One of the clearest unbroken trends of the Web Server Survey has been the rise and rise of Intel based operating systems. Although nearly all of the public focus is geared around advocacy of Linux and Windows, there is a third Intel based operating system, which generates a tiny fraction of the publicity surrounding these operating systems, and has a much smaller user and developer community.
FreeBSD secured a strong foothold with the hosting and internet services communities at the genesis of the web and has anything but gone away. Indeed it is the only other operating system that is gaining, rather than losing share of the active sites found by the Web Server Survey.
Hostnames and Active Sites running FreeBSD Jan 2002 – July 2003
The reason for this is FreeBSD’s deployment with the operators of shared hosting systems, where tens and even hundreds of thousands of sites are collectively administered as part of a single system. In this respect a relatively small number of people control the technology choices for an enormous number of people, many of whom have no idea what operating system they are using.
Several of the companies that pioneered and succeeded in shared hosting, including best.com, now part of Verio and Pair Networks based their businesses on FreeBSD. These companies have stayed with the operating system while developing hundreds of thousands of customer accounts. However, much of the surge in FreeBSD sites over the last year has been caused by the rampant growth of Yahoo!’s shared hosting offering.
To misquote Churchill, never has an operating system used by so many been administered by so few.