I just read an interesting, albeit admittedly unscientific, post by Starry Hope on the popularity of Ubuntu.  Here are the two graphs from the post which I found to be the most interesting.

Google Search volume of Ubuntu compared to Debian, Fedora/Red Hat, and openSUSE:

Ubuntu compared to the top ten other Linux distributions combined:

If you think Google search volume is a fair indicator of popularity, than it’s pretty clear that Ubuntu is more popular than all the rest of the Linux distributions put together.

While I think there is good reason for Ubuntu to be so far out in front, I hope that we in the Ubuntu Community don’t let that reality go to our heads, but continue to be good citizens in the greater Linux Community.  While Ubuntu may be the most popular distrubution, Canonical (Ubuntu’s source of paid development) isn’t very profitable (yet?) and depends on the development efforts paid for by the makers of competing distrubutions like Red Hat and Novell to produce much of the software which makes Ubuntu complete.

In response to our global economic woes, Sequoia Capital gave it’s portfolio company CEOs a scary slideshow presentation, which I thought I’d share.  If you don’t know who Sequoia Capital is, here is a description of the company from the TechCrunch CrunchBase:

Sequoia Capital is a venture capital firm founded by Don Valentine in 1972. The firm has offices in the US, China, India and Israel. Sequoia has funded an unprecedented number of enormously successful companies including Google, Yahoo, Paypal, Electronic Arts, YouTube, NVIDIA, Cisco Systems, Oracle and Apple. Sequoia estimates that 10% of the NASDAQ’s value is made up of firms they have funded.

To see their presentation, check out the TechCrunch article here.  It’s morbidly fascinating.

I’ve heard many report that proftable Open Source companies like Red Hat have been weathering the bad times better than most, since many businesses are looking for ways to cut costs, and Free Software solutions can be a much less expensive option for many.  Page 46 of the presentation does point out, however, that companies that don’t already have an established revenue model, paying customers, and existing profitability will have trouble getting any new funding from Venture Capitalists.

So, what does this mean for popular Web 2.0 apps and other projects which depend on paid employees but don’t have clear cut business models?  Unless they have wealthy benefactors, as does Canonical, they could have some trouble convincing investors to provide the funding they need to keep going.