Friday, May 9, 2008

Open Source Users: Stand and be Recognized

Do you use Open Source software? You might be using it and not even know about it. Collecting data about open source usage is a difficult task. Self-reporting seems to be about the only way to get any numbers at all, although it's a biased method and might be unreliable.

"The Open Source Census is a global, collaborative project to collect and share quantitative data on the use of open source software in the enterprise". The project tries to count how many enterprise installations there are in the world for each open source package.

Although the project focuses on open source use in the enterprise arena, individuals are also able to participate. Separate reports are provided for individuals and companies.

How it works?

You register anonymously - all you need to give is a user name and password, and there's no need to provide your real name or your e-mail address. You'll receive a Census-Code, and you will then download a tool called OSS Discovery, which will scan your computer for open source installations (this is where you'll need the code your were given), and report back to the Census. By using command line options in OSS Discovery, you can decide whether to contribute scan reports at the time the scans are run, at a later time, or not at all.

Whether you choose to participate or not, you can definitely view the interesting reports and data gathered by the The Open Source Census.

For example, you can see a list of the Top 20 Open Source Packages: Firefox leads the list with 81% of installations. OpenOffice was found on 64% of the machines scanned. Zlib is ranked 2nd.

Of the Linux distros, Ubuntu seems to take the lead at the moment. A whole third of the participants reside in the USA. The rest come mainly from Canada and Europe.

This project looks very interesting. I'm having my computer scanned as I write this post. I'm not expecting to be surprised - I use Pidgin, Firefox, OpenOffice and a few other open source programs. How about you?