Don’t panic Ubuntu fans but your favorite desktop Linux distribution has fallen to fourth place in DistroWatch’s latest ranking.
Ubuntu has been overtaken by Fedora, Mint, and openSUSE. Mint now holds the number one spot in all of DistroWatch’s rankings going back at least a year, which leads us to wonder why. One reason behind this reversal of fortune for Ubuntu could be the change of default interface in version 11.04 or “Natty Narwhal”, released in April 2011. With the new Ubuntu came Unity, an interface previously seen in Ubuntu Netbook Edition, and Gnome was relegated to an option. There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding Unity. Now it seems like Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, may be paying the price for the change. Let’s look at the numbers.
Mint’s rise to the top
We charted the top distributions since 2005, as ranked by DistroWatch. In doing so, we excluded a couple of distributions that only made a brief appearance in the top five: Mandriva dropped off after 2006, PCLinuxOS only made an appearance in 2007 and 2008, and Sabayon only showed up during 2007.
Here’s what it looks like from 2005 until now for the current top five Linux distributions:
Based on the DistroWatch numbers, Ubuntu’s market share has been declining for years, and has seen a remarkable drop in 2011. Linux Mint, on the other hand, has seen a huge leap in market share this year and has become the most popular desktop distribution. Is this a side effect of the controversy around Unity?
aTo give you an idea of how drastic the recent changes are, let’s compare the most recent statistics (for the last 30 days) with the average number for 2010:
- Ubuntu is down 47.2%.
- Mint is up 105%.
Note that even though the relative share of Ubuntu has dropped during this period, the total number of hits on the distribution pages at DistroWatch has almost doubled.Adding that to the mix makes Mint’s popularity even more spectacular.