According to the Statistics page on the wiki, last week we passed 1 million IP checkins for Fedora 12 systems! This is roughly on par with where Fedora 11 was at the same time after its release, although it’s hard to discern the actual number of installations worldwide.
Although IP addresses are a convenient and anonymous way to gather these statistics, they’re not foolproof. But given our past experience and analysis, which you can see in more detail in the section on yum check-ins, we are confident we’re significantly undercounting installations. There are millions of existing systems running Fedora 11 and other previous releases as well, although older systems are no longer receiving updates and we recommend that people try the latest and best free software available. And in a significant number of cases there are NATs and proxies that further impact this undercounting.
The above considerations influence me to be skeptical when I hear answers to the question “How many systems are running ‘Foo’?”. Is the claim supported with hard numbers? Are those numbers public and independently verifiable? As part of Fedora’s dedication to transparency, I definitely take those questions seriously.
We’re always trying to think of ways to improve our statistics gathering that continue that tradition of transparency, respect users’ privacy, and support the globally mirrored infrastructure that works so well (thanks Infrastructure team!). If you’ve got a suggestion that takes those factors into account, and you can help implement it, let me and other folks know through the advisory-board list.