It was back at UDS Budapest in May of 2011 when Shuttleworth expressed a goal of 200 million Ubuntu users in four years.
Last I heard there was "tens of millions" of Ubuntu Linux users, but haven't seen any reliable reports anywhere of the Ubuntu user-base being close to 200 million. The latest monthly statistics from Valve show the Linux gaming population being below 1% compared to Windows and OS X. Most usage statistics based on web metrics and other data tend to put the total Linux user-base at just a few percent.
Aside from desktop installations, Ubuntu at least has made substantial inroads with cloud and server deployments over the past four years and have proven to be a contender with Red Hat Enterprise Linux on such fronts. Ubuntu has also proven itself quite well on ARM hardware. When Mark was coming up with his goal in four years, he was probably thinking that Ubuntu Phone/Touch would be much further along than where it is now: just having one device available in the EU and a second currently in China and the Ubuntu Touch software stack still maturing with major work on key apps still needed, etc. Ubuntu would soon ship on 5% of PCs. The 5% claim was for worldwide PC shipments, but even three years later, I have a hard time believing that... At least in the US and Europe I still very rarely see Ubuntu preloads on systems within brick and mortar stores while the major Internet retailers / OEMs still tend to offer Linux on a few select PC models, sans Chrome OS / Android devices.
Another lofty, unrelated goal that went unreached by the open-source community was GNOME owning 10% of the global desktop market by 2010. Five years later, there's no indication they're even close to reaching that 10x10 milestone.
How large do you think the Ubuntu user-base is today? How large do you think the Ubuntu (or Linux) user-base will grow in the years to come? Share with us your thoughts by commenting on this article.