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Lay your bets on the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (lucid lynx) trend spike

The Ubuntu world is gearing up for the release of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (lucid lynx) next month, and I suspect (or at least dearly hope) Canonical is lining up the ducks for something of a marketing blitz once it lands. As always, I’ve been hugging the bleeding edge during the development period, and am enjoying most* of the changes. It’s shaping up to be a fantastic release, for both desktop and server.

A simple — and importantly, public — interest metric that I’ve enjoyed in the past is Google Trends, and in particular, building a comparison between the major distros. It gives you a nice feel for the history of Ubuntu releases, press coverage and growing interest in the platform.

In terms of past performance, 7.10 and 9.10 have enjoyed the biggest spikes (against background noise of the time), while 8.04 LTS and 9.10 look pretty even as the highest peaks. It’s encouraging to see that 9.10 did so well.

But I wonder… how “big” will the 10.04 LTS release be? How much interest will it generate? How will the search and news spikes compare to previous releases?

Canonical has every reason to roll out the red carpet for this release, making a big deal of the release itself (Long Term Support, headline features, new theme and branding), launching new services (such as Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud support and the Ubuntu One music store), complementary announcements from partners, etc.

So… How big do you think the 10.04 LTS spike will be? Lay your bets in the comments. Just name a multiplier against the 7.04 spike — sitting at an even 2.0 on the search volume chart above — and by July we’ll see who nailed it! :-)

Update: Fixed the Red Hat chart, thanks to David in the comments.

* They’re doing stupid shit with GNOME again, but they’ll grow out of the “differentiation means dicking with everything”, “design by finger-painting fiat” and “working with upstream is hard, let’s go shopping” stuff eventually. If Red Hat can see the light, surely Canonical can.

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  1. ["red hat"] should be quoted. Otherwise, you’re restricting your search to pages with the word ‘red’, while also expanding the search to pages with non-consecutive instances of ‘red’ and ‘hat’. The link to the graph should be thus: (Ed: fixed URL)

  2. Geesh, Jef, you are one negative dude for the community. Go, linux, go (including Fedora, Ubuntu, Suse, Debian)!

    Saying this *again*:

    http://bethesignal.org/blog/2009/04/23/google-distro-trends-20090423/#comment-3953

    Jeff, anonymous here. Why are you comparing Ubuntu’s success (in terms of Google Trends) with those of Red Hat and Suse, if *not* to make the point that Ubuntu is crushing them?

    Couldn’t your post have been a positive message by simply showing the great strides Ubuntu has made? By simply showing the increasing google-trended-ness of Ubuntu? Wouldn’t *that* be more in the spirit of “Ubuntu”?

    Ask yourself, in one year’s time, would you rather see Ubuntu’s “lead” over Red Hat and Suse in Google-trend-ed-ness be larger… or smaller. From your postings, I would guess larger.

    I would offer that a more healthy approach would be to fixate on the growth of linux in general, and on the growth of Ubuntu in general. Not comparisons to ourselves. It’s petty.

    • … and again, it’s not negative. If you want to interpret this particular facet — and my posting of it — as negative, that’s fine (not that I’m focusing on comparisons in this post, but anyway)… but Red Hat just blew everyone’s minds with an amazing quarter, and Canonical is not yet profitable. You may just be missing the forest for the trees, here.

      • Comparative search charts on Google Trends are nonsensical. You shouldn’t be showing them.

        Red Hat has another positive quarter as a business… but the corresponding Google trending continues to decline. Through the history of available Google Trends data Red Hat’s publicly archived revenue growth is strongly anti-correlated with Google trends data. What does that say to you about the utility of Google trends as a metric for comparing brand value? Marketshare? Or even mindshare. The reality is noone has a good model for the physiology of search that makes sense across multiple search terms…across multiple brands.

        Hell, if that anti-correlation in the Red Hat corporate performance and the Google trend is in any way a meaningful expression of market dynamics… every single Ubuntu supporter needs to fervently pray that the Ubuntu trend line accelerates downward so Canonical can start seeing a profitable quarter and thus sustain Ubuntu long term.

        Do you believe in Google Trends as a useful metric so strongly that you’ll start cheering for a declining Ubuntu line to ensure the long term health of Canonical and the Ubuntu project? Or are going to choose to ignore my interpretation of the comparative Google Trends data because its not consistent with your pre-existing ideas about what a high Google Trend line means.

        -jef

    • I think the point is that unless you compare to other GNU/Linux distros there is not much real growth for the last three years: http://trends.google.com/trends?q=ubuntu,canonical
      It actually seems there is a slight decline during the last year. There are only spikes during release time. So you need to include a reference point to other terms that are decreasing on overall search/news volume through google trends if you want to show something positive (compared to…)

      • Yeah, that’s why on the previous post, I linked to a chart comparing Ubuntu and Firefox — it’s actually in a very similar state today, which probably says something about both Ubuntu and Firefox. ;-)

  3. Imagine you were a person that is devoting a good part of your life to Opensuse (like I am), when I see your charts, it is like a kick in the groin. What the hell am I doing wasting my time on this? Thanks. And, once again, I wish nothing but the best for Ubuntu, and for *all* the distros.

    You would have a point if your charts showed all the distros doing well, but your chart CLEARLY shows that Ubuntu came on the scene and completely took over. We get it. You won.

    And, what is up with you stating I am missing the forest for the trees due to “quarterly results of Red Hat” and “profits”? I am not devoted to free software because of “quarterly results”. I couldn’t care less if Red Hat posts a huge profit.

    I want everyone in the world to use the free software that we work so hard, side-by-side to produce. Period.

    • I’d have to agree here. It feels like a kick in the nuts. I get it, Jeff is pretty excited about ubuntu. Believe me, we’re all are. But it is a bittersweet feeling, like we’re all on the same basketball team and somehow the new kid is an awesome dribbler and shooter. Are we winning only because of him? Do we really make a difference? Thinking on a clear head, yes, we are making a difference, but you can’t help feeling that first twinge when looking at the graphs.

      • Yeah, totally understand — hopefully though, folks who really dig other distributions will see Ubuntu’s success as an inspiration to adapt and kick more / different arse. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage more people to adopt and enjoy Software Freedom. Maybe Ubuntu just ends up being a gateway drug… these charts definitely don’t indicate much more than buzz.

    • FOREST: Google Trends for Linux distributions grew massively

      TREES: Google Trends for Ubuntu grew more than Fedora/Redhat/OpenSuSE

      As for financials; If founder of Ubuntu was not a billionaire (is that confirmed?) the whole community would be freaking out about Canonical’s lack of profitability and the sustainability of the Ubuntu project. With their quarterly results Redhat has repeatedly proven their business model works and that they will be around for some time yet.

    • The charts also seem to reflect Redhat’s decision to refocus away from the free software desktop. It is interesting to speculate on how much flatter the Ubuntu growth would have been without that.

    • Wow, I really think you’re taking a really negative viewpoint of a very positive post.

      I’ll paraphrase how I read the post: “Ubuntu releases tend to generate a lot of interest, and the 10.4 release, which contains many new features, should show another spike in Google searches”

      There was nothing about Ubuntu beating other distros or anything apart from the fact that the general public tends to Google it a bit more. But generating interest in a Linux distribution can only be a very good thing – it means more users and developers coming to the platform which benefits everyone using Linux and Open Source.

      • And in that context… there was no need to show a comparative graph. A graph of the Ubuntu trend line alone would have sufficed to make the argument.

        -jef

  4. Why do you absolutely have to contrast Ubuntu against the other distros? This post is really an insight into how you really think about Ubuntu and its relationship to the Open Source community, and it makes me wonder whether I actually want stay a member of the Ubuntu community.

    I’d have much more appreciated a graph like this one:

    http://trends.google.com/trends?q=ubuntu%2C%22os+x%22|%22osx%22|%22mac+os%22&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=1
    (left out Windows here because then the Ubuntu spikes wouldn’t be that visible).

    But then again, it’s good that this really makes clear where you stand.

  5. 2.37 on the graph, or a 1.185 multiplier on the 7.04 release’s peak.

    P.s. if it’s based on number of Google searches, then it might not be not equivalent to “how popular is this release”. For example, I use “Ubuntu” in search queries mostly as a filter when I have a problem with something not working, and am trying to find solutions that are applicable to Ubuntu. I tend to query for Debian much less, even though I use Debian on servers, as once they’re running they tend to be stable. So much more queries on Ubuntu than Debian, far out of proportion of the relative ratio of how many boxes I have running each O/S.

    • …. and the outcome was that it was actually less searched for than previous releases! Peak of around 1.98 on the graph. Go figure! Seems like a solid release though.