Who uses Ubuntu Linux, and why? Survey offers new insight.

Today's users are a global group who tap the free OS for a mix of business and home purposes, a recent survey suggests.

It's all too common to hear Linux portrayed by detractors as an operating system suitable only for longtime hackers and “hobbyists,” as it was put in one recent example.

The reality, however, is very different, and a recent survey of Ubuntu Linux users paints a detailed picture of not just who's actually using the free and open source OS, but how and why.

Far from young hackers living in their parents' basements--an image so commonly perpetuated--the results suggest that the majority of today's Ubuntu users are a global and professional group who have been using the OS for two to five years for a mix of work and leisure; they value its open source nature, security, speed, and user experience, but still typically use Windows as well somewhere in their lives.

'Very Easy' or 'Easy'

Close to 20,000 people responded to Canonical's recent user survey, which was conducted not just in English but also in Spanish and Portuguese. Most were between 25 and 35 years of age, and the vast majority--more than 96 percent--were male.

“We can’t extrapolate from this data, but certainly such a hugely weighted response means we have to look at how we make the product, the community and probably both, more appealing to both genders,” noted Canonical spokesman Gerry Carr in a recent blog post.

An overwhelming majority--some 87 percent--of all Ubuntu users found the process of installing the operating system “very easy” or “easy,” according to the survey results; only 2.6 percent found it “difficult” or “very difficult,” thus countering another longstanding Linux stereotype.

Almost 77 percent use Windows at well; only 16.7 percent, by contrast, use Mac OS X in addition to Ubuntu Linux, according to the survey.

'Virus-Free'

And why do Ubuntu Linux users choose the OS?

Almost 77 percent cite the fact that it's open source, while close to 66 percent cite “curiosity/experimentation,” 57 percent name the “virus-free” factor, and more than 50 percent say they're “dissatisfied with other OS.”

A full 46.3 percent of respondents said “my machine runs faster with Ubuntu,” and more than 75 percent preferred the user experience or user interface.

More than 85 percent said they use it on their main PC, with some 67 percent using it for a mix of work and leisure.

Bottom line? You can try all you want to argue for Linux's desktop “death,” but Ubuntu Linux in particular--and Linux in general--is in this race for the long run.

When was the last time you took Linux for a test drive?

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