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Timeline Chart or Graph of GNU/Linux Adoption?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the for-use-in-combatting-FUD dept.

Linux 49

DNAman asks: "I'm preparing a presentation for the use of GNU/Linux in the biological sciences. One recurring comment that comes up is 'Linux is not mainstream, why should we be interested in it?' While we could debate the definition of mainstream, I think it would be more productive to illustrate the trend in use / adoption of GNU/Linux as a platform. Do any of you have decent data sources for this type of trend?"

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I agree (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7010633)

Vagina!

I Disagree (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7010637)

Penis!

Easy - it looks like a flat line (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7010640)

becase OPEN SORES SUCKS

Youi need to ask yourself... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7010654)

I think first you need to ask yourself why you want to move to linux. If your current platform works, there shouldn't be a reason to change.

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7010765)

Umm:
1. This is Slashdot, and
2. We're talking about Linux.

Since when did people around here need a reason to switch to Linux or advocate it. I mean, Linux inherently is perfect! Why would anyone want something that already worked when you could have ... Linux!

Maybe the current platform doesn't work- perhaps the researchers used Irix or some other Unix platform before moving to something more useful. Oh well, perhaps they cane go back to Linux- everything great about Unix, but with plenty of other cool problems! And since it's Linux, you get to fix them youtself! WOOT! Wh

(i'm just joking around, so don't freak out all you zelous schmucks! :D )

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#7011264)

Probably because some of the apps I want use have problems with Cygwin. Have you got libsndfile to complete make check successfully with Cygwin? If so, the maintainer wants to hear about what you did.

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 11 years ago | (#7012142)

Stupid website. Which movie companies are in favor of short copyrights? Disney stood up strongly for artists during the X vs. NC17 battle and stood up strongly for gays during the partner benefit debates. Being on the right side of issues 2x in a decade is pretty good for a major corporation.

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#7012513)

Which movie companies are in favor of short copyrights?

Non-profit film restoration organizations. They often cannot license old, decaying films from MPAA member studios.

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (2, Insightful)

cheezus (95036) | more than 11 years ago | (#7014014)

If I boycotted every company that was evil, I'd never be able to buy ANYTHING

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (2, Insightful)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 11 years ago | (#7011270)

If your current platform works, there shouldn't be a reason to change.

Anyone who says something like this is just looking to argue (oops, I have been trolled). Computing platforms have been rapidly changing since the invention of the computer. I would peg full upgrade cycles at around five years on average (and interestingly this is how long it takes to fully depreciate the value of a computer purchase according to the IRS). This means that about every five years you are fully reinvesting in new hardware and software. Some software packages allow for (still expensive) upgrades, but that's small comfort against all the other expenses involved. And in a larger environment, you are likely to constantly be retiring old machines and replacing with new. So it's not likely you even have a single "platform" that "works". The problem here is how to explain a migration to Linux as a way to reduce future expenses, increase productivity, or whatever-- de facto migration to the next upgrade cycle of the current platform should require just as much justification.

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7011853)

That's business (and not even very serious business). This is science.

We regularly use software that's 20 years old. It's essential that any software we use produce the correct results every time we use it. Bogus results for any reason invalidates your work and reduces your credibility as a scientist. It regularly takes software 5-7 years just to get to the point where we're confident in it. The idea that we'd be replacing all of our software every 5 years is laughable.

Ask anyone in the financial industry or using payroll software how old that code is. It was probably written before some of the employees were born.

Moreover, any software we use has to have a lifespan of more than just 5 years. If someone picks a paper up 20 years from now but can't duplicate the work because the software doesn't exist anymore, then your work has no value.

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (2, Insightful)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 11 years ago | (#7013907)

Hmmm. So are you making the case for not migrating to Linux as soon as possible or what? What you describe are even more compelling reasons to switch to Linux ASAP. The system code is available, thus making it much more likely that someone down the road (either geographically or sequentially) will be able to duplicate your results. Ditto for the peer review aspects of the work, open code is, well, open-- meaning that software flaws can at least be analyzed.

As for the rest of what you said, the types of systems you're talking about are large mainframes-- not something any sane person would be migrating to Linux any time soon. And I think you're wrong about payroll. PeopleSoft's most recent versions are hardly seven years old (although there may be seven-year-old code in their code base). In fact, given their whole company was founded in 1987 and is therefore only sixteen years old in the first place... I'd have to say your information is woefully out of date. And don't even get me started on the financial services where the ONLY systems that last more than five years are the big COBOL transaction systems that handle the basic account activities. But then, again, those are not likely systems for Linux migration. The thousands of desktops, clients, analysis databases, etc, are.

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7011986)

So you were born and raised in the sheltered workshop, and you won't be leaving any time soon?

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 11 years ago | (#7013178)

There were comments about Windows on ATM's, and how insecure ATM's already are, not very long ago on slashdot.

Question -- If running naked through the street with my hair on fire has always worked for me, why would I want to change?

Or how about this: Using 30-year-old encryption for everything my bank does works. Why would I want to try something new?

Doh! Because new things can be better!

Why would I want a new job? Maybe I get payed more! Why would I want a new OS? Maybe it will run faster / not crash / not hand off large sums of money to no one in particular!

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (2, Interesting)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 11 years ago | (#7013377)

>Because new things can be better!

But they are not ALWAYS better. In all the cases you specify there is a better way of doing things, but sometimes the new way is not a better way.

Thats what his point is. Is adopting something new better and is it worth all the trouble?

Re:Youi need to ask yourself... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 11 years ago | (#7014162)

No, but most often, you want to check out something new at least. His point was, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, if my car was leaking oil all the time, I might assume it was normal, and "ain't broke", and never fix it. But if I got a new car, I'd realize that it actually was broken.

Be open-minded -- both to the fact that there may be something new and better, and there may not.

Standing firmly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7013840)

He bends to sense the trembling ground. He knows they will soon come. Thunder in the distance grows louder as the stampede approaches. He knows what he can do.

Within eyesight now, he clenches the familiar handle in his fist. Beads of sweat form on his forehead. This is the last chance he knows.

They are nearly upon him now, the herd... the stampeding herd... running away.

Summoning his last ounce of calm, he raises. Now with the megaphone firmly to his lips, he yells to the herd, "GO BACK, PLEASE GO BACK! NOTHING TO SEE HERE!"

*sniff* (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#7020206)

I think I smell a...whatchamacallit...ah yes, pragmatic fallacy. Just because something "works" does not mean that it is the best feasible solution.

Linux is not mainstream. (5, Interesting)

asterism (148910) | more than 11 years ago | (#7010661)

Linux is not the most popular operating system in the world, why should we be interested.

Science is not the most popular way of looking at the world, why should we be interested.

I'm not sure that numbers are what you need.

Re:Linux is not mainstream. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7011893)

By that argument, cold fusion scientists should be using SCO. I hear both are pretty unpopular. They could also try BeOS, VMS, or working in tiger cages. Unpopular all around.

Perhaps you want to argue that popularity isn't important after you successfully explain why this is the best way to do what you want to do? Just jumping to graphs showing people aren't using the software very much doesn't seem to be the best way to convince other people to use it.

Re:Linux is not mainstream. (1)

CentrX (50629) | more than 11 years ago | (#7014031)

He's not really constructing an argument. He's flipping the scientist's argument around to show (to the scientists) the invalidity of deciding whether to use something (Linux or science) based on whether it's mainstream.

Re:Linux is not mainstream. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 11 years ago | (#7013187)

Athlon XP has fewer clock cycles than the Pentium IV I could get for the same amount of money. So why should I get Athlon?

You can't just say "Because it's different". That's retarted.

You can, though, say "Because Athlon XP consistantly benchmarks faster than Pentium IV for the same speeds -- and they're cheaper."

Numbers do matter.

Unbelievable. (4, Insightful)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 11 years ago | (#7010728)

Turn it around: why should they be interested in Linux? Because it is not mainstream.

Mainstream is for the unwashed masses (or maybe the washed masses, depending on the accuracy of the Linux geek stereotype). Mainstream is for people who want to surf the web and forward letters to everyone on their email list. If they never see how their computer works, so much the better; and mainstream continually works toward that goal.

Linux, on the other hand, is developed by people who have a similar mindset to scientists. It's a system that allows and encourages experimentation, and reinforces the truth that there is never only one way to do something. There are no artificial limits set to prevent you from getting uncomfortable because you're not sure what you're looking at.

It's also the closest thing to an objective OS you can get. If results are called into question, you're out of luck with Windows: "Oh, it must have been a glitch. Let me reboot this...." With Linux you can figure out what's going on behind the scenes.

I can't imagine scientists who willingly reject going a different direction from mainstream. Science is not mainstream.

Re:Unbelievable. (1)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 11 years ago | (#7010996)

The idea that something is better because it is not mainstream is simple elitism and it is as thoughtless a bias as any other. "Men are better than women because they are men." "Ford cars are better than GM cars because they are from Ford."

It's also the closest thing to an objective OS you can get. If results are called into question, you're out of luck with Windows: "Oh, it must have been a glitch. Let me reboot this...." With Linux you can figure out what's going on behind the scenes.

I'm sorry, that doesn't match my experiences at all. Scientists write their programs in some language. That language is compiled to native code for the CPU. The native code uses the CPU's floating point processor directly. In the vast majority of cases, the code will give the same result no matter what operating system it is running under. This stuff about a reboot is just FUD, pure and simple.

Re:Unbelievable. (2, Insightful)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#7011258)

the code will give the same result no matter what operating system it is running under.

Unless the code is being timed. A scientific program has little use if an inefficient scheduler and an antivirus program eat all the CPU cycles.

Re:Unbelievable. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7011811)

"Ford cars are better than GM cars because they are from Ford."
No, Ford cars are better than GM cars because they're *not* from GM.

Re:Unbelievable. (1)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 11 years ago | (#7012491)

Didn't say it was better because it wasn't mainstream; I said Linux was more in tune with the ideals scientists follow in pursuit of truth. Mainstream OSes exist for one purpose, Linux exists for others.

Re:Unbelievable. (1)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 11 years ago | (#7012808)

You said: "Why should they be interested in Linux? Because it is not mainstream." If an operating system is better because it is not mainstream, then GEOS or IRIX must be the best! You did go on to say a bunch of other stuff that was wrong but at least based in some kind of logic, but I think that your true emotions showed up in the first line. Linux is not what the plebes use therefore it is better. You did, after all, use the term "unwashed masses" which is a catchword for elitists.

Re:Unbelievable. (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 11 years ago | (#7013170)

>I said Linux was more in tune with the ideals scientists follow in pursuit of truth.

What world do you live in where all scientists are not pure-truth fanatics.

And how is Linux in tune with the "truth"? Linux has a philosophy of community and sharing, but I don't see how that is the "truth".

Re:Unbelievable. (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 11 years ago | (#7012819)

This stuff about a reboot is just FUD, pure and simple.

Uh, no. That is not FUD. Nor is looking at TCO or ROI. The area that the oringal poster should be looking at is the systems that need 24x7 uptime while doing huge computations. That would be hollywood and biological sciences.
Hollywood does a large amount of rendering on movie frames and these need to come as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Titantic was one fo the first to switch (google is your friend). In addtion, Dreamworks and all the major studios have switched to using Linux for their rendering servers. Most have been switching their desktops to Linux as well. In fact, several are throwing their savings into helping Filmgimp get to the point where they can replace Adobe and Corel since neither appear to be interested in selling software on Linux.
Check google, and there will be huge articles from Hollywood talking about saving by switching to Linux from MS, Apple, and SGI.
Bilogical Sciences have already moved in huge fashions to Linux, esp in the way of protein and DNA work. They have the similar needs to hollywood. That is large amounts of computation, that is efficient, and most important, cheap. Cheap means easy to manage large numbers of servers. That exclude MS, but includes any *nix.
It also means cheap Hardware, which excludes almsot all non-intel *nix, but does include MS, Linux, and *BSD*.
The intersection is bascially Linux or *BSD on intel (The mac is still too expensive). *BSD is nice, but Linux has better support today (and most likely for the future).

Re:Unbelievable. (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 11 years ago | (#7012475)

Linux is just the kernel though, if you were to get usage stats for GNU software such as compilers and editors then this would be more assuring to those switching over from commercial software to free software.

GCC is for example a fairly mainstream compiler.

These are *BIOLOGOICAL* Scientists (3, Interesting)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 11 years ago | (#7013142)


I'm not implying that they are dumb or anything but just that these are not COMPUTER Scientists.

When a video technican goes home to tape a tv show, does he want something which can do it in a few buttons or does he want to use something like he has at work and manually control the audio/balance etc?

>With Linux you can figure out what's going on behind the scenes.

Comptuers are a tool for research in this case, they don't want to play around with it.

A good example in the chemical research area is http://ariadne.mse.uiuc.edu/Info/Chime/chime_linux .html
Do you want to play around with things or do you just want it to work and be fully supported by the company who developed it?

And the old argument "Not there? Well program it!" is a negative here because these people want to research in their area, not research/code in computer science.

In reality, having their standard tools mainstream is good.

Easy. (5, Insightful)

Feztaa (633745) | more than 11 years ago | (#7010746)

Scientists should be interested in linux because linux is developed in much the same way that scientific theories are developed.

That is, nobody will ever respect a theory untill it has undergone peer review. Other scientists scrutinize the theory, and try to disprove it. If they fail to disprove it, then it becomes accepted as the best theory.

In Linux, it's much the same. Somebody writes a program, and in doing so, claims that their program is the best way to solve that given problem. Other programmers will scrutinize the code, and try to find better ways of solving the problem. They can develop entirely new ways that replace the old ways, or they can incrementally improve the current ways. Either way, the end result is a higher quality of code, in a general sense.

I mean, Linux Just Makes Sense (TM) for the scientific community. They both heavily rely on peer review to ensure that things are reliable and trustworthy.

Would anybody trust a scientific theory that was developed by secretive scientists who won't publish what experiments they did to come up with their ideas? If we can't verify that what they did was the right way to do things, how can we trust their results? Of course you don't, which is the same reason that proprietary software is so crappy. You can't see their methods, only their results, and the results are often sub-par.

Re:Easy. (1)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 11 years ago | (#7011861)

While this is persuasive in what might be called an ethical sense, I don't think it really addresses the question, which involves convincing people that using Linux is not only feel-good, but also makes practical sense.

And, honestly, depending on who'd be using it, Linux may well not be the best solution. It's much easier to FUBAR a Linux machine, and often harder to use, especially if the user is both computer inexperienced, and has only used Windows or a Mac.

Linux may make an emotional sense... and its ideas of copyright and ownership are certainly, I think, better than the closed source ideas. But it's not, in its current form, for everyone. And that should be seriously considered.

hmmm (1)

Clansman (6514) | about 11 years ago | (#7033475)

But. From what I see, mostly people just start again rather than review the code (and what, fork?).

In fact both free and non-free software follow this model with whole new applications competing.

So I'm not really disagreeing that competitive processes are at work, just that they are not the sole preserve of free software

--

Numbers won't help you. (4, Insightful)

Feztaa (633745) | more than 11 years ago | (#7010764)

I think it would be more productive to illustrate the trend in use / adoption of GNU/Linux as a platform. Do any of you have decent data sources for this type of trend?

Any such sources are inherently biased against linux.

The standard way for measuring the market share of a given operating system is to look at the vendor's sales. This has tons of problems.

First, linux ISOs can be freely downloaded without any sale taking place, so lots of people can (and do) install linux without showing up on any company's sales figures.

Second, even if you buy a boxed set of RedHat 9, you can install that on as many computers as you want. So if RedHat says they sold x copies of their OS, that could easily represent 2x or 3x installations of the OS.

Third, all new PCs come with Windows preloaded, and count towards Microsoft's market share. Even if the first thing you do with your new PC is install linux on it, it's still a Windows box, as far as Microsoft's sales figures will show.

So, sales figures are totally unreliable in gauging anybody's market share. You could turn to Netcraft, which is amazingly accurate... except that it only cares about servers. Desktops don't even show up at all.

If you want numbers, you're totally SOL. Even if you found the numbers, they don't mean anything. Ok, I'll tell you the numbers right now: Linux has 50% of the market. I pulled that number out of my ass, but it's about as reliable as you'll find anywhere else.

an answer... (5, Informative)

kevin lyda (4803) | more than 11 years ago | (#7010953)

ok, while morons babble about whether you should ask your question or not, i'll actually point you at an answer:


http://counter.li.org/ [li.org]


"linux usage" is hard to gauge. there's no central licensing authority (despite a certain moronic company's attempt). of course that argument is rather silly as closed software companies have to guess at their user base. for instance i count as 2 solaris users and around 10 windows users if you go by licenses purchased but i don't use either of those os's.

I hear that Netcraft is pretty good as a source (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7011005)

Someone in the BSD section keeps on quoting it all the time!

Find out about usage at your institution! (3, Insightful)

agentk (74906) | more than 11 years ago | (#7011283)

The best numbers you can get are probably from your own university's IT department. In fact I will bet that the computer science department is at least 50/50 Linux/Windows if not more.

This one's easy... (4, Interesting)

Kevin Burtch (13372) | more than 11 years ago | (#7011344)

-
All you have to do if you want to show the scientific community's interest in Linux, is to show the scientific community's use of Linux: The 500 most powerful computer installations in the world... [top500.org] many of which run Linux, including the the 2nd fastest system in the world [slashdot.org] (and all of which are used by members of the scientific community).

You could also use these simple searches on slashdot [slashdot.org] (here is another [slashdot.org] ) and google [google.com] to collect some very interesting data.

For example, here's a nice tidbit [slashdot.org] that may be the exact community you're looking to impress.

Granted, these do not give you a timeline, but it should be enough data for you to be able to ask them "Why are we not using Linux?".

Re:This one's easy... (2, Interesting)

hfastedge (542013) | more than 11 years ago | (#7012788)

links -width 100 -dump http://top500.org/list/2003/06/?page | grep -i linux

yields (with a little hand-scrubbing):

3 Linux Networx 7634.00 Lawrence Livermore National
57 Linux Networx 1007.00 Argonne National Laboratory
78 Linux Networx 840.50 Los Alamos National Laboratory
107 Linux Labs 680.30 American Museum of Natural
296 Linux Networx 390.20 Fraunhofer ITWM
356 Linux Networx 347.00 Boeing Shared Services
407 Linux Networx 295.90 Boeing Shared Services

Re:This one's easy... (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 11 years ago | (#7014549)

thats only counting the computers built by linux networx, not the ones running it

Hmmm (1)

Goo.cc (687626) | more than 11 years ago | (#7011852)

I don't see how you can get any kind of information since there is no definitive info on Linux usage. You can't simply go by sales the way you could with commercial software. You also can't go by downloads, since some people download the software more then once, especially if network installs are supported.

IMO, the great thing about free software is that it doesn't exist to win popularity contest but to serve the interests of the public good. It is also a testament to the generosity of developers. (And to all the free software developers out there, I thank you all.)

Sales Figures (1)

Mad Marlin (96929) | more than 11 years ago | (#7013895)

ou can't simply go by sales the way you could with commercial software.

I would personally be interested in that figure though, and I am sure that commercial software developers would be interested too. If someone payed $50-100 for a boxed version of Linux, then there is a strong possibility that they would also pay for commercial software on that distribution. You could probably only count about 6 months to a years worth of purchaces as a valid population, since of upgrading. Does anybody know how many boxed CD sets of the last version of Red Hat Linux (the personal version of it) were sold? It would be an interesting figure to know.

Re:Sales Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7024867)

You could always ask SCO... They know where we ALL are and have invoices on the way to us.

Do TiVo's count? It's got more hard disk than my PC....

Ask them this: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7012203)

Is staying up all night memorizing dead language names for things that have perfectly good American names mainstream ?

Is getting on a gay looking white coat and fiddling with germs that will make you sick for weaks under a squeaking ventilation hood bought during the cold war mainstream ?

Remind them that "mainstream" is right over there in the communications building with all the other middle class white chics geting an M.R.S. degree.

They are BIOLOGISTS. They should be trying to do BIOLOGY as best as possible, and when it requires non-mainstream approaches then that's a sign they are making progress.

Here's a good graph (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7012502)

__________________


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"Scientific Applications on Linux" page... (3, Interesting)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 11 years ago | (#7012827)

It's not 'hard numbers', but then, a lot of people have already pointed out that hard numbers may not REALLY be what you want. (After all, since when is "Everybody's doin' it" a persuasive argument for a good scientist?)

On the other hand, I see there are still lots of applications listed at the Scientific Applications on Linux [kachinatech.com] site and the NCBI Toolbox of Bioinformatics code [nih.gov] compiles and runs just fine on my linux box, and BioPerl [bioperl.org] , BioJava [biojava.org] , and BioPython [biopython.org] all run just fine on Linux (there are even a couple of fledgling BioPHP projects out just getting started out there, which will obviously also work.

Disclaimer - both of the semi-active "BioPHP" type projects that I know of - Here [bioinformatics.org] and here [sourceforge.net] - were started independently by individual amateurs...and one of them is me. Both projects are still in the early stages (Genephp has more code available at the moment) and have different development approaches, but are slowly working on trying to combine development towards a 'formal' set of "BioPHP" modules. Blatant plug - if you are interested in helping with friendly advice or actual development or testing, please join the mailing list which both projects use [bioinformatics.org] )

Sources of Data (1)

anti.gladio (696653) | about 11 years ago | (#7025864)

Usually, we speak about mainstream vs. heterodoxy (or "minority") when we discuss about competing theoretical approaches in Research. Linux is not a theoretical approach but a technological paradigm. As a technological paradigm, Linux is becoming a big player. Data about Linux and, in general, open source projects can be found on www.netcraft.com and www.sourceforge.net These data highlight the increasing weigh of Linux and open source in the market for SW.
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