Wednesday, August 23, 2006

2006 Desktop Linux Survey: What it didn't ask

If you use GNU/Linux on a desktop computer, be sure to complete the 2006 Desktop Linux survey. It's a few short questions, mostly trying to find what distributions and large software packages are used.

Its usefulness is a bit limited, though. It does ask, for example, which web browser, email client and X window or desktop manager the respondant uses, but doesn't ask about text editors, office suites, photo viewers/editors, etc. All are applications which are necessary on the average desktop.

It also doesn't ask whether the system is single or dual-boot, and what the user's primary system is. Both those questions would give a much better idea of how desktop users are approaching GNU/Linux.

Also interesting: of the 8546 responses (at the time I answered the survey), 36.4 % said they don't run Windows applications under GNU/Linux. Does this mean that the users don't use Windows applications or that they're dual booting their systems?

It also doesn't ask whether the user thinks there are any important desktop applications that are not available on GNU/Linux (in my case, the answer would be "no").

It doesn't ask whether the user is a system administrator, programmer, or other computer professional.

And, finally, it doesn't ask whether the desktop installations are at home, at work, or both.

The survey, of course, is of little statistical value. It's respondants are self-selected. However, the self-selection could have given us an idea of what people who care enough to respond to the survey think of the state of GNU/Linux on the desktop. As written, it won't give as complete an idea as it could have, had it included just a few more questions. But, for what it does ask, it is still worth completing.

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