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Some Linux Supporters Seen As Overzealous

Industry watcher Rob Enderle no longer responds to angry e-mails from Linux supporters. The principal analyst for the Enderle Group (San Jose, Calif.) says he replied to the first thousand or so. But after that, the anger and profanities that many of the missives contained began to wear on him.

"I've been threatened and other analysts have been threatened, as well," Enderle said. "Some of the e-mail is incredibly vile, and it just doesn't seem worth it to respond anymore. The senders view a response as a license to write again, in even greater detail."

Enderle's experience is part of a new phenomenon that has swept the upstart Linux operating system from feel-good, groundswell enthusiasm to an ugly environment of death threats and electronic terrorism - from Woodstock to Altamont, if you will. The rising tide of emotion is partially rooted in the SCO Group Ltd.'s billion-dollar lawsuit against IBM Corp., but experts say it also reflects the changing ranks of the open-source faithful.

Passionate disciples

Increasingly, they say, the passion behind the operating system appeals to the disenfranchised, who see Linux in quasi-political - even quasi-religious - terms, but fail to comprehend the business and technical ideals behind it. As a result, they say, good technology is getting a bad rap.

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