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Ubuntu Desktop Environment Usage Statistics

Ubuntu's popularity contest or Popcon project is an attempt to map the usage of Ubuntu packages.

It reports the system architecture you use, the version of popularity-contest you use and the list of packages installed on your system. For each package, popularity-contest looks at the most recently used files, and reports the filename, its last access time and last change time.

This data is sent to a server server weekly and everyday the server anonymizes the results and publishes the survey on Popcon website.

ISV_Damocles did a nice analysis of this data on Reddit. Below is a meaningful breakdown, however before proceeding ahead but make a note of this:

Not all Ubuntu users have popularity-contest enabled. It's disabled by default and most Ubuntu users have likely never heard of it. So this will not show a true picture of DE usage on Ubuntu. Also the results may not be 100% accurate.

In all total 2,381,625 machines are submitting installed packages details to Popcon. 'Installed' refers to the number of people who have installed packages, not taking into consideration how frequently these packages are used or if they have been upgraded recently.

Out of 2,381,625, xorg is installed on 2,363,432 machines and rest 18,193 are headless machines.

DE Package Name Total Users Recent Users (used in last 30 days)
Classic Gnome gnome-panel 1527309 (59.96%) 62875 (28.24%)
Unity unity 397130 (15.59%) 71106 (31.94%)
KDE kdesktop 237579 (9.32%) 50369 (22.62%)
XFCE xfce4-panel 238688 (9.37%) 10165 (4.56%)
Gnome Shell gnome-shell 106107 (4.16%) 24626 (11.06%)
LXDE lxde-common 29589 (1.16%) 1375 (0.61%)
E17 e17 10696 (0.41%) 2076 (0.93%)

Do note that above results also takes into consideration multiple DE's installed on a system.

The data above is quite self explanatory, Unity is currently the most used DE in Ubuntu, followed by Classic Gnome. Gnome Shell comes fourth trailing behind KDE.

Overall, Classic Gnome has maximum share. Probably users haven't upgraded to Unity and are still using older Ubuntu versions. Or probably they didn't like Unity and switched back to Classic Gnome. It is also possible that growth of Classic Gnome has stabilized and the figure just represent the consolidated share Classic Gnome has gained in many years.

Unity and Gnome Shell are new entrants in above data. They were introduced nearly the same time. However, Unity has grabbed higher share than Gnome Shell in total users, probably because it is default DE. Unity is followed by KDE and XFCE, both having equal share.

If you are wondering about stats for different architectures, about 21.85% use 64bit and 77.87% use 32bit (rest others).


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