Growing Internet Presence of Linux and Mac OS

1999: According to The Internet Operating System Counter, the Mac OS and Linux are the fastest growing server operating systems.

Based on April results, Linux owns the top spot. With almost 400,000 servers (web, FTP, and news), 31.3% of surveyed machines are running Linux. This is an increase from 28.5% in January. This represents 39.2% more Linux servers than the January report.

Microsoft Windows (all versions) has been dethroned. Server share dropped slightly from 24.4% to 24.3%, but unit growth lags far behind Linux. With 310,000 Windows servers, there are only 26.5% more Windows servers than there were three months ago.

Except for NetWare and the Mac OS, all the other operating systems in the survey are some variant of Unix. The fact that all of these show a decreasing share of the total server market indicates that users are choosing Linux over both Windows and other Unix variants.

But the other good news is the rapidly increasing Macintosh share. Although the Mac OS is only 2.1% of the total, that represents 64% more Mac servers than the January report, when the Mac OS had only 1.6% of the server market.

Looking only at web servers, the results are similar. Linux and the Mac OS are really growing, while Windows and NetWare are growing slowly. Except for Linux, all the Unix variants are seeing a decrease in market share.

The Real Losers

While even Windows and NetWare are seeing a lot more servers even as their market share growth declines, some operating systems are seeing a numeric decline. This survey found fewer servers running IRIX and Reliant Unix/Sirix than the previous survey did.

Linux has made significant inroads where it counts – in the hearts of server administrators. Whether they are switching from Windows, other Unix variants, or setting up new hardware, the default choice is no longer Windows.

Linux has established itself as a legitimate alternative server operating system.

The other surprise is the remarkable growth of the Mac OS server market. While the survey shows only a little over 2% of all servers on the Internet run the Mac OS, 64% growth in three months is remarkable.

This site ( is one of the few Mac-related sites actually served on a Macintosh.* The Power Mac G3 is operated by Innovative Technologies, runs WebStar, and has redundant T1 and T3 connections to the internet backbone. This has been serving Low End Mac with alacrity since late-February and is one of the over 22,000 Mac web servers on the internet.

Another powerful demonstration of Macintosh technology is the Baker Book House website (** On a network connected to the internet via 128 kbps ISDN, a stock 32 MB Rev. B iMac handles email and web pages. The true power comes from integrating FileMaker Pro databases, allowing very powerful search options from the entire Baker publishing catalog. For more details, see the site info page.

A third site I’m involved with is, a domain I own. The domain is served on a Quadra 650, which handles both web pages and lots of email. I set it up initially for some ongoing research on church growth. It’s not a particularly busy website, but the Quadra also handles the email for several Mac-related email lists.

Macs make great servers. They’re easy to set up and don’t require mastering a separate server OS.

For those who need the ultimate in power, though, the Mac OS has too much overhead. So does Windows. Because of this, we’re seeing a steady growth in the Linux market: it’s designed from the ground up as a server OS.

And we’re likely to see a growing Mac OS Server market as users migrate from AppleShare IP Server over the coming years. This will provide the power of Unix with a Macintosh shell, making it as easy to use as a Mac while increasing performance and stability.

While Linux and the Mac OS are rapidly growing in server market share, to say nothing of mindshare, Microsoft has been unable to keep up. Their growth rate only matches that of the overall server market, while Apple and Linux are increasing their stake.

The age of Microsoft dominance slowly draws to a close.

* Low End Mac has resumed use of the domain, which had been registered for us. It took some time to get the domain back under our control.

** In the intervening years, Baker Book House has become Baker Publishing Group and has moved to a new domain, This article uses a link to an archived version of the website from April 1999.