Linux Hardware, Software Trends Over One Year

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 23 April 2012 at 04:24 AM EDT. 18 Comments
Here's a look at some Linux hardware and software usage trends over the past year on a month-by-month basis.

These are results collected by from the thousands of results and over a million component configuration statistics (there's statistics on more than 1,506,821 computer components as of Sunday and more than 155,872 test results that are publicly available). With these statistics being from, these trends are not of the "normal" Linux user-base but rather more representative towards Linux/hardware enthusiasts, the tweaking/benchmarking crowd, and enterprise users. Regardless, they provide a very interesting look at the popularity of various brands and software components on Linux.

These statistics are publicly available and you can submit your own hardware/software information automatically when running the Phoronix Test Suite software.

First up is a look at the leading Linux display drivers (additional statistics are available on each of the category pages, such as the most popular driver version at the moment, etc). When it comes to the X.Org drivers, it's neck-and-neck between the proprietary NVIDIA driver and the Intel driver for being most popular. On average over the past year NVIDIA has commanded a 27.6% market-share of users while Intel is at 23.7%. However, in March the NVIDIA and Intel Linux driver usage is dead-even. It will be interesting to see this month's numbers as when looking at the line, Intel's driver use has been on a steady incline for the past year while NVIDIA is receding. Once Intel Ivy Bridge hardware hits the public channels, which offers quite impressive integrated graphics abilities with the Intel HD 4000 GPU (as will be shown in Phoronix articles in a matter of hours), these numbers will likely keep rising. Sandy Bridge on Linux has been great for Intel and it will be even better with Ivy Bridge.

Meanwhile, fglrx (Catalyst) driver usage among uploaders is at a 13.5% and is on a decline compared to its 18.1% use one year ago. It's not too surprising the Catalyst driver is on the decline as it continues to be widely criticized, the open-source Radeon drivers continue improving, and an increasing number of Linux desktop users are just getting fed up by this binary blob. With AMD dropping Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000 series support from Catalyst, the driver usage will likely continue to drop and it will be interesting to see if it drops below 10% this calendar year.

The open-source Radeon driver use is at around 15% (the total of the "ati" and "radeon" numbers). Previous Phoronix surveys have also shown the Radeon driver use now greater than Catalyst. The open-source Nouveau driver use is at around 6% of all users. Meanwhile, around 4% of users were benchmarking while on the VESA driver and 3.3% are using VMware's interesting graphics driver.

In looking at the graphics processor/card use, the numbers aren't too surprising based upon the previous driver results. NVIDIA has around 33% of the Linux GPU sales, ATI/AMD Radeon is about 35% on average for the past year, and Intel is at 24% on average for the trailing twelve months. NVIDIA is flat while somewhat on a decline while AMD and Intel are gaining ground. The 2% Cirrus users are from running the Phoronix Test Suite within KVM/QEMU virtualization, 2.0% for InnoTek is for VirtualBox users, and there's around 3.5% for VMware virtualized guests. There's also about 2.0% overall GPU usage for Matrox, which can still be found in some workstations/servers.

Some of the most popular graphics cards include the AMD Radeon HD 6700 series, Intel Sandy Bridge (Gen6), and the NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450.

ASUS is clearly the most popular motherboard vendor for Linux users. ASUS motherboards were found about 21.7% of the time over the past year while in a distant second place was Dell followed right by with Gigabyte (the company that recommends using Windows to fix Linux problems), both of which came in at under 10%. ASUS being the clear front-runner is not a surprise considering their vast array of compelling products from netbooks to enthusiast-oriented motherboards to server products and now tablets. Some of the most popular motherboard models mentioned on the motherboard page include the ASUS M5A97 PRO, ASUS P8Z68-V LX, ASUS P9X79 PRO, and ASUS SABERTOOTH 990FX.

When it comes to the most popular operating system in use by Phoronix Test Suite / users, to no surprise it's Ubuntu Linux. However, the percentage of Ubuntu users may surprise some people and that the Ubuntu use is a bit on the decline. Ubuntu commands 64.1% of users over the past year (its high point was 70.9%). Other popular Linux distributions of the benchmarking users include Arch (2.9%), CentOS (2.9%), Debian (7.9%), Fedora (3.9%), Gentoo (0.8%), LinuxMint (4.9%), and SUSE (2.7%). When it comes to the OS releases themselves, the OS page indicates the past three Ubuntu releases are all wildly popular (Ubuntu 11.04, 11.10, and already 12.04), the Ubuntu 10.04 Long-Term Support release, Debian 6.0.4, Linux Mint 12, Debian testing, Fedora 16, and SUSE Linux 12.1.

For processor use, Intel is in front with close to 80% use on average (Intel + Pentium numbers; Intel Pentium CPUs don't normally reflect their Intel branding with /proc/cpuinfo) and AMD is at 25.8% on average. The rest is made up of ARMv7 hardware at less than 1% benchmarking their tablets, smart-phones, or other low-power hardware. The QEMU virtualized CPU is at around 2% and Marvell SoCs are at 0.1%. Intel's high use isn't surprising considering the marvelous success they've had with the Sandy Bridge products and will be experiencing great success too with Ivy Bridge. Meanwhile, AMD's Bulldozer fails to compete in nearly all workloads. AMD's only processor success at the moment is really their Fusion products, which will be expanded shortly with the introduction of the AMD Fusion Trinity APUs. Intel also continues to do especially good in the server market.

Some of the most popular CPUs in use by users include the Core 2 Quad Q6600, Intel Core i5 2410M, Intel Core i7 2600, and Intel Xeon L5640. Speaking of CPUs, there is also advancements as of this weekend for more detailed Linux hardware information reporting on the client end.

When it comes to code compilers, it's no surprise that the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) dominates. GCC is averaging 99% of the Linux compiler market-share over the past year. LLVM's Clang C/C++ compiler is found about 2.3% of the time over the past year. [It's possible for GCC at 99% and other compiler's beyond 100% since multiple compilers can be present at one time on a given system, which the Phoronix Test Suite is able to detect.] The main self-standing LLVM libraries itself are also at around a 2.3% installation rate. Open64, PCC, PathScale/EKOPath, CUDA, and Xcode are all at less than one percent installation.

When it comes to popular disk drive vendors, Western Digital drives are found about 28% of the time, Seagate disk drives at 25%, Samsung at 12.2%, Hitachi at 10.4%, and Intel SSDs at 2.5%. The most popular disk drive is the Seagate ST9500420AS, which is a 500GB Momentus SATA hard drive evidently found in many laptops. Other popular drives include the Hitachi HTS54503, INTEL SSDSA2M160, INTEL SSDSC2MH25, and Western Digital WD1600BEKT-0.

For file-systems on these disks, EXT4 is certainly the most popular choice. Over the past year the EXT4 file-system was in use about 72% of the time for benchmarking (a 74% peak one month and bottomed out at 68.7% last year) while EXT3 was found 16.7% of the time still (lots of enterprise installations still around), Btrfs 1.2% of the time, and XFS only at 0.8%. There's also some measurable Phoronix Test Suite users running Live benchmarks via SquashFS and tmpfs configurations.

That's it for now, more data and endless Linux and open-source benchmark results are available from Feel free to run your own test results with the community and share them via the Phoronix Test Suite. As soon as the Intel Ivy Bridge embargo expires, a plethora of Ivy Bridge results will begin to appear for which you can use to compare your desktop/notebook/workstation/server's Linux performance. There's already been leaks by various Intel stakeholders in recent months of Intel ChiefRiver (the Ivy Bridge reference mobile platform) and the Intel LosLunas 2 CRB (Intel's Panther Point reference board for Ivy Bridge).
Related News
About The Author
Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

Popular News This Week