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Editor's Note: Booga! Booga!... Yawn.

Jun 09, 2006, 23:30 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

Those of you who read my ponderings may recall the fact that I have been a student of taekwondo for quite some time now. In fact, this spring, I successfully completed my black belt test. This was a rather painful completion, since in the course of one of my more difficult board breaks, I twisted my knee rather nicely and ended up hobbling around LinuxWorld Boston wishing journalistic ethics didn't prevent me from hijacking one of the Segways being given away at the show.

But I digress.

I tend not to see the serious side of things right away, so when I am in my martial arts class, my mouth and quirky (read: obnoxious) sense of humor sometimes get away from me. Occasionally, it works to my advantage. In the black belt test, I had to spar against three opponents at the same time for one minute. Now, to be blunt, even for the most skilled student, this is usually an exercise in creative dodging, trying to keep one opponent in-between you and the other two attackers. And I am by far not the most skilled student.

Faced with this challenge, I decided to try something a bit unorthodox. Normal sparring rules did not apply, so I could be a little more flexible in my approach. So when the fight started, I squared off against the most aggressive opponent and shouted:

"Booga! Booga!"

He laughed. I jumped next to him and shoved him into the other two people, who were also chuckling. Nobody got hurt, and my school-yard approach gave me an extra four or five seconds of breathing room while I got set to try something else. "Something else" never happened, because they weren't laughing anymore. The next 55 seconds involved me taking a lot of kicks and punches--some blocked, some not. I would like to say I vanquished all of my opponents handily, but in truth I just managed to not suck.

The "Booga Booga" Approach, it seems, only throws off your opponents for a little bit. You get short term gain, but little long-term benefit. The best you can hope for is not being able to pull that trick again. The worst will be making your opponents rather angry with you and redoubling their efforts.

My rough-and-tumble hijinks aside, it is clear to me that we are in yet another round of "Booga Booga" from Those Who Dislike Open Source. It started when I noticed articles in the ether that were putting down LAMP. Then, we had the Yankee Group's Reliability Survey that put Linux in third place for reliability, after Unix and Windows. This was followed by the June 2006 Web Server Survey from Netcraft, which has IIS gaining ground on Apache a little bit, then a spirited discussion about the merits of MS Small Business Server versus Linux ensued. Finally, a columnist in Australia tried to put all of us in our collective place by maintaining "It's a Windows World."

Wow. This week hasn't just been "Booga Booga." It's been the guy with the hockey mask coming at us through the woods.

Well, almost.

You see, after seeing a slasher movie for the umpteenth time, people tend to get used to the whole idea of getting scared. And quite often, they find themselves not scared anymore. Like my sparring match, trying to startle or frighten someone repeatedly is not likely to work. In fact, it just might get the intended victim angry.

I saw the most evidence of this in the coverage of the Yankee Group survey, when reporters talked to other sources and in some cases detailed the survey's link between Yankee and the Sunbelt Group, a predominantly Microsoft-based consultancy. In the past, many journalists would accept the results of these types of surveys as is. Now, they are looking at them all with a big grain of salt. Not that they are becoming decidedly pro-Linux, mind you, but they are starting to question methods and sponsorship more and more. Good for them, I say.

Do I think this week's articles out on the Web are all a part of some vast conspiracy to coordinate FUD against Linux? No, I think it was just happenstance. But it will be a happenstance that will become more frequent as more IT pundits start drawing the lines on where they stand regarding Linux and Open Source.

We must be careful, though, to maintain our own objectivity. Not all of this news was anti-open source. I got tickled when I saw so many people critique the Netcraft survey when it didn't go all their way. It never seemed to bother people before when it was all roses and sunshine for Apache. Either we accept the survey as valid all the time or we don't. If we reject all but good news about Linux, we could miss something big.

Whether you believe this is all a concerted effort or not, the fact is that we will be seeing a lot more individual calls against Linux as Linux becomes more popular and started to encroach more on Windows territory. This has been expected, and we are seeing it now. It will take some time, because it is coming from so many individuals, but ultimately I think this will die down, as bloggers, analysts, and pundits begin to realize that the FUD approach is not working as well.

People are not afraid, uncertain, or doubtful about Linux anymore. And they're wondering what all the naysayers are trying to hide.


For those of you wondering why there hasn't been a follow-up for the Evans Data Developer Survey story last week, it is because I am still trying to pin down some answers. Evans has been cooperative, so don't blame them. But my first batch of questions were, honestly, framed in a hurry and I got answers--just not the data nor the information about methodology I needed. My apologies, and I'm continuing the dialog.

In the meantime, here is the data I did get. It's not the breakdown of which platform the surveyed developers are using or coding for, but it is rather interesting on its own. These responses are to the question "How is Linux used in your company?"

  Count Percent of Responses Percent of Cases
Web Server 162 21.1 53.1
Departmental Server 157 20.5 51.5
Development Desktop 135 17.6 44.3
Company-wide Enterprise Server 110 14.3 36.1
Client Desktop 93 12.1 30.5
Embedded Devices 57 7.4 18.7
QA Machine 53 6.9 17.4