Number of Linux Users


How many Linux users are there?

19 million.

Despite the lack of precise information on the Linux-user population, there are up-to-date statistics regarding Linux’s market share; according to W3Counter, by April 2010 Linux had 1.6% of the operating systems’ market share. Considering that the total number of personal computers in use is estimated to be about 1.2 billion (data provided by Forrester Research, Inc.), it means there are about 19 million Linux users in the world.

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7 Responses

  1. Rex B

    November 18, 2010 6:50 pm

    W3Counter is a bit biased against Linux – since to be counted, the browser must support front page extensions – AND must identify itself as a Linux browser. It also assumes that only one operating system is used for each IP address, and often wipes out Linux if Windows is used on the same IP address. W3Counter and NetStats are not well documented.

    Another site – w3Schools is widely cited – and shows 4.5% – this shows Linux at 4.7%

    Companies like Google and Yahoo can track users by log-in as well as IP addresses, and can trace when a user uses multiple systems. But they keep those numbers very close to the cuff – last time google published their numbers (2003?), Linux had roughly 14% of the market.

    Furthermore, only about 1 in 14 Linux users uses Linux exclusively. This means that these browser statistics might need to increase the Linux share by as much as 14 times. Windows users can use Linux in the form of cygwin, dual-boot, bootable CDs or DVDs, bootable memory sticks, and bootable USB drives, and Virtualization allows Windows users to run Linux as an application, and allows Linux users to run Windows as an application.

    So the number of Linux users could be anywhere from 14% to 70% – 14% would be roughly 200 million users, and 70% would be nearly 1 billion users who use some form of Linux at least some of the time on their desktop PCs.

    And then there are Linux “Appliances”, WebSites, and gateways/routers.

    That would mean adding cell phones, tablets, Windows devices, Mac devices, kiosks, and other non-PC devices to the mix – possibly as many as 3-4 billion people using Linux based systems to perform the most critical elements of their Internet use.

    In effect, there are roughly 4 billion Linux users.

  2. 3vi1

    March 27, 2011 5:13 pm

    That number is way way way too low, as it uses a flawed methodology of looking at web requests to determine percentage of users. The Windows numbers are inflated due to products (web spiders, AV security products…) that aren’t browsers but represent themselves as IE to websites for compatibility reasons.

    Ubuntu, a single Linux distro, had over 12M users at the time this 19M number was suggested: Fedora, another Linux distro, in May of 2010, estimated their number of users to be 24M, based on update statistics.

    Most authoritative sources would guess the Fedora numbers to be inflated and the Ubuntu statistics to be under represented, but the real number would be well over 19M, just for these two distros combined. Throw in Debian, OpenSuse, Gentoo, and literally dozens of others.. and the number may easily be over 30M.

    Also, “Linux Users” includes much more than desktop Linux. If you own a DVR, GPS or Android phone, you’re a Linux user. Linux is the kernel, not the user interface, and a huge number of devices use it. There were over 67M Android phones sold last year.

    • 3vi1

      March 27, 2011 5:35 pm

      I’ve also noticed the real problem with the current answer:

      >> “according to W3Counter, by April 2010 Linux had 1.6% of the operating systems’ market share..”

      That’s incorrect. The W3Counter stats show Linux at 4.5% in April 2010 (

      That means there were 54M Linux users at the time. Which is more in line with what I’ve been saying.

      Currently, the W3Counter stats show Linux at 5.1% – which equals 76.5M users, if the Forrester numbers for total PCs are accurate for this year.

      • Johnny N

        January 16, 2014 7:24 pm

        I know this post is very old, but I want to correct some of the posts. has nothing to do with the W3C organization.

        It’s a website for developers to learn Web Development.

        Given that most users that visit the site are tech/software-oriented, there will be more people with Linux installed than the regular population.

        Even the web browsers that show up are newer versions than the regular population, because tech-aware people tend to stay up to date.

  3. 3vi1

    March 27, 2011 5:43 pm

    I couldn’t see the other comments until I did my own research and posted mine. But it look like the other guys came to the exact same conclussion as I did.

    Can someone update this article so that people aren’t constantly re-doing the research? It looks like Rosson pointed out the error five months back.

    • 3vi1

      March 27, 2011 5:44 pm

      >> “This fact is verified on : June 1, 2010. All facts are verified every 6 month after the last modification.”

      Apparently not.


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