While there are many hotspots in the GNU/Linux landscape, usage of GNU/Linux on the desktop is still spotty around the world. There are millions of GNU/Linux desktops but they are in clusters rather than widely spread.
- Antarctica – 37.5%
- Europe – 1.81%
- South America – 1.43%
- North America – 1.25%
- Oceania – 0.98%
- Asia – 0.8%
- Africa – 0.8%
A few governments, businesses, organizations and individuals are enjoying the benefits while others pay too much for their IT and lack the flexibility to get the best performance from their investment in IT. We’ve come a long way compared to five years ago, but there is a long way to go until Free Software approaches its maximum benefit to humanity.
The Digital Divide is rapidly being closed in Africa, South America and Asia. European governments are doing a great job in promoting FLOSS so I expect huge growth there sooner rather than later. At the moment ODF is widely used in Europe and GNU/Linux is on many servers. Governments in Europe have eliminated many barriers to adoption so they should be able to deploy many more GNU/Linux desktops shortly. North American governments have done little outside of a few departments. The government of Canada has done little more than bring GNU/Linux to the table let alone recommend or approve it. In Asia, the big stories are China and India. China has jerked M$’s chain and made noise about GNU/Linux but has yet to follow through with widespread usage. It’s as if the Cultural Revolution never happened for IT. India, on the other hand has developed and recommended its own distro to good effect and Dell and others are distributing GNU/Linux desktops, notebooks and Android/Linux tablets widely. Africa is developing rapidly but only in small part adopting GNU/Linux. Ethiopia is using it in schools. Kenya is using it in the infrastructure. Despite cost of IT being a huge factor in an emerging market folks are still buying that other OS. South America is showing that pattern too as Venezuela, Brazil and Uruguay revel in GNU/Linux desktops and local OEMs ship them but still web stats lag.
Part of the slowness is due to the desktop becoming less relevant and new purchases are Android/Linux but the huge inventory of legacy PCs is ripe for migration to GNU/Linux. The death of XP caused good growth but only a small fraction went with GNU/Linux.
Effectively the Digital Divide is changing rather than being eliminated. There is a large group clinging to that other OS on legacy PCs and a much larger group adopting new IT based on Android/Linux. This eliminates barriers which should facilitate migration to GNU/Linux but instead we have a gradual pace of change rather than a revolution. It’s happening but in slow motion.