One of the biggest ongoing challenges for Linux advocates has always been that there is such a paucity of data available to demonstrate the preferences of the people who are actually using the free and open source operating system.
That's especially true on the desktop, where virtually countless different flavors are available as a free download for every taste and purpose, but for which there's really no way to take an accurate count, since typically they don't ever get associated with any sales statistics.
DistroWatch's page-hit rankings are often used as a stand-in for such data in the absence of anything better, but every once in a while someone takes a survey that provides fresh insight.
Case in point? LinuxQuestion.org's annual Members Choice Awards, the results of which were just announced for 2012.
Linux Mint at No. 3
This year, Slackware pulled into first place, with 20.59 percent, while Ubuntu dropped to 17.02 percent of the 981 votes that were collected.
Next in line was Linux Mint, with 16.21 percent, followed by Debian, with 12.64 percent.
For the twelfth year in a row, a record number of votes were cast, popular community site LinuxQuestions.org said.
Honors for the Raspberry Pi
As for other notable results? There were plenty.
To wit: KDE won best desktop environment, with 31.31 percent; LibreOffice won as best office suite, with a whopping 85.14 percent; Firefox took top honors for browsers, with 52.76 percent; and GIMP won as top graphics application of the year, with 69.85 percent.
It almost goes without saying that Debian won on servers, with 28.74 percent, and Android won on mobile, with 66.86 percent.
Also not surprising was that the Raspberry Pi claimed new open source hardware product of the year, with 79.29 percent.