openSUSE:Survey 2010

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We've run in February 2010 a survey about openSUSE with 8700 participants.

The survey results are available as PDF.

A detailed analysis of the survey including most of the free text answers was done by the openSUSE board together with Jan Weber, Kurt Garloff and Andreas Jaeger. The following sections give some insights in the answers.

Detailed Analysis of Free Text Fields

Q8: Why do you use a dual-boot or virtualized system?

The answers were very similar to Q16's ones. We also missed the "I don't use dualboot option" so there were a lots of answers like "I don't" :-)

Interesting answers (that were not in Q16):

  • unsufficient DVD-RAM and BlueRay support
  • FreeBSD has a higher power consumption, I use Linux while travelling
  • I have to manage a Novell network using XP machine (huh?!)
  • CentOS has longer support than openSUSE
  • I switch Mac OS X and Linux
  • openSUSE boots faster than Windows
  • I use Solaris for reliable storage (ZFS)
  • I like to learn BSD/Unix to have much more Unix experience
  • I need to defrag my external NTFS drives I use for sharing with others

Q11: What do you use your desktop for?

13 % added other, the common answers are:

  • development of non-GUI applications
  • remote administration
  • Photo editing
  • Scientifc use
  • Media center/TV
  • Editing video and audio
  • Learning
  • Training, teaching

Q12: What do you use your server for?

8 % added other, the common answers are:

  • Mail server
  • database server
  • Version control server, e.g. git, cvs, svn
  • Telephony/Asterisk
  • DNS Server

Q13 - If you develop, what kind of development do you do?

We were happy to see all kinds of development. The most prominent were these two:

a) embedded/realtime programming - PLC, PIC, AVR, VxWorks
b) mobile devices - Maemo, Android, J2ME, SymbianOS, iPhone(WTH?!)

the rest was not so significant but included most of one can imagine:

c) mathematical modeling, numerical algorithms
d) FreePascal (school)
e) Java
f) Python
g) Perl
h) Ruby
i) 3D graphics, games
j) Mono
k) C++/Qt
l) PHP
m) databases - PostgreSQL, Oracle

Q16 - If you use Windows, why do you still use Windows?

The answers for Q16 can be grouped in these categories:

  • Windows came preloaded on machine (aka I paid for it, I will use it)
  • Lack of good/commercial applications
    • graphics
    • music/sound
    • medical software
  • Office
    • lots of institutions use proprietary MS formats
    • is still not a 100% replacement
  • school/company policy
  • unavailable tax software (TurboTax, Tax-Elster, ...)
  • "laziness"
    • mine old habits die hard
    • family members refuse to switch
  • hardware support
    • iPod/iPhone/GPS firmware flashing
    • weird proprietary hardware (e.g. wifi)
  • Internet Explorer
    • some websites work only in IE
    • need to debug websites also in IE
  • one executable runs in any Windows version ("long support")
  • Windows is the most used OS, knowledge of it is important
  • bank institutions lock-in
    • bank website works only in IE
    • USB hardware tokens work only in Windows
  • development
    • porting own software to Windows
    • creating MSI packaging for customers

Q15 - For future versions of openSUSE, what should we focus on?

There were quite a number of interesting answers to the question. In summary most wished and most interesting are:

  • Hardware support for Notebook
Mostly people are looking for support for their function keys with notebooks, also smart card support seams to be in need
  • Easier installation for proprietary drivers and codecs
I think people are looking for something like the jockey application in Ubuntu rather than using YaST.
  • More stability for applications
People seem to like the amount of software we offer, but are not happy with the quality of some.
  • Easier configuration tools
This one was interesting for me, people like YaST (might be related to who answered the survey) and want to keep it, there is a need for easy configuration tools for new users.
  • Usability
  • Sync for mobile devices (iPod, Mobiles ...)
This really is a big issue for many people, with the increasing number of smart phones out there.
  • More out of the box support
There are several things not working out of the box with openSUSE but are working with Ubuntu etc.
  • Better documentation
I think the documentation we have in place is good, though it is not very well visible (referring to the PDF and HTML documents containing documentation that is available on some Novell server).

Q17 - What motivates you to participate in the openSUSE project?

People participate in openSUSE mainly because (sorted by frequency):

  1. They want to bring the FOSS movement forward
  2. The want to scratch an itch
  3. They want to return something to openSUSE
  4. They want to learning from and network with other people
  5. They like KDE
  6. They like Mono

Btw apparently the survey was a bit fubar'd here because it was not possible to choose "Other" as only answer. We have to keep this in mind when looking at the pure numbers...

Q18 - Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

1. Misc

  • People like zonker

2. Ideas / Suggestions

  • Preload it
  • Do more marketing
  • Advertise one-click install more
  • Collaborate closely with other distros / projects
  • Make it more suitable for servers
    • Server technol (FC, ...)
    • Slower release cycle
    • LTS
  • Scientific apps / libs

3. Negative

  • Perception
    • More marketing!
    • MSFT deal
    • Getting slower
  • Distro
    • Update quality
    • Desktop
      • GNOME
      • KDE3
      • KDE4
        • unstable
    • Hating Mono
    • Only 18--24 month updates!
    • My machine failed in this way ...
    • Ubuntu has more apps and more helpful community
    • Hardware support
      • 3D
      • misc
    • Quality issues (apps don't even start)
    • Bugs not addressed

4. Positive

  • Distro
    • Desktop
      • GNOME
      • KDE
        • KDE4
        • KDE3
    • Misc
      • initscripts
      • YaST
    • Best distro so far
    • Well engineered
  • Tools
    • OBS
    • zypper

General Observations on the Survey

Interesting Numbers

Some interesting numbers:

  • 98% male
  • 40% Professional knowledge, 2% basic knowledge only
  • 21% students, 20% system administrators, 17% software developer
  • 63% use Windows as well
  • 64% don't participate, 24% help in forums, 16% report bugs, 5% package software
  • Developers: 33% no development; 36% web development, 36% Apps, 36% shell scripting
  • Rating openSUSE project: 4 out of 5 points in all areas
  • Motivation to participate: Helping unexperienced users 56 %, working together 52 %, openSUSE tools 27%

More Detailed Look

1./2. Typical user is 32yrs (median) and male. Observations:

  • There's more people > 40 than I would have expected, which is really good. They have not grown up with Linux, but moved to it later. Do we have any insight in this group?
  • Overall, we're a bit older than I expected. How does the median compare to the last years? Are we aging all together (which would indicate a lack of young people joining in) or is the median staying constant?
  • <2% females is really low -- I had expected ~ 5 -- 10%.
  • Do we know how our community composition (age, gender) compares to other Linux communities? to other OS communities?

3. People rate their skills rather high.

  • Is this still a prerequisite to use openSUSE Linux?
  • Or is it maybe a prereq to take advantage of openSUSE Linux? (I.e. we just not offer any advantages to medium/low skilled computer users?)

4. I did not know that there's that many sysadmins (20%).

  • Happy if we serve them well ...
  • 7% managers (at director level and up) is somewhat impressive; percentage of normal office workes is low I guess.

5. only IMVHO makes sense when looked at in conjunction with 14:

  • Are we doing well what matters to most people:
Area Importance Rating (RANK!)
Price 10 -
SW selection 4/11 5
Paid support 12 -
Community Support 6 7
Community attitude - 8
Ease of install 9 1
Ease of use 7 3
Stability 1 4
Security 2 2
HW support 3 9
Multimedia supp 5 -
openSource 8 -
  • Why have those two questions not been aligned? Has noone ever compared how we are rated against what is important?
  • It seems we excel in ease of installation -- yet this is not important to our current survey participants. Given that we tried to make install easier for years: Either we are lacking something to appeal to less skilled people (which we can quickly fix) or our efforts may have been somewhat misdirected
    • The result might mean, that installation is already very easy (so "good enough") and not much future improvement is needed in this area.
  • Hardware support is the other extreme: Very important, yet our score is not very good. Unfortunately not very easy to fix ...

15. which matches here

  • And hardware support is also what the community would want us to focus on (most importantly desktops, followed by netbooks and servers).
  • Despite many (semi-)professional users, they don't want us to focus on development tooks -- either they have what they need or don't expect it from us ...

6. Almost half of the participants don't use openSUSE as their MAIN OS

  • Other popoular choices are Win and Ubuntu
  • Very little SLE here (not much crosstalk b/w communities?)

7. Secondary OS -- lots of Win as expected

  • Ubuntu v/ high (third) again (~30%)
  • SLES+SLED (together) as popular as Mac and as Fedora (~10%)
  • Debian GNU surprisingly high (17% -- perception as ultra-stable server OS? Or broad HW coverage?)

8. Why dual-boot?

  • I had expected games to be primary reason (but they're only third)
  • So many work processes do require to use another OS (Win mostly I guess); I had hoped that w/ openOffice and converters (and the upcoming web apps) that this a thing of the past. Not so -- a long way to go for Linux still it seems. Do we have any more insight? Or am I off-track and it's policy questions (from tha IT dept at work and not technical reasons)?

9. One third does participate -- not bad at all.

  • Forums are the most important piece -- is this a typical ENTRY PATH to start contributing? USER -> FORUMS/MLs/IRC -> BUG REPORTS -> Wiki or Packaging ??? If so, what do we do to encourage the transitions to the next step? Do we celebrate our contributors?

10. Very little exclusive commercial use of openSUSE, as expected

11. Netbook usage scenario the most popular ...

  • ... followed by Office and Media. No big surprise to me.

12. I would have expected higher server use, esp. file&print.

  • 18% run virtual machines -- more than I expected

13. Whaohhh, 60% of our users do some kind of development, with shell scripts, web apps and classical GUI/CLI apps being most popular. (Not sure what Applications/GUI development really means here)

16. This is to test the validity of 8?

17. People want to be part of a community apparently working with people they can help and people from which they can learn. These range well above the third point -- the tools technology on which we are so proud. Should we consider doing more to motivate/sponsor community events? Like have user groups which we visit and support etc. etc. etc.