Yankee Group slams 'Linux extremists'

An analyst who has been savaged for her views on open source software has hit back, denying that her work is biased
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor

The Yankee Group has hit back at critics in the Linux community who have claimed that its surveys comparing Linux and Microsoft Windows are not impartial.

Its latest survey, published on Monday, reported that Microsoft Windows Server 2003 is at least as good if not better than Linux, in terms of quality, performance and reliability.

Laura DiDio, an analyst at the Yankee Group who has been at the receiving end of much of the criticism from Linux advocates, claimed the radical elements of the community could damage the reputation of open source software.

"There's an extremist fringe of Linux loonies who hang out on forums and are disrespectful and threatening because you disagree with them," DiDio told ZDNet UK on Wednesday. "That can hurt the Linux community."

DiDio feels she has been unfairly criticised on open source forums, including being nicknamed DiDiot, and has even had Linux advocates contacting her at home. "I've had these nut jobs calling me at 11 o'clock at night," said DiDio.

The reactionary nature of much of the open source community is something that DiDio claims is unique in the software industry.

"I've lived through the Unix wars — none of them reacted in this way," said DiDio. "It's just software. This has got way out of proportion."

Some of DiDio's critics have claimed that Yankee Group's surveys comparing the total cost of ownership of Linux and Windows have been funded by Microsoft. DiDio strongly denies this claim.

"I don't take any money from any vendor," said DiDio. "Yankee Group paid entirely for the survey. We use an independent survey house."

Yankee Group surveyed executives at over 500 companies, asking them questions on factors that influence TCO such as deployment costs, the cost of downtime, and the time and staff associated with security attacks.

As the study was carried out independently, DiDio said she had no influence on the results. "I think its hilarious that I'm [accused of] colluding with 500 or a 1,000 people," said DiDio.

The fanatical side of the Linux community has been highlighted by others in the past. Security analyst Mi2g, which released research last year claiming that Linux was hacked more frequently than Windows, experienced a 'hostile' response from some in the community, according to the company Web site.

"Any empirical evidence pointing to a high level of online Linux breaches is immediately shot down by religious zealots as if a church had been desecrated," Mi2g stated on its Web site. "The management of Mi2g has been threatened with damage to reputation and online property unless more is preached in favour of Linux."

Several senior executives at commercial open source vendors have also admitted privately that they are concerned that the radical side of the open source community could damage the reputation of open source software.

Although there are some negative aspects to the open source community, some point out that there are many positive aspects including the team work, the lack of hierarchy and the supportive element of the community.

Jon 'Maddog' Hall, the president of Linux International and a leading open source advocate, said at the LinuxWorld conference in London last year that one of the great aspects of the open source community is its willingness to help others.

"A friend of mine is a systems administrator at a large company and uses a lot of open source software to help him in his systems administration tasks," said Hall. "He said that if he asks a question [on a forum or mailing list] he gets lots of responses by the next morning. He told me: 'I give so little and I get so much.'"

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