Linux Statistics 2023: 50+ Facts & Usage Data

Have you ever wondered about the world of Linux? As someone passionate about technology, I imagine you’re curious to learn more about this open-source operating system, its history and just how widely it‘s used today. Well, you‘ve come to the right place!

In this in-depth article, we’re going to explore over 50 insightful statistics and facts to shed light on Linux. Whether you‘re a developer looking to sharpen your skills, a tech enthusiast wanting to quench your curiosity, or an IT professional evaluating options, you‘ll find these Linux insights helpful.

Together, we‘ll journey from Linux‘s origins in the early 90s to its adoption across industries like cloud computing, smartphones, websites and more today. You‘ll also learn Linux usage data among developers, demographic statistics, and usage in fields like aerospace, Hollywood and government.

Let‘s start with a high-level overview:

  • Linux was created back on September 17th, 1991 – it has now been around for over 30 years!
  • Today, Linux powers 100% of the world‘s top 500 supercomputers.
  • The number of Linux-compatible games on Steam has soared to over 6,500.
  • Surveys show 54% of professional developers use Linux.
  • Over 15,000 developers have contributed code to the Linux kernel.
  • Major companies and organizations use Linux, including SpaceX, Amazon, Google, the White House and more.

Now, let‘s explore these Linux statistics and many more in greater detail!

A Brief History of Linux Adoption

To start, some quick history – Linux was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds as a hobby project. At the time, it was just a basic terminal emulator and kernel. However, Linux quickly started spreading thanks to its open source code.

Early adopters of Linux included academic institutions and technology companies. By 1994, Linux had over 1 million users – a milestone considering Windows only had 30 million users back then.

Things really took off for Linux in the 2000s and onward. Its flexibility to run on anything from servers to mobile phones fueled massive growth. Today Linux powers much of the internet, enterprise infrastructure, smartphones, embedded systems and more.

Linux Usage and Market Share Statistics

Just how widely used is Linux today? Let‘s run through some key stats:

  • As of October 2022, Linux market share as a desktop OS is 1.93% globally [1]. While still behind Windows and macOS, this shows steady growth for Linux. It equates to tens of millions of desktop users.
  • Research from 2018 found the Linux market share in India was 3.97% [2]. Given the growth trends, it has likely crossed over 4% there now.
  • Looking just at programmers, Linux usage is much higher. The 2018 Stack Overflow survey found 25.32% of professional developers used Linux [7].
  • By 2019, developer surveys showed 54% of programmers reported using Linux on average [8].
  • When asked their platform preference, a massive 83.1% of developers said they favor Linux over other operating systems like Windows or macOS [9].

So among software developers, Linux has truly gone mainstream. However, Linux statistics also show growth in less expected areas:

  • There are now over 6,500 games on Steam with Linux support – up massively from around 4,000 in 2018 [3].
  • An estimated 90% of Hollywood special effects are created on Linux workstations today [16]. Who would have thought Linux usage in Hollywood would be so high?
  • Over 90% of public cloud workloads run on Linux servers [17]. Linux‘s scalability makes it perfect for powering cloud infrastructure.

As you can see, Linux has expanded way beyond its roots to become a versatile, universal operating system. Next let‘s look at Linux powering the internet and critical infrastructure.

Linux Usage on the Internet and In IT Infrastructure

As an open source, highly secure and stable operating system, Linux is uniquely suited for running internet and IT infrastructure. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • According to Netcraft‘s 2021 web server survey, 96% of the top 1 million websites run on Linux servers [5]. This includes big names like Google, Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter.
  • Research by FreeBSD found that 96.3% of the world‘s top 1 million web-facing servers run on Linux [5].
  • Looking just at supercomputers, the domination is even more stark – Linux powers 100% of the world‘s top 500 supercomputers as of 2021 [4].
  • The Linux kernel is also massive. As of 2018, the Linux kernel had over 20 million lines of code [4]. To put that in perspective, Windows 10 had only about 50 million lines of code in 2020 [26].
  • Speaking of scale, the Android operating system used on over 85% of smartphones is built on the Linux kernel [6].
  • Major companies rely on Linux. For example, Amazon Linux powers AWS infrastructure, which hosts millions of websites and applications [18].

So from the internet‘s underlying infrastructure to powering cutting-edge supercomputers, Linux is clearly the backbone of modern computing.

Linux Adoption Trends Among Developers

Beyond its usage in infrastructure, Linux is widely embraced by software developers. Let‘s look at some key Linux statistics within the developer community:

  • According to the Stack Overflow 2018 survey, 25.32% of professional developers reported using Linux [7]. This put Linux as the 2nd most popular development operating system after Windows.
  • By 2019, developer survey data showed on average 54% of developers were using Linux [8].
  • When asked about preferences, 83.1% of developers say they favor Linux over other operating systems for coding [9].
  • In a sign of strong community involvement, over 15,000 contributors from more than 1,500 companies have contributed code to the Linux kernel over its lifetime [10].
  • Looking at diversity, about 9.9% of Linux kernel contributors are women [11]. That‘s up around 1.5 percentage points from a few years ago.

Clearly, Linux has won over the hearts and minds of developers around the world. They are embracing Linux more every year.

Linux Demographic and Geographic Statistics

Who exactly is using Linux today? Let‘s break down some demographic statistics:

  • Surveys from 2016 found only 10.5% of Linux contributors were women at the time [12]. There is still room for improvement here.
  • Looking geographically, some countries with high Linux usage include India, Russia and Cuba [13].
  • In the United States, the states with the most Linux users are California and Utah [14]. The tech influence likely leads to more Linux usage in California.

So while Linux is global, we do see certain demographics and geographies with higher adoption rates. Next let‘s look at various industries using Linux.

Industries and Fields Embracing Linux

From aerospace to movies Linux has expanded into some unexpected areas. Here are some prime examples:

  • All major space programs use Linux to power their spacecraft, satellites and rockets [15]. This includes SpaceX vehicles like the Falcon 9 [15].
  • On the other end of the spectrum, around 90% of Hollywood special effects are created on Linux workstations today [16]. The visual effects industry has embraced Linux.
  • In the enterprise, over 90% of Fortune 500 companies reported using Linux servers in 2018 [27].
  • Major technology brands powering the smart home revolution like Google Nest and Amazon Alexa run on Linux. In fact, Linux now powers over 30% of smart home devices [28].
  • Over 65% of network engineers report using the open-source VyOS router operating system built on Linux [29].

As you can see, Linux powers an incredibly diverse set of industries and use cases – from rockets to robots!

Linux Adoption in Government and Military

With its security and transparency, various government bodies around the world also rely on Linux:

  • Since 2001, the White House‘s website whitehouse.gov has run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers [19].
  • The US Department of Defense began migrating to Linux back in 2007 [20] and uses it for many critical systems today.
  • Seeing risks, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China switched all its branches to Linux in 2005 as an anti-piracy measure [21].
  • In Russia, the government sponsored Astra Linux distribution is certified for use in its military and intelligence agencies [22].

So Linux has even proven itself in highly sensitive government environments.

The Future of Linux

Looking ahead, Linux is poised for massive growth as emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, edge computing, blockchain, IoT and autonomous vehicles take off.

For example, one study found that over 65% of IT professionals expect to run blockchain nodes on Linux [30]. And with its scalability, Linux will likely power many future blockchain networks.

Similarly, as AI development accelerates, Linux provides the stable foundation needed for machine learning and data science. Agencies like NASA are already using Linux-powered supercomputers to run advanced AI simulations [31].

So as cutting edge technologies reshape our world, Linux will continue empowering innovation.

Conclusion

I hope these 50+ Linux statistics have shed new light on the origins and modern day dominance of this open source operating system. We‘ve explored Linux usage trends on both servers and desktops, among developers, across industries and geographic regions.

Some key takeaways are:

  • Linux now powers the majority of web servers, smartphones, supercomputers and more.
  • Over half of professional developers now use Linux for coding.
  • Companies from SpaceX to Hollywood rely on Linux.
  • Usage spans industries from aerospace to finance.
  • Emerging technologies like blockchain and AI will drive more Linux adoption.

So while you may not see it, Linux is the silent driving force behind much of modern computing. I think Linus Torvalds could have only dreamed about Linux‘s eventual widespread impact back in 1991. The future remains bright for Linux as it continues empowering technological innovation globally.

I hope these statistics have satisfied your inner tech enthusiast. Let me know if you have any other Linux insights to share!

Sources

[1] https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share
[2] https://www.datacenterdynamics.com/en/news/linux-marketshare-india-almost-4/
[3] https://www.gamingonlinux.com/2022/01/steam-ends-2021-with-around-6500-linux-native-games
[4] https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Technology%20Media%20and%20Telecommunications/Telecommunications/Our%20Insights/How%20linux%20is%20built/MGI-How-linux-is-built.pdf
[5] https://news.netcraft.com/archives/2021/06/28/june-2021-web-server-survey.html
[6] https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/worldwide
[7] https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2018/#technology
[8] https://octoverse.github.com
[9] https://www.zdnet.com/article/when-it-comes-to-developer-productivity-linux-rules/
[10] https://www.zdnet.com/article/who-writes-linux-corporations/
[11] https://itsfoss.com/women-linux-development/
[12] https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2017#developer-profile-gender
[13] https://devicesfaq.com/en/article/what-countries-use-linux-the-most
[14] https://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS8454912715.html
[15] https://www.businessinsider.com/spacex-rocket-falcon9-linux-ubuntu-2017-6
[16] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2018/08/27/linux-just-dominated-gaming-again-heres-why-it-matters/?sh=324a4cde2fae
[17] https://www.zdnet.com/article/almost-all-cloud-providers-rely-on-linux/
[18] https://aws.amazon.com/amazon-linux-2/
[19] https://www.redhat.com/en/about/press-releases/whitehousegov-chooses-red-hat-solutions-official-web-site
[20] https://www.itprotoday.com/linux/look-us-military-and-linux
[21] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-12/20/content_505678.htm
[22] https://www.zdnet.com/article/russia-to-switch-all-government-computers-to-linux-by-2015/
[23] https://www.itwire.com/open-sauce/1475-brazil-adopts-open-source.html
[24] https://www.linuxcommand.org/lc3_adv_interview.php
[25] https://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2000081100620NWLF
[26] https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/news/2020/05/19-vscode-may-update#:~:text=May%202020%20%28version%201.45%29,million%20lines%20of%20code%20today.
[27] https://www.ibm.com/blogs/ibms-role-in-supporting-clients-journey-to-cloud/2018/07/what-you-should-know-linux-story/
[28] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/65-smart-home-devices-run-130000490.html
[29] https://www.techrepublic.com/article/vyos-the-open-source-network-os-that-aims-to-replace-routing-giants/
[30] https://thenewstack.io/linux-skills-most-wanted-for-enterprise-container-adoption/
[31] https://www.top500.org/news/linux-continues-to-rule-supercomputing/

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.