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The June Netcraft Results are Out: Apache Gains Slightly in Market Share
Jun 30, 2001, 16 :12 UTC (6 Talkback[s]) (12055 reads) (Other stories by Kevin Reichard)

The Netcraft Web Server Survey is a survey of Web Server software usage on Internet connected computers. We collect and collate as many hostnames providing an http service as we can find, and systematically poll each one with an HTTP request for the server name.
In the June 2001 survey we received responses from 29,302,656 sites.

Market Share for Top Servers Across All Domains August 1995 - June 2001

Top Servers

Server May 2001 Percent June 2001 Percent Change
Apache 18069603 62.24 18466153 63.02 0.78
Microsoft-IIS 5957240 20.52 5972321 20.38 -0.14
Netscape-Enterprise 1778958 6.13 1768673 6.04 -0.09
Zeus 798745 2.75 810108 2.76 0.01

Active Sites

Developer May 2001 Percent June 2001 Percent Change
Apache 7230089 61.53 7346025 62.42 0.89
Microsoft 3062949 26.07 3076623 26.14 0.07
iPlanet 324722 2.76 273293 2.32 -0.44

iPlanet is the sum of sites running iPlanet-Enterprise, Netscape-Enterprise, Netscape-FastTrack, Netscape-Commerce, Netscape-Communications, Netsite-Commerce & Netsite-Communications.

Microsoft is the sum of sites running Microsoft-Internet-Information-Server, Microsoft-IIS, Microsoft-IIS-W, Microsoft-PWS-95, & Microsoft-PWS.

Platform groupings are here.

Counting computers running the Web


One of the common observations made about the Web Server Survey is that it counts hostnames rather than physical computers, and so is not a suitable metric to indicate hardware installed base or license sales. Technically sophisticated hosting companies can run several thousand sites on a single computer, and the great majority of the world's web sites are located at hosting and co-location companies rather than on peripheral networks.

Building on the operating system detection techniques used by the What's that site running? query and Netcraft's commercial research, we have attempted to address this. Netcraft has developed a technique that, with an error margin, can give an indication of the numbers of actual computers we find on the Web, together with the operating system and web server software used.

By arranging for a number of IP addresses to send packets to us near simultaneously, low level TCP/IP characteristics can be used to work out, within an error margin, if those packets originate from the same computer, by checking for similarities in a number of TCP/IP protocol header fields. To build up sufficient certainty that IP addresses on the same computer have been identified many visits to the sites in the Web Server Survey are necessary, which takes place over a period of over a month.

Round robin DNS, reverse web proxies, some load balancing/failover products like Cisco LocalDirector and BIG-IP and some connection level firewalls hide a number of web servers behind a hostname. A limitation of the technique is that only a single "front" web server will be counted. Additionally with some of these products the operating system detected is that of the "front" device rather than the web server behind.

Error Margins

There are a number of factors that create errors in this survey, the main ones being:
  • Despite making multiple visits, there is still a low probability that two computers will be considered the same by chance similarities in low-level TCP/IP protocol header fields; this leads to under-counting.
  • Some IP addresses do not respond on enough visits for the technique to be applied. This is mainly due to computers or networks being down or badly overloaded on several of the visits, in which case there are uncounted computers; by extrapolating using the IP address/computer ratio for sites running similar software we can roughly correct for this error.
  • If a system changes or upgrades operating system during the course of the survey, which takes over a month to run, and because of some other detailed issues, a computer may be counted more than once; this leads to over-counting, but generally this should be a fairly small effect.

It is difficult to determine a reasonable error bracket for the computer count numbers, especially as the two major errors are in opposite directions, so cancel to some extent. One useful piece of evidence that suggest there are not really large levels of error, is that the average ratio of sites to computers on hosting company networks, is over 10, whereas the ratio of self hosted sites to computers is about 2.

Considering the technique in the abstract we think that error margins world-wide are in the order of ± 10% on IP addresses allocated to hosting companies, where the greatest number of successful comparisons needs to be made by the technique, and in the order of ± 5% on self hosted networks. Note this is in addition to the limitation that we only identify at most one computer per load-balanced website; we cannot quantify the numerical effect of this limitation, but would expect only a minority of web server computers world-wide to use load-balancers at this time, so not causing large-scale distortion of the results.

Netcraft has been performing this survey since February 1999, generally four times a year. The trends since then have been very smooth suggesting there is only a small amount of "random error" in this survey. There could be significant "systematic error" affecting particular groups of web servers more than others, but there are no strong reasons to suppose this would affect particular operating system groups or types of web server significantly more than others world-wide. Studying the quarterly trend results in detail does give us confidence that the error margins in the results are well within the stated ± 10%.


Operating Systems used by Computers running public Internet Web Sites, March 2001

OS group Percentage Composition
Windows 49.2% Windows 2000, NT4, NT3, Windows 95, Windows 98
Linux 28.5% Linux
Solaris 7.6% Solaris 2, Solaris 7, Solaris 8
Other Unix 2.4% AIX, Compaq Tru64, HP-UX, IRIX, SCO Unix, SunOS 4 and others
Other non-Unix 2.5% MacOS, NetWare, proprietary IBM OSs
Unknown 3.6% not identified by Netcraft operating system detector

Microsoft Windows has a significantly higher share of the web when one counts by computer, rather than by host, as in the conventional Web Server Survey. The survey shows 49% of the computers running the web are Windows based; a little more than all of the Unix-like operating systems combined. As some of the 3.6% of computers not identified by Netcraft operating system detector will in reality be Windows systems, it would be fair to say about 50% of public Web Servers world-wide are run on Microsoft operating systems Although Apache running on various Unix systems runs more sites than Windows, Apache is heavily deployed at hosting companies and ISPs who strive to run as many sites as possible on a single computer to save costs. Windows is most popular with end-user and self hosted sites, where the host to computer ratio is much smaller.

Linux is the second most commonly used operating system. Linux has been consistently gaining share since this survey started, but interestingly not significantly to Windows detriment. Operating systems which have lost share have been Solaris and other proprietary operating systems, and to a small degree BSD.

One could characterise this process as Solaris being continually chased further and further up market by Intel based operating systems, with Sun in turn progressively eliminating the other proprietary Unix operating systems. Intel enjoys both the benefits of the boom in freely available Unix software and the ascent of Windows, with competing processors correspondingly marginalised in the web server market.

Sun would reasonably point out that this analysis simply counts the number of computers rather than their cost, and that a $1K Intel machine would count the same as a $1M E10K system, and that while Windows matains its share in Fortune 500 companies, the relative position between Linux and Solaris is approximately reversed in these companies.

The analysis also gives some quantification of the rate at which sites migrate to Windows 2000 from NT. In March 2001, a little over a year after the introduction of the operating system 25% of the computers running Microsoft operating systems are running Windows 2000.

Regional Variations

The results summarised above are from a world-wide perspective and significant variations can occur in regional analyses. Out of 32 countries with at least 0.1% of sites on the web each, Windows computers outnumber Unix-like computers in 22 of them. The countries with the largest proportions of Windows web servers are China, South Africa and Singapore. Countries in which Unix-like operating systems maintain the strongest lead are Poland, Hungary, Japan, Russia and Germany, with Linux strong in Poland and Hungary, and BSD in Russia and Japan. Linux leads Windows in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Germany, while in Finland, home country of Linus Torvalds, Windows has a tiny lead over Linux!

Fair use, Copyright

Excerpts from this survey may be reproduced if Netcraft and the url are attributed.

Related Stories:
The May Netcraft survey is out: it's an Apache world!(Jun 01, 2001)
The April Netcraft survey is out: Apache on top(Apr 18, 2001)
Apache 2.0.16 released as beta(Apr 09, 2001)
Apache 2.0.15 released as an alpha(Mar 28, 2001)

  Current Newswire:
WDVL: Perl for Web Site Management: Part 3

Retro web application framework V1.1.0 release

Leveraging open standards such as Java, JSP, XML,J2EE, Expresso and Struts.

Netcraft Web Server Survey for November is available

FoxServ 2.0 Released

Ace's Hardware: Building a Better Webserver in the 21st Century

Web Techniques: Customer Number One

Apache-Frontpage RPM project updated

CNet: Open-source approach fades in tough times

NewsForge: VA spin-off releases first product, aims for profit

 Talkback(s) Name  Date
  It takes 5 NT boxes to do what 1 Linux box can do
Well, MS has won this round because it takes at least 5 NT boxes to do the work of a single Linux box... so now this is our punishment for having a better performning and more stable OS... oh well... them the breaks... at least we know why.   
  Jun 30, 2001, 23:23:40
  Wonder how S/390 will figure into this?
It's too early for S/390 mainframes to make much of an impact in the totals, but I read on an e-mail discussion list a couple of days ago that Infocrossing plans to offer about 5,000 virtual hosts on one mainframe. Infocrossing isn't the only company in that line of business with S/390 plans, either. The potential number of sites hosted using Linux and Apache under IBM's VM operating system, given a big piece of hardware, is not in the thousands but in the tens of thousands. The count of "how many computers" may become even less relevant with time as major-league hosting providers start to run their entire operation on just a couple of gigantic machines.

I did enjoy Dan Kuykendall's comment about 5 NT == 1 Linux. I spent fourteen years at a big manufacturing company, and it was amazing how the PHBs thought they were saving money when they dumped one UNIX-based RISC server in favor of twenty or thirty PCs running NT 4.0. I guess they figure people-time is free.   
  Jul 1, 2001, 15:11:46
  Now is the time...
... for everybody to talk about how it takes 1 Linux box to handle the work of 10/20/50/200 Win2k/NT boxen.

I remember hearing about the local Universities' "upgrade" to MS outlook. They have a rack of like 8 high $$ NT boxes to handle the STAFF e-mail, and a single, ancient, PC-sized *nix/Sendmail box to handle all the STUDENTS.

This would just be funny, 'cept it's true. These numbers can be presented with any of a number of types of spin:

Example 1: "In a recent, independantly issued survey, nearly 50% of all Internet web servers are running Microsoft Windows (TM)". You can see this in big, bold blue in one of those "freebie" tech magazines, or perhaps ZD.

Example 2: "In a recent survey, it was found that Linux based servers outperform Microsloth Winblows by a ratio of over 4 to 1; you can get nearly four times the reliable functionality from Linux as you can from MS Windows". --A post on Slashdot.

Tell me what the average business is likely to SEE...

  Jul 1, 2001, 16:11:05
  So MS advocates can't use this bit of news

I can imagine MS advocates hapily quoting this, then looking very ashamed when the comment about it taking more Windows boxes per site is made. Netcraft point out quite clearly that Windows wins in the CPU count and not the hosted site count.

Although the idea of "doing it on the cheap" may sound bad in consumerland, to a company chief choosing software technologies the fact that the UNIX users are choosing UNIX because it is cheaper is significant when it comes to improving their bottom line.

All in all, this is actually a good piece of advocacy for UNIX/Linux in web hosting - "More sites off fewer boxes". Be sure to point this out to any MS advocate who tries to quote these figures.

- Richard

  Jul 2, 2001, 06:43:55
  Buses and cars
It is not fair to count UNIXes and Windowses in one survey,
because it's like counting cars and buses: buses are much more rare!
  Jul 2, 2001, 13:52:01
  security.. what percentage are known to have security holes?
It would be interesting to report on what percentage of webhosts are actually security concious and which don't bother to keep patched/spacked up. You can probably make a good estimate on this by looking at version numbers and such like couldn't you?

I'm no authoriuty, Slimy.   
  Jul 26, 2001, 02:58:18
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