Linux fanatics losing the plot?

commentary Laura DiDio. Her mailbox must be bursting at its seams with hate mail from Linux devotees.

commentary Laura DiDio. Her mailbox must be bursting at its seams with hate mail from Linux devotees.

DiDio is no stranger to the Linux and open-source community at large. The Yankee Group analyst has come under fire on several occasions for her perceived anti-Linux stance.

She's copped a lot of flack and has been accused of skewing research results to portray a negative light on open-source platforms like Linux, and accusations range from bribery to DiDio being disingenuous about her methodology.

DiDio was one of the more vocal analysts to comment on and during the SCO vs IBM court case. Her quotes conjured up a cronyism link -- apparently, her bias stems from being a longtime acquaintance of Ray Noorda, the man behind the Canopy Group, SCO's largest investor.

So it comes as no surprise when the latest salvo was fired -- DiDio was severely criticised after a survey by the Yankee Group gave Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 a higher rating over Linux.

The majority of small and medium businesses surveyed found Windows Server 2003's quality, performance and reliability equal to or better than Linux. The conclusions were based on responses from 509 companies from various industries in North America including healthcare, academia, financial services, legal and government.

Windows better than Linux equals flawed research. This was the sentiment amongst some open-source software advocates and it's clear DiDio felt the wrath of Linux fanatics when she told ZDNet UK: "There's an extremist fringe of Linux loonies who hang out on forums and are disrespectful and threatening because you disagree with them ... that can hurt the Linux community."

But what's really scary is DiDio's work has put her personal safety at risk. "I've had these nut jobs calling me [at home] at 11 o'clock at night," she said.

Why do people behave in this manner? Are they driven by passion or some form of ulterior motive?

I can understand where DiDio is coming from. Having been in her shoes [no death threats yet], if an article has so much of a hint of negativity against Linux, the wave of criticism from this faction will know no bounds. Any attempt to reason with them has proven challenging in the past.

The Yankee Group data highlighted one very promising and positive point -- more than 50 percent of companies said they plan to install Linux in parallel with, or in addition to, existing Windows operating systems. Unfortunately, there was more focus on the "Windows beats Linux" aspects of the study, which by the way wasn't funded by Microsoft.

Hopefully, in time, the fanatical nature of some Linux followers will be replaced by proper and robust debate based on benchmarks rather than emotional outbursts. It's time to let the facts, not the heart, do the talking.

Fran Foo is ZDNet Australia managing editor.