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Canonical have released some statistics from the Ubuntu installer survey

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When installing Ubuntu 18.04, Canonical's installer will offer to send some statistics to them. Canonical have now released some of this. One thing to note, is that this data does not include Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Core, cloud images or and any other Ubuntu derivatives that don't include the report in their own installer.

They've had some good results from it, with 66% of people sending them their data although they don't mention how many results this is actually from. It's a nice start, but I think they really need to do some separation of physical and virtual machines, since it seems they're merged together which will skew a bunch of the data I would imagine. If you're interested in seeing what data is sent on Ubuntu, it can be found in "/.cache/ubuntu-report/".

Their data shows that 98% of people are using the 64bit version on Ubuntu, which lines up with our own user survey. On top of that, a desktop resolution of 1920x1080 remains the most popular at 28% with 1366x768 being the next highest at 25%. What's interesting, is that higher resolutions have a pretty low use with 2560x1440 and 3840x2160 both only seeing 1% although that could easily be watered down due to virtual machines.

One thing that's quite odd is the CPU section under the "Number of CPUs" heading, which claims 27% of people have 4-6 CPUs. Something about that doesn't seem right. 27% of people have at least 4 CPUs in the computer they're installing Ubuntu on? I think they need to improve the wording on this quite a bit just so it's crystal clear on exactly what the statistic represents. Likely CPU cores. I've let them know about it to take a look.

Take a look here at their full statistics page if you're interested.

Article edited and re-posted due to a mess up with the text causing some confusion, mostly my own—apologies.

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46 comments
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Shmerl 19 October 2018 at 12:40 am UTC
Will there be a new round of stats for GOL post? There wasn't one in a while.
Natedawg 19 October 2018 at 1:45 am UTC
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It's awesome having this bundle of stats. I can see it helping a lot of folks I think it's also re-affirming to see a lot of it matching of with the GoL stats!

As far as the CPU stuff goes, I understand the curiosity, but there's really effectively no difference between having two single core CPUs and a single dual core CPU. Minus a ever so slight performance hit if they need to communicate with each other (which would be inefficient code) they're programming-wise the same. Plus, distinguishing between the two in the survey is meaningless except for helping one's curiosity. How many CPU dies are in the machine doesn't really help to know how much they need to worry about multi-threading. You program for two quad core CPUs the same way as you program a single 8 core CPU.

In other words, having a CPU core count is extremely important. Having a CPU die count is pretty much useless.

If they add it great, but don't be disappointed if they don't

Edit: To reinforce my point, here are the docs from Microsoft, Unity, and Godot engine with their description of what it does. The one thing you won't find in the docs, is how many CPU dies there are, because developers simply don't care.

Microsoft
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/api/system.environment.processorcount
Gets the number of processors on the current machine.

Godot
http://docs.godotengine.org/en/3.0/classes/class_os.html#class-os-get-processor-count
Returns the number of cores available in the host machine.

Unity
https://docs.unity3d.com/ScriptReference/SystemInfo-processorCount.html
Number of processors present (Read Only).


Last edited by Natedawg at 19 October 2018 at 1:54 am UTC
ageres 19 October 2018 at 7:14 am UTC
ThePierrasseWait I thought there was no 32-bit version of Ubuntu 18.04? Am I missing something? I guess they counted Lubuntu & other derivatives as well.
Lubuntu doesn't collect these statistics.
appetrosyan 19 October 2018 at 7:42 am UTC
liamdawe
appetrosyanLiam, Thanks for removing the comment explaining what the terminology means. I really appreciate it when I don't even know whom I've offended and how.
The original 5 comments were completely going off the road in regards to what this was about, due to my own confusion and how I wrote it. Hence their removal and the re-posting of this article.

Ok, in that case explaining it again: their terminology is perfectly fine, albeit a different convention to what you as a user are used to.

The confusion as red193 had pointed out numerous times, rises because users tend to call the CPU package, the Just CPU. A CPU core is a CPU core, and a thread is a logical Processor, I.e. CPU. So a hexa core with multi threading provides 12 CPUs to the kernel.

That’s it. Since this is a technical statistics overview, I hardly see why they need to conform to our wrong conventions. Or in, fact, how this explanation of “you’re confused because your convention is not the same as theirs” is “off the road”.
Eike 19 October 2018 at 8:03 am UTC
appetrosyanA CPU core is a CPU core, and a thread is a logical Processor

... which, from a programmers perspective (where the term stems from!) is a crazy misnomer to begin with.
mirv 19 October 2018 at 8:36 am UTC
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red193
mirv
red193
liamdawe
red193The distinction is already made, except using the terminology of CPU/socket instead of core/CPU.
Except it isn't. Did you even read the linked statistics page? "Number of CPUs" - show me where there's any kind of distinction in that.

I always find this sort of thing amusing, how a few people seem to just latch onto something so specific like this rather than talk about the actual topic at hand ;)

Because what is life other than wasting time on meaningless things? I didn't mean the distinction was mentioned on the page, but rather that's the terminology used in that segment (specifically in the linux kernel development space). Just because it's different doesn't make it incorrect.

I'll have to disagree with you because it's not talking about the kernel, but hardware. Even the kernel might schedule differently based on whether an allocated core is on the same CPU or not as something else. I'm not a kernel dev, so I don't know how aware the kernel is in that regard - but I would be very surprised if it wasn't.

More on-topic-ish:
Ideally I would like to see more depth from the stats. Physical disk storage for example: I do wonder on physical disk count, if raid is used, ssd vs hdd, that sort of thing. On a gaming angle, the more information developers have about what hardware people are using, the better development targets can be determined.

Except the only method of probing the information about the hardware through the OS is the kernel, and that terminology has a basis in the hardware anyway. The man page of lscpu lists the topology in order as CPU, Core, Socket, and then a bunch of stuff relating to NUMA nodes. The author section of the man page lists two guys from Red Hat and another from IBM. If they don't know what they are talking about, who does?

lscpu man page is not what is in question here - Ubuntu stats reporting is, and that reporting refers to hardware, not kernel information. And linked at the bottom of the stats page is this one about their metrics reporting:
https://blog.ubuntu.com/2018/06/22/a-first-look-at-desktop-metrics

Scroll down to the CPU section and they state this:
"A single CPU is most common, and this is not very surprising. We haven’t broken this down to cores but is something we will look in to."

Obviously the information consistency across their web pages needs updating.

To go back to lscpu: that's giving logical CPU counts, not physical. And physical CPU is the hardware, and that terminology is very much along the following lines:
CPU - (physical) processor. The thing you plug into the motherboard.
Socket - physical connector on the motherboard. Communication between sockets goes over the system bus.
Core - self-sufficient computation and instruction unit inside a CPU. Communication between cores goes over an interconnect bus of some kind within the CPU itself.
Geppeto35 19 October 2018 at 9:11 am UTC
I really feel that your discussion about cpu / cores is quite interesting (you missed to talk about threads .. --> i'm already out ;) )... even if it's just a matter of definition that can be clearly stated by ubuntu somewhere.... anyway.

But the true question is Statistics should be presented using RAW DATA (absolute frequency rather than relative: number of computers rather than percentage!!)

How many survey they received? If it's 12 or 2 000 or 200 000, that's not the same picture!


edit: syntax


Last edited by Geppeto35 at 19 October 2018 at 9:12 am UTC
liamdawe 19 October 2018 at 9:38 am UTC
Well, I was regretting even mentioning the wording, but hey it sparked some interesting discussion...

Going by the poll on Twitter that's still going: https://twitter.com/thenaughtysquid/status/1053053701211017217 at time of writing 49% of 294 votes think they mean a separate CPU. Clearly this is something that people are split on.

I really do wonder, if I literally said in the article "27% of people have 4-6 CPUs" without mentioning the wording - how many comments would we get complaining on the other side hmm?
Beamboom 19 October 2018 at 9:57 am UTC
TemplarGRI always love statistics that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that 1080p and lower resolutions still form the vast majority of desktop pcs and that only a tiny minority uses 1440p and 4k. Not only Ubuntu's but Steam's statistics are similar.

What I hate about statistics is that there's so much truth in the saying, "there's lies, damn lies and statistics". There's too much that we don't know about these numbers to really make any value of the information at all. One thing is what Liam mention in regards to virtual machines running in low resolutions. Another massive factor is where in the world these resolutions are used. Do we find a hjigher percentage of low resolutions (and thus old hardware) in poorer regions of the world? Extremely likely. How many of the <1080 desktops are used for gaming? Etc.

Without that background knowledge this really only tells us... Pretty much nothing.
Kristian 19 October 2018 at 10:13 am UTC
Am I crazy in thinking that if you wanted to refer to the number of cores you would use the word "cores, if you wanted to refer to the numbers of threads you would use the word" threads" and if you wanted to refer to the number of cpus, you would use the word "cpus".

To me a CPU is a physical thing I can hold in my hands. Using the word CPU to refer to both that and number of threads total seems confusing to me. How can you, using that terminology, distinguish between a situation with multiple separate physical units, and one multicore unit?
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