The Faculty of Information Technology of Brno University of Technology is one of the two top computer science schools in Brno, Czech Republic. Our development office of Red Hat has intensive cooperation with them including educating students about Linux and open source software. To find out more about how they use Linux, we ran a survey that collected answers from 176 students which is a pretty good sample. I promised to share results publicly, so here they are:
The following chart shows the distribution of responders by year of school. The survey was primarily targeting students in the first year which is why they make up over 50% of the responses.
The following chart shows how many students had experience with a Linux distribution prior their studies at the university. 46% did which shows a pretty good exposure to Linux at high schools.
And now what desktop OS students use primarily. Windows are dominating, but Linux is used as a primary OS by roughly one third of students. macOS is only at 10%. Although we gave responders an option to specify other OSes, no one submitted, for example, BSD.
The following chart shows in what form students use Linux primarily (as either a primary or secondary OS). 44% of students have it installed on their desktop/laptop. 31% use Windows Subsystem for Linux. School programming assignments have to run on Linux, so if they want to stick with Windows, WSL is the easiest way for them. Virtualization is at 9% and remote server at 13% (I suspect it’s mostly uni servers where students can test their assignments before submission).
And here come shares of Linux distributions. Responders could pick multiple options, so the total is over 100%. Basically the only relevant distributions among FIT BUT students are Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch Linux and Debian.
Ubuntu has a clear lead. It’s the default option for WSL where it is on vast majority of installations, so I wondered what the share would be without WSL.
Without WSL the gap between Ubuntu and the rest of the pack is smaller. And since I’m from the Red Hat desktop team I also wondered what are the shares among students who indicated they use Linux primarily on desktop/laptop.
When it comes to desktop computers and laptops the shares of Fedora and Ubuntu are almost the same. That shows two things: 1. Fedora is strong on the desktop among local students, 2. being the default option in WSL gives Ubuntu an advantage in mindshare. Fedora is not even officially available for WSL, but even if it was, it wouldn’t probably change much because other distros are available in the Microsoft Store and only one student of out 50+ who primarily use WSL responded that they use something else than Ubuntu. WSL is probably used by users who want some Linux in their Windows and don’t care much which one it is, so they stay with the default.
We also asked students what prevents them from using Linux primarily. By far the most frequent answer (80%) was “Software I use is not available for Linux”, followed by “I don’t like the UX and logic of the OS” (28%) and “Compatibility with my hardware” (11%). Some students also responded that they simply hadn’t had enough time to get familiar with Linux and are staying with what they know. Other reasons were marginal.