Ubuntu vs. Red Hat on Compete.com, Hitwise, and Google Trends

I’ve been doing a little prep for my keynote at Ubuntu Live next week, as well as my on-stage interviews of Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, at the O’Reilly Radar Executive Briefing on Open Source and on the main stage at OSCON. In the course of my homework, I took a look at the various web tracking sites to see how Ubuntu is doing against sites for other Linux distributions. Here’s how Ubuntu, Red Hat, Debian, Fedora, and OpenSuse stack up in terms of site visitors according to compete.com:

Update: A number of folks commented that I’d mistakenly used fedora.org rather than fedoraproject.org in my graphs. Sorry! The corrected graph (above) shows growth for Fedora, but it’s still well below Debian and Ubuntu.

Clearly, Ubuntu is catching up with Red Hat, at least in terms of the number of visitors to its website, and Debian (on which Ubuntu is based) continues to be the community distribution of choice, blowing away Red Hat’s Fedora and Novell’s OpenSuSe.

Here’s the corresponding graph from hitwise.com, which shows Ubuntu ahead of Debian, and Fedora catching up. Obviously, web tracking sites have different results based on the contents of their panel, but the trends at least are consistent from one to the other:


Google Trends makes an even more compelling case for interest in Ubuntu:
Google Trends: Ubuntu vs. Red Hat

Clearly, Ubuntu is gaining heavily on Red Hat (though this says nothing about Red Hat’s penetration of the enterprise.) I’m curious. Do Radar readers have any thoughts about the rise of Ubuntu? Is it just better fit and finish for the desktop? Is Ubuntu the “it” distribution of the moment, with a moment that could easily pass? Is it the more rapid development cycle? The closer ties with the free software ideals of the Debian community? I have my own ideas, but I always learn a lot from your comments.

In addition, what do you think of Ubuntu’s Launchpad, a site for collaboration across open source projects? Mark Shuttleworth described it to me as a “Wikipedia for bugs,” but it’s clearly more than that — a platform for services between open source projects. It could perhaps even be described as a fusion of open source and Web 2.0 — a data and social network for open source developers.

Finally, if you were me, or were in the audience next week, what would you want to ask Mark Shuttleworth about Ubuntu? (And yes, we could also talk to Mark about his sojourn on the International Space Station, if that’s of interest. Let me know.)