As depicted in the video, it took numerous years for Mint to surpass Ubuntu. The remainder of the top Linux distributions have consistently been ranked in the top group year after year as well. All of a sudden though there’s a new competitor that has supposedly surpassed them all except one Linux Mint. The mystery distribution is Mageia, and they’ve practically come out of now where to make it to number 2, but many question the reality of this possibility.
Over the years there’s been a lot of controversy over DistroWatch. Although it has never claimed to be a site with an authoritative ratings system, within the Linux community itself, DistroWatch has always held some weight when it comes to who is at least downloading what distribution. Recently though, DistroWatch has continuously ranked Ubutnu below Mageia and this has been going on for a some months now although Mageia is a distribution that few even talk about, by comparison to Ubuntu or most any other popular distribution in the top ranks.
Whether or not you’re an Ubuntu fan or not, Ubuntu has gained immense popularity within and without the Linux community. The distro has driven in people to the Linux community by the droves. From corporate users, to government and educational systems. as well as personal users alike (for example see “Spain Deploys 220,000 Ubuntu Desktops In More Than 2,000 Schools, Servicing 600,000 Students“. Yet Mageia is surpassing even Ubuntu in the DistroWatch rankings month after month.
Mageia Linux was forked from Mandriva in 2010. Mandriva was created by a company by the same name that went bankrupt about the the time Mageia was spun off from it. Mandriva still exits though, and is actually doing business. Mageia doesn’t receive any financial backing from Mandriva, at least none that we know of.
DistroWatch has never been a rating system that takes into account a large number of criteria to establish its rating of Linux distributions. It’s actually very simple, yet important. It’s a Linux community indicator of how many people have expressed interest in a Linux distribution, based on how many times it may have been downloaded. It in essence gives a good indication of what people are now interested in.
A proponent of Mageia and blogger by the name of Susan Linton wrote:
“Another indication that Mageia’s popularity is on the rise is its move up the Distrowatch.com Page Hit Rankings. Mageia occupied the number 15 spot in 2011 but promptly pushed Ubuntu down and took its number 2 spot in 2012. Only Linux Mint stands between Mageia and number 1.”
It’s true. In 2011, Mageia was ranked 15th on DistroWatch (see first chart above), but just how it reached number 2 surprises many, even those that applaud its success.
Another blogger and also a proponent of Mageia named Christopher Tozzi wrote in a well put together article entitled,”Young Mageia Linux Distribution Surges in Popularity”. Christopher said:
“according to distrowatch.com, Mageia Linux is the second most popular distribution available today. That’s impressive, given the distributions that have been around for many years–including Ubuntu, openSUSE and Fedora–dominate most of the rest of the top of the list.”
It is impressive, and interesting considering the minimal level of discussion on the Internet regarding the distribution, when compared to lesser ranked distros.
Even Katherine Noyes, a PCWorld columnist, said at the end of 2012 with regards to Mageia, being #2:
“Perhaps most intriguing of all on this year’s list is that Mageia has rapidly rocketed up into the No. 2 spot. Though it was born as a fork of Mandriva in 2010, Mageia did not appear in DistroWatch’s top 10 list in either of the past two years. This year, however, Mandriva disappeared from that list, while Mageia jumped in very close to the top.”
It is actually intriguing for many since there’s really no evidence that Mageia has sparked such a continuous interest for it to have maintained such a ranking.
Something else interesting to note at this point as well. Christopher Tozzi also mentioned something that might be of particular interest:
“Unlike Ubuntu, Fedora or OpenSUSE, it has no close ties to corporate entities. It has, however, already piqued the interest of Mandriva SA, which in May announced plans to base a new business server product on Mageia. Meanwhile, Mageia itself offers a server edition as well as a desktop version, potentially allowing channel partners to integrate Mageia into their own commercial server products.“
So in other words, although Mandriva filed for bankruptcy in 2010, they’re still operating under a restructuring of the company, and they obviously intend to support Mageia.
While no one quite understands how such a widely un-used distribution has reached number 2 on DistroWatch on such a continuous basis, it may leave one to question whether or not Mandriva / Mageia is using the ranking system as some form of search engine marketing in order to gain popularity. Of course, none would hope that to be the case, as DistroWatch has at least a some of clout in the Linux community. Even if it’s just in the heart and minds of those that appreciate its service.