At the end of last year, Michael Larabel of Phoronix wrote an article in which he pointed out that Ubuntu had failed to hit its stated aim of 200 million users by the end of 2015. This figure was a goal that Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth laid out at the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) in May 2011.
"We're just days away from closing out 2015 and it doesn't look like Ubuntu has come close to reaching that goal", Larabel wrote. Clearly his article riled those at Canonical, and the company has come out swinging with a blog post that details exactly how popular, and ubiquitous, Ubuntu is.
The company can’t destroy Larabel’s article with actual user numbers, since Canonical doesn’t count them (the post points out that, "unlike Apple, Microsoft, Red Hat, or Google, [Canonical] does not require each user to register their installation of Ubuntu") but it does state that "hundreds of millions of PCs, servers, devices, virtual machines, and containers have booted Ubuntu to date".
The author, Dustin Kirkland, who is part of Canonical's Ubuntu Product and Strategy team, then goes on to list to many ways that people use Ubuntu, including that "at least 20 million unique instances of Ubuntu have launched in public clouds", and that movies on Netflix are served by the OS, and many of those movies will have been rendered on Ubuntu at WETA Digital. It’s a long, fascinating list.
He goes on to bet that there are over a billion people today using Ubuntu - both directly and indirectly - and even states that:
- More people use Ubuntu than we know.
- More people use Ubuntu than you know.
- More people use Ubuntu than they know.
- More people use Ubuntu than anyone actually knows.
Betting over a billion people use the OS, when there’s no way of backing up that claim, is a bit odd. It’s a number plucked out of the air which no one can ever prove or deny. Based on that methodology Microsoft could probably claim 7 billion people use Windows in one way or another.