the actual number of Linux users, right?
  • wow! by the time i wrote this message, the counter had already gone up 30,000 more!

    It's good to see that so many Linux geeks are out there, and it's definately good to see the support that slashdot's users give to Linux.

    and if you aren't registered - what are you waiting for? Lets show people just how many proponents there are!

  • Not just a simple installer, which it seems that Loki has relatively provided in GPL form, but there needs to be a way so that people can cleanly remove an application installed with said installer without breaking anything else on the system. I guess this could be done with RPM, but I'm not particularly fond of the RPM package system because it cannot be used on a system that doesn't have the RPM software installed (read: Slackware, Stampede, etc etc -- my favorite distributions because they cut out the bullshit and let me edit settings in sanely organized files!)...

    Also, it'd be nice to have a console version of the installation/removal system for those who can't use X for one reason or another.

    The installer could include an interface for optinally making the binaries from source, or whatever other steps that are out of the ordinary.
    Something like "Setup" would be a script for compiling the interface(s) maybe, like the linux kernel has make menuconfig. :)

    Such an application would be a great benefit for the community if it were GPL. >=)

    It'd be like InstallShield, but done *better*.
  • People are still quoting Red Hat's 7M figure from over a year ago. The number of users will have *at least* doubled since then, and my finger-in-the-air estimate would be more like tripled or quadrupled. Red Hat, or someone else with the money, would be well advised to sample again and see how many we can find.
  • by clemdog ( 89114 )
    Looks like the alpha server isn't answering right now:)
  • The number you get is WAY ahead of the count (some 40.000 at last measure)
    D'oh. I remember reading this at the time. My apologies to all concerned.
  • Does anyone happen to know how many Windows users there are, or how many copies of Windows have been sold? Just curious for a comparison agaist the amount that The Linux Counter is guessing at for Linux users.
  • I think they having network problems... you cant even ping the host, nor traceroute.. says !H..
    this is not a "normal" slashdotted behavior. :)

  • I can see that their site is back up now. Seems like they've recovered from the initial /. effect...
  • maybe irrelevant to the topic, but i guess 2/3 of slashdotters are hard-core linux users.

    My guess would be that jsut slashdoters could accoutn for a fair chunk of those registered
  • Actually this would explain alot - afterall they took control of the IETF.. and that RFC on "tcp over carrier pigeon" might actually have been a covert signal from our breathren before being assimilated... they're trying to tell us how to survive in the post-post-microsoftian era!



  • It took some digging around, but I finally found some price information on the AlphaServer 800 (I really wish companies wouldn't be so coy about their prices... (no, I do not want to fill in a form so that you're sales people can call me back). Anyway, it looks like it's around $7000 (as of January). But the specs are 500Mhz, 64Mb, and a 4.3 Gb drive. If you want it configured with some real memory I would guess it's going to be an extra $1500 for 256Mb.
    Press release, prices of AlphaServers []

    Maybe I'm confused, but isn't this still kind-of pricey? Compare that to these guys, who've got a 256Mb alpha machine with a 9Gb drive listed for less that $3000:
    SWT Digital Alpha Linux System []
    Or course, this is technically a "workstation" rather than a "server". But I don't understand what exactly it is that you get when you ask for server hardware, except a ten grand price tag.

  • Oh, I would never suggest forcing participation.

    I was thinking of things along the lines of:

    - A message saying that it exists (This is one of the emails to root that Slackware automatically installs)

    - A client program to make it easy to register which could be integrated into the system's install/configuration tools (eg: a menu in YaST or Linuxconf)

    I agree that forcing it would be a very bad thing.
  • Or even better, when Redhat sets the default homepage for netscape (I don't know if this happens) to, they could probably have a form to sign into the counter on their page.

    Actually, this is a very good idea.

    It's the easiest to implement for sure.

    SuSE sets the default homepage to and I would imagine Red Hat does the same.
  • Slashdot is VERY good at finding out where the bugs are - this was a kernel bug, I think.

    i just installed linux the other day on an old 486 to crash around with, then i read this article, how apropriate. Anyways, speaking of slashdot finding the bugs, the graphs [] are kinda creepy following the posting of the article, exponetial(sp?) growth almost :)

    --- installing slack with floppies which have a 50% fail rate != fun
  • Ever notice how you never see the same users year after year but users seem to move in and out of Linux as they're challenged by different problems. At any given time I'd say 120,000 is an accurate count not of installations and back room routers but of the people actually using it.
  • I'm wondering if anyone has started a counter to measure not users, but companies/machines/the like that run linux? I would expect there to be more business users than personal users, since *n*x systems seem the most palatable to people when used for larger multi-user systems.

    Just my 2 x 10^-2 dollars worth.
  • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Saturday October 23, 1999 @06:53AM (#1593063) Homepage
    It's really just a plot to find out which of us actually use linux. You don't know what they'll do with this information. When a fascist totalitarian regime meant to oppress our resistance (read: Microsoft Fascism v2.0) comes about, will those who have registered be forced to wear penguin armbands and relocate to getto camps with only 9600 baud access?

    You really should ask yourselves these things.

    (ps, it's a joke)
    Michael Chisari
  • by SoftwareJanitor ( 15983 ) on Saturday October 23, 1999 @07:01AM (#1593064)
    I think you are way off base.

    I've been using Linux continually since the 0.99pl7 kernel was state of the art. It has been my primary computing platform for nearly as long (since 0.99pl14).

    My guess is that there are more than 120,000 Linux boxes continuously on the net acting as web servers. NetCraft counts over four million web servers running Apache. Estimates I've seen say that at least 1/3 of the Apache based servers on the net are running Linux. Personally I believe that number to be conservative, but even if only 10% of the Apache servers on the net are Linux based, its over 400,000. And that isn't even considering that some Linux based web servers are running Stronghold, Zeus, Roxen, AOLServer, Netscape Fastrack, or something else.

    My guess is that only about 1 in 5 Linux boxes are actually used to run a web server on the publicly accessable Internet. If that is true, then I'd say that 2 million would be a bottom number for the number of hard-core Linux users.

    I don't think the 10-12 million numbers are at all out of line if they include casual, occasional and part-time users.

  • What am I missing here?

    I just visited the site and it said:

    "At Sat Oct 23 16:30:03 1999 GMT, there are
    119921 users."

    Did people read the message on /. and quickly unsubscribe? Or is this another example of "new math" at work?

  • every time I register, I get a message saying that an email addy is required--of course I had already put one in, but i asks again regardless!

    oh well I will have to try later!
  • I guesstimate that between 0.2% and 5% of all Linux users have registered with the Linux Counter. So the total number of Linux users is probably between 2,396,400 and 59,910,000 people.

    Apart from the use of the appalling word 'guesstimate', my only reservation is the calculation of percentages; I'd suspect that the percentage of linux users is slightly higher than the given ceiling of 5%. Linux users are a different breed to Windows users; the majority have at least some inclinations towards zealotry/active advocacy. I'd say that it's more likely that 10% have registered. The number of linux users worldwide is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • It just occurred to me to check out my own registration; I was number 109251 when I registered on 24th February this year. According to the pretty graph, 110000 was reached in (approximately) July/august.
    And if linux is taking off geometically as the graph here [] would seem to suggest, then there should have been considerably more than 10,000 in the last six months.
    IANA statistician, but something looks dodgy. I'm not implying that microsoftian tactics were used, but it does seem a little sloppy; elucidation would be appreciated from anyone who's involved.
  • Its a good idea - its an attempt to try and get a count of who and what is out there - always a hard thing to do.

    I hope they do produce some good figures. The machines listing will be interesting.
  • If there are 120,000 people who actually bothered to sign up, the real number is probably more like 1,200,000+ (not counting servers/routers,etc.)

    Offtopic: What is this pathological need people seem to have to post first? Judging from the number of people who always send their 'I'm first', off topic posts, I'd say parents need to monitor their kids better ;-)

    Back on topic: Does it really matter how many people are running Linux? I can see -some- value in it, but people seem far too concerned with 'market share'. A free OS shouldn't care about market share, as long as developers are coding for the OS (which they are).

    Ok, back to some more mudane activities, like brewing beer (homebrew beer for homebrewed OS'es!).
  • I don't think there is any significant amount of fudging going on. What it comes down to is that I doubt that a very large percentage of Linux users have even heard of the counter. A lot of people who have only heard of it may not know how to find it. May be too busy, lazy or apathetic to register. May be too paranoid to give out any of their personal information, etc...

    I'd be surprised if more than 2 or 3% of Linux users have registered.

  • When all the slashdot readers who has registerd is pressing refresh on, then the site has to come down... Just look at what U've done now...
  • I had first found it while going through But you're right. Hardly anyone advertises it, and it doesn't have a really easy to guess at URL. They need a URL like or something similar.
  • Yes, it is likely that more than 10% of the people that both use linux and know about the counter have registered. But I'd bet that more than 50% of the linux users out there have never heard of the counter. So the original ceiling of 5% seems OK to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Pardon me for paraphrasing Clinton's first term election slogan, but if we want commercial applications like major game developers (did I hear anyone say Fireaxis?) to port their games to Linux, we need to have a big enough market to encourage them to do so. I have personally harassed the BioWare people (Baldur's Gate) to port to Linux (which they will be doing next year) by making my mantra "Linux Good, Bill Bad!" There is room in the OSL universe for commercial code in the same way that "The Blair Witch Project" is not going to kill off Hollywood in the next half hour. I would like Linux to become the primary OS for gaming companies to develop new code - and it may happen sooner than we might expect if we can get a simpler install and a straightforward GUI for the majority of users not looking for a powerful command line. The Linux Counter encourages ports now and primary coding later for gaming companies.
  • Much like 10 million would be wishful thinking from a Linux troll?

    You have been GPLd..duh
  • If you take a look at the graphs of their server load, you can actually pinpoint the exact moment that this article was posted on Slashdot. It's really quite remarkable how powerful that is. I haven't been having any trouble with their server though, as some people have noticed.
  • I'm concerned about the security of the submitted data, especially the one about me and my machines running linux
    Is it necessary for them to know how many entries are in the /etc/passwd file?
  • Well they've gone to 150,000 people registered as of 4:00PM 23rd Oct. Never underestimate the power of /.

  • Some of you I am sure have alway's wondered, "exactly what kind of stress does the slashdot effect have on a server?" Well, this is a good chance for you to find out. Just look at the numbers of visitors per hour, for the last 3 days. Wow, now that jump from under 100, to over 1,000 (This was at about 1:15) is a huge jump. It is also interesting to note the number of slashdot users that registered. I am sure this will be a record day for the number of registrations at the Linux Counter. Actually a good thing.

    We at Shalshdot have put put behind the reigns of a very powerful beast, and I don't think we can contain it. Actually, I think that is kind of cool.

    Note to self: Beware of slashdot effect :)
  • It is updated often. But some entries, are invalid. We delete those entries. And then we never reassign number of deleted entry. Shortly - number you received is yours and only yours. It is your ID and it has nothing to do with number of people registered.
  • by akohl ( 78062 )
    Once again, the far reaching hands of /. have dropped another server to its knees. Kudos to the admins at /. that can keep their site up, no matter how great a number of hits their site recieves.

  • But as you add zeros, it gets more and more attractive. 30! 300! 300,000,000!

    given that "!" is the symbol for the factorial function 30! = 30*29*28*27*...*3*2*1 = A VERY BIG NUMBER

    so 300,000,000! users is awfully big. There won't be enough human on Earth or in the Universe to allow so much users so I guess that aliens are using Linux too.
  • Netcraft [] has information on how their numbers are generated on their pages if you are curious.

    There are undoubtedly some Linux users doing virtual hosting, but my guess is that most of the really large virtual servers are being run on big iron like Solaris. Linux is obviously more popular with smaller hosting sites that likely have fewer domains per machine. I'd guess that the average number of IPs for Linux web servers is closer to 1 than 2.

    Most of the large hosting sites that use an Apache derivative (like CnG and Rapidsite) have changed the identity string so that they are no longer counted on Netcraft as 'Apache', which means that the numbers are not likely to be off by as much as you seem to be implying.

    There is really no way to know for sure how much that multiple IP's per machine might affect the netcraft numbers, but if it is more than a few percent when spread across four million Apache servers checked by Netcraft, I'd be surprised.

  • Last time I checked The Counter, I still couldn't do that, so I had more machines registered than were valid. I had requested the ability to retire records but never got back e-mail saying that was implemented.

    I just retired machine 353 (sniff), a 486 I had loaded SLS 1.02 onto at a client site in May 1993, among others.

    Everybody should check their machine records and delete any you've lost to some other OS or just lost track of.

    I wonder what's the oldest active box...

  • Quoting Denis Havlik
    We are considering e-mailing every registred user once a year - e-mail would be used to find out if the address is still OK, and it would give the registred users some info about the status of the counter... I hope one e-mail a year is not too much. WDYT?

    Please do not send e-mail to people who haven't asked for it. It would not be one e-mail per year, it would be 120,000 e-mails per year.

    I would not mind getting an e-mail, but as long as people haven't asked for it, don't send it. Microsoft is getting flamed for their Y2K spam.
    Don't give them the excuse that Linux does it too.

    As a (terribly aselect) sample, I looked at registrations from NL::Groningen of people I know, is down, can't accept connections to port 25 (SMTP). Only can accept e-mail and you would wake a bot there. However all the people I checked with * or flits10?-* addresses still use Linux.

    Please look at vrfy [] first.

  • But U have to put the address on both fields for e-mail. (Read da fucking manual...)
  • When you actually subscribe, your number is much higher. I received 147000 when the main page counter still read 119000.


  • Yeah. I agree. How dare that propagandist RobLimo actualy *round* a number!

  • by timothy ( 36799 ) on Saturday October 23, 1999 @07:31AM (#1593101) Journal
    dreamchaser asked:
    Does it really matter how many people are running Linux? I can see -some- value in it, but people seem far too concerned with 'market share'. A free OS shouldn't care about market share, as long as developers are coding for the OS (which they are).

    I think it is significant, because the idea of a "critical mass" enters heavily into software development and public acceptance. If there were, say, 3 Linux users world wide, all in Linus' family ;), there would be little incentive to code for Linux. But as you add zeros, it gets more and more attractive. 30! 300! 300,000,000!

    That might be more of an issue to closed- than open-source programmers, but it still applies.

    As far as public acceptance, well the past 12-18 months have seen huge leaps in public apprehension and understanding of Linux, even if it's overheard as "You heard 'bout this LYE-nucks doohickey?" Again, if it was just the Torvalds family sitting around the living room sending messages to each other with PINE, no story. But USA Today and Newsweek can cite geometric growth, or (soon) "a million registered users," or "the thousands of small businesses using Linux instead of (whatever operating system)."

    That's why I think counting is a good idea. The numbers aren't everything (and as the other threads on here are mostly about) they're not easy to extrapolate. But they give a starting point!

  • I know maybe a couple of hundred people that use Linux as their primary system, including first and second-hand friends, acquaintances, and contacts. Of those, I am aware of only two that have registered with the Linux Counter. That doesn't mean that none of the rest have done so, but it does mean that it's not the done thing to register and let it be known that you have done so.

    Extrapolating from this personal experience, I'd say that while the error margins on any estimate of total Linux population must necessarily be very large, the ballpark figure is probably massively underestimated.

    Under a million and over 50 million would be unreasonable, but anywhere in between is not unreasonable at all. And remember that estimates of Microsoft usage count the number of licensed copies, so to be even-handed one ought to count all the released distros that each Linux user has obtained, ie. often a whole lot of them.
  • by Big Jojo ( 50231 ) on Saturday October 23, 1999 @07:36AM (#1593103)

    For unrelated reasons I looked at the counter yesterday. It's very interesting; does anyone know who the single Linux user in the Wallis and Futuna Islands [] is? (Down at the bottom of the country list...) I can tell that person signed up earlier this year, and that they've elected to be private.

    (I'm not picking on that person except that I happened to notice a 'one person per island listing' and that island sure looks nice right about now! I've yet to visit French Polynesia. Why not say hello to fellow Linux users in exotic locales?)

    You can find out a scarey amount of info about people there. I'm glad that my listing (happy user since 1994!) is private. Most folk are letting a scarey amount of info about themselves be visible. Look at your town ...

  • PING ( 56 data bytes
    --- ping statistics ---
    31 packets transmitted, 0 packets received, 100% packet loss........i'll hafta check later
  • go and ask your doctor about the side-effects from being /.ed...
  • ... I've been unable to connect to their web server twice now. Sheesh, you guys should've known that it'll take more than one new server to hold back the slashdot effect. ;)
  • Wallis and Futuna: It's someone who didn't want to be counted in his country. I know which country (I have his IP number), but he didn't want to be counted there. I'm still wondering whether I should force him to be listed under "The world (somewhere in it).

    However, the entry for Laos is very real, and so is one of the 2 for Antarctica. Linux is used in LOTS of places.
  • Looks like it twas slashdotted eh? ;-)
  • "System is heavily loaded (load 7.48) - expect slow response."

    And this is on an Alpha Server :))
  • It crashed. It's up again now (since 19:00 GMT, roughly).

    Slashdot is VERY good at finding out where the bugs are - this was a kernel bug, I think.

    What a way to spend an hour of Saturday afternoon...
  • No, it is NOT necessary. You can lie about it if you want to, its just a survey after all. I think the idea is they're trying to get a feel if the linux system is being used as a single user workstation or is being used with a heavier load of users.

    They are free to ask anything they want. You are free to not answer anything. The only real statistics that matter here are the number of users and the number of machines (which is oddly less than the number of users).

  • It's really just a plot to find out which of us actually use linux. You don't know what they'll do with this information. When a fascist totalitarian regime meant to oppress our resistance (read: Microsoft Fascism v2.0) comes about, will those who have registered be forced to wear penguin armbands and relocate to getto camps with only 9600 baud access?

    You know, the funniest thing about that post is the implicit assumption that Microsoft Fascism 1.0 will be too buggy to work...
  • Hmm.. I sort of took that comment the opposite way. It seems to me that what the poster is saying is that, while there may only be 120,000 users actively using Linux on a daily basis (yeah I know there are probably hundreds of thousands more), there are far more Linux boxes tucked in out-of-the-way offices and engine-rooms, performing menial, thankless, but nonetheless vital jobs, without which various bits of the internet would grind to a halt (I'm thinking DNS, Sendmail, DHCP, etc).

    Just my opinion. YMMV.
  • Not that this really mattered, I just had too much time on my hands ;-)
    1. USA: 30742
    2. Germany: 9131
    3. Canada: 5089
    4. UK: 4972
    5. France: 4724
    6. Brazil: 4509
    7. Sweden: 3982
    8. NL: 3273
    9. Spain: 3262
    10. Korea: 3123
    Finland: 2899
    Australia: 2806
    Norway: 2710
    Denmark: 2633

    Well, I know absolute numbers proof nothing (I mean, look at the /. polls *grin*), but I do find it interesting that Linux seems to be a largely Europaen affair.
    Another interesting - IMO - thing to note is that Japan is surprisingly weak represented (some 800 registered users), whereas Korea (South) is very strong (only Asian country in the Top Ten). Anyone ideas why?

    Just my 2c


  • But as you add zeros, it gets more and more attractive. 30! 300! 300,000,000!

    It gets even more exciting when you add exclamation marks...

    3! = 3*2*1 = 6

    30! = 30*29*28...2*1 = 2.65e+32
    300! = a lot more than I can work out

    David Watters, that one with the hair.

  • AFAIK, Slackware is the only major distrib that encourages people to participate in the counter project.

    I've installed RH, SuSE, Debian, Mandrake, and Caldera and have gotten no such message.

    Considering the number of Slackware installations compared to the bigger guys, and the fact that not all Slackware users have registered (I registered years ago when it first started) I think I know of one reason that number is so ridiculously low.

    Imagine if Red Hat had a message in there at the end of the install.

    Hmmm, what about a "counter server" that lets a client program to add/change information about a user? How about integrating that into the installer?

    The participation rate would greatly increase.
  • valid point BUT....i sure dont want to be forced to register any software and requiring people who do a fresh install to register would be lame, especially since i have done multiple installs, the numbers could then be flawed :) and a simple note or recommendation to the user to add themselves to the counter wouldnt be so bad, but whats the point?
  • I was browsing the site earlier and it got slow and then stopped working. A tracert gets to the firewall (, but nothing after that. Too bad, since I was even thinking about registering, too...

    I'll have to remember to check back some other time.
  • I need to make this more obvious....
    the number you get is WAY ahead of the count (some 40.000 at last measure). Why is listed in the FAQ - - basically it's because some numbers are allocated to people who only register machines, some were jumped over due to bugs, but I never started handing out lower numbers. Thus, the difference.
  • There ought to be some kind of notification of this: I'm a new linux user, and will keep on chugging at it until I get better (ie. not one of the fly by night users who install and then realize "wow, windows is easier" then reinstall windows) but I've never heard of this linux counter until now.

    Is there any place that advertises this?

  • Unfortunetly, if the distro's do it automagically... well, didn't MS do something like that? Not to mention, what happens when I reinstall slackware on my system once every year and a half? Am I reregistered? That would be another MS tactic I think (to be fair, and company looking for big numbers to stuff into the next press release).

    Although, I would have to say that yes, having distros remind is probably a good idea. Or even better, when Redhat sets the default homepage for netscape (I don't know if this happens) to, they could probably have a form to sign into the counter on their page.

    Just an idea.
  • I would like to see a true cound of the amount
    of Linux users, but I can see no way in which
    we can get a close number by doing this. Perhaps
    the distrubutions can put a note in their installation process saying that out of curiousity sake, go to the Linux Counter and register themselves/machines so we can get a more accurate count of the amount of Linux Users out there.

    Come see my website.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley