Open Source ‘Census’ is a joke. Isn’t it?


From the ‘just cause you say it’s true doesn’t make it true‘ files:

I see a lot of so called ‘journalists’ that write about Open Source with stories up today about The Open Source Census and Microsoft now becoming a sponsor. No joke – but I laughed out loud reading most of them.

How long has this ‘census’ been out for?  It’s at least five months at this point and from where I sit it’s not exactly a rousing success. This so called ‘census’ is an opt-in (not necessarily a bad thing) effort for identifying open source components on a users machine. But where opt-in can sometimes be a good thing with this Census after five months of life it’s got ..(drum roll please) just over 228,000 open source installations counted.  …ooh but it gets better my friends…

When you dig into the census with the Census summary information it actually reports that only – get this -1,332 machines have been scanned!


Firefox claims to have 170 million active users. How can this ‘census’ have any legitimacy whatsoever in the validity of its numbers with such a low tally after months of operation?

And now – Microsoft is a sponsor. Does that mean Microsoft will influence the results? Does it means they’ll use the census to prove their point that open source isn’t a factor?

I don’t know – but considering the very limited participation this small effort has had to date – I really think it’s a non-issue unless Microsoft plans on integrating the Census with every Windows installation (which would be a cool idea).

The Mozilla people likely have a far better handle on how much open source is being used – as do Fedora (and soon OpenSuse) with Smolt which is an opt-in effort for measuring active installations. For the Fedora 8 release there were over 2 million users that Smolt reported.

The Open Source Census unless I’m completely mistaken (and the current low level of participation is some kind of typo) is a more advanced recreation of the Linux Counter which today still only stands at 137,000 Linux users.

It’s not a bad idea – the open source census is a profoundly great idea – it’s just that it hasn’t taken off yet. So perhaps the tables will turn with Microsoft as a sponsor and the joke will be on me, but today at least I’m the one laughing.

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