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Survey Results: Open Source Developer Preferences (June 2011)

We recently conducted a survey of open source developers to learn about their current preferences on hosting sites and source control systems. We have run this survey twice before so we now have some trending information on the direction that preferences are moving.

The survey was advertised via Twitter, initially posted to, but was also re-tweeted by over 100 people. We chose the MSDN twitter account versus the CodePlex one to try and prevent bias towards a specific open source project hosting site.

We had over 1,000 responses to the latest survey, so a good sample size although the statistical degree of certainty is unknown based on the Twitter audience. One of the survey questions was what your preferred operating system for development is so that we can report the results by operating system preference.


Table 1 – Preferences by what is preferred operating system for development



As you can see from the results, the preferences of open source developers are very different between developers preferring Windows, Linux, or Mac, and those preferences are also following different trends.

For Windows users, CodePlex and GitHub are virtually tied with CodePlex having a slight edge to take back rank #1 from GitHub after temporarily falling to #2 in the last survey. GitHub actually saw a decline in preference reversing its trend of skyrocketing popularity, with only CodePlex and Bitbucket showing an increase in the latest results. Source control preferences show a similar result, with TFS showing the biggest increase and Git showing the biggest decline. Distributed version control systems again represent the preference for over 50% of open source developers using Windows.

For Linux and Mac users, GitHub continues to extend its dominant lead in popularity, primarily at the expense of Bitbucket. Git is winning the distributed version control system war among Linux and Mac users, with Mercurial preference dropping sharply. Subversion usage showed a slight resurgence, but distributed version control still dominates being the preference for over 80% of developers using Linux and Mac.

Overall the preferences of open source developers using Windows seem to be getting more divergent from the ones using the Linux and Mac operating systems. Git and GitHub are becoming the de facto standard for Linux and Mac developers, while CodePlex as well as TFS, Mercurial, and Subversion are sharing a large and collectively increasing preference among Windows developers. Generally distributed version control usage is high across all open source developers and seems to be continuing to increase.