English analysis company Netcraft reports strong growth for Debian-based servers over the Net.
Debian is currently the fastest growing Linux distribution for web servers, with more than 1.2 million active sites in December. Debian 3.1 was declared stable in July and it appears that both the anticipation of this release becoming stable, and the release itself, have generated new interest in Debian, after some years where it had lagged behind its more active rivals. This growth is particularly noticeable at some of the larger central European hosting locations, including Komplex, Lycos Europe, Proxad and Deutsche Telecom.
Red Hat remains the most popular distribution for web hosting, and is still the best known distribution outside of the Linux developer community itself. But with the Red Hat brand now being available only in their commercial offerings, this has given rivals the opportunity to get into the arena. The most successful newcomer is CentOS, which repackages the same software as commercial rivals, while offering free community-based support. More significantly, some large hosting companies, like 1&1 and Affinity, are now offering Fedora - Red Hat's free, community distribution - instead of Red Hat on new dedicated servers.
In fact the non-commercial distributions are growing faster than the commercial Linux distributions across the board at present. Fedora is growing almost as fast as Debian. Gentoo continues to grow strongly, passing 100,000 active sites in November, while SuSE and Mandriva are making relatively small gains.