Musings of a *Nix Nerd

I had an encounter with a friend who had an insatiable craving to talk about his newfound love for this cool new thing called Python. When he claimed that it was the “most popular” and “the best” I had a rough time gathering my thoughts to counter this claim. For those interested in this little rant, this is the point I used to aid in tempering my friends unconditional love for a programming language.

Due to the Python programming language's surge in popularity, people's intense love of the language has also surged. Although this is a blessing for the Open Source community and attracting budding software developers, many of the avid Python programmers (Pythonistas) often claim that it's one of the most popular languages to exist. On top of this, many won't listen to counterclaims about the use of other languages.

What's really the most used?

To tackle this question, one must first define the term popular. For the sake of discussion it is easiest to say that the most widely deployed programming language should be considered the most popular for the simple reason that the enterprise world, the government and many major software companies are still making use of it.

Given this definition, we can safely say that the C Programming language easily is the most popular in this regard, as it is deployed in virtually every Operating System that exists, sees use in most (if not all) of the DNS implementations we use today and more. For those who don't know, DNS provides sites with actual names instead of IP addresses.

Among the most deployed would be JavaScript, as most webpages and many mobile apps utilize it.

According to the definition of popular in this post, this makes COBOL one of the most popular languages, as approximately 90% of the banking system is powered by this old language from the 70s.


Yes. COBOL, I hate it too and I would rather remove my ear with a rusty spoon than code in it. Sadly it's so widely deployed and in so much demand in the enterprise space due to the simple purpose that most of the old Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for large companies such as banks and car manufacturers were created in the 1980s. Pairing this logic with the fact that it's much more expensive to rewrite these APIs than to just maintain them, COBOL has a permanent place to stay as one of the most popular languages to come.

Remember that as defined above, popular means “most widely deployed” in terms of this discussion. Python definitely outpaces programming languages like LISP or Pascal in terms of popularity, but doesn't quite make the dent that JavaScript, C or COBOL have.

On top of this, due to it's nature of being an interpreted language, it lacks the ability to perform well in environments where every bit of speed matters. As a result, it doesn't appear as much as compiled languages in mission-critical environments.


If we define popular as the “most well received” programming language, Python easily lays claim to being one of the most convenient languages to code in and being one of the top languages most programmers choose to learn first nowadays.

On top of this, it's important to note that strides are being made in compiling Python code, though it's not quite stable at the moment. Once this gets achieved, it is possible that it could quickly take over the enterprise space.

The Real Question

How do you change someone's mind about their love of a programming language? You don't- but you can help them clarify their logic more so actual discourse may occur.

That's all. Rant over. Be sure to stick around and bookmark this page for new posts! Next time, I'll share some some (mis)Adventures in building Linux From Scratch and more technical content.


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