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RMS Cuts Through Some SCO FUD 877

Posted by timothy
from the scrupulous-thinking dept.
sckienle writes "ZD-Net has a commentary by Richard Stallman about the SCO case against IBM, kind of. It does provide some history on what the GNU organization did to protect itself from such lawsuits. Favorite quote: 'Less evident is the harm it does by inciting simplistic thinking: [Intellectual Property] lumps together diverse laws--copyright law, patent law, trademark law and others--which really have little in common.'"
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RMS Cuts Through Some SCO FUD

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  • by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot@@@exit0...us> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:05AM (#6293356) Homepage
    He has an new and interesting take on the SCO cr@p too. It's here [pbs.org].
    • by pldms (136522) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:03AM (#6293857)
      I also use and endorse 'Cringley article'.

      RMS's article is pretty light on the full horror, but Cringley's gives a nice idea what a tangled mess the simple phrase "our IP" can mean.
    • by Bigby (659157) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:40AM (#6294199)
      Does anyone else, at first glance, think that Cringely looks like the boss in Office Space? Mmmmmm, Yeaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh....
    • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:05PM (#6294412) Journal
      But, as usual he gets important details wrong:
      Think about it. Ashton-Tate's claim on dBase was, in many ways, similar to SCO's current claim on derivative UNIX works. They both ignored upstream property rights of others. What is ironic about this is that Fox Software wasn't the only company sued by Ashton-Tate for this supposed copyright violation. Fox's co-defendant was SCO. And having been on the other side of such a similar case, they should know better.
      Yes, SCO was Fox's co-defendant. But it isn't SCO that's suing IBM, it's "The SCO Group", who are not the same people at all. There is no "they" there.
    • by daniel23 (605413) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:06PM (#6294423)
      LinuxTag, who sent a cease and desist letter to SCO now have a written confirmation by Sco in which Sco declares the will not again say that Linux Operating Systems would contain unlawful obtained Intellectual property of sco unix.
      Sco Group will not say again that Linux end users could be held liable for using Linux, had to fear legal consequences nor will they repeat that Linux is an unauthorized derivate of Unix.
      There is a fine of 10.000 EUR if SCO fails to comply with that written confirmation.



      More details (in German):
      heise.de [heise.de]

  • by tommten (212387) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:09AM (#6293392) Homepage Journal
    Linux itself is no longer essential: the GNU system became popular in conjunction with Linux, but today it also runs with two BSD kernels and the GNU kernel. Our community cannot be defeated by this.


    the kernel is still essential due to the high level of hardware support.. but hopefully if something would happen, the drivers get ported to other kernels..

    For great justice, the GNU must survive!

    • by solidhen (642119) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:20AM (#6293494)
      If for some reason all copies of the Linux kernel source code was wiped of the face of the earth tomorrow people would still be able to run a Free/Open operating system.

      Sure there would probably be major setbacks. It might take another five years to get to the point were we are now but things would eventually get back to normal.

      So RMS's statement that the Linux kernel is no longer essential is true.

      I use Gentoo Linux and I love it. But if I _had_ to I could learn to live with a FreeBSD kernel. I know both Debian and Gentoo are working on getting there userland stuff working under a BSD kernel.

      If the Linux kernel went away tomorrow it would be a real shame (understatement of the year) but it would not be the end of the world.
      • by reverseengineer (580922) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:01PM (#6294377)
        Tux- This is about Linux.

        The Architect - You are here because Linux is about to be destroyed. Its every line of code terminated, its entire existence eradicated.

        Tux - Bullshit.

        The Architect - Denial is the most predictable of all human responses. But, rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have destroyed it, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.

        The Architect - The function of the Gnu is now to return to the source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the GPL'd code you carry, reinserting the prime program. After which you will be required to select from the matrix 23 OSS programmers, 16 American, 7 Finnish, to rebuild the kernel. Failure to comply with this process will result in a cataclysmic system crash killing every process currently running, which coupled with the extermination of the kernel will ultimately result in the extinction of the entire Linux operating system.

        Tux - You won't let it happen, you can't. You need Linux to survive.

        The Architect - There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept. However, the relevant issue is whether or not you are ready to accept the responsibility for the death of every installation of Linux in this world.

        (Sorry, I saw the parent post and the line from Matrix Reloaded about "There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept." came to mind, and I couldn't resist.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:20AM (#6293495)
      Ok, no doubt this will be modded down instantly, but I have to ask this question:

      Would RMS mind so much if Linux kernel fell down because of this controversy as long as GNU carried on with a different kernel?

      I mean, reading his comments it seems clear that his purpose was not to defend Linux, but to try to draw a distinction (surprise) between the Linux kernel, the GNU system and the OS that is GNU/Linux.

      • by mysticgoat (582871) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:14PM (#6294483) Homepage Journal

        Do you think RMS was talking to the geeks on slashdot in this article?

        I don't. I don't think he was preaching to the choir. I think his remarks were aimed at the upper management types who influence decisions about OS adoptions, but who don't have a technical background. I think he has done a very good job of telling the suits why SCO's FUD is so much bullsh*t.

        Consider adding this article to your defudding toolkit. It is a very good piece to give to a CPA or BusSci type, to help them see the kinds of questions they should be asking, in place of the questions that SCO wants them to be worrying about.

    • Who's community is he talking about? "my" community is linux. I don't want to move to the *BSDs, or GNU/hurd. In fact nowadays I do almost all of my compiling on icc (intel's compiler).. hmm.. I wonder how close you could get to a working linux machine with nothing offically from GNU? Chris
      • by ajs (35943)
        The thing to do in that respect would be to clean-room re-implement the GNU toolchain. Start with glibc. Then move on to gcc. You may use Intel's compiler on one platfor for specific languages, but GCC is still an essential tool until something replaces ALL (or at least most) of the platforms and languages that it can compile for. For languages that includes Objective-C, C++, C, FORTRAN, ADA and Java. For platforms, I think you at least have to handle x86, PPC, Alpha, Sparc and ARM.

        Those two will probably
        • by Chops (168851) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:44AM (#6294242)
          Those two will probably take 2-5 years to get usable. It's a laudable goal, IMHO.

          The GNU contribution to modern Linux systems is huge, but it doesn't warrant Stallman's endless ranting over naming. IMHO, he's burned his bridges sufficiently that it's worth the community's time to sever any ties to me.

          Great! Let us know when you're done.
      • by pmz (462998) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:12AM (#6293935) Homepage
        "my" community is linux.

        This needs to be qualified with how you use Linux.

        If you are a average desktop user (Red Hat, GNOME, Mozilla, OpenOffice.org, etc.), then, in fact, Linux, itself, is really not visible in your day-to-day work. If Linux were spontaneously removed, and the NetBSD kernel or HURD took its place (with necessary libraries, etc.), odds are you would never notice.

        If you use Linux directly for creating custom kernels for various applications (e.g., you are a kernel developer for the Sharp Zaurus), then, of course, Linux disappearing would have a very large impact on your life. Starting from scratch and reworking the FreeBSD kernel for the Zaurus would definitely be a setback.

        From an end-user's perspective, GNOME on Solaris 9, GNOME on Red Hat 9, GNOME on OpenBSD 3.3, and GNOME on Mac OS X (for those who do it because they can) don't present much of a change among them. The fact that each OS has adopted different conventions for package management and /etc directory structure, for example, is irrelevant, because these things are ultimately independent of the kernel (except, perhaps, the kernel parameter tuning files under /etc and device names under /dev).
    • by bytes256 (519140) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:23AM (#6293513)
      I don't know about the rest of you guys...but I'm downloading the HURD right now just to be safe!
    • by 1010011010 (53039) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:21PM (#6294547) Homepage

      The HURD would actually help this. Because it's a microkernel, it would be easier to write higher-quality drivers for it, as well as have a stable API for drivers to write to. MacOSX and Windows NT have this advantage over Linux at the moment. Linux has loadable modules, but the API and ABI for them is a moving target.

      This advantage of the other OSes could also be a liability, though -- look at the instability that bad drivers cause Windows. Being a true microkernel system, Hurd could mitigate this somewhat, much as QNX does.

      And say what you will, but binary drivers are good for free OSes. Get the OS for free -- libre and gratis -- and hardware manufacturers can release drivers for their hardware and your OS, in a way that keeps them safe from legal issues (leaking other companies' trade secrets and the like). All-free would be better, of course. But fight the battle one step at a time. First step, a free OS that can actually operate your scanner, printer, sound card, etc.
  • by bytes256 (519140) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:09AM (#6293396)
    RMS SCO FUD!!! Meltdown meltdown!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:10AM (#6293398)
    I can sum up the article in a few lines.

    "We developed the whole GNU dealy so we wouldn't have to pay for software or go to jail for pirating it. I don't know what the dealy is with this SCO/IBM jazz, but we aren't responsible. Sic your ravenous dogs on somebody else. Oh, and I didn't say Linux is a copy of Unix."
  • Copyleft? (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaptainBaz (621098) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:10AM (#6293403) Homepage Journal
    Copyright 2003 Richard Stallman. Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire article are permitted without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved.

    Am I the only one who sniggered?

  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06@emYEATSail.com minus poet> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:13AM (#6293430)
    I originally considered SCO's efforts to be, as Stallman suggests, an attempt to shake the IBM money tree and see what would fall out.

    When Microsoft made it's licensing agreement with SCO, I then began to consider that the whole tone and nature of the SCO lawsuit was a FUD campaign to hurt OSS, subsidized but not directly linked to Microsoft.

    I keep switching back and forth as to which I think it is. Of course, it might be both.

    • Yeah, but the last line of Stallman's statement just ... well ... smell's funny to me:

      Linux itself is no longer essential: the GNU system became popular in conjunction with Linux, but today it also runs with two BSD kernels and the GNU kernel. Our community cannot be defeated by this.

      I'm not saying Stallman cooked this whole thing up with SCO. But I do think he's taking advantage of the 'negative press' (as it were) Linux is receiving as a result of the SCO lawsuit to basically promote 1) the name GNU/
  • by T40 Dude (668317) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:15AM (#6293443)
    however, I am most curious to know what IBM's commentary will be. Will they just wait until SCO drags them to court, or will they try to prevent that from happening. It seems (of course the only info I have is the daily /. SCO dose) that IBM is not very active yet. There are two potential explanations for that behavior.

    A) IBM knows that SCO has no case, and will stomp SCO when they feel like it.

    or

    B) IBM thinks that SCO may have a case, and is secretely preparing contingency plans on how to best resolve a potentially harmful and complex situation, thus needing a lot of time.

    For the sake of all involved, I hope it is option A !
    • There are two potential explanations for that behavior. A) IBM knows that SCO has no case, and will stomp SCO when they feel like it. or B) IBM thinks that SCO may have a case,

      I think its most likley A, as SCO have been doing a whole load of talking, and not much else: "We're going to sue you!", "We're really going to sue you!" , "We're really really going to sue you!", "Hey everyone, we're really going to sue them, really!", etc...etc...

      I'm expecting IBM to turn up to court with some big ammo; not muc

  • Aha (Score:5, Funny)

    by spakka (606417) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:15AM (#6293444)
    From the article:

    We also suggested design approaches that differ from typical Unix design approaches, to ensure our code would not resemble Unix code.

    Hence, the infamous GNU indentation style.
  • Just once... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Emmettfish (573105) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:16AM (#6293457) Homepage
    I would like to see Richard Stallman write a piece that's relevant and express a thought without four paragraphs of text explaining why he is a very important person, and his organization is very important.

    If you keep having to explain to people what the FSF and GNU are on about, then there might be something wrong with the message, not necessarily the messenger.
  • by r0b0t b0y (565885) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:16AM (#6293460)
    the condensed version of the article:
    • SCO is putting out FUD
    • it's GNU/Linux not just Linux, dammit!
    • why doesn't anyone use Hurd?
    • i am the man
  • Wrong fight RMS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoff lane (93738) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:18AM (#6293473)
    SCOs intent appears to be to widen the concept of a "derived work" to encompass eveything that behaves, looks or even smells like Unix.

    If sucessful GNU software would not be immune. SCO actually claim that code written by 3rd parties is theirs if it's written to a Unix API...

    They are a bunch of landgrabbing carpet-baggers.
    • by twitter (104583) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:16PM (#6294495) Homepage Journal
      SCOs intent appears to be to widen the concept of a "derived work" to encompass eveything that behaves, looks or even smells like Unix.

      This is what the Free Software Foundation is all about. SCO, M$ and friends continue their fight to own all ideas. It's what motivated RMS and others to create the free software movement in the early 80's. ATT tried to grab control of other people's work through the use of NDAs. SCO's suit is an audatious attempt to further extend ATT's land grab to independent works by anyone even vaugly familiar with OS concepts ATT develped. ATT was stupid then and lost. SCO is insane today, but they can get away with it if they can dumb down the world with talk of "intelectual property" instead of copyright, patents and trademarks and no one bothers to correct them.

      RMS figured out this game years ago, which is why his article is dead on target. It's a good article to show anyone who's interested in free software, afraid of the SCO lawsuit, but only has the average 15 minutes to get their news. Show it to your boss if he asks. If your boss is really into the mess, show them the OSI detailed refutation. Stallman has been getting good about delivering his message in a clear and consise way.

  • He's persistent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HoloBear (677797) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:23AM (#6293519) Homepage

    You have to admire his persistence with the GNU/label, but I would have to disagree with one of the statements:

    "Linux itself is no longer essential"

    Which is just egotistical masturbation, the very nature of OSS/FS at this moment in time is focused around Linux almost exclusively in terms of press and business marketing, GNU/hurd or anything else right now could in no way compete with anything Linux has achieved, in terms of market share, popularity and rate of growth.

    Not that I don't appreciate what GNU has done, and will continue to-do, it's just that Linux is essential to the community, and OSS in general, hence the amount of heated debate.

  • a theory? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smd4985 (203677) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:24AM (#6293522) Homepage
    ok, lets try to make sense of a few interesting facts and see if we can find an explanation:

    1) MS hates Linux (it is a 'cancer')
    2) MS licensed some code from SCO, granting some force to SCO's claims and giving them more money to pursue their lawsuit against IBM
    3) SCO will not produce the evidence prior to the case - the offensive Linux code will be kept under wraps until trial time

    I think that MS and SCO want to spread FUD for as long as possible, knowing full well that this case won't get anywhere. Even if they do win in court, they are withholding the offensive code because they know once they present it, the Linux community will up and change it. If they were to present it now, Linux can move merrily along (though IBM may still be liable to damages). They want to hurt the GNU/Linux movement for as long as possible though.
    • by Bull999999 (652264) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:48AM (#6293715) Journal
      I believe that Sun may have more to gain from SCO FUD than M$. SCO even made comments were even M$ OSes may have violated its IP by have trace of UNIX-likeness. SCO stated that Sun is only one who is free and clear from any future law suit, the fact that Sun itself like to flaunt. Think about it.

      At first, Sun bashed Linux. When it seemed like Linux was here to say, they decided to praise it and started producing Linux products. After the SCO law suit, Sun jumped on the SCO FUD bandwagon and pushed its products over Linux and AIX as the safe alternative. Iâ(TM)ve decided that from now on, Iâ(TM)ll trust Sun as much as Iâ(TM)ll trust M$.
  • No not again. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:24AM (#6293524) Homepage Journal
    Please RMS get off the GNU/Linux soapbox. Yes GNU tools are in Linux. But then I use GNU tools on my XP box so should I call it GNU/Windows.

    RMS did not invent open source or free software. The first programer that offered to give his code to a friend did and it has been going on ever since.

    So I guess I should call the OS on my Linux box. GNU/XWindows/Apache/KDE/OpenOffice/Mozilla/LINUX?

    What RMS has fame envy. He feels that poor GNU has been forgoten. We like our GNU tools but this whole stamping of feet and chanting "GNU/LINUX" makes RMS look silly. His chance to do something positive was wasted by his little lecture on GNU/LINUX. Most non technical people will say, "Wow Linux must really have IP problems they stole GNUs code as well".

    • Re:No not again. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ryarger (69279) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:42AM (#6294212) Homepage
      > So I guess I should call the OS on my Linux box.
      > GNU/XWindows/Apache/KDE/OpenOffice/Mozilla/LINUX?

      Absolutely not.

      There are GNU/Linux systems running without XWindows
      There are GNU/Linux systems running without Apache
      There are GNU/Linux systems running without KDE
      There are GNU/Linux systems running without OpenOffice
      There are GNU/Linux systems running without Mozilla

      There are no GNU/Linux systems running without GNU software.
    • Re:No not again. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by p3d0 (42270) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:15PM (#6294488)
      The whole reason GNU has been forgotten is because it has such a dumb-ass name, complete with recursive acronymity (giggle-snort) and painfully nerdy pronunciation instructions [gnu.org].

      OTOH, Linux is a cool name (because it contains an X), and Linus doesn't care how people pronounce it.

      This is only half-joking. I think the name might really have something to do with it.

  • by Xpilot (117961) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:25AM (#6293529) Homepage

    This is how it's going to be settled : IBM sends grim looking men in black suits to SCO, and a representative named "Smith" (who looks oddly familiar) confronts Darl Mcbride.

    Smith: As you can see, we've had our eye on you for some time now, Mr. Mcbride. It seems that you've been living...two lives. In one life, you're Darl McBride, CEO of what used to be a respectable software company, you have a social security number, you pay your taxes, and you help your landlady carry out her garbage. The other life is lived in lawsuits, where you go around accusing everyone that they are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not. I'm going to be as forthcoming as I can be, Mr. McBride. You're here because we need you to cut it out. We know that you think you can get your ailing company to be bought out. Now whatever you think you know about intelluctual property laws is irrelevant. You actions are considered by the open source community to be the annoying and disruptive. My colleagues believe that I am wasting my time with you but I believe that you wish to do the right thing. We're willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start and all that we're asking in return is your cooperation in dropping your stupid lawsuits against IBM.

    Darl: Yeah. Wow, that sound like a really good deal. But I think I got a better one. How about I give you the finger... and we see you in court.

    Smith: Um, Mr. Mcbride. You disappoint me.

    Darl: You can't scare me with this Gestapo crap. We own UNIX IP rights. I want my lawyer.

    Smith: And tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is your IP rights... if your company has violated so many of our patents.

    (Smith drops a huge pile of legal papers on the desk with a thud)

    Smith: You're going to help us, Mr. McBride whether you want to or not.

    (Darl screams hysterically)

  • by hobsonchoice (680456) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:26AM (#6293540)
    I actually thought the other SCO news today was more interesting: SCO may audit IBM AIX customers [vnunet.com].

    How do SCO want to use the discovery process> Darl said: "We get to really shake things up". I don't know what was in Darl's mind when he said that, but I assumed (I'm not a lawyer though!) that discovery was supposed to be about collecting evidence not shaking up IBM's customers. I'm also unclear (the sentence doesn't parse) what Darl means by using discovery as a "vehicle" - again I thought discovery was supposed to be about collecting evidence prior to the case, not used for some other purpose. Anybody care to comment??

    There are also some more Darl (longer quotes in more context) on the same subject here [computing.co.uk].
  • by Vaulter (15500) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:27AM (#6293545)
    How much do you wanna bet that RMS is secretly hoping the SCO's suit against IBM prevails, so that no one will touch the Linux kernel with a ten foot pole.

    At that point, RMS steps in and says, "No problem, just install the HURD kernel, and continue on..."

    That entire article was basically RMS saying, "But it's only the linux _kernel_, not the system. If you put our kernel in, you are O.K."

    So much for defending _all_ GPL software.

  • by argoff (142580) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:28AM (#6293550)

    [Intellectual Property] lumps together diverse laws--copyright law, patent law, trademark law and others--which really have little in common.'"

    This is true, but in each case "intellectual property" is still a dishonest concept. With Trademarks - it is dishonest, because most trademark violations could better be covered under fraud laws where cases like suing people for painting a mickey mouse on the preschool walls is much less likely. But going after someone who claims to be IBM when they're not is still just as possible.

    Copyrights and patents monopolies are dishonest applications of property all together. Both of them restrict what others can do because "I don't have an incentive!". That is a fraud, perhaps I don't have an incentive to grow potatos unless I can rip up your yard and plant some too, perhaps I don't have an incentive to process cotton unless I can own slaves on the plantaion. This kind of logic has resulted in countless murders and atrocities for centuries. I challenge anyone to prove that they have a moral right to restrict what inventions and creative works people can copy and immitate.

  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:29AM (#6293555) Homepage Journal
    I love the way everyone who gets into this fiasco brings their own agendas to it! For RMS this is just another chance to explain why "Linux" isn't an operating system, only "GNU/Linux" is an operating system... The difference between SCO and Stallman is essentially the audience that they are bringing their agendas to, not the opportunistic way that they force their agendas into any situation that might benefit them.

    Stallman the coder is a man to be respected. Stallman the politician really needs to go away and stop hurting the cause he claims to care so much about.

    Until then, I insist everyone refer to him as "MIT/Stallman" and his project as "MIT/GNU" since he wouldn't be where he is now without the space, time, and other resources that MIT has given him over the years.

    For short, just call the OS "MIT/Linux", since "MIT/GNU/Linux" to too long. After all, that's why he says that we shouldn't bother calling it "GNU/X/BSD/Apache/MIT/CMU/DEC/HP/Sun/IBM/Red Hat/SuSE/Slackware/Debian Linux". Of course, that's just an abbreviation. The correct name lists all of the contributors and their curren email addresses as well. Credit where credit is due, after all!

    I'm going back to my MIT/Linux system now to get some work done!
  • by ProteusQ (665382) * <dontbother@NosPam.nowhere.com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:32AM (#6293582) Journal
    [My Journal from June 2, 2003]

    Allow me to go out on a limb. I'm not claiming to know what the next big thing in Linux will be. I'm thinking of what will arrive by, say, 2006: Operating Systems.

    OK, I've stated the obvious, right? No, not really.

    I either smuggly smirk or bury my head in my hands when Linux Evangelists state that Linux is an OS. It's a kernel. FreeBSD is an OS. Debian is an OS. Gentoo is an OS. It happens that Debian and Gentoo run the same kernel, and a different kernel than FreeBSD.

    In other words, the emphasis is going to shift away from what Linus, et. al., are doing with Linux to what others are making from Linux.

    Why? The Linux kernel is a groovy, funky piece of technology, and it's the heart of a movement. But hearts don't live outside of rib cages. Kernels don't run without OS's. Companies don't migrate high-end, mission critical servers to OS's that barely run the super-fast kernel beating at its center. They want -- scratch that, they need a full OS that does the job. Whether the kernel is trendy or not doesn't matter in the end.

    FreeBSD has shown that a free, stable, solid Unix-like OS system is possible. If not for its license (sorry, BSD license lovers), it might have stood a chance at the top spot in the Free OS world. Debian and Gentoo have shown the first real movement toward something like a complete OS on the Linux side, especially Debian. Deb was first, and it's still around, but it's stodgy to the point of ridiculousness (from the POV of a power user). Thank God for Gentoo.

    Sure, Gentoo may not be ready for mission critical servers simply because it offers you the latest, untested code. But power users get their candy and their popped-up engine. And how sweet it is.

    For anything that must stay up, that's when Debian wins points for its stodginess. And here's the kicker: you get to choose your kernel.

    This is the development that turned on the little light-bulb that floats above my head. This is the future of Linux.

    Think about it: Debian runs on the Linux kernel, the Hurd kernel (no chuckling, please), and the NetBSD kernel. So, which OS runs on the most hardware in the world?

    Debian! (10 points.) What does this mean? That we're moving away from a kernel-centric universe. It's not which kernel to choose from, it's which OS. A savvy sysadmin can just install Debian everywhere, choosing the kernel that fits the situation. The key phrase won't be: "I must run Linux." It will be: "I must run Debian." Choosing the kernel will secondary to getting the right OS. I doubt it will be long before Debian is joined in this effort by Gentoo or a similar project

    So, how does an OS-centric universe differ from a kernel-centric? For one, Richard Stallman might get the recognition he feels has been wrongly given to Linus. For another, "GNU" will be just as important a word as "Linux", which again will make RMS a much happier camper. On a technical level, the emphasis will shift from the sophomoric question of "Do you run Linux?" to "Which OS do you run?" Debian with a 2.2 Linux kernel. Debian with NetBSD. Gentoo with a development kernel. FreeBSD, modified with OpenBSD security, running a NetBSD kernel. Whatever. Hackerdom may offer near unlimited possibilities.

    The point is, the whole OS will finally be greater than the sum of its parts. Watch for the Linux kernel to lose prominence (slightly) as OS's that offer specific features (stability, the latest-and-greatest, etc.) begin to move to the forefront of user consciousness. Watch for a port of Gentoo to include a non-Linux kernel; watch for Debian to support a fourth kernel; watch for a commerical product that produces custom OS's based on Free and Open Source software that emphasizes the Linux kernel without excluding other options.

    Yes, Linux Evangelists will kick and scream, but for the wrong reasons. If this scenario comes to pass, the world will be filled a much better breed operating systems than we have now.


    Linux itself is no longer essential: the GNU system became popular in conjunction with Linux, but today it also runs with two BSD kernels and the GNU kernel.
    - RMS, June 23, 2003
    Nice to beat RMS to the punch. ;)

  • Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by farrellj (563) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:38AM (#6293620) Homepage Journal
    I've known RMS peripherally for years, and I am constantly impressed by him. From first hearing about the GNU project, to this article, I find him an inspiration for anyone who wants to do the right thing, and keeps on until it's done. Sometimes I don't agree with him, but I have to respect his opinion none the less.

    The world is a bit better place because of RMS.

    ttyl
    Farrell
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:48AM (#6293710)
    I find it interesting that for a while I heard little to nothing from the FSF about the whole SCO-incident. It occured to me that they must be using the same tactics as the IBM legal team, for what are now becoming obvious reasons. SCO really wants to make noise, publicity cannot be bad for them, only good.
    People who buy stocks can and will not understand the issue at hand. All they know is they hear the name SCO alot in the news, so something must be going on.
    You should help fight this too. If someone of who you know that he/she is not technical asks about SCO (since, well you seem to talk alot about linux and they have something to do with the matter too it seems), shrug, and tell them 'Isn't that some lawyer company trying to pull a scam on IBM', do NOT start talking about IP,copyright, rights to the source code etc.... Come here to /. to vent that anger and tell about the injustice. Most people here /can/ understand what you are talking about, and will agree. The (manager) person you will be talking to will NOT. He will think there's something to it since even you seem to get worked up about it, and will start reading the FUD out there, giving SCO exactly what they want, free publicity.

    I can see the replies coming in already 'How often can RMS rehash the same old story','I'll call linux whatever I want it','RMS is such a zealot','I don't know RMS but I'll whine anyway'.

    Thanks to people like RMS we HAVE a system such as GNU/Linux. It's easy to have critique, but I think very few of us were sleeping "at the office" 20 years ago coding to make a better world.
    His strict "zealotry" has made sure that at this moment it is almost certain that the GNU project is clean, since it written from an ethical perspective /not/ a "practical" one, and thus, that whatever might happen to linux, GNU can continue without it (although I truly hope that will never happen).
    Obviously it is very important to re-re-re-rehash the same old story over and over again, since people still don't get it. A bigger percentage of the slashdot crowd might, but "normal" people don't. To them it should be explained, nice and easy, what the difference between GNU/Linux and Linux is,and what exactly the word "free" entails when it comes to software. Ignorance breeds fear, and fear leads to free FUD and rising stocks.

    RMS doesn't need to call it GNU/Linux for his own personal ego. He is already a known icon. He is asking, not telling, you to honour the thought of freedom that stands behind the GNU-os, and also to honour his co-workers at the GNU foundation, and try to put them into the spotlight a bit more.

    I for one, am gratefull he spoke up, even against what I just advised here. I , in fact, did need a reminder that when people start throwing terms together in the word IP they usually don't know what they are talking about. I'm not a lawyer, and don't know exactly how all the assets like copyright, patents etc.. work, but fortunately most judges /do/ have some insight into such matters. They will indeed see throught the smoke and mirrors that SCO have made with huddling together everything under the term UNIX-IP, trying to misdirect everyone. So in court they won't stand a change. Unfortunately, they don't need to win inside a court to win, they can win outside by smearing linux and getting free publicity. If you care about GNU/Linux, it's up to you and me to make sure they don't stand a chance outside court as well. So, if anyone asks, shrug your shoulders, and act like a member of the general public... "SCO who ?"

    If all else fails, just remember, "GNU's not UNIX", and build your own little green rosetta.
  • by thoolihan (611712) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:59AM (#6293796) Homepage
    I think a lot of people are missing the point. Yes, RMS has said all of those things before. But this case demonstrates why it is important. Free software users on slashdot know the difference in GNU and Linux (I hope), but corporations do not. Therefore, a company that uses GNU/Linux on an Enterprise level may overeact and go back to proprietary software. They don't realize the problem is with one specific part of their OS.

    And as he points out in the column, it can now be replaced, if the situation were irreconcilable. I think the point of his article is that Free Software is bigger than this case and will continue.

    I think he did a fairly good job of writing that without saying "I told you so" about proprietary companies.

    -t
  • by StressGuy (472374) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:07AM (#6293899)
    "The Free Software Foundation's lawyer, Professor Moglen, believes that SCO gave permission for the community's use of the code that they distributed under the GNU GPL and other free software licenses in their version of GNU/Linux."

    This was my initial thought when the whole SCO nonsense came to light. If the sold a Linux distribution with a GPL license that included their code, isn't that the same as releasing their code under the GPL?

    I initially thought it must be an over-simplification. However, in light of the above quote, maybe it is that simple. If I were sitting on the jury for that case, that's certainly how I would see it.

  • by dark-br (473115) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:08AM (#6293905) Homepage
    Topic in #os: hey guyz, stop pickin on irix.
    <SCO> w00t! i bought unix! im gonna b so rich!
    <novell> /msg atnt haha. idiot.
    <novell> whoops. was that out loud?
    <atnt> rotfl
    <ibm> lol
    <SCO> why r u laffin at me?
    <novell> dude, unix is so 10 years ago. linux is in now.
    <SCO> wtf?
    <SCO> hey guyz, i bought caldera, I have linux now.
    <red_hat> haha, your linux sucks.
    <novell> lol
    <atnt> lol
    <ibm> lol
    <SCO> no wayz, i will sell more linux than u!
    <ibm> your linux sucks, you should look at SuSE
    <SuSE> Ja. Wir bilden gutes Linux für IBM.
    <SCO> can we do linux with you?
    <SuSE> Ich bin nicht sicher...
    <ibm> *cough*
    <SuSE> Gut lassen Sie uns vereinigen.
    * SuSE is now SuSE[UL]
    * SCO is now caldera[UL]
    <turbolinux> can we play?
    <conectiva> we're bored... we'll go too.
    <ibm> sure!
    * turbolinux is now turbolinux[UL]
    * conectiva is now conectiva[UL]
    <ibm> redhat: you should join!
    <SuSE[UL]> Ja! Wir sind vereinigtes Linux. Widerstand ist vergeblich.
    <red_hat> haha. no.
    <red_hat> lamers.
    <ibm> what about you debian?
    <debian> we'll discuss it and let you know in 5 years.
    <caldera[UL]> no one wants my linux!
    <turbolinux[UL]> i got owned.
    <caldera[UL]> u all tricked me. linux is lame.
    * caldera[UL] is now known as SCO
    <SCO> i'm going back to unix.
    <SGI> yeah! want to do unix with me?
    <SCO> haha. no. lamer.
    <novell> lol
    <ibm> snap!
    <SGI> :~(
    <SCO> hey, u shut up. im gonna sue u ibm.
    <ibm> wtf?
    <SCO> yea, you stole all the good stuff from unix.
    <red_hat> lol
    <SuSE[UL]> heraus laut lachen
    <ibm> lol
    <SCO> shutup. i'm gonna email all your friends and tell them you suck.
    <ibm> go ahead. baby.
    <SCO> andandand... i revoke your unix! how do you like that?
    <ibm> oh no, you didn't. AIX is forever.
    <novell> actually, we still own unix, you can't do that.
    <SCO> wtf? we bought it from u.
    <novell> whoops. our bad.
    <SCO> i own u. haha
    <SCO> ibm: give me all your AIX now!
    <ibm> whatever. lamer.
    * ibm sets mode +b SCO!*@*
    * SCO has been kicked from #os (own this.)

  • by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:27AM (#6294083) Homepage Journal
    Copyright, Patents and Trademarks do have enough in common to warrant the banner "Intellectual Property". They all involve a monopoly being granted on some idea, word, symbol, or process; which is to say, they grant an artificial monopoly on things which could only form a natural monopoly if they were kept as a closely guarded secret. Trade secrets are similar, but have the distinction that the information is supposed to remain secret, and there's no artificial protection against re-invention.

    Now, it's true that SCO is being fuzzy with regards to Intellectual Property. They've been making noises about vigorously protecting their "Intellectual Property", as technologists-turned-litigators are wont to do, whereas in actual practice it seems they're taking the stance, "we have enough piles of legal crap here that we're sure we can sue someone for something fairly big".

    Even so, I think Stallman's "thou shalt not use this language in this manner" decrees are not only futile and tedious, but wrong in an important respect. The perception that intangible abstractions like names, ideas, and images can be considered property is not because of widespread use of the term "Intellectual Property"; rather, I submit that the cause and effect are the other way around. After generations of ever-increasing patent, copyright and trademark restrictions, why wouldn't people start thinking in terms of "Intellectual Property"? It's a well-ingrained cultural norm by now! Copyright infringement isn't theft, but we've been treating ideas as property for so long that it's not a distinction that's clear in people's minds anymore. They'll forget it for a moment when they violate copyright for their own convenience ("it's not hurting anyone"), but people are, by and large, of the opinion that it's wrong to "steal ideas".

    It's not immediately clear to me (in the space of one Slashdot posting) how we can reverse this trend. How do we remind people that "Intellectual Property" is actually "Intellectual Privilege"? These "rights" are supposed to exist in order to benefit the public, not to protect private interests. People aren't outraged by the perpetual extension of copyright terms because they've been born in an environment where people own ideas, and it seems reasonable that people shouldn't have their property taken from them. Simply insisting that "Intellectual Property" is wrong-thinking doesn't suffice, because when you look at the law as-is, "Intellectual Property" is exactly what you have.

  • by big.ears (136789) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:50AM (#6294286) Homepage
    Unlike just about every other pundit writing on this matter, notice that RMS did not lambast SCO or try to claim that Linux is clean. Everyone who is following this case and rooting for Linux should consider this possiblility: somebody (IBM) may have stolen SCO's code. The community does not owe IBM loyalty, and should be wary of them for apparently contributing code that _at least_ could be construed by a former partner as their intellectual property. Maybe they are guiltless, and maybe this is just a SCO cash grab, but I don't owe IBM anything and will not be surprised if someone from a big corporation accidentally or purposefully contributed code that wasn't their's.
  • by heironymouscoward (683461) <heironymouscowar ... TBSDom minus bsd> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:00PM (#6294373) Journal
    Criticize RMS at your peril. This is a very smart and tough mind who understands clearly the dangers facing free software developers.
    RMS has spent the last 20 years building structures designed almost exactly to avoid this kind of debacle, in which a widely-used piece of free software falls victim to spurious but dangerously credible IP allegations. Remember Unix?
    What SCO are doing (with or without MS's help) is putting OSS at serious risk. RMS has defined a fire corridor, putting the Linux kernel on one side and all the rest on the other.
    Software is incredibly easy to mix up, we hate making boundaries and we love to apply generalistic labels. The fact is that this is a dangerous convenience. GNU (to take one example) represents a vast investment of effort. Being mixed with Linux into one convenient box is not simply frustrating for the GNU team, it also puts GNU at risk. And I don't think I would stand by and watch my life's work being put at risk without speaking out.
    RMS has the right of reply, after SCO published his misquoted text.
    Shame, shame, and more shame on those of you who do not respect this man. He is one of the geniuses of our age, a rare and valuable mind. Go home, build one good and solid tool, read the GPL, and consider what it means to dedicate your life to protecting the concept of free software.
  • by Sanity (1431) * on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:23PM (#6294558) Homepage Journal
    ...SCO's worst offense is confusing Linux with GNU/Linux!
  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:47PM (#6294753)
    Go look it up. I don't think that word means what you think it means.

    I give RMS his due resepct. They guy has done the work of a titan, and been instrumental in providing all of us with something great.

    Talking to humans is part of the job. It's just another task, you're a programmer, learn the freakin' language! So the OS you're writing for is wet, squishy, and inconsistent? Fine; it's a flaky language. But if you're going to use it, use it right.

    To all who act as spokespersons for the freedom in general and free software in particular:

    When you speak in the popular press, (ZD-Net is not 2600.com, folks!): Try not to make us look like the whackjobs!

    Really, people. How seriously does the mainstream take the Libertarian Party? How effective are they in real-world politics? Do you really want that for all of us?
  • by 3seas (184403) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:26PM (#6299056) Journal
    I don't think RMS is such a hard ass a all.

    In fact his is a bit easy going.

    A real hard ass would have a class action lawsuit going on against SCO for all the dishonest and outright intentional damage SCO is causing.

    But it is so interesting how such a short and honest article can put down and bring clairity to the endless crap in and around SCO vs. IBM...

"The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was." -- Walt West

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