I've been a huge fan of Linux for many years. I have been fortunate to have it as my primary development platform as it has morphed from a workstation to a laptop. Today, you can buy a Lenovo Yoga C630 laptop/tablet with Windows 10 and 8GB of RAM. I can live with 8GB of RAM so I was very excited to learn that there is active work to make this platform run Linux natively.
That's great news for me, but if I were Lenovo and thinking about possible additional sales, how many people care about Linux on the laptop anyway?
I decided to try and figure out how many developers (like me) have a laptop as their primary platform and run Linux as the OS. I started looking around for some data I could piece together into an estimate. First thing I did was look at the Stack Overflow survey for 2018. In these results, I found the ratio of primary platforms respondents used:
The Stack Overflow 2018 survey was completed by more than 100,000 developers. This is a good number, but not all. Stack Overflow estimate that 21 million professional developers visit their site each month. This is not the same as the quantity of professional developers in the work, but it is a good estimate in my opinion.
I found another measure for the number of professional developers in the world from the Global Developer Population and Demographic Study 2018. This study put the number of professional developers at 23 million. There is good agreement between these two figures. I decided to split the difference and say there were: 22 million professional developers. Now we can apply our radio from our sampled subset to the whole population to discover.
It is important to recognize that I've used an unsubstantiated assumption that the same ratio holds for the sampled population to he whole population. Sampling theory describes the pitfalls in this approach and suggests methods to capture the uncertainty in this method. For the proposes of this blog post, I'm going to ignore these methods and carry on with my crude model. Another interesting point is that since I drafted this blog, Stack Overflow released the results for 2019. Linux users increased more than 2% to 25.3% or respondents.
Now we know there are five million developers who are Linux based, how many of them use a laptop as their primary platform? For this step, I needed to discover how many laptops are shipped annually. Looking around, I found that IDC helpfullly provide data for 2017:
We can now proceed with our second approximation: 38.2% of all five million Linux users are using a laptop. This gives us the triumphant result:
Linux on a laptop is an excellent experience. It works well because the open source software tools are mature, stable, and polished for productivity. Arm laptop platforms are not new, but the new Qualcomm 850 parts have their boot loader unlocked and boot with UEFI. These machine boast 4G always-on internet and 30 hour batter life -- truly unique capabilities. For the first time, a generic Fedora should be installable on these platforms. For the sake of balance it is worth noting that generic Ubuntu and SUSE are expected to work out-of-the-box as well. That means 1.9 million developers can pursue Arm as their primary development platform. Grab yourself a Qualcomm 850 based laptop.
join the Github project now