PCLinuxOS ‘Popularity’

As was pointed out earlier here, PCLinuxOS has dramatically risen in the Distrowatch HPD stats, but in terms of OS share on distrowatch.com itself only has about a quarter of Ubuntu’s and what I wonder about is that if you look at the Google search volume:

fedora debian ubuntu suse pclinuxos

PCLinuxOS has almost none by comparison to the others (and contrast with Ubuntu, which had a similar rise in both Google search volume and HPD on Distrowatch). So what exactly is going on here? Is PCLinuxOS to Ubuntu as Opera is to Firefox? (some would say better, especially their vocal supporters, but has far fewer users) What is causing PCLinuxOS’ HPD to be so high?

Update Aug. 28, 2007: As per the 2007 Desktop Linux Poll, PCLinuxOS is only used by 2% of the 38.5K respondents, compared to just slightly over 30% for Ubuntu and official variants (K-, X-, Edu-), almost 20% for openSUSE, nearly 12% for Debian, Just over 7% for Gentoo and 3% for Mandriva (and close relatives). All the rest were <3% At this point I really have to wonder if there is an active astroturfing campaign going on with the HPD on Distrowatch…

Update September 21, 2007: DistroWatch Weekly 220 discusses the HPD now that PCLinuxOS has jumped to #1 over a time period of 6 months (the default on the homepage)…

during the past six months more people viewed the PCLinuxOS page on DistroWatch (on a one-IP-address-per-day basis) than pages devoted to any other distribution. Whether this translates into actual popularity or higher usage remains unclear, although it is reasonable to assume that new DistroWatch visitors are more likely to download one of the higher-ranked distributions than those occupying lower positions in the ranking. There have been speculations and suggestions that the Page Hit Ranking statistics might have been manipulated by some overly enthusiastic PCLinuxOS fans. I don’t believe so – for two reasons. Firstly, I have logged all visits to the PCLinuxOS page and analysed them for any signs of abuse, but I found none. (That’s not to say that there was none, but if there was any, I couldn’t find it.) Secondly, there seems to be a trend among the DistroWatch readers to visit distribution pages that are relatively high in the Page Hit Ranking statistics, but are otherwise not particularly well-known outside the scope of this web site; we have seen this not only with PCLinuxOS, but also with other similar distributions, such as Sabayon Linux and Linux Mint. Based on these two facts, everything seems fair and square and PCLinuxOS is on top simply because its page is the most visited one at the moment.

Update October 28, 2007: Solved!

Distrowatch did an interesting experiment; On Wednesday Oct. 17 they removed the HPD counter from the main page. It was restored the next day (Oct. 18; Ubuntu Gutsy’s release). The data from the 16th to the 17th showed Ubuntu’s HPD dropping ~10% but PCLinuxOS’ dropped like a rock: by over 80%!

“It is rather obvious that the reason for the high number of hits on the PCLinuxOS page is nothing other than sheer curiosity of those DistroWatch readers who are new to the Linux world and who find it surprising that a relatively unknown distribution is at the number one spot. In order to learn more, they click on the link which takes them to the PCLinuxOS page.”

Mystery solved.

PCLinuxOS is not rising in popularity at at a remarkable rate like Ubuntu did (and continues to do). The Google Trends graph indicated as much. Its getting interest by appearing in a prominent place on Distrowatch.

Also of interest was this item from Distrowatch which talked about bugs:

“In the world of open source operating systems, what exactly is it that differentiates the “big boys” from the “also runs”? Why is one distribution considered “major” or “mainstream”, while another keeps being looked at as just somebody’s “hobby project”, irrespective of how many satisfied users it has? While there are many different criteria one could pick to demonstrate the differences between the two groups, there are two features that I believe are important factors that shape the user’s perception about any distribution: its security and bug tracking infrastructure.”

For the top 25 HPD distros, they tabulated which had security mailing lists and which had bug trackers; only the following of those 25 had both:

Ubuntu (including Kubuntu and Xubuntu)

It is very interesting to note that PCLinuxOS has neither.

In closing, it appears that my hunch was right when I asked: “Is PCLinuxOS to Ubuntu as Opera is to Firefox? (some would say better, especially their vocal supporters, but has far fewer users)”.  Now, this should not mean that you should feel discouraged if you want to try out PCLinuxOS (by all means, give it a spin if you want to! :), just consider it in the same vein as Damn Small Linux; something of a specialty distro:

DSL is small… not just little, but very tiny; < 50 MB in fact.  That’s its claim to fame; as a result, it can run happily on very old hardware or fly on modern equipment.

PCLinuxOS, IMHO, is basically a drop-in MS Windows replacement without all the crap people have come to expect from MS.  If you look at its old logo, you might be forgiven if you thought ‘MS Windows knockoff’. Think Lindows, but not in the bad way they ended up ;)

Update March 25, 2008: Coinciding with the 8.04 beta, Ubuntu has reclaimed its #1 spot on distrowatch.


14 Responses to “PCLinuxOS ‘Popularity’”

  1. peter coeshott Says:

    Well, I tried to use it and could not get past the log-in screen. Whatever I tried as user name and password failed : root; my user name; no user name; “changeme”(from the log-in screen). Same with password. Had a similar problem with Madriva, upon which I believe it is based.
    Yet Ubuntu and my favourite Linux Mint ask for a user name and password to be determined during install – simple

  2. Limulus Says:

    How strange. Is that after you installed it or using the Live CD? I have tried it out as a Live CD in the past and not had that issue (I’ve found that the 2007 Live CD also runs nicely in VirtualBox, BTW :)

  3. mark Says:

    *****HINT***** it is necessary to put username in the designated checkbox for user, and the same idea for password. it won’t work in reverse… all joking aside, i can’t imagine what your problem is. pc linux 2007 is a well-designed distro.

  4. baboo Says:

    I have tried all 100 distros on distrowatch and I can tell you that PClinuxOS 2007 and Pardus are the two best desktop systems – period.

    Everything works right out of the install. So, my theory of why there is not as many google searches for PClinuxOS is that first of all – things work. Secondly, they have a forum that responds very quickly to posts. I actually believe that has been a contributing factor to its success.

    Case in point – Pardus, which I believe to be the best consumer desktop out there has a horrible english forum. Very seldom does one get any answers. So, while Pardus may be a great desktop – its popularity is not very high due to lack of forum support.

    I would encourage anyone who is looking for an easy desktop with all the bells and whistles (beryl) to try PClinuxOS.

    BTW, I still like my debian and slackware for improving my linux skills.

  5. Rambo Tribble Says:

    Outside established Linux circles, neither DistroWatch nor PCLinuxOS are well-recognized. In comparison, many have heard of Ubuntu who don’t even know what Linux is.

    The statistics from search reflect notoriety as much, if not more, than any other quality of a subject. I’ll bet “Brittany Spears” gets far more hits than “Mozart”, for instance.

    (Disclaimer: I run Kubuntu Fiesty, but it’s all for the repositories.)

  6. Limulus Says:

    Rambo Tribble: http://www.google.com/trends?q=Mozart%2C+Britney+Spears&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=1

    (note the spike for Mozart’s 250th birthday :)

    But my point still stands; why hasn’t PCLinuxOS (the flat purple line at the bottom of the trends graph) moved at all in relation to the others? Ubuntu back in 2004 was not ‘well-recognized outside established Linux circles’ and yet it still polled far higher then than PCLinuxOS does right now…

    What is the source of all the Hits Per Day on Distrowatch? If most of them are surfing in via Google, what are they searching for that got them to that page and why has that benefited only PCLinuxOS’ HPD ranking and not the others? (it looks, via the hits, that people were searching for it specifically…)

  7. Jan Stedehouder Says:

    PCLinuxOS does have a very enthusiastic and active (if not activist) following. My review about PCLinuxOS (which wasn’t completely hallellujah) was one the most discussed article on my weblog ( http://opensourcelearning.info/blog/?p=359 ). I do believe the fanbase is actively promoting their beloved distribution and motivate others to take a look. Those could make for a lot of direct referrals without taking the Google route.

  8. ztoppe Says:

    When I used Ubuntu I use to get told to do a search on google for answers on how to do so things in K/Ubuntu which I did often.
    When I started using PClinuxOS I also found they have a forum that responds very quickly to posts. Also I have never be told to search google for the answers on how to do things in PCLinuxOS (I wish they drop the OS bit of the name). When I think about it now I have never needed to search google to find out how to do any thing in PCLinuxOS, unlike K/Ubuntu.

  9. psymon101 Says:

    You have perked my interest:) I am an old school Redhat/Fedora guy, since lately it has been going down hill I switched to Ubuntu, currently running Gutsy and I am impressed with it considerably, but have been dissapointed in the rules,regulations and pure politics of trying to contribute to the Ubuntu effort.
    Time to move to another distro, downloading PCLinuxOS now:) Thanks for point out this distro!

  10. eagleton Says:

    I’ve noticed that the German irc-channel asks people to visit the Distrowatch page on a daily base, they even provide a direct link to the appropriate url.

  11. eagleton Says:

    …that is the German irc-channel for PCLinuxOS of course…

  12. bdjnk Says:

    I have been using PCLinuxOS for a few years and many of my questions have been quickly answered in either the forum of irc channel. On the other hand, I really don’t have a lot of patience, so when I want help fast I search Google.

    What I don’t do, is use the search term ‘pclinuxos’ or any of it’s variations (‘pclos’, ‘pclinux’). The reason being, that I would be less likely to find the answers I am looking for. This is partly due to the fact that PCLinuxOS doesn’t have the huge user base of some other distros, but mostly it’s because I already know where to find answers specific to PCLinuxOS and have already searched those location.

    Despite having used PCLinuxOS for years and searching Google hundreds of time for Linux help, I can count on one hand the number of times I have searched with the term ‘pclinuxos’.

  13. Turbolinux: now just another ‘loser distro’ « Limulus Says:

    […] Loser’ distros (Freespire and openSUSE) for their direct enabling of the LDs and rule out the niche distros, you’re pretty much left with a choice […]

  14. Finally I was banned !!! :D « PhobosK’s Blog Says:

    […] 5. Very low popularity of the distro meaning bad support and a lot of problems… You may find this post useful too, though it is outdated but almost everything in it counts nowadays too… 6. Creepy […]

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