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Linux Figures

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Ashley Highfield | 16:03 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2007

linux_tux_bbc.pngI have received and seen on the net a lot of comment on this point of the number of Linux users using bbc.co.uk, so I have had a good look into the validity of the figures I'd been given.

The BBC uses a range of systems to calculate user levels and the reporting system used to provide the numbers I quoted gave the lowest number (this is the system we use the most widely, and I've asked for a thorough check to see whether it is correctly picking up all Linux users).

Alternative analysis that we have run off which performs the measurement in different ways suggests that the potential number of Linux users could range from 0.3% to 0.8% (which, from a total UK bbc.co.uk userbase of 12.2m weekly users [source: TNS] could imply a userbase between 36,600 and 97,600. We'll try and get a more accurate picture: over 30,000 Linux users is a not insubstantial number, but we do have to keep this in context with the vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access bbc.co.uk.

Ashley Highfield is Director, BBC Future Media and Technology.


  1. At 04:58 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Austin wrote:

    Just out of interest, what is the method that gave the 600 users figure? It seems rather inaccurate.

  2. At 05:01 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Matthew Linden wrote:

    So you were only out by 16,000 %. Not bad. I take it they don't offer basic statistics courses at the BBC.

  3. At 05:01 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Graham Gillions wrote:

    "over 30 thousand Linux users is a not insubstantial number, but we do have to keep this in context with the vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access bbc.co.uk"

    This could be quite a miscount. I wonder if BBC news reporters will challenge this discrepancy as much as they did the recent government slip up (for want of a better term) on migrations numbers?

    I suspect many users are at least one of non-white; deaf or hard of hearing; blind or visually impaired. I wonder if the Beeb views their needs 'in context with the vast majority of users' or if it has a duty to meet the needs of all?

  4. At 05:04 PM on 02 Nov 2007, mw wrote:

    The fact that Linux is little used is hardly relevant - you are not a comercial company. You take my money on an equal basis as a Windows person. If I am being treated unequally then give me a rebate or charge the Windows user more.

    If you can not treat viewer equally then you have to question whether you should be entering certain arenas.

    Your talk of "moving the debate forward" is typical of someone who doesn't want to debate the initial issue - basically you're saying "I'm right - now shut up".

    You need to be more forward thinking and start to question the issue of tying a service to a particular manufacturer. Imagine if when the BBC started they said you could only buy one make of TV. The BBC would not be institution it is now. Where will we all be in 50 years after you've tied all BBC internet views to microsoft ?

  5. At 05:16 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Andy wrote:

    I'm another of the 400-600. Glad you aren't in need of my licence fee.

  6. At 05:20 PM on 02 Nov 2007, John Madden wrote:

    By your reasoning webpages shouldn't be accessible, because most users have no disabilities. This and supporting non-Microsoft operating systems on bbc.co.uk equate to roughly the same thing, since both require time, effort and money to support.

    I think this simply comes down to politics. It would be political suicide to state "we're not supporting accessibility, because most of our users are not disabled". It's fine however to say you're not supporting non-Microsoft platforms because they're in the minority.

    Just because something is a minority does not mean it should be ignored or sidelined.

  7. At 05:23 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Ardern wrote:

    If you and your colleagues can get this one so wrong, where's your credibility?

    What other decisions have been taken on the basis of such spurious data?

  8. At 05:26 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Matthew Cooke wrote:

    Linux users and developers are a fairly savvy bunch and in most cases can find work around's when sites like the BBC favour proprietary formats - however annoying that is to do.

    But Microsoft DRM is a system designed to prevent interoperability and limit usability by encrypting the data and only allowing playback under products licensed by Microsoft. Basically, one of Microsoft's latest attempt to lock out the competition, supported in part by the media industries desire to make viewers pay over and over for the same content.

    Why when I pay my license fee should I be required to pay Microsoft for a copy of Windows to watch BBC content that I have already paid for?

  9. At 05:27 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Chris Booth wrote:

    I use Linux on Mac hardware at home and either Linux or Solaris at work. I use the BBC website at least a couple of times a week and would certainly use it more if the content were more accessible to me. About ten years ago it was common to hear colleagues say they would never employ a web designer who couldn't design for multiple browsers yet we now have the BBC of all people targeting not just one browser but one operating system. I think the BBC directors need to fire the managers who made this decision and hire IT people who actually understand The Internet.

  10. At 05:34 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Chris Fox wrote:


    We're not asking you to support Linux, per se.

    We're asking you to adhere to openly published industry standards, which would allow users of ANY operating system to access your publicly funded content and enable community projects (including, for example, the Linux community) to develop the software at no cost to you.

    It's surprising that the obvious solution is free (as in speech), free (as in beer) and the easiest solution to implement, and yet the Beeb still jumps into bed with a foreign monopoly which is being massively fined as we speak for breaking EU law.

  11. At 05:39 PM on 02 Nov 2007, dave wrote:

    It would be interesting to see your figures of Linux users compared to your figures for other minority groups - such as those with seeing difficulties.

    It's not appropriate for you to launch new services excluding license payers with seeing difficulties, and the same is true for Linus users.

    Webstats are not reliable, but even at 0.5% the BBC should be using it's charter to support equality of access - not further encourage siloed data access through wrapping it in a proprietary layer.

    If DRM is so important to the BBC, generate something which you can use universally, or work with the community to do so.

  12. At 06:04 PM on 02 Nov 2007, John Drinkwater wrote:

    “vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access bbc.co.uk.”

    Microsoft bullied computer suppliers into only selling Windows.
    Apple make their own computers.
    Linux … comes on a few magazine cover discs (hardly something everyday people bump into).
    So it’s hardly a stunner that Linux is in the lower stats, but being quoted as “400 to 600” in an article is just reprehensible.

    You also haven’t said sorry for getting it wrong, rather claim the BBC system might be wrong… You then cite an older external source (you yourself said “17.1 million users of bbc.co.uk in the UK”), so I can’t accept those other figures either.

    Please update us when you get a clue.

  13. At 06:11 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Dougie Richardson wrote:

    I understand your position with respect to the majority of users, however I am much less inclined to accept this now there is an admission of inaccuracy in calculating the numbers

    In the interest of a free and open discourse, would you consider posting details as to how the figures were calculated? For example, many Linux user's browsers identify themselves as being Internet Explorer to work around poorly coded sites.

  14. At 06:31 PM on 02 Nov 2007, sbenson wrote:

    This is why piracy is not seen as horribly criminal. If not from you, the from the pirates. See you in the bay.

  15. At 07:07 PM on 02 Nov 2007, BackSeat wrote:

    Thank you for the clarification. Although the number of Linux users is almost certainly in the minority, it would be interesting to see the trend compared with, say, a year ago, both in terms of absolute numbers and also the proportion of Windows/Mac/Linux users.

  16. At 07:35 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Kris Marsh wrote:

    Thanks for the follow up Ashley Highfield, glad it was an honest mistake :-)

    You might like to keep an eye on a petition that was created, for a possibly rough idea of the amount of people who visit - https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/linuxbbc/signatures.html


  17. At 07:36 PM on 02 Nov 2007, John Wright wrote:

    I might be wrong and perhaps the BBC is right to save money by opting for a single platform. In that case I have an exciting suggestion which would save the BBC a huge sum in its broadcasting platform: BSkyB already has one. I am sure News Corp would be happy to continue broadcasting BBC output and any concerns over conflict of interest would surely be assuaged by the saving in money and management time by ditching that redundant platform. The population of the UK without dishes are not significant enough to bother with.

    I hope this Modest Proposal finds favour. I have read elsewhere that Mr Highfield and his colleagues may be finding solution the rights issue too hard, and are happy to abdicate it to our favourite monopolist - the one paying its large fine to the EU for anti-competative behaviour. Perhaps they have their own conflict issues as a publisher an the prefer to hide behind big brother.

  18. At 08:01 PM on 02 Nov 2007, John Cooper wrote:

    >keep this in context with the vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access bbc.co.uk

    Mainly due to Microsoft locking vendors in to only supplying Windows. The rate of Linux take up justifies the BBC making sure it promotes fair play so all users can choose. The BBC taking the view the vast majority use Windows and not providing access to Linux users is effectively promoting a single supplier and years of more vendor lockin.


  19. At 08:02 PM on 02 Nov 2007, anonymous user wrote:

    hi there, I am from Ireland, where I studied computer engineering in the university of limerick - I, and about 40% of all my friends use linux, and most of their families are now using it too. i dont believe these figures for a second, im guessing it doesnt take non-UK users into account.

  20. At 08:10 PM on 02 Nov 2007, John wrote:

    I'd like to point out that like many Linux users, I set my User Agent to either Windows XP or OSX in order to get many sites to work. Many Linux distributions default their web browsers to WinXP as well, thus heavily biasing the sample. I would guesstimate that the majority of Linux users will appear in your logs as WinXP, so multiply your figures by at least 3-4 times to get a more realistic figure, 3-4% of your audience seems a fair figure.

    We're not asking for special treatment, just equal treatment, which is easy to achieve by sticking to open standards, or at worst choosing closed system that have cross-platform support (Flash, Real, etc).

    Choosing Microsoft immediately rules out anyone not using their platform, their unwillingness to support alternative platforms should automatically rule them out for any public service. They are a convicted monopolist, still under court supervision for their anti-competitive practices, but are still highly unlikely to ever provide the cross-platform you should be seeking.

    The BBC has a long and proud history of technical innovation, what is to stop the BBC either on your own or in partnership creating a cross-platform DRM system? What did happen to Dirac?

    One final point, I mostly access bbc.co.uk from work, where I am required to use Windows, yet the iPlayer is aimed at home use. Might it be an idea to limit your sample to outside office hours to determine home users? Even then, that may not be valid figures to base a decision on, as while I don't bother visiting bbc.co.uk in the evenings when I have the radio on, I would visit if iPlayer was available. Webstats seem the wrong figures to use to judge your potential audience, you should probably look into some proper survey data.

  21. At 08:40 PM on 02 Nov 2007, prince xenu wrote:

    Regardless of the figures that you got so dreadfully wrong microshaft DRM is patently (sic) the wrong way to go about your internet business. Also try to bear in mind that linux users are often more internet and computer savvy as well as being more influential in computing circles. The bad publicity you are drawing to the Beeb will only grow the longer you ignore us.

  22. At 09:20 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Scoober wrote:

    Commenters attempting to trot out the 'accessibility' argument should first recognise the huge amount of work the BBC already does (and has done for years) to support the delivery of content to people who have genuine impairments in the widest possible way - before admitting that running Linux is not the same problem as having a visual impairment. The net result may sometimes be similar, but the cause is most definitely not!

    Nonsense such as this is simply wrong:
    "Why when I pay my license fee should I be required to pay Microsoft for a copy of Windows to watch BBC content that I have already paid for?"

    You're not required to pay Microsoft anything to watch any iPlayer content. It all gets broadcast for free, at least once and often more, over the regular TV broadcast channels - available to anyone who's paid the license fee with a telly and a Freeview box. iPlayer is a catch-up service, not a new TV channel - this point seems to get lost in the hackneyed, shallow arguing over DRM.

    I'm sure iPlayer will eventually become usefully cross-platform, once technology (which is not, unbelievably, completely under the BBC's control) and the practicalities of deploying said technology on a massive scale allow.

  23. At 10:42 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Lee wrote:

    I would like to say that accessiblity for Linux users is EXACTLY the same issue as accessibility for those with disabilities; those who work during the day, and can only news due to morning re-runs; those who use a sony TV and can only watch because the signal is standardised; etc. EACH of these groups is a minority, who would otherwise be discriminated against, except for the the organisation developing some awareness of the issues, and stepping forward to meet its social responsibilities. DRM must *not* be used. It is an absolute violation of accessibility; it is discriminatory, by its very nature. I for one hope to see anyone using it or authorising its use in court some day, and won't be surprised if I do.

  24. At 10:45 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Emma wrote:

    I am an avid Linux user and I must say that I am embarrassed by the behaviour of my fellow Linux-users. Within this discussion there have been more complaints than solutions. It doesn't really matter how many of us there are--this is not a fee-for-service that is being offered and therefore there is no sane business model which would help to determine how the content is delivered. The BBC is not losing sales by choosing a technology which cannot be accessed by some.

    As a producer of content (some of which is open, some of which is not) I am in favour of authors being allowed to choose whether or not their content is protected. Of course it's unfortunate the content is protected in a way that prevents me from consuming it on my home computer. Linux is my choice and the MS - DRM solution is the BBC's choice to protect the creators of its programming. In my mind those who choose to run Microsoft have already paid their dues and should be allowed a few perks every now and then.

    Implementing a new system will cost the BBC at least staff time. As a Linux user I have only paid into the television system--never into the MS - DRM solution. I am on the outside looking in. One solution would be to substitute a proprietary paid license for a system which uses fee-for-service micro-payments; however, that would hardly be considered acceptable given the BBC is supposed to be "free." I challenge my community to come up with a solution which accomplishes the same thing as the MS - DRM license: protection of content creators' rights to distribute their work. The GNU GPL offers a clause on how material may be distributed---this is our opportunity to provide a solution which is open and accessible as in beer while remaining respectful of the content we so desperately wish to consume.

  25. At 12:06 AM on 03 Nov 2007, Les Waymont wrote:

    The BBC doesn't tell me what brand of TV I have to use. It doesn't tell me what brand of radio. TV and radio use open standards - anyone can build equipment to receive BBC signals.

    Does anyone care whether I use a Sony or a Toshiba TV ? No. So why should anyone care if I use Linux, or Windows or Mac ?

    If the BBC would format its internet output openly - just like it does with TV and radio - we wouldn't be having this debate.

  26. At 12:58 AM on 03 Nov 2007, one of 600 wrote:

    "You're not required to pay Microsoft anything to watch any iPlayer content."

    Sure. You are forced to buy a certain operating system produced by a certain company in order to watch the content.

  27. At 01:13 AM on 03 Nov 2007, Andrew Loughran wrote:

    Mr Highfield.

    Thank you for posting this correction of your figures. It's not often (although twice in one week after the Home Office error) that you see a revised figure being provided so quickly.
    However, the paradigm that is running through all of the comments is that the BBC should be a platform that embraces openly publish standards. It's not really a question about who uses Gnu/Linux, Microsoft, or Mac. I use all three.
    The point is that the BBC follows documented standards, so it's up to the platform makers to use these standards to get the quality content provided by the BBC on their platform - it shouldn't be reversed.
    If the BBC used openly published standards, then whether or not the iPlayer worked on an individual's computer would not longer be a BBC issue.
    Hopefully we'll see a move in this direction in the coming months. I really need to catch up on Robin Hood...

  28. At 07:44 AM on 03 Nov 2007, Stomfi wrote:

    Scoober writes: "before admitting that running Linux is not the same problem as having a visual impairment. The net result may sometimes be similar, but the cause is most definitely not!"

    Since Linux is virtually free and older equipment that won't effectively run XP can be refurbished with a common version of Linux with forever free applications, it is the only effective choice for many financially disadvantaged members of society.

    People with recognised disabilities have access to organizations to help them obtain expensive computing resources, but the same state of affairs is not generally available for those on low incomes.

    Linux is giving major help to the digital divide, although I admit financially disabled users have to pool their resources, which they often do, to pay for a streaming media connection.

  29. At 08:22 AM on 03 Nov 2007, Antony Cowderoy wrote:

    This is a matter of principle. A publicly funded body should not aid and abet a convicted monopolist in maintaining a monopoly that is against the public interest.

    Both the US courts and the EU have found Microsoft to have operated such a monopoly. Long established economic principles suggest that no large business can sustain Microsoft's levels of profit over many years without maintaining a monopoly that is severely against the public interest.

    On this analysis, Microsoft has sucked billions of pounds from the UK economy by charging monopoly prices for its software.

    The BBC used to have principles. What has happened to them?

  30. At 09:46 AM on 03 Nov 2007, Scoober wrote:

    ""You're not required to pay Microsoft anything to watch any iPlayer content."
    Sure. You are forced to buy a certain operating system produced by a certain company in order to watch the content."

    You either didn't read the rest of my post at all or you're attempting to quote selectively to try unfairly skew the argument. As I said directly after that quote, all iPlayer content gets broadcast free-to-air on the regular broadcast schedules, available to anyone with a license fee, TV and Freeview box. If there were any iPlayer-specific content you might have a point, but there isn't, so you don't I'm afraid.

    The BBC - or any other publically-funded body - does not and should not have a requirement to support every tin-pot OS out there, because it's impossible to do it in a viable, scalable way (cost per user). Faced with the need to develop and deploy a digital catch-up service, they quite sensibly chose a bed of technology that would service the vast majority of its audience whilst accomodating the (admittedly rather outdated, but the mood is changing) requirements of the owners of the content.

    The BBC is not a technology company - it's a broadcaster and commissioner of content. It's up to the technology industry to develop and supply solutions that are fit-for-purpose. I'm afraid all the Linux/Mac anti-MS people are barking up the wrong tree here.

    The unwillingness - or inability - of certain areas of the open source community to really understand the issues involved in the complex ecosystem that is digital content delivery isn't doing them any favours in these arguments - often sounding like children, to be honest. Knees jerking all over the place whenever 'Microsoft' and 'DRM' are mentioned. A misplaced and immature conviction that non-free software is always somehow 'evil'. A blind ignorance to the notion of copyright and the moral right of the creators & owners of works to be compensated for their efforts on its consumption - perhaps because they can't understand why musicans or writers don't do their jobs for free like their software heroes often do in their spare time.

    (NB. I am a Mac and Linux user, I don't have any MS software in my house)

  31. At 09:59 AM on 03 Nov 2007, MJ Ray wrote:

    About accessibility: could someone please set the colours on this page to ensure sufficient contrast between text and background? It seems to assume the Microsoft/Mozilla default black-on-white colours.

    About detecting platforms from user agents: I agree with the above comment about Linux users faking their browsers because of bad web sites. I do it (although it usually also contains a non-existant browser version and the string "This header is frequently faked") and I suspect many users do.

    About platform standards: BBC should show its commitment to open platforms by moves like finishing Dirac (Microsoft-only iPlayer is not good enough) and putting Ceefax (DVB-TXT) back on digital satellite (Sky-only BBCi is not good enough). Ceefax in particular is an illustration of BBC killing their own famous inventions, even while they were putting out news releases with the prime minister and leader of the opposition praising it!

    The BBC can be a force for amazing improvements in technology. Spending the price of television centre on Microsoft-platform-only DRM distribution systems is not the way to do that.

  32. At 10:06 AM on 03 Nov 2007, John Drinkwater wrote:

    #24, Emma,
    I have to say I disagree. This blog and replies are only pertaining to incorrect users viewing numbers quoted in a magazine.

    Solutions would be to ask for better user reporting, maybe declaring a monthly web usage metric blog post, with raw data shared (as .xls/.ods files) that we can all use to better understand visitors (LindenLab does this very well, re: https://blog.secondlife.com/2007/07/10/june-2007-metrics-published/ ).

    As for the DRM and iPlayer problem, we already paid the BBC to produce a solution, and they failed. I can ask why they didn’t consider Java (completely multiplatform, some popular p2p apps use it) as the tool of choice, Dirac or h.264 as open (though one requires licencing) video codecs, and one of the many DRM system that are availible to multiple platforms.
    I have to assume they conducted this research themselves, but we haven’t had a competent analysis published, so how can one accept their choices?

    Slightly annoyed non-Windows user.

  33. At 10:30 AM on 03 Nov 2007, dave wrote:

    I may have taken the discussion in an inappropriate direction with comparisons to web accessibility for people with visual impairments. I wasn't suggesting that the two are identical, and in particular most Linux users (myself included) do so out of choice - which can't be said for partially sited or blind visitors.

    But I think the point I was trying to make is valid - the BBC should be using license fee monies to promote open access for all. I think Ashley and some advisers might have been taken in by general rhetoric about both the size of the Linux userbase, available options and implications.

    The claims about DRM seem a little ludicrous to me. The microsoft technology picked has already been cracked, and with tools existing to revert to unprotected media, the rights holders are not able to contain the media in the current system.

    By adopting a single proprietary DRM solution, the BBC is encouraging a monopoly in the hi-def media distribution market for Microsoft. This doesn't seem an appropriate use of the BBC's fund - which should instead be focused on delivering a platform which isn't tied to any one supplier, whether they are currently a market leader or not.

    Someone's been drinking too much kool-aid.

  34. At 10:44 AM on 03 Nov 2007, Chris Neville-Smith wrote:

    If the BBC does not make a Linux-compatible iPlayer shortly after the release of windows, someone will hack the WinXP version, crack the codes, and distribute their own version. And, unlike any BBC version, chances are a third-party version will leave out all the DRM. This happened with DVD players - they refused to make a Linux version, and now all the major DVD players on Linux work in all regions and have no copy protection.

    Your choice!

  35. At 12:23 PM on 03 Nov 2007, GF wrote:


    I don't believe you have a grip on the relevant metrics here on the question of how many people have no access to Microsoft only video.

    Firstly, the agent string is a big deal on Linux and OSX; many online streaming sites simply fail without the Win MSIE $ and thus I have changed mine and I'm sure many others have too.

    Then there is the percentage of users who actually opt to watch video or take audio. They are a subset of all visitors and thus the percentages are bound to vary, and I'd say upwards in the case of OSX.

    I'm trying not to be angry with you - it's a tough job - but generally speaking the Beeb is handing more rods out for its own back at a time of declining trust. Public broadcasters should not be acting as a force multiplier for historically anticompetitive companies. Criticism will only get more strident.

  36. At 12:34 PM on 03 Nov 2007, GF wrote:

    Further, as a license payer, I can already capture, timeshift, placeshift and archive 100% of BBC output over analogue, D-T and D-Sat legally using any of three OSes. I have further options with BT Vision and cable.

    The point of breach comes if I upload and share this which, given the tools widely available for stripping DRM, is not a reason to restrict use of one of many available routes to achieve the original capture. If IPTV is to be licensed differently to all the other platforms - ie, a removal of established fair use rights - then consultation with fee-payers is required, not arbitrary decisions made those who might eventually profit from an important commercial decision in favour of one software company over others.

    BBC current affairs has repeatedly shown displeasure and hilighted Gov abuse of public money contracts awarded in a non transparent way. This is the same thing.

  37. At 04:26 PM on 03 Nov 2007, Ian Lynch wrote:

    The issue is promoting open standards not how many people access the BBC with what equipment. Public sector services and the government have a duty to promote open standards as a pre-requisite just as they must for accessibility by law. Quite a part from the ethics, giving State Aid to a single monopoly by ensuring it is mandatory for a public service is just as unlawful as making services inaccessible to minority groups for reasons of disability, gender or ethnicity. See you in court.

  38. At 09:15 PM on 03 Nov 2007, James Hall wrote:

    We are here .. and waiting. :)

  39. At 10:25 PM on 03 Nov 2007, Matthew Flaschen wrote:

    This isn't an apology for the blatant misinformation. It's simply an admission that your reporting system is unreliable. More importantly, it wouldn't matter which OS your users had if you used open standards.

  40. At 11:15 PM on 03 Nov 2007, alan p wrote:

    It would be interesting if all the people who are writing above would publish their own % of Linux users. Ours is 0.7%

  41. At 01:18 PM on 04 Nov 2007, Ralph Corderoy wrote:

    Thanks for trying to address the issue.

    Can we have the methodology used to do the counts, e.g. is it based on the User-Agent header passed by the browser? And are you restricting the count to certain domains, e.g. news.bbc.co.uk is omitted.

    Shouldn't you be counting non-Microsoft users, not just Linux. There's plenty of BSD and Solaris users in the UK.

    You say "from a total UK bbc.co.uk userbase of 12.2m weekly users [source: TNS]". Why are you using TNS as a source and not using the same methodology to count UK users using any system as you are using to count UK Linux users? It appears to be mixing apples and oranges.

    Without publishing your methods, the numbers are pretty meaningless and the method isn't available for peer review.

  42. At 03:01 PM on 04 Nov 2007, Andrew Benham wrote:

    With all this talk about Linux, please don't forget the users of FreeBSD (and other BSD flavours) and Solaris. We don't want a closed-source Linux player.

    I presume that as the BBC Engineering Division is no more, there's little technical control over what's developed. So we might find that future BBC High Definition TV content is tied to a Sony proprietary chipset.

  43. At 09:50 PM on 04 Nov 2007, Keith Errington wrote:

    So the BBC produces content that Mac users and Linux users etc, can't access and they wonder why they don't have that many Mac and Linux etc visitors? Duh!

    But what really gets my goat is that the BBC steals Apple's branding technique - iPlayer - but then doesn't make it work on Macs!! I'm speechless! Then they talk about DRM? If that isn't hypocritical I don't know what is.

    Call it something else or make it work on a Mac.

  44. At 10:11 AM on 05 Nov 2007, SpiderPig wrote:

    People comparing this issue to that of access for disabled and visually impared users should be ashamed of themselves.
    Think how offensive that is to someone with a disability.

  45. At 12:03 PM on 05 Nov 2007, memals wrote:

    Not only do I use Linux to access the BBC but my other 4 machines do, so do all my friends and LUG members.

  46. At 12:04 PM on 05 Nov 2007, charlie wrote:

    > It would be interesting if all the people
    > who are writing above would publish their
    > own % of Linux users. Ours is 0.7%

    Leaving out access from our own IPs, our website gets (October figures) :

    Windows 85.8 %
    Macintosh 6.3 %
    Unknown 4.5 %
    Linux 3.1 %

    We also get hits from FreeBSD, Solaris, AmigaOS, Symbian OS, and lots of others.

  47. At 01:17 PM on 05 Nov 2007, Antony Jones wrote:

    I'm a Linux user at home, but do most of my BBC viewing at work, where i'm locked into Windows by corporate rubbish and Microsoft Office.

    I hardly watch tv, but I pay the license because I might as well. However, if the BBC lock out my preferred platform (Linux) as a minority, I will definitely cancel my TV License, purely on prinicple.

  48. At 03:45 PM on 05 Nov 2007, David Holden wrote:

    Even to think that the statement of "only 400-600 linux users access the BBC site" could be at all valid demonstrates what a poor perspective regarding the online community and your own site you have.

    But its good to know that my license fee is continuing to support a company that has been convicted of monopolistic practices on two contents..

  49. At 03:48 PM on 05 Nov 2007, David Holden wrote:

    > It would be interesting if all the people
    > who are writing above would publish their
    > own % of Linux users. Ours is 0.7%

    ours would be

    56,309 88.34%

    4,034 6.33%

    3,283 5.15%

    45 0.07%

    (not set)
    32 0.05%

    20 0.03%

    13 0.02%

    so not a valid extrapolation but doing it anyway would give > 1 million users

  50. At 03:51 PM on 05 Nov 2007, James M. Dyer wrote:

    The BBC is funded through taxation.
    Since all UK citizens are required to pay these taxes, irregardless of the OS or browser they use, denying access to any taxpayer, for any reason, is just plain wrong.

  51. At 07:47 PM on 05 Nov 2007, Justyn Butler wrote:

    Even taking your seemingly wildly inaccurate 30,000 Linux users figure, I can think of other minorities whose viewing of BBC websites probably comes to less than this number.

    Do you like to ignore these users too?

    More importantly, office computer systems almost exclusively run Windows, and I know that many people read BBC articles while on breaks at work.

    Perhaps you shouldn't be surprised that most people who use the BBC's other services don't visit the BBC website at home - after all, it hasn't offered as much for them as it does now, with the release of the iPlayer.

    Everyone agrees that traffic to the BBC website will increase substantially with this new service.

    And of course almost all of these new visitors will be using Windows - what reason is there to visit the iPlayer site if you don't run Windows?

  52. At 01:47 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Rory wrote:

    BBC is a public broadcaster. Open source technology is a significant stakeholder in new technologies.

    For this public broadcaster to lock all its online "viewers" into a single private operating system is not appropriate and only perpetuates dependence on this monopoly rather than allowing freedom and choice to dictate operating system use. % of users, ironically, only supports the argument that a monopoly controls the OS market.

    BBC should lead by opening its website player to freedom and choice.

  53. At 05:51 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Ian wrote:

    I'm another of the 400-600. Glad you aren't in need of my licence fee.

  54. At 06:23 AM on 06 Nov 2007, VF wrote:

    Regardless of how many Linux users bbc have measured to have, why would ANY of them show up at all as you don't have any content to offer?

    And by the way, the offer of a flashbased player sucks. Its a mockery.

  55. At 06:43 AM on 06 Nov 2007, egkamp wrote:

    Interesting that 0.3% to 0.8% of your user base uses Linux, when it has almost 5% of the Desktop market. Linux users tend to be highly educated geeks. Is there a reason that Programmers, Computer Scientists, Physicists, Chemists, and practitioners of Bioinformatics would skip over the BBC? Seems like they would be more likely, not less likely, to be viewing your pages.

  56. At 06:45 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Adrian wrote:

    So the remit of the BBC is to not cater for minorities then, is it?

    I also wonder how many Linux users use Browser Spoofing so you cannot actually tell what operating system they use... I know I do as I get errors from websites that do not cater to Linux users.

  57. At 06:53 AM on 06 Nov 2007, egkmp wrote:

    I must say I find Scoober's comment offensive for a number of reasons. Suggesting that everyone has access to over-the-air broadcasts, and so it shouldn't matter if all other access is discriminatory is hurtful and wrong. That is like saying, "Well, black people can't drink at public water fountains, but since they can drink water at home, that makes it alright." No, it does not. I would also like to suggest that there is a misconception regarding formats. If open standards are used, then all operating systems are included. No one is saying, "Hey, make a second option available." Rather, choose a format that is cross-platform.

  58. At 07:22 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Paul Joseph wrote:

    I use Linux (Ubuntu) every day but I very rarely use it to visit the BBC's website. I use Vista but this in no way means that I committed to using Microsoft software for the indefinite future.

    I would like to know why the site seems incapable of remembering that I do not use Real player. I will never use Real player. I am sick of selecting the Windows option every time.

  59. At 07:25 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Sam Douglas wrote:

    I find your arrogant attitude and inability to properly apologise for telling the people that pay your wages lies - utterly reprehensible.

    The BBC has become a joke and is fast losting its reputation for innovation and has become another faceless monolith who doesnt give a s&*t.

    The problem is the only reason we pay the rental fee is for this impartiality and innovation and when that goes - so does the reason to pay the fee in the first place.

    What can you offer over the advertising based competitors? Now - nothing.

    Goodbye Auntie.

  60. At 07:31 AM on 06 Nov 2007, James Foster wrote:

    Have you considered that if your website and content actually WORKS with Linux, that you might see a lot more Linux users visiting the BBC?

    You have only counted the number of Linux users who do not realise that the BBC is hostile towards customers that don't use Microsoft software.

  61. At 07:35 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Sam Douglas wrote:

    So can you please answer how many people read the BBC website that have disabilities - what percentage of the readership is this and do you think that they are not important enough to provide access for either?

  62. At 07:35 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Tony Grant wrote:

    I don't come to the site because there is no video for me to see! The irony is that I use my Linux box with a DVB-S card to watch and record the BBC (and independsnt TV) from my home in south-west France. I pay a French licence...

    I run a hobby site (about amateur boat building) and Linux represents 2.66% of users. Users are 46% North America, 54% rest of world.

  63. At 07:38 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Ian wrote:

    I find the whole issue of DRM distribution a bit like your putting your head in the sand. This content is already distributed unencumbered by DRM, and pretending that it isn't is disingenuous. It simply shows a lack of trust in your audience. So it would be much better if people could get the content unencumbered from you, aligned with web standards.

    As for the accessibility issue, I know two people with visual and physical disabilities who use Linux. It suits them very well and comes with many accessibility features out of the box (i.e. you don't have to pay for an expensive proprietary solution). One of those people makes heavy use of the BBC's current streaming Real Media service.

    The web has grown and prospered because of open standards and through being accessible to as many groups as possible. If the BBC wants to release a service then perhaps it should offer content it owns that fits with that ethos. I remember hearing a few years ago about a BBC plan to release all its content in a great digital archive, that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

    The whole iPlayer debacle rather than looking like a step into the future seems like a step backwards. I think Channel4 already offers this service, using the same software you have chosen and from the feedback I've heard the thing is a disaster. Start looking forward, have some realistic discussions with your rights holders, and make them realise DRM is not a solution, it's a boy sticking his finger in a dam. You simply have to learn to trust your audience and treat us with respect.

  64. At 07:38 AM on 06 Nov 2007, nano wrote:

    Firstly everyone, Linux users are not disabled so stop making that stupid comparison.

    My question is, why the hell would people on Linux machines go to your site when they know the content won't play? I assure you that you will receive well over 30,000 hits on the day you bring out a linux player, or stream Linux compatible media formats.

  65. At 07:55 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Mark Howe wrote:

    A lot of Linux users are forced to run a second OS, precisely because of the myopic attitude of too many websites. If your site was inaccessible to Internet Explorer, you'd get very few visits from Internet Explorer. Is your role to support monopolies or to offer a level playing field?

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who is desperate to know exactly which widely-used method of web stats production differs by 3 orders of magnitude from anything that makes sense. The most commonly quoted figures are hits (because they give the highest value), and the most useful figures are generally between 10 and 100 times lower, depending on the design of the pages. I think the technical term for your earlier figures is 'wrong'.

    I think Dell was the last big company to invite comments on their opinion that there was no market for Linux, and a few months later they started selling Linux.

  66. At 08:06 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Jonas wrote:

    Don't "support Linux". Use proper standards! Standards are what makes the Internet tick, and I'm sure it's good enough for you too. That's the way forward and something that would actually make the world a bit better. Otherwise it's like building a house and "supporting" what kind of boots can enter your door.

  67. At 08:17 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks for admitting your error regarding the stats: however, I agree with previous posts that a more accurate survey should now be carried out.

    Personally, my main objection to the approach that the BBC is taking with the iPlayer is its short-sighted nature. Decisions regarding formats and standards for distribution have a long-lasting impact and will continue to be important on a timescale and in an environment that we cannot anticipate.

    Such decisions are best left to the technical experts, and not to the whim of politicians and managers. Good management requires listening to those with the knowledge and expertise required to advise.

    As well as being Linux users, I think it's fair to say that many of the people posting here and across other IT-related forums on the subject collectively hold a large amount of technical knowledge and experience. This is probably the primary reason for the response that the BBC has had: the decision does not make sense from an engineer's point of view.

    That any such platform should be truly open is a decision that most of us would agree with immediately. Collaborating with a single company utilising their DRM technology is short-sighted and will prove to be disastrous for the BBC in the long term.

    At the best, you can expect a humiliating u-turn, at the worst the BBC could lose its credibility and relevance altogether.

  68. At 08:23 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Thor wrote:

    Just to help with your higher math issues, you can put a plus 1 on that figure for me.

  69. At 08:23 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Bill Wallace wrote:

    The impression given is that Microsoft has colonised the part of the BBC responsible for their streaming program delivery.

    This may be wider given that nowhere on the coverage of Microsoft's attempt to get their XML Office data definition accepted as a standard did the BBC discuss Sweden cancelling their vote because of irregularities with Microsoft buying voting rights for their "partners". Sweden was not the only country this happened in.

  70. At 08:49 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Martin Thain wrote:

    My PC is dual boot, XP and Linux - what does
    the BBC count it as? I access the BBC 99% of the time via Linux so please don't count me as Micro$oft.

    I pay a TV License - I don't expect the BBC to use it enhance market dominance by one company.

  71. At 08:50 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Øyvind Sæther wrote:

    I'd just like to say that it is very hard to get these numbers right.

    I am frequently a "Internet Explorer user" because some websites require you to SAY you are using IE. These are sites who WORK just fine with Gecko-based browsers (i.e seamonkey, epiphany, galeon, etc), they just check the USERAGENT and give you a lame message if you ADMIT using say Seamonkey on GNU/Linux.

    Thus; I'm a "IE user" in many stats even though I've been using GNU/Linux for 15 years.

  72. At 08:58 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Rob Jones wrote:

    This is a distraction - the fundamental point is you should be developing a platform-neutral solution instead of cosying up to Microsoft in order to feel important and further your careers.

  73. At 09:01 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Dimitrios Lymperopoulos wrote:

    Just wondering, what is SO difficult in using technology compatible with other platforms, considering the fact that they ALSO are OPEN-SOURCE???

  74. At 09:06 AM on 06 Nov 2007, flibberty gibbert wrote:

    All these posts miss the point. The real issue of the future is mobile tv / radio. The platform of the future is either the iPhone or the linux-based gPhones.

    Neither of these platforms will run a Microsoft-only product.

    Why o why BBC, have you failed to see the future?

  75. At 09:10 AM on 06 Nov 2007, One of the 400 wrote:

    The really contentious issue remains that a semi-competent media journalist can believe there were only 400 Linux hits to the BBC. That sounds more like a MS press release.

    (A BBC News RSS feed is even installed by default with OpenSuse & Firefox - that's at least 750,000 hits missed for starters)

    But then again, BBC content is by design NOT to be compatible with non-Microsoft platforms .

    Does this really mean the world's largest convicted monopolist can even corrupt a tax payer funded public institution and/or its employees?

    Looks like it's time for more BBC staff layoffs .

  76. At 09:29 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Neil wrote:

    Ashley, I thought the BBC was supposed to be a universal broadcaster with a remit to serve the entire population?

    Further, have you considered the potential growth in Linux over say the next 3-5 years? If not, I'd consider your strategic planning to be weak.

    The BBC should clearly be platform-neutral.

  77. At 09:36 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Simon Brooke wrote:

    OK, pause.

    Right, the BBC's initial estimate of Linux users was wrong. The new estimate is higher, and we're all greeting that as if it was wonderful news. But the figures do not make sense, and are highly unlikely to be right.

    Other websites typically see 3% of identifiable Linux users. Looking at systems in people's homes, even that looks a low estimate - certainly more than 3% of home computers in the UK run Linux. And Linux users, as typically the more sophisticated computer users, will often have their machines set to 'spoof' other operating systems, because of all the websites which are still Linux-hostile.

    So I'm not convinced by 30,000 or even 100,000. I think these numbers are still very significant underestimates.

  78. At 09:36 AM on 06 Nov 2007, just-in-case wrote:

    In case anyone missed this...


    The article on informitv.com certainly does cast the whole issue in a different light...

  79. At 09:38 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Tom Owen wrote:

    "Linux user == protected minority" is interesting, but requires a bit more effort to take seriously.

    "Linux users usually have WinXP in their user agent strings" simply shows that it's naive engineering to trust log data.

    "Microsoft is a convict" is true, but everybody seems to have agreed that it doesn't count -- I don't know why.

    The real point is that BBC is funded out of a poll tax. That's OK but the money comes with public service obligations. One of those obligations is to apply careful tests to commercial tie-ins. At the moment, the BBC is promoting a commercial product -- Windows -- which only supports its current monopoly pricing because of a carefully developed multitude of such tie-ins, many of which have broken the law. That is a bad place for the BBC to be.

    There's no need to be there. Open standards exist, and a publicly funded body should use them. And if, as we all now suspect, DRM doesn't work (because the encryption keys are on the user's platform, duh) the BBC is the right body to find another way.

    [Just for fun -- I'm writing this on a Win XP box at work, and I guess that's the bulk of my BBC page impressions. But I'd only play back a program at home, where Ubuntu keeps the kiddies off my PC (and, yes, it has WinXP in the Firefox user agent string for quite a lot of the time!) Don't ever trust logs. They look like they're information, but they're not.]

  80. At 09:40 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Tom Gardner wrote:

    The key point is "why should the BBC use my money to promote one company's narrow commercial interest to the exclusion of other interests?"

    There are, quite correctly, "chinese walls" inside the BBC that prevent the BBC from "advertising" BBC commercial services. The same should apply in this case.

    Sounds like I'm going to be able to give my MP some ammunition to use against the BBC. Shame.

  81. At 09:42 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Stuart Caie wrote:

    24 hours a day, the BBC pumps out seven channels worth of unencumbered, high quality MPEG2 video output. Every single program shown on the BBC is broadcast in this open format. Thousands of independently-created systems, including set-top boxes and PCs, can decode MPEG2.

    So, if the BBC and its program suppliers don't mind this, why does the iPlayer have to be based on Kontiki, which has an encumbered, obfuscated, broken by design format? Not only is it tied to Microsoft systems, it silently performs P2P transfer, using up viewers' internet bandwidth and transfer limit even when they think they've shut it down?

    Kontiki is bad news for everybody, yet the BBC would rather spin on its behalf instead of using its clout to demand an open solution and an end to the nonsense of DRM.

  82. At 09:45 AM on 06 Nov 2007, John Davies wrote:

    The numbers were obviously rather out but having trawled through large web statistics before it's not difficult to imaging such a mistake happening. Having said that a number of 600 in 12 million would place the total UK Linux users in the very low thousands and that's obviously wrong.

    So, back to slightly more realistic numbers, it would be interesting to know what sort of usage the different "OS cultures" have, i.e. have one group of users simply set the BBC as their browser default page, do the Linux users "hang out" in the technology pages, do Mac users spend more time in the arts than Windows users and what are the stats in CBBC?

    An interesting study and news-worthy I think, of course assuming the figures aren't too far off.


  83. At 09:45 AM on 06 Nov 2007, John Dalton wrote:

    I will second the comment that this is about the BBC adhering to open standards and not about the BCC specifically supporting Linux. If the BBC adheres to open standards Windows and Mac users will be just as able to use those standard media files as Linux users. In fact if the BBC uses open standards there is no need for the BBC to even know or care what operating system or computer the other end is using. By default with a single widely used open standard all platforms are supported, with nothing more for the BBC to do.

  84. At 09:49 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Peter von Kaehne wrote:

    So what you are saying is "oops, we got it wrong by a factor of 100, but we don't care anyway... And, no, we don't say 'Sorry!' either, ever." Nice.

    On a side note, could you explain to me how many of the 1800 to-be-made-redundant BBC employees will lose their job due to the obscene payments done for iPlayer?

    And how much a standards compliant, free software based solution would have cost in comparison?

  85. At 09:49 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Blort wrote:

    SpiderPig, from the tone of your comment I'm guessing you are not disabled or visually impaired? As someone who is partially blind, I don't need someone else to be offended on my behalf, thanks anyway. The comparisons are not offensive.

  86. At 09:51 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Andrew wrote:

    How can the "Director of the Future Media and Technology group" justify being so unaware of the level of Linux usage he could imagine only 600 Linux users use the BBC website? Isn't part of his role to understand trends in computing?

    How can the BBC imagine it has a real future in new media, when the person who is leading their strategy is so ignorant of open source and they are so willing to alienate geeks?

    Ashley - try sending an email to your staff (technical staff, not marketing). Find out how many of them access the BBC website using linux (or BSD). It wouldn't surprise me if the figure is more than 600.

  87. At 09:54 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Ketil wrote:

    POP! There goes my support to BBC as a whole. You suck. At statistics and IT policy. However you seem to be aiming for a best-in-class for being a monopoly lap dog. Kudos!

  88. At 10:00 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Tim wrote:

    I checked my logs. I have a site getting about 8000 unique visitors a month (so it's small, but the sample is meaningful) and the content is not technical. Linux shows in awstats as >5% last month, which is a record! I was really surprised, that's big growth. It started growing about 6 months ago, but still, I think it may say more about the reliability of web stats than anything else.

  89. At 10:13 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Nick Reynolds (editor) wrote:

    If you are interested in more detail about figures for different OS types then Kevin Hynde of the Journalism part of the BBC's Future Media division has posted some stats on the Backstage mailing list:


  90. At 10:14 AM on 06 Nov 2007, James Muscat wrote:

    You ran a poll when OSX Leopard was released asking if people would be upgrading from Tiger, sticking with it, or if they were Windows users.

    Once someone had realised their mistake (about a day into the poll I reckon) an option for Linux was added.

    This option got about 6% of the votes. If we extrapolate that (since I see no reason to say Linux users are more likely to vote than others) then you've miscalculated a second time.

  91. At 10:43 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Hugh Parker wrote:


    The question of how many people use which platform is a red herring. You're proposing, with the iPlayer, to release material in a format specifically designed to restrict who can view it. Instead, make life easy and release your material in a standard format, which computers everywhere already support.

  92. At 10:44 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Jonathan Ernst wrote:

    And make this linux_tux_bbc.png's background transparent while you are at it. Every decent browser support it (except some of your beloved Microsoft browsers).

  93. At 10:46 AM on 06 Nov 2007, g.r.r. wrote:

    Hmmmm. I have been following the BBC for the last 2 years, because it is difficult to get accurate info about America from our (America) newscasters (fox news? a mouthpiece for the republican party; the other news now respond to their owners who are all republicans). I have always seen some bias in your reporting, but at least it had the news up quickly (I have seen stories on the BBC up to 3 months before they hit American press; sad commentary about USA). But now that I see how far your bias goes, it makes me wonder.

  94. At 10:50 AM on 06 Nov 2007, AVee wrote:

    I'll be honest with you. I am a linux user, but I don't live in the UK, I don't pay a license fee, I can't even if I want to. I would be happy to pay for proper access to BBC content over the internet if I could. But since I can't I'll simply download the BBC stuff I want to view. Most of it (certainly the more popular stuff) is out there and trivial to get, and I recieve it in a standard format, without DRM and it works om any recent operating system. I really cannot understand the point of adding DRM to content which is allready available without DRM in so many ways, if anything it encourages piracy because, at least for a certain group of users, it just easier to download the content elsewhere.

    As for statistics of operating systems, the are inherently unreliable. I can make my visits show up in your logs with any operating system I want, it's really is trival to fake this information. However, there is only one fairly common reason to do this, which is to fake using Windows and IE to get stupid websites to work in other browser or operating systems. Therefore these will be biased towards more windows users and there is no way for you to tell how big this bias is.

  95. At 10:56 AM on 06 Nov 2007, J.J.Fishbat wrote:

    One point that has not been raised on this thread is the plan to make the iPlayer available internationally.
    So Americans running Windows will have access to content denied to UK licence-payers running Linux.

    The epithet "MSBBC" springs to mind.

  96. At 10:56 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Ivan wrote:

    As has been mentioned above, the BBC is seeing this all wrong, it's not a matter of supporting a minority platform in addition to the platform it already supports. It's a matter of using open standards and FOSS so that ANY platform can be used, not just a proprietary platform such as Windows (no matter how popular it may be).

    As a license payer, I'm thoroughly disgusted that the BBC would consider anything else.

  97. At 10:58 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Oto Gincin wrote:

    It is apparently a problem for you to get anything straight. Both the logic and numbers seriously suffer here. The potential Linux segment is much larger than 0.5 percent! Just wait and see. In the meantime why not fix the site so that linux users can actually use all of it! Who visits webpages that do not work anyways? How complicated is it to choose open multimedia format?

  98. At 10:59 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Ben Boxer wrote:

    but we do have to keep this in context with the vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access bbc.co.uk.

    iPlayer works on Macs, now does it? I think the point being raised by licence payers is that the Beeb should be aiming to make content available to all visitors, regardless of operating system - just as it does with its many excellent websites.

  99. At 11:14 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Shane Legg wrote:

    Of all the websites that I visit, there is only one place where I can't watch the video.


  100. At 11:16 AM on 06 Nov 2007, vivek wrote:

    I am a Linux user.

    While surfing, I come across numerous websites that use MS Internet Explorer-specific javascript checks.

    To get around these, I frequently have to use settings that make my Linux browsers pose as IE on Windows.

    I suspect many Linux users might be doing the same, so unless you account for these, your web server statistics might be rather skewed.

  101. At 11:17 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Greg Jackson wrote:

    First, the BBC website gets fewer Linux visitors because it doesn't work properly under Linux - so, like me, they use their Windows machine to access the site. The BBC streams its content using two proprietary formats [RealMedia and WindowsMedia].

    Second, 36,000-97,000 visitors is roughly the number of internet users in a town like Halifax or Huddersfield. I imagine that if you excluded a geographical entity of this size, you'd be pretty worried.

    Finally, the BBC's job is not to reinforce hegemonies and do the marketing job of Microsoft. Imagine if your TV broadcasts only worked with one TV manufacturer? Instead, they work on open-standards so that viewers benefit from choice and competition among TV manufacturers. It should be just the same with computers and operating systems.

  102. At 11:22 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Mike Anderson wrote:

    The issue is not the number of users - the issue is why a public service broadcaster should make the decision to select a closed, propritary platform to distribute content when there are many cheaper, open standards available.

    To make things worse, Microsoft is a convicted monopolist that has demonstrably used its predominance in the desktop operating system market to seize control of related markets. I am upset to see the BBC aiding and abetting another such move - this cannot be in the public interest.

    Up until now I have been a strong supporter of the BBC, but unless I see a significant change of policy here towards supporting open, accessible standards I will be forced to reverse that position on the grounds that the BBC is impeding progress in the critical area of online broadcasting.

  103. At 11:42 AM on 06 Nov 2007, Chris wrote:

    Given that iPlayer is Windows only (and only certain versions of Windows) and often fails to work even on the right version of Windows, you will not be that surprised when people with the wrong version of Windows, or using Linux or an Apple Mac end up downloading from the Pirate Bay and similar.

    You have the opportunity to make pirate downloads less attractive to people by allowing them to download legitimately from your website but you seem to be doing your best to ensure that the pirates remain popular.

    A: "I downloaded it from the Pirate Bay"
    B: "But that's illegal!"
    A: "Yes, but it works."

  104. At 12:02 PM on 06 Nov 2007, mSparks wrote:

    +1 Linux user
    You tied yourself to MS only?
    I tied myself to Sky news only...
    nah, just kidding.

  105. At 12:05 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Scoober wrote:

    @egkmp: Invoking a deeply emotive, completely unrelated issue (racism) to try and make a parallel with DRM is, well, just wrong. Perhaps you need a dollop of perspective or you're playing devil's advocate - I hope the latter, for your own sake.

    The OP was trying to make out that the content on iPlayer isn't available to anyone without an WinXP machine. I was simply pointing out that this is completely untrue - the programmes are all broadcast free-to-air within the UK to the audience that has paid for it.

    Also, those who use this (the unencumbered, unencrypted nature of DVB-T) as a way to try and argue against DRM on internet-based distribution are similarly misguided. The key difference is that terrestrial broadcasting is limited by geography to the audience for which it is intended. The internet is accessible to the world - and whilst web pages can be crudely restricted to a geographical audience via GeoIP lookups, downloadable files can't be. Hence the need for some form of DRM on internet-distributed content for which the distributor does not own the full rights.

    It really can't be expressed more plainly than that. Now, can this argument be moved on, I wonder?

  106. At 12:10 PM on 06 Nov 2007, morgan wrote:

    I work at a webhosting company.

    Every single person is using Linux on their desktop.

    I use linux at home also as do most people in the company.

    Most vista users I know have replaced with Linux...

    The figures are going to be so much larger than 600 .....

  107. At 12:15 PM on 06 Nov 2007, TM wrote:

    Dear Sir

    We run a small UK company that manufactures and sells a range of Linux based systems to a number of target markets including home users.

    I believe that your very public lack of support for Linux and Open standards may materially affect our business through potential lost revenue.

    This sends a very clear message that

    "BBC harms UK companies!".

    Please note we can't distribute Flash or Real either since they are closed proprietary systems they are not viable options either.

    Is this really the position the BBC wants to find itself in?

  108. At 12:16 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Dan wrote:

    Surely you have heard of BrowserHawk? I've known about it for at least 6 years.


    No more "guessing"

    Or any of the online metrics companies? Omniture, Coremetrics, WebTrends... come on

  109. At 12:20 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Stuart Caie wrote:

    Regarding visitor statistics: my cabextract website (it's a popular UNIX-specific piece of software) gets over 16000 unique visits a month (1 million "hits"): 47% Linux, 44% Windows and 5% Macintosh.

    My personal website is general-purpose and has no UNIX-specific draw, but it is mostly about computers. It has around 7000 unique visits a month, with 71.5% Windows, 15.5% Linux and 9.5% Macintosh.

  110. At 12:25 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Dave Minter wrote:

    Given that you made your decision on wildly inaccurate statistics, will you reconsider?

    It is hard to accept the BBC's objectivity, independence, and accuracy in this matter when their figures were so wildly (and obviously) inaccurate in the first estimation. Almost anyone in IT could have told you that the "600" figure was ridiculously low.

    Before you tell us that up to 97,000 users isn't enough, are you going to just trust that statistic or get an expert to verify it?

  111. At 12:25 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Robert Jamieson wrote:

    "but we do have to keep this in context with the vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access bbc.co.uk."

    Yeah, but you still haven't bothered with a mac version either have you?

  112. At 12:26 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Allyn Carter wrote:

    No hint of an apology for this rank incompetence, then?
    Anyone who understands the current technological landscape clearly knew that your original figures were utter rubbish. The number of people downloading and using popular Linux distributions should have told you that. We have no reason to trust you new figures either, as you provide no details on how they were arrived at.
    As a publicly funded institution, you decision making process should be transparent. But to do that would be to advertise your own inability to do your job properly.
    Furthermore, is it any wonder that Linux users shy away from a site that so clearly neglects them?

  113. At 12:34 PM on 06 Nov 2007, ricegf wrote:

    Well, I've used Linux exclusively to access BBC material (among a few other sites :-) for seven years now. My wife, my two daughters, and my 88-year-old father use Linux as well, not to mention a number of friends.

    Methinks Mr. Highfield has trouble with the higher maths... like counting.

  114. At 12:35 PM on 06 Nov 2007, John Bateman wrote:

    Right so the first stab was 600, now it is 97,000 UK users. What are you using to work out such figures? Microsoft-Excel (with the known flaw https://tinyurl.com/ypzmza [www.downloadsquad.com, MS-excel cant do maths]).

    Yes linux users are low, BUT they are not insignificant and they are on the rise.

    I just find it sick that my money is being handed over to Microsoft without my concent to fund a broken by design technology (DRM, security through obscurity).

    I also find it EXTREAMLY odd that while the world is leaning towards reduced use of DRM (music labels offering non-DRM, as well as every DRM ever implemented has been bypassed, as well as DRM messes with legitimate users, as well as DRM is a security risk...) the BBC is embracing it

    I find it equally funny that as the world is leaning towards OS/App independent (the latest race for ISO-approves document format [ODF and OOXML], the battle in the EU to get MS to open up their network protocol so other apps/OS's can interact) the BBC locks itself into one particular OS

    I mean I don't have to have a Microsoft-TV to watch BBC programs now do I, but yet from this I will need to buy a Windows-licence as well as pay my BBC-licence to use what my Licence money has already been spent on!!!

    Likewise the BBC is looking for job cuts and program cuts and training cuts due to budget issues YET can afford to licence MS's DRM and get them to work on the player... It is soo strange cause parts of the BBC seem very pro-Linux (the recent PyCON-uk conference in Birmingham had a presentation from a BBC working on something that some BBC workers are working on in python in linux) YET the BBC then turns around and does something like this

    If this was a private company then fair enough, but it aint! the BBC is publicly funded by the licence. So either drop the entire iplayer, don't discrimiate against the OS people use or refund everyone who does not use Windows their licence fee (upto the amount of a windows licence... Pc-world selling Vista for £200) so they can then get Windows.

    Oh by the way the whole "Flash-based views" isn't a solution either
    1) it doesn't do what the iplayer does
    2) there are quite a few 64bit windows and linux users and there is no 64bit flash player

    I shall be contacting my local MP about this.

  115. At 12:40 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Tim Almond wrote:

    Are you going to tell us how you calculated those numbers, or do we have to send an FOI request to the BBC?

  116. At 12:45 PM on 06 Nov 2007, dangerseeker wrote:


    this is linux=linux+1
    please count me correctly.

    Have a nice day

  117. At 12:48 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Colin Turner wrote:

    The issue is not only that there is a substantial number of linux users you miscounted, but that, as a public service website you should absolutely *not* be enshrining technologies that require the use of specific proprietary operating systems.

    What is the point of web delivered content on the internet (i.e. a network for connecting heterogeneous collections of machines) if essentially you have to run one operating system to view it.

    As a license payer, and generally a huge fan of the BBC, I echo my deep disappointment in this, already stated by others.

  118. At 12:59 PM on 06 Nov 2007, john wrote:

    well with so few linux users I guess all of us will be replying here.

    was it from the number of blog comments you worked out the number of linux users ;P

  119. At 01:00 PM on 06 Nov 2007, studentz wrote:

    How about no UK visitors? (I'm one of them). Besides, your platform isn't open source friendly.

  120. At 01:00 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Stuart R wrote:

    I use Linux at home every day and XP at work. I would certainly visit the BBC site more often if you could get your act together, even the Radio player barely works.
    The bbc should be setting an example in supporting free, open source software. I was outraged by your attempts to tie the iplayer to DRM encumbered Microsoft junk. Lets face it, it's easy to steal content if you want to, I could just hook a dvd recorder or an MP3 recorder to my PC's output if the worst came to the worst, all you are doing is wasting time and effort and making it more difficult for license payers to access content they have paid for!

  121. At 01:07 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Bryan Siegfried, M.D. wrote:

    I use Linux exclusively at home, but more importantly, my office uses Linux or Unix for most desktops and all of its servers.

    In my opinion, it is true that the BBC should have a focus on the needs of its users who use Windows. However, with multiple operating systems in use on computers and cell phones, use of truly open protocols is far preferable to closed, single-OS-specific systems. Why build one system for windows and another for Mac, when you can build one system for everyone?

  122. At 01:11 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Lucy wrote:

    Ashley, why didn't your development team contact the makers of Azureus, it works on all platforms and just slap BBC on it. Put on your BBC website a torrent list for 7 days and no issues what so ever. Your excuse for Linux windows and Mac is so pathetic really it is.

  123. At 01:13 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Stuart R wrote:

    Also when i say the radio player barely works, I should clarify - In XP with Firefox. A number of users which i should also think is "not insubstantial".

  124. At 01:18 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Paul Thomas wrote:

    It's a real shame that the BBC is so short-sighted and obviously doesn't understand some of the key areas that it's trying to get into.

  125. At 01:19 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Andy wrote:

    Could you actually reveal the details of how these statistics where generated?

    So far you have said the first number (400-600) may have been wrong, we knew this already. So how about an explanation as to why? Was it an honest mistake, or did you make the number up hoping no-one would notice, without the exact details we can't tell!!!

    How are these new figures generated?
    As the last ones where grossly underestimated how do we know these aren't as well?

    Are you using "User Agent Sniffing"? Are you using identification of how the client handles it's TCP/IP layer (like nmap's OS fingerprinting)? Or are you using Javascript to check OS vendor (widely inaccurate, as Javascript is often turned off or blocked for security, especially in secure corporate environments).

    If you are using User Agent sniffing then what are you looking for to consider a client to be a Linux user? Does it need the word Linux in the user agent? There is no obligation to put the term Linux in the user agent, in fact according to published standards a client doesn't need to send the header at all.

    But then the BBC is well known for ignoring standards, including the ones it is on the committee for (why are you spending license fee payers money on standards that you consider useless?). You ignored W3C accessibility Level 2 standard for instance, and of course there is the TV-Anytime format for the "rightful use of content" (or some other words that mean "DRM format spec.")

    Someone mentioned the BBC should follow standards. Well as it pays our money to develop standards let's see it actually follow some of them (you could start with making the BBC website compliant with the W3C accessibility requirements, bye bye to realplayer then. And then you can replace iPlayer's closed WMP formats with the BBC's own TV-Anytime formats (the files are on your FTP server, if you need help finding it it's probably a big box shaped thing with flickering lights on the front, someone may have stuck a helpful label on it for you ;) ), then there is Dirac, for Audio/Video coding).

    Scarily the BBC had developed standards for most of what iPlayer needed, HTML/XML (it's a member of W3C), TV-Anytime (it's member of the TV-Anytime Forum), Dirac (the BBC's own standard). The only thing missing is a peer to peer protocol. I'm sure Google could find you something, try looking for a torrent of bits. It's a pitty it chose to out-source the software formats/protocols at the license fee payers expence.

    Oh and while I was trying to find an news article about iPlayer's DRM being cracked prior to release Google suggested I search for "BBC iplayer crack", so that protection lasted all of 5 minutes then. Better come up with a new excuse!!! (I have no idea what searching for "BBC iPlayer Crack" actually returns, it may even be "Not Safe For Work")

  126. At 01:21 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Ed Vim wrote:

    I'll assume no one will be able to see this post -- I'm one of those mythical '400-600' using a Linux computer. But for anyone who can read the invisible type my computer must produce, why does Mr. Highfield's 'team' assume there are no media formats that are compatible with all the various OS platforms? I live in the US so this kind of limited thinking is something I'd see coming out of our current White House. If there's a specific reason to opt for a restrictive format, at least state your case and drop all the smoke and mirror B.S.

  127. At 01:24 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Chris wrote:

    I'm sure you're not stupid.
    I'm sure you know what Microsoft means to freedom.
    I'm sure you know that sleeping with Microsoft is the perfect recipe for longterm failure.
    I'm sure you know exactly who the people are that drool over the personal wealth and power this deal will bring them.

    Are you going to stand up against them? Or are you one of them?

  128. At 01:31 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Simon wrote:

    I'm sorry I still don't believe that the BBC is such a distorted web site that it has so many more Mac OS users than average, and so many fewer GNU/Linux users.

    Are you perhaps counting % of hits here, rather than unique visitors to the site? Since there is already a lot of content in proprietary, or effectively proprietary formats like those from Real Media which will distort the results.

    The 0.8% figure is just about plausible.

    We produce stats for a wide range of sites, and base it on unique visitors (based on distinct combination of IP address, and User agent seen in any 24 hour period). Not ideal, but you have to trust User Agent, and some systems coming through proxy servers (like AOLs will be under counted). Where we have sites which don't attract a technically literate crowd (More Linux), or a richer group (More Mac OS), we see roughly 1% GNU/Linux and 1.2% Mac OS, this is pretty consistent across a lot of sites, which makes me thinks that is what the mythical "Joe Public" uses. If the BBC site differs significantly from that, I'd be interested to know why. Perhaps you are shipped in the Safari default bookmarks or some such, perhaps it is due to ways you already exclude groups of users. But if your stats put Mac OS at 5% something odd is going on already.

    That said I think open standards is the way to go, so it shouldn't matter what platform people choose to use, or develop for in future. If you were to provide favourable treatment of a particular companies product, I'd expect the BBC to be receiving money for that favourable treatment, since otherwise it is providing a service from public funds supporting a specific vendors products - read subsidy.

    Publish the full stats and the method used to calculate them.

    I'm also somewhat concerned that folks responsible for developing BBC services don't seem to have a good handle on these sorts of figures. I get them automatically generated and emailed to me weekly for all the web sites I'm responsible for. Does "source: TNS" mean you pay a third party to tell you information that is in your own webserver log files?

  129. At 01:32 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Chris Bainbridge wrote:

    A colour TV Licence costs £135.50 and a black and white licence costs £45.50. The reason behind the difference is that the quality of service perceived by the user of a black and white TV is substantially less.

    Will there be a similar discount for users of non-Microsoft operating systems?

  130. At 01:33 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Mehdi Taileb wrote:

    The excuse is very mean.
    But a mea-culpa is better than nothing.
    Now it should be time for some ACTION from the BBC, admitting and apologizing for a 16,000% mistake won't solve the problem.

    Mister Highfield, what are the next actions and their deadlines?

  131. At 01:38 PM on 06 Nov 2007, AR wrote:

    I'd urge you to consider resigning. Your misrepresentation of the facts strikes me as extremely suspect. If you expect to win back the trust of your viewers, I'd expect a full explanation of how you arrived at your initial statement.

  132. At 01:38 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Greg wrote:

    Clearly, in the eyes of any reasonable observer, managing to offer a new service to more than 99% of your customers is an excellent acheivement and is more than acceptable. Well done!
    It would be very interesting if you were able to measure the correlation between the use of Linux and non-payment of TV licence fees. I suspect it would prove to be quite high!
    There always seems to be a minority of people who demand the world to be delivered to them without delay and for free and who are then the first and most vigourous to complain when their unreasonable demands are not met.

  133. At 01:39 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Karl Edler wrote:

    I am another of the 300-600

  134. At 01:41 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Chris Bainbridge wrote:

    Scoober wrote "The BBC - or any other publically-funded body - does not and should not have a requirement to support every tin-pot OS out there, because it's impossible to do it in a viable, scalable way (cost per user)."

    The BBC trust disagreed with your assessment, saying they "require the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services."

    As for the cost per user, the BBC already publish content on YouTube, where they pay no hosting costs, no bandwidth costs, and are accessible to users of a wider range of operating systems than the Windows-only iPlayer.

  135. At 01:48 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Mark wrote:

    Thanks for admitting what I take to be an honest mistake. I think getting an accurate figure of users of Linux (or any other operating system) will be difficult as browsers are routinely made to lie by such users in order to prevent certain sites rejecting them.

    I'd like to echo the comments of other people who are not specifically Microsoft bashing, but saying that it is surely the duty of the BBC to provide open access for all, and this necessitates the use of open standards. It should not matter whether one is using Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera to browse with, or chooses Windows, Linux, or Leopard as an operating system. The BBC should provide access to material in such a way that there is equal opportunity of access for all.

    No matter what standards are used, it is entirely possible that it will not be supported by one operating system or another; however as long as the standards are open, there is the incentive for some developer to create the tool to provide access on that Operating system. This opportunity does not exist with using closed standards.

  136. At 01:51 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Liam wrote:

    It is a mistake to assume that just because somebody uses Windows and IE that they have chosen to do so. There are merely the default options on PC's and many people simply don't bother to (or don't know how to) change them. I access BBC news multiple times a day using GNU/Linux and Symbian os.

    Unfortunately like the vast majority of the population, I am compelled to use Windows to access the internet while at work (and yes I have legitimate reasons for accessing the BBC during the day). If the BBC doesn't have the resources to develop multi-platform software, then it shouldn't be in that game in the first place and might be better off developing a multi-platform alternative to Real streams (no doubt also mistakenly adopted on the basis of so-called 'market share') and not propping up the anti-innovation hegemony of a privately owned corporation.

  137. At 01:54 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Mark Tillotson wrote:

    Perhaps if the BBC released its full User-Agent database someone competent to analyze them could figure out the real percentages?

  138. At 02:12 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Mark Roberts wrote:

    After the recent European court case against Microsoft for abusing its market position, particularly with regards to software products such as media players (https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6998272.stm), it is shocking that the supposedly independent world renowned broadcaster should tie users to such a system. The BBC should ensure that no fiasco, giving any advantages to any particular commercial system or software happens again and should fight for open standards accessible to all.

  139. At 02:14 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Lamont Cranston wrote:

    I am another of the 300-600. or is it 36,600 - 97,600?
    although this post is being sent from the windows box at work :)

  140. At 02:20 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Simon B wrote:

    How ironic that the top of this page shows the old BBC owl logo that was present on the pioneering BBC Micro computers in the 80s.
    Where has the innovation gone? What about the Dirac codec developed by the BBC? Why sell your souls to the Microsoft way? It concerns me that the BBC should be so inclined towards the Microsoft OS, especially seeing that the future is mobile.
    Take for example the new breed of ultra portable devices being released, running Linux. I think the whole plan has been ill-considered. BBC should be building for the future, not tied into a 3rd party in such a way.

  141. At 02:26 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Rambo Tribble wrote:

    The bottom line is that the BBC would confront a cheerier outlook itself, were it to enjoy growth rates the like of Linux. Ignore this market force at your own peril.

  142. At 02:30 PM on 06 Nov 2007, goarilla wrote:

    The cheapest and easiest solution for the BBC
    would be to hire a ActiveScript/Flash programmer
    Flash plugins are available on 4 Operating Systems iirc
    GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, MS Windows and Solaris.
    And with a little luck from the team behind gnash and adobe
    we can have it under other OS'es in no time :D

  143. At 02:45 PM on 06 Nov 2007, hendrixski wrote:

    :-) The point is not how many there are now. Look at where the market is heading. Soon it will be a full 1% and then shortly thereafter 10%.

    So this is an investment in your LONG TERM market.

  144. At 02:48 PM on 06 Nov 2007, John Bateman wrote:

    Oh would just like to add a few months back the BBC was running a story (https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6265976.stm Warning of data ticking time bomb) describing how some libaries are having problems accessing old documents due to newer version of software are NOT backward-compatable. Microsoft are working on this with said libaries and descibe this as a infomation dark age.
    Funny how they created the problem with their own incompatable file format (their solution? use a virtual machine to run old windows and old office cause they cant even fix it in new office!!!)

    Do you (as in BBC) really want to lock the British publics medium into a format that may not be accesible in a few years time?

    Microsoft do NOT have a good track record of compatabilty (or on trust, or on acting legally, or providing what is best for their customers, or...)

    Oh and DRM does work in linux Adobe have it in their acroread for DRM-protected PDF's so you can implement DRM in linux.
    And just cause it is linux doesn't mean the code needs to be provided. It only has to be provided IF you use/modify a GPL'ed lib/code, so.... don't use GPL bits for the DRM, simple.
    Also if a program is written well very little needs to be OS-specific, the rest can be platform independent, the likes of Epic and id (game writers) can do it, so I am sure the BBC and Microsoft can

    oh and also +3 for linux (me,wife and boy)

  145. At 02:50 PM on 06 Nov 2007, John wrote:

    Just wanted to mention that I'm another one of those 600 linux users worldwide who read bbc.co.uk...as you've probably noted, we're rather opinionated and hold grudges against entities who neglect to recognize that there is more than one OS in the world.

  146. At 02:55 PM on 06 Nov 2007, M Glancy wrote:

    Imagine that the biggest present given at Christmas 2008 was a portable web browser appliance - running Linux. Imagine Google do succeed with their mobile phone OS and it's based on Linux. Imagine the red faces at the corporation, and the catching up to do.

    In short, it's a quite possible near future scenario that the dominant device used to access the BBC site may be Linux-powered. The users may not know - and won't care - but they will if they cannot access the BBC.

  147. At 03:07 PM on 06 Nov 2007, andrew wrote:

    I'm also posting from work and I'm one of the people you are classing as a minority.

    I've been a regular visitor to the BBC website for many years and once saw it as being a leader in the online news arena. I believe online sites such as the telegraph are now way ahead of the game now and really puts the BBC to shame.

    As head of BBC Future Media and Technology it's your responsibility to ensure that the BBC remains flexible and caters for everyone and not just the majority.

    Maybe you should change your title to BBC Windows Media and Technology?

  148. At 03:09 PM on 06 Nov 2007, asaris wrote:

    I am web developer in LAMP for more than 7 years and work in UK. I don't understand why many companies in UK choose solutions for closed systems (windows only, IE only, DRM). Luckily, company I work for is open to solutions for everybody no matter what device or OS you use or browser. Based on decision made by BBC it seems BBC has only IT specialists in Microsoft solutions. Why not to choose cost effective way by aiming single cross platform solution?

  149. At 03:35 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Simon wrote:

    I use Linux both here in the office and at home, as do the majority of my colleagues (who number around 40). Since we all visit the BBC News website daily, we would seem to represent a significant proportion of these 400-600 Linux users.

    I know we're not exactly in the majority, but it does sting a little to know that our license fees are being used to fund a "public" service that we are not able to make use of.

  150. At 03:37 PM on 06 Nov 2007, grumpynerd wrote:

    Mr. Fox has it right. Talking about support "operating systems" is technically incorrect, and leads to sloppy and wishful ("tin pot operating system") thinking. Unless you get the question right, you won't get the answer right.

    There are a lot of good things to be said for supporting standards. I could go on for pages about why it's enlightened self interest to support standards, but I'll just limit it to this: standards exist to ensure that you have a choice of vendors who mediate your relationship with the customer. If you doubt this is a good idea, I refer to you David Ricardo's theory of rent: a vendor who owns the means of communication is a landlord.

    Finally, let me point out that the most advanced and technically innovative sites on the Internet seem to make do without any proprietary pixie dust: Amazon, Google, Yahoo and others. This is not to say there aren't times when you might find, say, the integration of MS technologies provided by Visual Studio helpful. But the most economically important sites have judged the benefits of standards more important.

    I'd venture to say that no successful Internet company has ever built its business around a particular browser. It's only organizations that are trying to capitalize on their existing information assets but lack the technical savvy to build a successful Internet venture that get trapped in silly arguments about which operating systems to support. The network is the operating system. Failure realize and adapt to this leaves you vulnerable to being left high and dry by the tides of technological change.

  151. At 03:37 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Nick Reynolds (editor) wrote:

    Please see Ashley's new post on this subject:


  152. At 03:43 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Mark wrote:

    Interestingly, I saw a poll on the BBC site recently, which asked either "which OS are you currently using", or "what's your OS of choice" (I forget which), and at the time when I voted, MacOS and Linux were both showing neck and neck with around 11 or 12% each.

    I couldn't find the link when I searched around recently though, after seeing Mr Highfield's earlier numbers.

  153. At 03:47 PM on 06 Nov 2007, CheShA wrote:

    There's only 600 of us and yet 146 have posted comment here... so 1/4 of all the users who visit the BBC website have visited this page.......today.......and commented.

    Can't see it myself.

  154. At 03:47 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Paul Broadhead wrote:

    I'm appalled that you got the original numbers so wrong. Like others, I wonder how you can continue to be trusted to provide an informed and balanced view on the world.

    Keep your contend based on open and approved standards and everyone will be happy; accept may be the monopolistic monsters that you appear determined to do business with.

    BTW, my household runs several computers all exclusively running Linux.

  155. At 03:48 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Michel Vanhonacker wrote:

    Why not just do a poll ? Then you might have accurate numbers.

    Make sure people cannot vote twice.

    And please, what about foreign visitors to your website ?

    Do we all have to buy software ?

    I think the third world could / would strongly disagree with the numbers as they are now.

  156. At 03:51 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Anthony wrote:

    You are a disgrace. Would I be right in assuming your developers work on Linux and use FOSS.

    If that's the case, it's taking from one hand and not feeding with the other. Just keeping the profits.

    Why don't you just run your IT dept. on M$ and see how far you get and how much into your profits that eats?

    Absolute hyprocricy and sums up the quality of the BBC and the dead-end direction it's going.

  157. At 03:53 PM on 06 Nov 2007, odograph wrote:

    You know, there is this concept called "platform independence" which doesn't require you to count platforms, or get in bed with platforms, at all.

    If you were a listener-oriented organization, I think you'd be there already. You would not be writing a defense of your platform ties.

  158. At 04:03 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Jammy F wrote:

    In post 131 Greg wrote:

    It would be very interesting if you were able to measure the correlation between the use of Linux and non-payment of TV licence fees. I suspect it would prove to be quite high!

    and so accuses Linux users of being predominantly
    criminals who don't pay the licence fee.

    How did this slander get past the moderator? Could you please either
    remove it or post the following message.

    It would be very interesting if you were able to measure the correlation between the use of Windows and peadophilia. I suspect it would prove to be quite high!

  159. At 04:16 PM on 06 Nov 2007, bbb444 wrote:

    Unfortunately this has now turned into an HR issue. The BBC is ill-served by having a CTO who is out of touch with the realities of the market. In the mid-nineties a non-technical person could manage IT by faxing purchase orders to Novell and Microsoft. However there is no excuse for acting in such a way now. The initial response, to belittle users of alternative platforms, indicates a corporate suck-up, not a real hacker. The BBC trust should re-staff this position with a person of competence, market knowledge, and enthusiasm for technology.

  160. At 04:18 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Ben Collier wrote:

    I use Windows at work and Linux at home. I can't watch streamed content at work. Using figures from the main BBC website to support this decision is going to be problematic.

    Microsoft are an enormous monopoly whose interests are inimical to those of the BBC. Please provide a Linux player.

  161. At 04:20 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Sean wrote:

    The important points (open standards, anticompetition, etc.) have already been raised ad nauseum. However as a Linux user I thought I should post, lest our numbers continue to be underestimated!

  162. At 04:30 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Jacques wrote:

    Your numbers are still questionable, although you're getting close to being short in your estimates by only one order of magnitude. The number of linux desktop users conservatively estimated to be somewhere around 3-4%. And climbing.

    I have been using a linux desktop exclusively for 7 years, haven't booted windoze ONCE in all that time. While I may have been an oddity back in the late 90s, we are not that unusual, anymore.

    Good luck with the blog.

    ps. Since giving up on windoze, I have not once thrown my computer out the window.

  163. At 04:30 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Justin wrote:

    "over 30,000 Linux users is a not insubstantial number, but we do have to keep this in context with the vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access bbc.co.uk."

    So, let me get this straight. The less substantial you expect a number to be, the more acceptable it is to be reckless and inaccurate when calculating it?

    I don't know what to say.

  164. At 04:38 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Andris wrote:

    Hello from yet another Linux user from your "600 users" pool. I seriously believe this time you have screwed up with the numbers.

  165. At 04:57 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Mark Carlson wrote:


  166. At 05:34 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Ralph Kramden wrote:

    You're an idiot for parroting such a rediculously low number. If someone told you that there are 6,000 humans on the planet, would you believe that too?

  167. At 05:39 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Nick Reynolds (editor) wrote:

    I am trying to moderate this thread with a light touch, and have approved almost all messages, but could I ask people to try and keep the conversation civil, on-topic and not over-react.

    In particular Jammy F, I don't think Greg was being defamatory and you may have misinterpreted his remarks.

    Play the ball, not the man!

  168. At 05:48 PM on 06 Nov 2007, poly wrote:

    why not just use a flash based media player? Flash works just fine on my linux, mac, and windows systems.

    Or maybe build something open source based on VLC. VLC plays WAY MORE file formats than Quicktime or Windows Media Player and works perfectly on my Linux, Mac, and windows systems.

    I don't see what the problem is.

  169. At 05:55 PM on 06 Nov 2007, John Kilgour wrote:

    I think that many Linux users use Firefox as their web browser. If the BBC cannot separate Linux Firefox from MS Windows Firefox, this would account for a huge underestimation of Linux users.

  170. At 06:22 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Jason Godsey wrote:

    I visit every 2-3 days but use both Linux and Windows depending on what machine I'm using and when I take a break to catch up on news.

  171. At 06:33 PM on 06 Nov 2007, John R. TIpton wrote:

    Wow, it's been 4 days since this post and the number of comments are already approaching half the original estimate of Linux users. It is time to quit ignoring Linux and hoping it will go away, especially for a non-commercial company.

  172. At 06:38 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Matt C wrote:

    "30,000 Linux users is a not insubstantial number, but we do have to keep this in context"

    The problem is that your original figure was disseminated in order to demonstrate *precisely that the number of Linux users is insubstantial.

  173. At 07:21 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Standards for a reason wrote:

    Why use open published standards?

    Using open published standards means you are free to focus your development efforts and resources on one platform (Microsoft Windows.

    If other platforms don't have that much of a market share that you consider relevant, by using these standards you promote interoperability and allow them to build a third party solution at zero cost for you.

    Once these third party solutions are built you will be able to see what is the real market share and whether it increases or not due to the new content being now available, all at zero cost for you.

    Supports interoperability!
    Open standards!
    PR! Gets the "Net"!
    Free market research!
    Increased platform support!
    Free! Really!


  174. At 07:37 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Scott Turnbull wrote:

    iPlayer is not only tied to Windows -- it is tied to Windows, Internet Explorer AND Windows Media Player. You can't even choose which browser or media player you want to use.

    This blog quibbles over market share, when it's irrelevant. What is the market share of Real Player? What is the market share of Firefox? Does iPlayer support these? No, it doesn't.

    The BBC are yellow-bellied. They could have led the way, delivering high quality media to everyone. But they bottled it. Rather than give content away to the public - the people who pay - they give unprecedented support to a corporation which TWO courts have found to be abusing its monopoly.

    Well Done. WTG.

  175. At 07:42 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Damian Peterson wrote:

    A bit of a chicken or egg situation here. If the Beeb exclude Linux then people will be less likely to use Linux. So by actively excluding people who use open source software you are actively supporting the large monopolies like Microsoft.

    Does this become at some stage a moral issue?

  176. At 07:42 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Stephen wrote:

    It's not just about how many people use Linux right now but how many people may be effected by the BBC's decisions.

    I'm using Windows right now but I've been seriously considering giving Linux a go as my main OS. I can only do this if I believe that Linux will eventually be supported by everyone.

    Just like many sites were "IE Only" a few years ago, now almost all support Firefox.

    With the BBC not supporting Linux it makes me hesitant about Linux knowing that many companies may follow the BBC's (very influential) decision.

    So - in short - the BBC is encouraging me to stay with Windows. I'm not one of these microsoft haters, but I really think the BBC should be encouraging diversity - not helping them with their monopoly.

  177. At 07:47 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Nemo wrote:

    Hello, another of those 600 crazy Linux users here - feeling embarrassed? Hope so.

    If Google can partner with 30+ Mobile phone companies to produce a free, opensource mobile operating system for phones then why can't the BBC make a free, opensource iplayer which leverages wonderful projects like VLC?

    Also, a sorry to your Linux viewerbase might not go amiss.

  178. At 07:56 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Edward wrote:

    It is amazing that a public corporation such as the BBC would lock its audience into proprietary formats.

    I think it is very safe to assume that the linux userbase is even higher, and furthermore are among the most engaged listeners.

    The fact that so many are speaking out about it here only confirms that.

  179. At 08:09 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Tom Walder wrote:

    I would echo comments re supporting either a flash based player, or something that works with VLC.

    My wife and children use Linux (ubuntu), so that adds another five to the total.

  180. At 08:36 PM on 06 Nov 2007, A.B. wrote:

    You strive on stolen taxpayer money, the *least* you could do is follow standards so that everyone can rip some of the benefit of that spending.

  181. At 08:36 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Darius Wiles wrote:

    I read the news on the BBC site almost every day using Linux. Please base your site on open standards, not proprietary software, so everyone can access it.

  182. At 08:49 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Nick Reynolds (editor) wrote:

    Nemo - Ashley has apologised, in this post:


  183. At 08:54 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Tristan wrote:

    >but we do have to keep this in context with the vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access bbc.co.uk.

    Careful Borgfield, you're dangerously close to suggesting that there are more than a handful of Mac users out there. How's the iPlayer for Mac coming along?

  184. At 09:34 PM on 06 Nov 2007, JuggerNaut wrote:

    BBC could have taken the more common sense route and pushed for an open DRM solution which could/would be seamlessly compatible across multiple platforms; which seems like a better longterm investment than take a more expensive route supporting a proprietary DRM solution which hinders BBC's ability to reach a broad audience (a wider demographic technically) as a whole...


  185. At 09:42 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Christopher Strong wrote:

    It would be so simple for the BBC to offer content in open standards that ALL users could access. MPEG is an open standard...why not use it?

    Mac, Windows, Linux, Solaris...they could all play an MPEG file without any hassle or need for constant upgrades.

    I don't understand why organizations like the BBC would choose for-profit closed formats over open-source? It makes no sense.

  186. At 09:49 PM on 06 Nov 2007, Jonathan McDowell wrote:

    I'd like to echo some of the comments above: we don't expect the BBC to do something special for Linux users; we expect the BBC to follow good software practice by using STANDARDS instead of Microsoft-specific code, so that we have a hope of using the site successfully.
    Thanks for correcting the initial wrong estimate.

  187. At 09:57 PM on 06 Nov 2007, John wrote:

    From a BBC press release in May:

    "Erik Huggers joins the BBC on the 21 May as BBC Future Media and Technology Group Controller.

    In this principal role he will facilitate development of strategy between all three Future Media and Technology Controllers to ensure an appropriate and balanced overall portfolio of future media services.

    Erik joins from Microsoft, where he has worked for the past nine years across a wide variety of industry changing digital media initiatives. After successfully launching the MSN portals in the Benelux countries he went on to lead the European business development efforts of Windows Media Technologies.

    Erik established Windows Media as a leading platform used by the European media and entertainment industry to create, protect and deliver audio-visual content to consumers via the internet."

    All that needs to be said, really.

  188. At 10:45 PM on 06 Nov 2007, steven hess wrote:

    Just a quick note - chances are, the low number (inaccurate) system is reporting browser, not OS. I have a setting in Firefox that tells the servers I connect to to pretend to be IE 6. For interoperability.

  189. At 12:06 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Eduardo wrote:

    This is the 181st comment. So a little more and all 400 Linux users will put a comment here :-) At least we are noisy!

  190. At 12:18 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Jack wrote:

    I know that penguin! My kid has them all over his room. I also recognize Linux as my computer. What I don't understand though is why it is so hard to make things work like the TV. If the BBC would do its job then they should be able to make it so I can watch it on the Internet. I know from other peoples comments it isn't that hard technically. Everything that is a problem relates to copyright. The BBC should refuse to fund or buy content if the producers won't let them stream it over the Internet so all users can watch it. This is a problem that has been produced, and people are upset because the politics are interfering with the new service. I think these issues should be resolved first.

  191. At 02:02 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Jeremy wrote:

    I would like to see the webstats for this blog post :)

  192. At 02:04 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Me wrote:

    The WMV codec IS an open standard and can be implemented by anyone :


    You need to licence it from MPEG LA, but then the same is true of MPEG2/4.

  193. At 02:06 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Nick wrote:

    I'm British and use Firefox and since I have Ubuntu installed, I suppose I'm one of the 400 as well.

    But even running Windows and paying my license fee, I still can't run the BBC's videos - although they seem to work on every other site I visit. Hmm.

  194. At 02:48 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Troc Ster wrote:

    In the backstage interview why is there so much concern for respecting international distirbution rights and residuals ? As long as the BBC ditributes to the UK (only) via a platform agnostic, digital restrictions un-encumbered protocol then the legal and moral obligations have been met.

    It is not the BBC's responsibility or right to manage data once it is on a users computer. What makes the BBC think they do ?

  195. At 03:02 AM on 07 Nov 2007, mister scruff wrote:

    i use Linux at work and at home (laptop) , my wife uses linux, and even my 5 year old uses it to access the Cbeebies site (Edubuntu distro). said 5 year old just loves the cartoony kiddie "wobbly windows" effects of Compiz , and is in awe of the rotating multi-desktop cube.

    and thats just me , in one house.

    At work, everyone uses a mixture of Macs and Linux. and we aren't a tech company. just a normal small web biz that doesnt want the hassle of Windows.

    i think you have seriously underestimated the amount of Linux users out there, because my web server logs are showing around 10 to 12 per cent linux, and another 15 to 20 per cent Mac. and the sites i run aren't techie/geeky one bit. i have noticed a huge sea change in the past 2 or 3 years. if you asked me in 2004 or 2005 it would have been Windows = 98 per cent or so.

    Not now. Windows is down to about 70 per cent on our non-geek, non-tech sites. my conclusion is that ordinary people really are switching over to alternatives.

  196. At 03:45 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Ronald Waffles wrote:

    Please base your site on open standards, not proprietary software, so everyone can access it.

  197. At 04:57 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Joe K. wrote:

    Its not just current Linux users who will be screwed by the BBC turning to a proprietary, locked-down broadcast format. What about people who might use a proprietary operating system today but may want to change to an open source operating system in the future?

    Why should the BBC contribute to a world where information is locked-down, proprietary, and restricted? Instead, it should be working towards a world where information is more transparent, free, and easily exchanged between all people. The only way to do this is simple: use documented, accessible, open standards for your content. Then everyone can choose their operating system and access and use the information as suits them, not as suits commercial monopolies.

  198. At 05:38 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Jad wrote:

    Open standards are the way of the future. Keep the BBC open. I'm a linux user, and I've used your site for years.

  199. At 07:12 AM on 07 Nov 2007, David Viaene wrote:

    As a user of one of the fastest growing Operating System distributions (Ubuntu), I am shocked that the BBC expects me to purchase a Microsoft operating system to view content on the BBC website.

    Your stats also appear to be very weak which brings up the question... what else have you produced that you weigh up the balance of evidence on such poor data.

  200. At 07:25 AM on 07 Nov 2007, mgangster wrote:

    let's be serious... talk to the shepard... the sheep will follow some day.

    there is what, one Shepard for a flock of 300.. seems about right to me.

    now stop taking the piss, and get back to your "high, mighty, and morally 100% accurate " job.

  201. At 08:03 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Nick Holmes [BBC] wrote:

    I think that some of the comments above related to the BBC and web standards, and inclusion of linux, could be enlightened. We try to always be inclusive as a development group, and do follow open web standards. A lot of us have very strong beliefs in open source and the connection of the BBC (and support) to that environment.

  202. At 08:57 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Simon Elliott wrote:

    I use Macs, could access the site through Windows and don't use Linux but the OS is not the point.

    As many have said above, the site must be free for ANY UK citizen to use. I have already paid for the content through my TV licence and therefore cannot be made to pay again, certainly not for any BBC-made programming.

    Why not be radical, offer the BBC-made content through any service available, YouTube, iTunes, Zune, ... on a low standard (640*480 or the widescreen equivalent). Just because I watch a show on the web does not stop me buying the DVD box set if the series is any good.

    Look at iTunesU - quality lectures from US universities for free.

    The BBC should lead the way and not be held back by DRM issues. Build the BBC brand as the media provider that is different.

  203. At 11:25 AM on 07 Nov 2007, MJ Ray wrote:

    Someone asked for own-site stats above: using public software and User-Agent detection, one of my sites reports 18% Linux, 70% Windows.

    My own conservative analysis of the same data reports about 18% Linux, 40% Windows and 35% Unknown. My possible explanation - there seems to be a lot of User-Agent fakery going on these days.

    I think it's interesting to look at the cabextract site stats above - that's Unix-specific software, yet still *appears* to have a huge Windows audience. Maybe it's only an appearance.

  204. At 11:31 AM on 07 Nov 2007, Roger Wolff wrote:


    Just for your information, I'm a Linux user. The BBC site would be interesting, to come back to every now and then, but as the content is not visible for me, I've stopped coming. Maybe twice a year I'll try again to view something on such a site where I've tried before and found that it doesn't work.


  205. At 11:45 AM on 07 Nov 2007, john doe wrote:

    i use GNU/Linux but have browser ID always set to internet explorer on windows XP. Just throwing my voice in :-) Up Ireland!

  206. At 01:10 PM on 07 Nov 2007, Don Knowles wrote:

    And when you arrive at your new numbers ... add one more. I'm using Ubuntu 7.10!

  207. At 02:42 PM on 07 Nov 2007, Peter Toombs wrote:

    I would like to reinforce the arguments for open standards. I work from home, use mainly LINUX but use the ancient M$ WIN98 for the few things that I am locked out of by private standards. Note that even though (a long time ago) I paid my tythe to M$, I STILL can't decode your broadcasts. M$ protocols change all the time (try reading an old WORD2 document! Internationally recognised open standards are the ONLY way to go

  208. At 07:21 PM on 07 Nov 2007, greyphi wrote:

    Why is the UK so quick to support a M$ tax? Open source is free and believes in a level playing field.

    I make a living off of integrating linux with windows clients.
    Every time my clients get infected with yet another virus, I have them run ubuntu until I can patch up their systems.
    Using any M$ format is the same as triple locking your front door but leaving all the windows open.

    When CBC went on strike here in Canada, and they replaced the dead air with BBC, the ratings doubled.
    If it's not available, people just go somewhere else.

  209. At 10:16 PM on 07 Nov 2007, John Bateman wrote:

    Even the British Gov'n are seeing sense and knows the benefits of not only "Open Standards but Open Source as a solution"


  210. At 10:39 PM on 07 Nov 2007, Manfred Morgner wrote:

    Sorry, I don't understand why BBC has to develop his own software anyway. There is a lot of free software around, which perfectly fits viedeo over the internet and there are formats which are supported on any video capable platform. Speaking about not only Windows, Mac and Linux but also BSD, OpenDarwin, OpenSolaris, QNX and so on.

    Why does BBC wish to lock themself out of there audience? And spend time and money for it? Instead of supporting free software, free formats, free information and save time and money doing this?

    Second, I don't understand why it's necessary to prevent customers of BBCs internet videos from storing these videos. I'v a lot of BBC videos recorded from TV on my computer. Realy very good stories, reports and so on.

    But if this is illegal, I will immediately delete the BBC recording tree from all of my discs (sorry I also bought about 25 Videos on DVD - I will not throw them away!). If I would show my friends some of my BBC recordings they may become interested in BBC - but then, they possibly run into technical and legal trouble. I don't want to lead my friends to such unnecessary problems. Another reason to prevent me and my friends from using any BBC service.

    Is this the BBC business model?

  211. At 12:55 AM on 08 Nov 2007, tony atkins wrote:

    the bbc is out of touch as usual, spouting mistakes and falsehoods - this one about the number of linux users was such an obvious, easy one to point out and disprove - my point is what about all the other mistakes and falsehoods they daily make concerning news, world events etc. that are not so easy to test? - they along with other big media corporations are not to be trusted.

  212. At 02:07 AM on 08 Nov 2007, Dr Microsoft wrote:

    Hey, Please give all $$$$ to Microsoft Corporation, lets face it..there going to be out of business soon.

  213. At 02:59 AM on 08 Nov 2007, Swapnil Bhartiya wrote:

    Could you be please more specific about whether they are 'Linux' users or Free Software users. For example Opera and Firefox are not Linux. RMS is not going to like this. BBC should give further clarification as to what it meant by Linux users -- those who use the Open Source OS (Linux kernel) or otherwise?

  214. At 04:37 PM on 08 Nov 2007, Alan James wrote:

    Just wondering if Acorn/RISC OS machines have even been mentioned by the BBC? As they are even more rare than Linux, I seriously doubt it. Despite the Beebs old connections with the Acorn BBC B, Master & A3000, I am confident that current RISC OS (yes, it is still in development despite Acorns departure) machines will not be considered.
    Fortuntely, I may still have a slim chance with my Linux machine.

    I still laugh when I hear people talk about developing 'secure & stable' software for Windoze, I'm a software developer and PC Technician. Most of which is on Windoze based PC's and 8 out of 10 are XP related problems.

    And finally, like "john doe" wrote, some browsers are configurable. So I seriosly hope these sttistics aren't based on what the users browser says it is.

  215. At 06:22 PM on 08 Nov 2007, marc wrote:

    Can't these grumpy old Linux users just be a bit more patient, and wait? It's beta, not a final release. I use Linux for development rather than an entertainment system, and I am appealed at the comparisons to disabilities. Try telling a blind person "i know what its like, I use Linux". Pathetic, a fuss over nothing.

  216. At 08:18 PM on 08 Nov 2007, Jon Combe wrote:

    I'm another Linux user - please make this work on Flash or Real (I.E. something that works on Linux), not tied into Microsoft Windows.

  217. At 11:12 PM on 08 Nov 2007, Mr Flibble wrote:

    And another Linux user...

    For video & audio, though I'm using x86-64 and have Flash and 64-bit Real codecs (complete with broken audio playback), I actually prefer WMA sent over MMS for two reasons:

    • it's supported by open-source software such as ffmpeg and xine;
    • unlike the proprietary binaries, said open-source software isn't limited to x86 and perhaps PowerPC.
  218. At 08:21 AM on 09 Nov 2007, christopher J williams wrote:

    Future media and technology dept??

    It strikes me that you are showing an incredible lack of forward looking vision here. Aside from massively underestimating the number of linux users using the beeb site, you seem to be totally ignoring the "future" aspects here.

    Recent figures show that in 2006 over 30 Million linux based mobile phones were sold. Due to start shipping any time now - the "one laptop per child" project. Also linux based. A potential user base of millions - billions even?

    Pundits everywhere are telling us that "the future is mobile" and it cannot have escaped the beebs notice that Linux IS the development platform of choice for most current high end mobile projects of which there are a substantial number.

    Of course it doesnt only have to be mobile devices - we have seen linux running embedded on platforms like TiVo for ages and there are more than a few digital boxes and TVs out there right now that are linux based or have GPL based code running on them. OK the above technology is not directly related to the current issue under discussion - but it is part of the big picture take up of linux based media technology which you are so keen to dismiss out of hand.

    Unless the beeb wants to suddenly end up playing catch up it really really would make sense to treat linux development with an equal priority to windows and mac.

  219. At 03:55 PM on 09 Nov 2007, blackbelt_jones wrote:

    As an American, I'd like to thank you for refusing to support a globally developed operating system, in favor of technology developed by American corporations, thus helping to ensure that US corporate hegemony of IT endures. I'm sure Mr. Bush would thank you if he knew what Linux was.

  220. At 09:23 PM on 09 Nov 2007, Keith Mitchell wrote:

    Windows vs MacOS vs Linux is missing the point. Most licence payers do not currently watch BBC TV on their computer, they watch it on domestic appliances such as TV sets, VCRs, satellite boxes. In future they are likely to want to watch it on mobile phones, portable media players, network-enabled PVRs etc etc. Although Linux is a very successful solution for such embedded systems, *no* single operating system platform is going to suffice for all these devices. The only solution is for the BBC to show leadership in adopting OPEN, cross-platform solutions for Internet media distribution, just like it once did for broadcast radio and TV. Getting rid of consumer-hostile DRM software on the process could only simplify and bring forward this objective.

  221. At 01:01 AM on 10 Nov 2007, Sarah Jones wrote:

    Maybe you should not only look at the numbers, but also how fast the linux part is growing at the moment.

  222. At 01:36 AM on 11 Nov 2007, Nic Ferrier wrote:

    I am a linux user as well... it's not really the anti-linux stance that gets me about the BBC website (plenty of brain dead managers have the same dim view) it's the total non-industry standard for video that is the issue.

    The BBC has a DUTY to talk to people in the way that will reach the most people. Doing Real / Proprietary MS / Proprietary Apple is not doing that. It's not even good for those users.

    The standard thing to do for video and audio on websites is Flash.

    The BBC should stop mucking about and just do what everyone else does... otherwise it's doing us all a massive disservice.

  223. At 04:58 PM on 11 Nov 2007, james clow wrote:

    The DRM excuse for not supporting Linux is very weak. Look, the simple fact is that most people's grandmothers know that you can download illegal
    TV programs from torrents. Why can't the dimwits in BBC management get it through their thick retarded concrete skulls that people would prefer the higher quality of DVD, but when BlackAdder still costs £40 to buy anywhere, people will download an illegal copy. Linux is free, the airways belong to the people, NOT the BBC. While ever the BBC are allowed to carry on this TV licence facist tax they should at least act to serve the interest of the people and not Microsoft. The TV shows are paid for by the LICENCE FEE PAYER. The BBC don't seem to have a problem with us paying for the news website, and the rest of the world being able to access it! If us linux users are in such a minority and are to be treated like some lower half of society, maybe we should all stop paying our licence fee and give the BBC a taste of how significant we are?

  224. At 07:05 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Christiaan Simons wrote:

    The odd technology choices made by the BBC puzzle me a lot.

    Why develop Dirac, for not using it?

    What a waste.

    Why offer a public service, for locking the techies out?

    The BBC wouldn't be what it is today if amateurs didn't build their own valve radios.

    What an historical error.

    Uhhuh. NMI received for unknown reason. You have some hardware problem. Dazed and confused, but trying to continue.

  225. At 11:14 PM on 17 Nov 2007, anon wrote:

    I'm a keen linux user, BBC license payer, and a regular BBC listener, mainly of the World Service.

    I don't expect the BBC to only support license payers who buy Microsoft software. If you do not open up your systems, you will alienate a future global audience.

    Stay Open, Stay Fair.

  226. At 08:27 AM on 23 Nov 2007, Dan Farrell wrote:

    Open media formats can be played anywhere; closed media formats can be played only on certain players. Why would closed media formats be a good choice? Because Microsoft endorses it? Or maybe makes it artificially easy to choose them...

  227. At 06:51 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Mike wrote:

    My computer both at home and at work is Linux only. Really, I don't have Windows.
    I'd be very frustrated if I can't watch BBC content. I consider many BBC programs the best there is.

    It's pretty easy to make all of BBC's content platform neutral. *THE* way to broadcast video right now is through flash. It's easy to embed and the video compression algorithms are efficient. Adobe is a big company and they know what they're doing. They're also multi platform friendly.
    Microsoft on the other hand, tries to lure and trick and subtly sabotage at every turn. They'd love to get the world hooked on Windows only content. Occasionally they support Mac, but certainly, they pretend Linux doesn't exist. Linux represents a major creative platform, mainly used by a niche creative crowd. Don't underestimate this crowd. A *LOT* of innovation happens on Linux.
    I think it's wrong on my levels to tie in BBC content with Microsoft technologies. I'd be border lining it with pure corruption if you do.

  228. At 08:33 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Linux User wrote:

    It's all been said above.

    As an avid Radio 6 listener, I more than appreciate that I can listen to it on my Ubuntu Linux desktop in the office.

    Please don't make a long term mistake with a short term decision.

  229. At 09:48 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Mike wrote:

    My computer both at home and at work is Linux only. Really, I don't have Windows.
    I'd be very frustrated if I can't watch BBC content. I consider many BBC programs the best there is.

    It's pretty easy to make all of BBC's content platform neutral. *THE* way to broadcast video right now is through flash. It's easy to embed and the video compression algorithms are efficient. Adobe is a big company and they know what they're doing. They're also multi platform friendly.
    Microsoft on the other hand, tries to lure and trick and subtly sabotage at every turn. They'd love to get the world hooked on Windows only content. Occasionally they support Mac, but certainly, they pretend Linux doesn't exist. Linux represents a major creative platform, mainly used by a niche creative crowd. Don't underestimate this crowd. A *LOT* of innovation happens on Linux.
    I think it's wrong on my levels to tie in BBC content with Microsoft technologies. I'd be border lining it with pure corruption if you do.

  230. At 05:59 PM on 01 Dec 2007, Roberto Sarrionandia wrote:

    Are you honestly surprised that so few Linux users visit the BBC website when they aren't catered for?
    Why would a Linux user get the news from the BBC when they can just get some dodgy streaming WMV or Realplayer in an embedded player.
    Perhaps if Linux users were catered for it would be a different story.

  231. At 07:09 AM on 06 Dec 2007, Owen wrote:

    Strangely enough my website caters towards Linux users but still has an equal number of Windows / IE users. I don't think the statistics mean too much anyway with user agent switchings & FireFox.

  232. At 11:43 PM on 06 Dec 2007, mark wrote:

    If the original figures were anything like accurate, then one third of all Linux users would have posted here already. That demonstrates just how bizarrely wrong they were.

    Where the hell did you get that figure Ashley? Come on. Admit it. You just made it up on the spot didn't you?

  233. At 11:06 AM on 07 Dec 2007, Nick Reynolds (editor) wrote:


    in case you missed it, Ashley has apologised here:


    and here:


  234. At 05:09 PM on 10 Dec 2007, Sadiq Mohamed wrote:

    There are some issues about Linux users that the BBC needs to be aware of.

    Firstly they fall in to two distinct camps - those who hate Microsoft for whatever reason (and there are a lot of very good ones!), and those who need up to date computing power but can't afford the huge cost of staying current with MS Licensing (these are self-employed, lower incoming, unemployed, etc.)

    In this second camp there are now a growing number who are not big computer users, have little or no technical expertise, and little or no money to spend. They have friends or relatives with computer expertise but little or no money. This group is becoming a large part of the non-tech user base in Linux.

    I am currently running a small project to recycle old computers in South West London. My target users are retired folk with little or no experience, but who have found that a computer and internet access can keep them in touch with friends and relatives, and the outside world. I also intend to target disabled people and, if I can cope with the load, older unemployed people.

    Since I don't have the money, I am using Ubuntu & Suse Linux, since I have enough experience with them to provide tech support. The hardware is anything up to 7 years old, but free. The total outlay per machine can be as low as nil, but is usually about £10 for a new keyboard and mouse. I know others in the UK and elsewhere who are doing the same thing. In fact I work with a group who are targeting kids from low income families who would otherwise be left out.

    The moral of this story is that their is a growing user base who are using Linux, who have little or no technical expertise, and aren't interested in why things don't work properly when they try to access the BBC website. By not making sure they are able to access your content your are in effect saying that only those who can afford the latest Windows or Mac PC count, and that the old, the disadvantaged and the poor don't matter. Don't forget these people are also voters!

    And in South America and other parts of the world, including parts of Germany, governments are making Open Source and Linux either the preferred or mandatory route (see Brazil) for Government funded IT.

    By marginalising those who use OSS or Linux you are going to make it harder to close the IT gap between those who can afford it and those who can't.

  235. At 09:21 AM on 12 Dec 2007, John Macintyre wrote:

    # At 9:46 AM on 03 Nov 2007, Scoober wrote:

    "A blind ignorance to the notion of copyright and the moral right of the creators & owners of works to be compensated for their efforts on its consumption - perhaps because they can't understand why musicans or writers don't do their jobs for free like their software heroes often do in their spare time."

    This is always a spurious argument. If I, as a carpenter, make a table and then sell it I get payment for my efforts. Now every time that table is used I don't get any extra funding. Nor do I when it is sold on.

    But for items that can make use of a technology to copy them we now have a system that demands people be paid for work they have not done. They created the original work, and yes they should be paid for that. But for copies? This is saying that an author's work, or a composer's, is more valuable than a carpenter's simply because there is technology out there that can easily and accurately copy it.

    Content is either created for free, in one's spare time, or is paid for and then you move on. Setting up an income stream because of some legal fiddle is wrong.

    In any case, the shear weight of the Internet revolution will ensure most content is obtained 'illegally.' That is just a fact of life and no amount of whinging by the the music or movie industries will change that.

    We have a generation that want the content but don't want to pay for it, and have the technology to get what they want.

    And finally, back to the iPlayer -- well if it adheres to open standards no one can complain. But it seems in this case not to. You could argue well if there isn't a player that runs on Linux that's tough, but the Beeb MUST use open standards. Hence they either can't use the Microsoft tool or they tell (sorry, but I meant TELL) MS that if they are to use their product MS needs to make it available for Linux too.

    In short, either open standards or don't do it.

  236. At 03:09 AM on 09 Mar 2008, Roger Lancefield wrote:

    As people have no doubt pointed out above, at least a significant minority of your proprietary operating system-using visitors do so only because they are obliged to run/program/administer proprietary software (the market position of which has often been achieved and maintained by monopolistic business practices). Such people, in many cases, are not willing proprietary operating system users.

    I understand that many of the BBC's web applications are built using Perl and served using Apache (and syndicated via RSS, etc). All of course are renowned open source technologies. Frankly, I'm surprised that your programmers and system administrators hadn't explained to you the popularity of both Linux and the FOSS movement in general. If it wasn't so, superb languages and software such as Perl and Apache wouldn't be possible and their vibrant and thriving development and user communities wouldn't exist.

  237. At 05:59 AM on 09 Mar 2008, knifemonkey wrote:

    there is no details given as to how these figures where pulled, what they are based upon, the 'formula' used or any other reasoning given. This is worse than the figures given on a pop magazine for teenagers in an attempt to convince them to buy products and follow trends. seriously if you want anyone apart from the sheeple to take these kind of figures seriously disclose all the information. just because I go to a bbc site, doesnt mean my computer is setup to tell the bbc that I am using linux. Chances are the real figures are much higher in favour of linux, and besides how many of these visitors relied upon a linux server along the way? I will tell you how many. 99% of them. Infact I bet this very site is a running from a linux server, anyone who doesnt run linux must like viruses or paying for software, these bs surveys wont work forever you know billy.

  238. At 06:01 PM on 11 Mar 2008, graham wrote:

    It is regrettable that the person making such important decisions about making the BBC web content accessible to all computer users is so ignorant of the true statistics of Linux users and of IT matters generally.

    Further, is it legal to advertise the BBC iPlayer service on television so often without any small print indicating it is only available to Windows users?

  239. At 01:34 AM on 01 Apr 2008, Dan wrote:

    I can't believe people are getting so upset about missing out on the A/V rubbish on the BBC website. I regularly use linux, and the audio almost never works, and the video never at all. My other machine is a mac, and it can play the cliplets, but iplayer only works on that about one time in two.

    But it's not really worth getting het up about. In fact, it's probably a good thing. This stuff is usually a waste of time, anyway, and it usually spurs me on to do something more interesting instead.

    You think to yourself "perhaps I'll watch that repeat of the Masterchef heat" and then your computer crashes, and you think "What was I thinking anyway? It's probably more fun to read a bit more of my book".

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