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I'm curious as to figuring out an estimated number of online linux computers. This is required for a case study that I'm working on.

Since most online linuxes connect to some sort of NTP service to synchronize their clocks, one strong indicator would be the number of NTP requests per hour from time servers all around the world.

Another indicator would be to gather user-agent data from a large variety of websites and use ratios to other browsers, although this only gives us a percentage, not a quantity.

What are your toughts? Are there any other sources that could be used as estimators? Is it actually possible to retrieve some of this data?

  • There was a talk I saw ... probably about a year ago, where someone had used cloud services to scan every IP address, and determine what OS it was running. (and the number of industrial control systems and 10+ year old OSes that should've been air-gapped or firewalled off was pretty scary) ... it's possible that he mentioned that particular OS breakdown, but of course, it's always going to be a point-in-time value (and prone to error) – Joe Nov 20 '13 at 2:39
  • Netcraft also keeps track of OS distribution, but their statement on fair use & copyright makes no mention of the data – Joe Nov 20 '13 at 2:53
  • It seems that the system moved this from 'on hold' to 'closed'. I know there's data out there on this topic, but I don't know what licenses it might be under. Nurettin : methodology for collection isn't really on topic here (the start of your question), but your closing questions are about other data sources, which is why I'm re-opening this. – Joe Nov 20 '13 at 10:41
  • @Joe thanks, I was just trying to inspire. Sorry for the off-topic behavior. – nurettin Nov 20 '13 at 11:00
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There is the good old Linux counter project1 which estimates around 69 million linux users. Now this is not exactly the same as number of online linux machines, but it should at least give some reference for what the number might be.

1 Actually this is a newer incarnation of the original counter.li.org.

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