percentage of popcon submitters

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percentage of popcon submitters

markus schnalke
Hoi,

I know it is not possible to _know_ the real percentage of uses which
submit popcon stats of all users. But I want to ask for guesses,
because more oppinions do likely improve the result.

My current guess is between 1/3 and 2/3.

What do you think?


meillo

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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Michael Goetze
Hi,

> I know it is not possible to _know_ the real percentage of uses which
> submit popcon stats of all users. But I want to ask for guesses,
> because more oppinions do likely improve the result.
>
> My current guess is between 1/3 and 2/3.
>
> What do you think?

before wild speculations ensues, you might want to specify what you
really want to know: the percentage of people installing debian systems
who use popcon (always/sometimes), or the percentage of installed
machines that submit popcon data?

For example, I'm pretty sure any hosting company offering Debian on
dedicated servers will disable popcon by default...

Regards,
Michael


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Luciano Bello-3
In reply to this post by markus schnalke
El Jue 15 Ene 2009, markus schnalke escribió:
> My current guess is between 1/3 and 2/3.

that means that there is between 78055/(1/3)=234165 and 78055/(2/3)=117,082 of Debian installations. It doesn't look like a big number... I think that we are more.

Maybe your estimation is too high.

luciano


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

markus schnalke
In reply to this post by Michael Goetze
[2009-01-15 22:37] Michael Goetze <[hidden email]>
>
> before wild speculations ensues, you might want to specify what you
> really want to know: the percentage of people installing debian systems
> who use popcon (always/sometimes), or the percentage of installed
> machines that submit popcon data?

Seems my wording was unclear.

I want to know the percentage of installed machines that submit popcon
data.


Maybe some words about the background of this question:
I want to estimate the number of users of some software. Thus I have a
look at Popcon which tells me the number of installations of the
package. Now I need a good multiplicator (the searched one) to receive
an estimated number of users within Debian. I'll do the same for
Ubuntu's popcon and add guessed numbers for usage on other GNU and
Unix systems. That should lead to a quite good estimation.


> For example, I'm pretty sure any hosting company offering Debian on
> dedicated servers will disable popcon by default...

And there is a number of systems without online connection, they will
also not submit.


meillo

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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

James McCoy
On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 4:55 PM, markus schnalke <[hidden email]> wrote:

> [2009-01-15 22:37] Michael Goetze <[hidden email]>
>>
>> before wild speculations ensues, you might want to specify what you
>> really want to know: the percentage of people installing debian systems
>> who use popcon (always/sometimes), or the percentage of installed
>> machines that submit popcon data?
>
> Seems my wording was unclear.
>
> I want to know the percentage of installed machines that submit popcon
> data.

That requires knowing the number of computers that have Debian installed
which, as has been discussed various times in the past on this list, is
difficult to determine.

--
James
GPG Key: 1024D/61326D40 2003-09-02 James Vega <[hidden email]>


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Patrick Matthäi
In reply to this post by Michael Goetze
Michael Goetze schrieb:

> Hi,
>
>> I know it is not possible to _know_ the real percentage of uses which
>> submit popcon stats of all users. But I want to ask for guesses,
>> because more oppinions do likely improve the result.
>>
>> My current guess is between 1/3 and 2/3.
>>
>> What do you think?
>
> before wild speculations ensues, you might want to specify what you
> really want to know: the percentage of people installing debian systems
> who use popcon (always/sometimes), or the percentage of installed
> machines that submit popcon data?
>
> For example, I'm pretty sure any hosting company offering Debian on
> dedicated servers will disable popcon by default...
>

Hello,

for myself I deactivated popcon on every machine.
Then I first installed and activated it on every server and some times
later also on my desktop.

For my case I do not think that it will be realy deactivated on
dedicated servers in most cases.
But yeah, it may differ from person to person :)


--
/*
Mit freundlichem Gruß / With kind regards,
Patrick Matthäi

E-Mail: [hidden email]

Comment:
Always if we think we are right,
we were maybe wrong.
*/


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Michael Goetze
In reply to this post by James McCoy
James Vega wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 4:55 PM, markus schnalke <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> I want to know the percentage of installed machines that submit popcon
>> data.
>
> That requires knowing the number of computers that have Debian installed
> which, as has been discussed various times in the past on this list, is
> difficult to determine.

And even then it might not help answer your question, for instance if
you have a desktop application the percentage of popcon submitters might
be higher than average among your users, whereas if you have some
software mainly useful on classified military machines, the percentage
of popcon submitters might be lower than average among your users.


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Bernd Eckenfels
In reply to this post by markus schnalke
In article <[hidden email]> you wrote:
> My current guess is between 1/3 and 2/3.

Machines or Users?

According to Linuxcounter there are estimated 29,000,000 users and debian has
18.36% which equals in 5m  debian users. Popcon lists 78k submissions,
which is less than 2%

Gruss
Bernd


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Russ Allbery-2
In reply to this post by markus schnalke
markus schnalke <[hidden email]> writes:

> I know it is not possible to _know_ the real percentage of uses which
> submit popcon stats of all users. But I want to ask for guesses, because
> more oppinions do likely improve the result.
>
> My current guess is between 1/3 and 2/3.
>
> What do you think?

We run Debian or Ubuntu on around 500 machines and only submit popcon
results from about four of them.

It's hard to talk institutional computer security departments into the
idea that the minor risk of the information released by popcon (what
packages on your servers are missing security patches, basically) is worth
it for just the warm fuzzy feelings of contributing.  I suspect that
popcon is not running on most large institutional Debian installations.

--
Russ Allbery ([hidden email])               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Romain Beauxis-2
In reply to this post by Bernd Eckenfels
Le Thursday 15 January 2009 23:25:02 Bernd Eckenfels, vous avez écrit :
> In article <[hidden email]> you wrote:
> > My current guess is between 1/3 and 2/3.
>
> Machines or Users?
>
> According to Linuxcounter there are estimated 29,000,000 users and debian
> has 18.36% which equals in 5m  debian users. Popcon lists 78k submissions,
> which is less than 2%

Thanks. Unless you setup some experimental method, any argument should reduce
to handwaving or extension of various particular examples..

The big question (and the big troll) that's hidden behind this question is the
total amount of installed debian systems.

Since this value is always and always discussed, I don't think there is any
broadly accepted counting method, hence I don't think the original question
can be answered...

Or, if you really want to troll, let's switch to the total amount of installed
debian systems, since this is equivalent, but the de^C^Cbattle should be more
fun... :-)


Romain


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Noah Slater-6
In reply to this post by markus schnalke
On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 10:00:04PM +0100, markus schnalke wrote:
> I know it is not possible to _know_ the real percentage of uses which
> submit popcon stats of all users. But I want to ask for guesses,
> because more oppinions do likely improve the result.

       This question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by
  looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who
  looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was
  permitted to see the Emperor of China, and the question was, What is the
  length of the Emperor of China's nose? To find out, you go all over the
  country asking people what they think the length of the Emperor of China's
  nose is, and you average it. And that would be very "accurate" because you
  averaged so many people. But it's no way to find anything out; when you have
  a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it,
  you don't improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.

                       -- Richard P. Feynman, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

--
Noah Slater, http://tumbolia.org/nslater


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

markus schnalke
[2009-01-16 05:59] Noah Slater <[hidden email]>

> On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 10:00:04PM +0100, markus schnalke wrote:
> > I know it is not possible to _know_ the real percentage of uses which
> > submit popcon stats of all users. But I want to ask for guesses,
> > because more oppinions do likely improve the result.
>
>        This question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by
>   looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who
>   looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was
>   permitted to see the Emperor of China, and the question was, What is the
>   length of the Emperor of China's nose? To find out, you go all over the
>   country asking people what they think the length of the Emperor of China's
>   nose is, and you average it. And that would be very "accurate" because you
>   averaged so many people. But it's no way to find anything out; when you have
>   a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it,
>   you don't improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.
>
>                        -- Richard P. Feynman, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
Good point, but one may refer to the Delphi method:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi_method

However, the answers I received actually helped my. Not because they
were estimations, but because they were comments for what to keep in
mind.

In any way, I believe more oppinions do improve results, but not by
telling numbers one can average, but by showing how others see the
situation. This widens the own view.


meillo

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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

markus schnalke
In reply to this post by Bernd Eckenfels
[2009-01-15 23:25] Bernd Eckenfels <[hidden email]>
> In article <[hidden email]> you wrote:
> > My current guess is between 1/3 and 2/3.
>
> Machines or Users?

Popcon focuses on machines. In the end I want users. But any number
would be good.


> According to Linuxcounter there are estimated 29,000,000 users and debian has
> 18.36% which equals in 5m  debian users. Popcon lists 78k submissions,
> which is less than 2%

That is really a good approach. Thanks for that!

I seems to be quite sure that the popcon submitters are less than 1/3
of all Debian users.

Luciano Bello's calculation pointed to a similar way.


meillo

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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Morten Kjeldgaard
In reply to this post by Romain Beauxis-2
>
> Thanks. Unless you setup some experimental method, any argument  
> should reduce
> to handwaving or extension of various particular examples..

Surely, it must be possible to get an estimate of the number of  
downloads of important packages and security updates? I know these  
downloads also are requested from mirror sites, but at least for the  
official mirror sites their relative activity must be known?

Cheers,
Morten

--
Morten Kjeldgaard <[hidden email]>
Ubuntu MOTU Developer
GPG Key ID: 404825E7


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Petter Reinholdtsen
In reply to this post by markus schnalke

[Markus Schnalke]
> I know it is not possible to _know_ the real percentage of uses
> which submit popcon stats of all users. But I want to ask for
> guesses, because more oppinions do likely improve the result.

A while back, someone with access to the download logs for
security.debian.org tried to estimate the number of machines
downloading security fixes for Debian, based on the assumption that
no-one is using a mirror for security fixes.  I am unable to find
those results using Google right now, but would recommend trying to
get hold of those numbers to get new lower bound on the number of
Debian installations.

As for the answer to your question, I have no idea. :) The amount of
contributors to popcon went up a lot when the popcon question started
to appear in the default installer in Etch, but I have no idea how
many actually replied yes to that question. :)

Happy hacking,
--
Petter Reinholdtsen


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Neil Williams-4
In reply to this post by Morten Kjeldgaard
On Fri, 16 Jan 2009 08:45:12 +0100
Kjeldgaard Morten <[hidden email]> wrote:

> >
> > Thanks. Unless you setup some experimental method, any argument  
> > should reduce
> > to handwaving or extension of various particular examples..
>
> Surely, it must be possible to get an estimate of the number of  
> downloads of important packages and security updates? I know these  
> downloads also are requested from mirror sites, but at least for the  
> official mirror sites their relative activity must be known?

How do you map the number of downloads to the number of users or
machines? I have dozens of chroots that I use for multiple reasons.
Now, maybe I should use an apt proxy but most of these are
cross-building chroots so that doesn't help as the proxy will have
amd64 packages and I need arm or armel etc.

Then you have the problem of people who maintain local mirrors (often
quite short lived ones).

It's just more handwaving - unless you want to count every chroot and
every local mirror (per architecture) as a separate "user".

There is no way of accurate counting unless access to the files is
restricted to a known number of download methods that all require user
intervention to proceed, at which point Debian would not be free.

The LinuxCounter method is completely arbitrary - the figures on the
site are guesswork and cannot be used in any other calculations.
LinuxCounter tries to extrapolate from 180,000 to 29,000,000 without
any real basis for such a leap of faith other than "we guessed 18
million some time ago and we have x% increase in our counter figures
since then, so increase 18 million by x%". I'm not knocking their
figures, just reiterating what is on the linux counter website -
reliable figures just do not exist and trying to create them usually
results in restricting the freedoms that attract users in the first
place.

http://counter.li.org/estimates.php

Linux Counter is no more or less reliable than popcon - both are wild
guesses from different perspectives. popcon is an wild underestimate,
counter could as easily be over as under. Nobody knows and in a very
real sense, nobody could ever know with any accuracy.

popcon is what we have, it is an indicator with known deficiencies that
always need to be taken into account when using popcon data as a factor
in any packaging decision but popcon, overall, is just more handwaving.
I find it amusing that we post popcon % figures to two decimal places
when the real error margins are completely unknown but it reflects the
size of Debian - if popcon didn't use decimal places, a vast number of
packages in widespread usage would have a popcon % of zero.

I could say that LinuxCounter is out by 30% or 70% or 150% and there
would be no reason to consider my guesses as more or less reliable than
the ones from LinuxCounter. The whole thing is a complete unknown.

--


Neil Williams
=============
http://www.data-freedom.org/
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/
http://www.linux.codehelp.co.uk/


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

markus schnalke
[2009-01-16 10:09] Neil Williams <[hidden email]>
>
> The whole thing is a complete unknown.

Of course you're right. But it's the best we have.

Instead of leaving it with ``we simply don't know'', I prefer to
estimate on the (unsure) data sources that are available.



For my case, I received valuable comments and approaches that improved
my estimations, so I thank everyone who contributed!


FYI:
I now assume one third of all Debian users submit their stats, with
the remark that one third is probably a high guess as it means there
would be only about 230 thousand Debian installations in total. But
according to counter.li.org between 490 thousand and 12 million Debian
users can be estimated. I later reduce the resulting number by one
third to respect users with multiple installations.

I think my final result is not too large, which is to avoid. If it
would be only 1/10 of the true number, I have no problem with it.



thanks again

meillo

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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Romain Beauxis-2
Le Friday 16 January 2009 11:51:50 markus schnalke, vous avez écrit :
> [2009-01-16 10:09] Neil Williams <[hidden email]>
>
> > The whole thing is a complete unknown.
>
> Of course you're right. But it's the best we have.
>
> Instead of leaving it with ``we simply don't know'', I prefer to
> estimate on the (unsure) data sources that are available.

Not that I like to be polemic, but this sentence doesn't mean anything.

If the answer is "we don't know", then we don't know. Problem is that you
don't give any ground to your claims, hence it is far worse to give any
estimation.

The only serious analysis was the one made by Bernd Eckenfels, which ended
with 1%. I don't really believe this can be used as it is before another
contradictory analysis can be done.

Of course, you surely do not need such serious considerations for your precise
issue, but claiming that any ungrounded "estimation" is better than nothing
made me tilt :)


Romain


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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

markus schnalke
[2009-01-16 12:06] Romain Beauxis <[hidden email]>

> Le Friday 16 January 2009 11:51:50 markus schnalke, vous avez écrit :
> > [2009-01-16 10:09] Neil Williams <[hidden email]>
> >
> > > The whole thing is a complete unknown.
> >
> > Of course you're right. But it's the best we have.
> >
> > Instead of leaving it with ``we simply don't know'', I prefer to
> > estimate on the (unsure) data sources that are available.
>
> Not that I like to be polemic, but this sentence doesn't mean anything.
>
> If the answer is "we don't know", then we don't know. Problem is that you
> don't give any ground to your claims, hence it is far worse to give any
> estimation.
IMO that's not right if you want to act. Acting without any plan is
worse than acting with an estimation (that bases on the best
information available).

Imaging navigation within permanent fog. I think it is better to go
towards the most probable direction, instead of doing nothing because
you dont know. Of course this again is dependent on external factors
like dangerous ground ... thus no answer fits every case.

In the end it's a philosophical question anyway. ;-)


> Of course, you surely do not need such serious considerations for your precise
> issue

correct ;-)


meillo

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Re: percentage of popcon submitters

Simon Josefsson-2
In reply to this post by James McCoy
James Vega <[hidden email]> writes:

> On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 4:55 PM, markus schnalke <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> [2009-01-15 22:37] Michael Goetze <[hidden email]>
>>>
>>> before wild speculations ensues, you might want to specify what you
>>> really want to know: the percentage of people installing debian systems
>>> who use popcon (always/sometimes), or the percentage of installed
>>> machines that submit popcon data?
>>
>> Seems my wording was unclear.
>>
>> I want to know the percentage of installed machines that submit popcon
>> data.
>
> That requires knowing the number of computers that have Debian installed
> which, as has been discussed various times in the past on this list, is
> difficult to determine.

How about numbers for security.debian.org downloads?  That will measure
the number of well-administrated debian machines (except those
well-administrated machines that use other mirrors).

/Simon


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