Published: January 29th, 2004

Over the six months from July 2003, Debian has been the fastest growing Linux distribution according to Bath, England-based Internet researcher Netcraft Ltd. Netcraft counted active sites containing the name of a Linux distribution in the Apache Corp. server header.

In percentage terms, Debian is closely followed by SuSE, now owned by Novell Inc., and Gentoo Technologies Inc.

Red Hat Inc. has a far greater number of sites but — quite typically for larger players in the market — a much slower growth rate. Its share fell this month, following widely publicized and controversial changes to its licensing and security update policies, which saw the company move to a more commercial model to which many in the open source community were unaccustomed. However, with a hit rate of over 1.45 million, ore than the rest combined, Red Hat won’t be too upset.

A distribution name was present in a little over a quarter of Linux based Apache sites, according to Netcraft, and the overall growth rate of Linux servers was just under 15 per cent.