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Linus Speaks Out, Calls SCO 'Cornered Rat' 598

Posted by michael
from the tell-us-what-you-really-think dept.
dexterpexter writes "In an interview with Business Week, Linux founder and guardian Linus Torvalds had, in his usual brand of blunt humor, the following to say about SCO: 'They're a cornered rat, and quite frankly, I think they have rabies to boot. I'd rather not get too close to them,' and 'There are literally several levels of SCO being wrong. And even if we were to live in that alternate universe where SCO would be right, they'd still be wrong.'" In the same issue, there's also an interview with Darl McBride where he admits that the company was failing and the Linux-related lawsuits were a last-ditch effort to prevent bankruptcy.
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Linus Speaks Out, Calls SCO 'Cornered Rat'

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  • by madprof (4723) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:13PM (#8103480)
    SCO were a few quarters away from running out of cash so...they decided to utilise their Unix IP rights, except looking at the quality of their argiument so far this looks like staggering desperation.
  • Litigious Bastards! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:18PM (#8103547) Homepage Journal

    You may remember my attempt at starting a GoogleBombing where "litigious bastards" links to SCO as the first hit. (see this /. comment [slashdot.org].) Anyhow, in my journal ArmenTanzarian (210418) [slashdot.org] noted that it's working now!

    Way to go! It's a good day for slashdot and the net as a whole.
  • Regardless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hackstraw (262471) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:18PM (#8103551)
    of the whole "cornered rat" thing. This choice Q&A tells all:
    Q: Then who are you going to sue?
    A: The honest answer is we don't know. Conceivably, if everyone steps up and buys a license, we don't need to.

    Hopefully and finally SCOX will now start showing the true worth of the company. BTW, does anyone know what the top execs have cleared thus far from this scam? Was it worth it and is this going to be an unforunate part of doing business like SPAM?
  • by HealYourChurchWebSit (615198) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:20PM (#8103578) Homepage


    The BusinessWeek/Information Technology/Online Extra [businessweek.com] is pretty slick. As I read it, it appears that if McBribe is a cornered rat, then it's by his own devices.

    Within 30 days he leaps into action. He then sandbags IBM after he sends out a Shareholder's letter ... ... I mean, usually you don't play such a public game unless you've failed at some backroom negotiation. Not the case here, according to the interview.

    Then he get's all pissy, claming IBM goes ballistic when Big Blue flexes it's muscles.

    The more I read about this the more and more it's clear to me that McBribe isn't leading this company into profitability, but a death march ... ... but not until he first sucks out ever red cent from any possible revenue stream without actually creating any new product, or continually modifying the old one.

    Sounds to me like SCO has no one to blame but themselves here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:21PM (#8103587)
    "They say if you want to get into an argument at the dinner table, start a conversation about religion or politics. I would argue that Linux is a cross between religion and politics."

    This is the first intelligent thing I have heard Darl say throughout this process.
  • by JesseL (107722) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:21PM (#8103592) Homepage Journal
    Anyone notice Darl's comment toward the end of the interview?
    What's odd to people is you have SCO against the world on one level. On another level, you have intellectual-property people who think operating systems shouldn't be free in our camp, and you have people over there who think operating systems should be free in IBM's camp.

    This guy actually believes in a blanket statement like that?
  • Lies, damn lies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by strictnein (318940) * <<moc.oohay> <ta> <todhsals-ooftcirts>> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:22PM (#8103605) Homepage Journal
    Darl:
    In concept it was great, it wasn't until December when we came out and said here's where the problems are with Linux, and we have a program where you can deal with that.

    Q: What was the reception to that?
    A: It seemed everyone in the industry was either positive or neutral to that, except for IBM. IBM had a violent reaction to it, even though it wasn't targeted directly at them.


    Everyone was either positive or neutral to it? What are you smoking today Darl? Give me an f'en break.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:26PM (#8103663)
    Concievably, if everyone steps up and buys a license, we don't need to.

    This is absolutely hilarious when you consider that if you are one of the hypothetical companies that actually bought a license, SCO's response has been to threaten you with more litigation.

    SCO is basically treating "UNIXWare Licensees" as "people we can stomp all over". Recently they sent a letter to all of their licensees stating that they have to prove they aren't using a version of linux that contains SCO code-- thus opening themselves up to a lawsuit if this can be shown to be wrong-- or lose their license.

    Now, think about this-- SCO is saying publicly that if you buy a UNIXWare License, you get to use the linux infected with hypothetical SCO code without fear of lawsuit. Then when they buy one, you demand you stop using the linux infected with hypothetical SCO code or face a lawsuit!

    WTF?
  • "Levels of lies" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GreenCrackBaby (203293) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:26PM (#8103669) Homepage
    The whole SCO case really is just one level of lies built onto another, just as Linus claims. My wife is in law school specializing in intellectual property law, and even she couldn't make any sense out of what I told her about the case. Bascially my explination went something like this, "Even if this were true, which it isn't, that would imply this, which isn't true, but even if that was true, ...."

    They've dug such a web of lies and confusion, and I think that is actually helping them keep their garbage claims going for so long!
  • by itomato (91092) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:28PM (#8103691)
    But really - how long can you expect anyone, no matter how mild-mannered, level-headed, etc., they may be - to tolerate such behavior on such a SCALE?

    This is a seed that has been germinating in the computing underbelly since Linus posted to comp.minix.announce.

    The world's largest, most influential software manufacturers are duking it out over one of the next major milestones in computing.

    It's a noble thing to ignore spit, sticks, and stones,, but nobler still to stand your ground and speak the truth when the time is right.

    Ask *them* why they are paying for software. They just don't know that it's out there for free. It grows on the only tree they are aware of - CompUSA, BestBuy, etc.

    Mention "no more" in connection to these items:
    Ad ware
    Spy ware
    $450 word processors
    Viruses (mostly)
    and most importantly, you can look under the hood to see what and who is doing what with the computer in *YOUR* living room.

    The times - they are a changin'..

  • If {} else {} (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:34PM (#8103761)
    If their right... And there is indeed some code in the kernel that doesn't belong there, than I'd agree with them. As it would undermine the 'GPL'-ness of the kernel. So in this case I feel there should come a 'clean' kernel. There would be nothing wrong with asking a licence for the 'contaminated' kernel.
    But, because it is Open Source, the should just be able to say: "look guys, starting from line xx to line yy the code in the linux file is exactly the same as line zz in our file...". However it looks like they can't.
    So I'm going with the else part.
    Hoping they go bancrupt soon, so this will all go away...
  • Poker game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ch-chuck (9622) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:35PM (#8103780) Homepage
    it's almost like a poker bluff - they're betting like they have a great hand, hoping the others will fold, cut their losses and just let SCO have what's in the pot. However, they didn't realize there's some old timers at the table with deep pockets willing to see their bet and call them on it. Eventually SCO is going to have to show their hand.
  • by kburkhardt (664593) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:45PM (#8103879)
    You don't go all in in Texas Hold'em when your cards suck and your opponent is obligated to call your bluff.

    Is Darl really bluffing, or is there something we're missing? Linus did not code the entire kernel all by himself - what if someone slipped some copied code in there and passed it off as orginal? Possible?

    What if, to use Linus' map maker example against him, SCO has found a code bug that in Linux that matches a code bug they own?

    As someone said in previous Slashdot comment, Darl is betting the bank. As a CEO, you only do that when it's your only option, when your case is rock solid, or when you intend to defraud the public. Which is it, Darl?
  • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:56PM (#8104017) Homepage
    I think it's just that Linus uses shorthand abbreviations and slang.

    "Linux doesn't have any SCO IP" would be quoted as "Linux doesn't have any [intellectual property belonging to SCO]".

    "I couldn't automate a grep through my mail store" would be quoted as "I couldn't automate a [search through my saved email messages]".

    steveha
  • by LehiNephi (695428) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:04PM (#8104158) Journal
    Q: Have you had direct talks with customers yet?
    A: Very carefully over the last quarter, instead of sending out mass invoices, we stepped very carefully and really had a lot of direct one-on-one meetings with 15 or so companies. In the process of doing that, we learned a lot. We listened. We talked. And we went back and forth. About 20% of those companies signed licenses with us.


    That means 3 companies signed licenses. MS, and who else? That's not a stellar record.

    And now, something from the article I didn't know before:

    Q: Do you think that any copyright or patent-protected Unix code has actually found its way into Linux?
    A: Unlikely. There are now a number of people who have access to both Unix sources and Linux code, and literally written automated tools to find similarities. They found something like 30 lines from [Silicon Graphics, SGI ] that were dubious and that had been removed already.


    I hadn't known that there were people with access to Unix source that were working on this. I guess now we know that there isn't unix code in Linux, contributed by IBM or otherwise. We don't have to wait for SCO to 'produce' (read: falsify) evidence. As far as I'm concerned, case closed.
  • by mattdm (1931) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:06PM (#8104184) Homepage
    Polite letters to CNN are probably in order. The line you've quoted is hardly the worst in that article -- the bit about "takes the Linux Wars to a new intensity" and so on is shameful.
  • by parlyboy (603457) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:07PM (#8104190)
    [A number of files SCO claims to own] were written from scratch for Linux.... SCO also doesn't hold any copyrights to the BSD code [software developed at the University of California at Berkeley that SCO says contained copyrighted material that was passed on to Linux], nor is it actually in [SCO's version of Unix]. So SCO is wrong.

    The [use of brackets to indicate editorial summary] throughout the [BusinessWeek interview with Linus] is a little [excessive]... I [really wonder] what the [uneditted transcript] looked like. For all we know, [Linus] could have said [bite me Darl you little weasel].
  • intellectual-property people who think operating systems shouldn't be free

    Read: Microsoft. IMHO that was a *direct* reference to them

  • Re:Lies, damn lies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zathrus (232140) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:10PM (#8104232) Homepage
    There are actually a couple of much better quotes. Note that the December he's speaking of was Dec. 2002, not 2003. At that point SCO wasn't getting much press, not even here (I believe there was a story, but not much of one).

    The better quotes?

    McBride: We spent two weeks talking to IBM about how we could work together, and that didn't get anywhere.

    IBM (written statement): SCO did not give IBM any notice or warning of them prior to filing its lawsuit.

    And...

    Q: So your lawyers are talking to their [Google's] lawyers?
    A: We've got a team that's engaged in going back and forth.


    A Google spokesman says the search giant has not discussed with SCO its demands.

    So, how, exactly, are they going back and forth? Is your team going to Google, asking to talk to someone, being told to shove off, and coming back? That's not "back and forth". That's humiliation.

    And, finally...

    We came out last summer and put out some code that the Linux community on one hand said, preposterous, that's [Berkeley software]. On the other hand, some people in the Linux community said, hold on, you may have some copyright issues there....

    The code that I saw was under the BSD license and/or in the public domain. The ties back to SysV had been severed repeatedly. The SGI code was removed shortly after it was put in place and isn't in any current kernel or distro, and hasn't been for a long time. There is no copyright issue -- copyright law would only allow you to get a court order to cease infringement, which is exactly what happened.

    So, exactly what is he talking about here? Or is it just all spin and the same BS we've been seeing for months now? SCO would be well advised to stick to the small bits of their case that they might have a chance with (namely contract breech with IBM)... but, of course, those don't have anywhere near the payoff they need.
  • M$ connection (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TastelessGarbage (598415) * on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:15PM (#8104314)
    The two best things about the article: First, it immediately points out that shortly after Darl came on board, his primary focus was to start up the litigation machine. Second, it spends a good chuck of time making a persuasive case for the M$-SCO connection. Very good article in a well-respected forum for those who have not paid close attention to this fiasco.
  • About 20% of those companies signed licenses with us.

    That means 3 companies signed licenses. MS, and who else? That's not a stellar record.

    He said 'about'. MS signed one and Sun signed another. Apparently, 2/15ths is about 20%.

    Seems like par for the course for Darl.

  • Tax write off (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:26PM (#8104463)
    I don't think anyone has purchased an SCO license with the intention of really using it, certainly no one big enough that SCO couldn't just return their money. If (when) SCO loses the case, the company is just going to fold. They've pissed off too many people to ever do business again. Look at how they destroyed United Linux. Who in their right mind would have anything to do with a company that does crap like that? When a company folds like that, it just about impossible to get your money back. It'd probably cost more in lawyers than it's worth. Going after Darl's not going to happen. He's too well shielded by corporate law (you'd have to prove he knew his claims where bogus, which is very hard). So you're not gonna get your money that way.

    Besides, right now lawyers are running the show over at SCO. You really think they're gonna let the licensees get paid before they do? Once that company folds, the lawyers get paid first, probably creditors next and then anyone who threatens to sue last.

  • by ScottGant (642590) <scott_gant@sbcglobal.n e t N OT> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:28PM (#8104485) Homepage
    Darl said in the interview: On the other hand, some people in the Linux community said, hold on, you may have some copyright issues there.... There are 2.5 million servers out there today that have this code in it. When are Linux customers going to clean that stuff up? So that's one issue, Linux is tainted, even by their own admission.

    Where's he pulling this from? Who in the Linux community said it was tainted? Any links to these statements?

    Or is he just pulling this out of his ass?
  • by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:03PM (#8104936)
    In all these cases, if Darl shows this evidence in court, before the next session of the lawsuit takes place there will be a completely clean kernel created by a squadron of raving penguins. At that point the question can be asked: why wasn't linux supposed to know this in May 2003, it would have taken the same amount to fix it?

    However fucked the US legal system is, such a case in point should raise a few eyebrows about SCO's real motives.

  • by not_anne (203907) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:06PM (#8104981)
    It is very interesting that Darl & Co haven't yet mentioned this new worm. Why? Perhaps Darl & Co put it out there in the first place to make SCO look even more like a victim of the eeeeevil open source community.

    Food for thought (if nothing more).

    n/a
  • 3 licensees (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moojin (124799) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:33PM (#8105304)
    "Q: Have you had direct talks with customers yet?
    A: Very carefully over the last quarter, instead of sending out mass invoices, we stepped very carefully and really had a lot of direct one-on-one meetings with 15 or so companies. In the process of doing that, we learned a lot. We listened. We talked. And we went back and forth. About 20% of those companies signed licenses with us."

    20% of 15 = 3.0
  • by Enahs (1606) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @09:33PM (#8107540) Journal
    In my experience, most Linux crashes are caused by faulty hardware. Many of the rest have been caused by development-level kernels. This includes various releases of Red Hat.

    Take that, EE major. You're supposed to be smart enough to figure this out on your own.

    For that matter, most crash-prone Windows machines have been "crashy" due to poor hardware setup/faulty hardware. And from experience, if you're looking for a stable Linux distribution, Red Hat ought to be one of your last choices. YMMV.

  • Re:Tax write off (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RedWizzard (192002) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:18PM (#8108033)
    If (when) SCO loses the case, the company is just going to fold.
    IBM's countersuits are the kicker. McBride has admitted that SCO have nothing of value except the Unix IP. If IBM get high enough damages against SCO then SCO will be forced to sell the Unix IP or give it to IBM.

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