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Caldera Software Linux

Linux Kernel Code May Have Been in SCO UnixWare 455

Posted by timothy
from the hard-to-say-sonny-hard-to-say dept.
Random BedHead Ed writes "Groklaw has some interesting new information online. In an entry today, PJ has posted the Deposition of Erik W. Hughes (PDF), a SCO employee. Hughes' 2004 testimony reveals that the Linux Kernel Personality (LKP) of UnixWare somehow used kernel code. Exactly how it was used is not clear. UnixWare was released under a proprietary license, but the General Public License under which Linux is distributed requires derivative works to use the same license. As PJ says, it's "now apparent why SCO tried to say the GPL is unconstitutional" back in 2003."
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Linux Kernel Code May Have Been in SCO UnixWare

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  • Karma (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adam.conf (893668) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:40PM (#13283121)
    Haha, who says there's no such thing as karma... It's just poetic justice that SCO gets what they deserve.
  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:47PM (#13283153) Journal
    Now they'll be sued into oblivion, some more.

    I can't see this forcing the UnixWare kernel to be relicensed under the GPL though, especially since some of the code couldn't be GPL'd even if they wanted. It'd just make them quite a bit more liable for copyright infringement than they already were. Since the offending code was supposedly removed over 2 years ago, they could easily claim the infringement was accidental and they made a best effort to remedy it, short of notifying the copyright owners.
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:48PM (#13283162) Homepage Journal
    ...but honestly, did anyone not see this coming?

    The dumbest part is that they probably could've used BSD code (eg FreeBSD's Linux emulation layer) and done it legally.

  • by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:49PM (#13283172) Homepage Journal

    This being true, I really don't see why SCO suddenly went on the offensive against Linux. Surely they would have known scrutiny would have come their way, and these violations of their own would have been brought to light.

    Unless, of course, the knowledge wasn't available at the time SCO decided to start going after Linux because they hadn't properly audited their own code base to ensure they were on the clearest possible ground internal ground before starting to attack the legitimacy of others code bases.

  • by EssenceLumin (755374) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:52PM (#13283184)
    Well they just released the first major new version of their os in 9 years and it has tons of open source software on it. No doubt the open source parts ane NOT under another license but under the GPL. They do have lawyers who would at least spot that major headache.
  • by guaigean (867316) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:53PM (#13283189)
    I think that when Darl came on board, he simply saw it as the best defense being a good offense, and hoped scare tactics would work. After all, with the similarity in the OS's, the odds of finding a single line of similar code seem high. Plus, I seriously doubt he imagined IBM would take this as such a serious battle. Here we are years later with a possible end in sight, and perhaps some due karma being paid.
  • by SirSlud (67381) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:56PM (#13283201) Homepage
    At this point, I pity the person who cares. Build. I don't understand rehashing shit thats so old. UnixWare still exists. Linux still exists. Even if this was a heinous crime, what a waste of market resources. Just suck it up and create.
  • by dmaxwell (43234) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:58PM (#13283216)
    The FSF doesn't hold title to much if any of the Linux kernel. Once it is known in detail which code was misappropriated then we can talk about who has standing to sue. Linus probably has standing regardless.
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:02PM (#13283228)
    It would be fantastic if the source code to UnixWare was forced to be released due to this. Indeed, UnixWare was a great PC UNIX in the early to mid 1990s. But unfortunately it has stagnated since then.

    A GPL'ed UnixWare would be amazing for what remains of the UnixWare community. It could be brought up to date and made useful again. It could provide some competition to Linux, the BSDs and Solaris on smaller servers.

    It would be interesting, however, to see Novell's take on this.

  • Making cool stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ansible (9585) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:14PM (#13283290) Journal

    Well, I sort of agree with the sentiment. We probably do spend too much time talk about the SCOundrels and not as much making cool stuff.

    But we have to keep in mind it is the SCOundrels, M$, and the copyright cartel who are intent on taking away from us all the tools we use to make cool stuff.

    So I recommend we pay at least some attention to these matters.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:20PM (#13283316)
    Bad Guys are Shmucks.

    Bad Guys don't like to fix the problems within themselves, because that's hard and scary work. So instead, and this is what makes them Bad Guys, they pretend that they're perfect and that the world outside them is imperfect. This is much easier to do, probably because it doesn't actually change anything. Changing things takes work. Wishful Thinking only takes Wishful Thinking.

    Where it gets ugly is when the world says, "Uh, no, actually. You're living in an illusion and you're the ugly one. Sorry, but that's the objective reality of the situation."

    When faced with this, the Bad Guy has a problem; S/he has to either fess up or fall into even more aggressive denial of the subject in order to placate themselves. Fessing up gets progressively more difficult to do as you train your brain to work in certain ways; those synaptic pathways get wider the more you use them. So typically, the classic Bad Guy will then villainize the people or things which are telling them how things really stand. And in the end if it goes far enough, the Bad Guy will actually go out and try to destroy the things or people which are making them look stupid as stupid as they are. --Usually while crying, "Evil!" or some such clattering nonsense.

    The fascinating thing about it is that the Bad Guy has practiced hard at pretending fake realities into view while deliberately not seeing what's right in front of them. They are adept ignorers, and thus have horribly atrophied senses of awareness. This is they miss the obvious, like embarrassing code in their own products while hypocritically crying foul. The more Bad a Bad Guy is, the more incredibly stupid and weak-minded they become.

    But even more interesting is the fact that when faced with evidence of such blatant crimes, the Bad Guy is no more able now than before to fess up to the fact that they are Bad Guys. They'll try to rationalize, and indeed lie outright that they are the ones being maligned. Where it gets interesting is that a Good Guy, (or the general public), who would be horribly embarrassed at being shown such evidence of hypocritical behavior, would turn red and fess up immediately. --That's the behavior they understand and automatically expect to see in others. So when the Bad Guy is incapable of displaying that behavior, the Good Guy automatically thinks, "Well, shit, he's not embarrassed at all! So he MUST be telling the truth!"

    Weird, eh?

    For a broad-scale working example of the above, look at the current U.S. administration and it's supporters.


  • by pete6677 (681676) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:35PM (#13283374)
    This is the exact reason why Microsoft bought those SCO "Linux licenses". It funded a 2 year FUD campaign much more powerful than anything Microsoft could have done under their own name, and no doubt scared litigation-conscious companies away from Linux and into the safe arms of Microsoft. I think they have now lost all credibility and will be filing Chapter 11 within a year, but it was great publicity for Microsoft while it lasted.
  • No, it doesn't. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beldraen (94534) < minus pi> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:41PM (#13283399)
    It may create uncertainty in companies that have never thought about this issue, but it certainly isn't anything new for those that are aware of I.P. issues. I was a programmer for my last company. The issue was simple: you don't copy code from outside unless you can document without a doubt where it was comming from. Even then, it was usually better to observe the idea and clean room develop the library. Unfortunately, most code is crap and following basic coding practices is beyond many programmers. So, it was usually better to create it in-house, anyways.
  • by punkass (70637) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:57PM (#13283464)
    It doesn't matter what the other person is holding if you can scare them into folding...
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:03PM (#13283495)
    ... is a good offense?
  • by Pete (2228) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:07PM (#13283509)
    Damn my far-too-revealing four-digit ID. :)

    I had great trouble trying to work out if I should feel offended or contemptuous or just amused by that SCO email excerpt - but "amused" won in the end.

    It is kind of an offensive term, but I guess you need to have some respect for a person's opinion in order to be offended by them. And the fact that they couldn't even spell their own disparaging term... well.

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:17PM (#13283549)
    "Can anyone tell me why the GPL could be unconstitutional?"

    A Constitutional Amendment could be passed that rescinds protections that are currently granted under copyright law, or that supersedes contract law in its current form. Then the doctrine of "ex post facto" could be abandoned.

    Seriously, this is what would be required in order to make "the GPL" "unconstitutional".

    The GPL is simple enough that any attack on it must also be applicable to any other software license that grants distribution rights under copyright law. That's pretty much all of them.

    Do you think Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, Sony, Apple, or anyone else is willing to let that happen, even if there were a plausible scenario under which it could happen?

  • by Phantom100 (216058) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:18PM (#13283552)
    As far as I know MS did not buy "Linux licenses", they bought a Unix license. There's no need to confuse the issue anymore than what it already is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:55PM (#13283687)
    what's even sadder is that Caldera OpenLinux was actually pretty good. i liked it, i thought the install was pretty well done... .

    one thing that needs to be remembered is that Darl's gang is *nothing* like what the original SCO or Caldera used to be... the name may be the same but there's no genetic connection, like some scheming stranger adopting the name of someone reputable to commit some scam... . hrm.

  • by sect0r0 (665061) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:21PM (#13283802) Journal
    They didn't go after Linux. Let's be clear. They went after where the money is. They went after IBM, probably in hopes of being bought. Now it is dragging out far longer than they expected and yet they are holding on, hoping for some slick ride through the court system where perhaps they'll still win a judgement and the jackpot. SCO you are a sham company and a canard spouting bunch of fools, doomed to go down in history as one of many useless companies that bogged down the judicial system and wasted other coorporations dollars on frivalous lawsuits. Jimmy Stewart said it best in Its a Wonderful Life, "Well, it doesn't, Mr. Potter. In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider"
  • by mollog (841386) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:27PM (#13283834)
    I think that SCO should be sued for filing a frivolous lawsuit, a bad-faith lawsuit. They violated copyright law, then attempted to claim that others had violated their copyrights.

    Darl should be held personally liable along with the lawyers involved.
  • by FLAGGR (800770) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:33PM (#13283861)
    you can tell Linux has used Unix code (mainly their apps) by just using their programs. Some dude sitting at his computer probably noticed the similiarity between every POSIX *nix implementation and Linux.

    Dude, you can't tell that the source is the same by running a program, shut up. Especially since this is talking about Linux, a fucking KERNEL. Linux isn't the apps. Most 'Linux' distro's use the GNU suite of apps. Also, "some dude sitting at his computer" doesn't have sco's unixware installed. And that bit about Microsoft stealing source - I'm sorry, I love hating on Microsoft, but that just shows how much of an idiot you are. If your talking about the code they took from BSD, that was perfectly legal and morally fine, since it was under the BSD license, which permits it.

    Also, it seems this time it isn't "SCO says Linux contains their proprietory code.",but "SCO may have Linux code."
    Good job sherlock, I couldn't have gathered it by the title of the article.

    I have no idea how you got moderated interesting. The only thing interesting about your post was its showcasing of how idiots will post when they have no clue what they're talking about. Your nickname (WindozeSux) say's alot about your intelligence, by the way.
  • by Sparr0 (451780) <> on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @12:01AM (#13283963) Homepage Journal
    I am sure someone will point out, incorrectly, that the linux kernel has no retail value. The retail value of a GPL'd copy of the linux kernel is zero, or nearly so, but the key here is that they are not complying with the GPL. That means what they are distributing has an indeterminate retail value. If you put an unencumbered (read: released to public domain by every rights holder) copy of the linux kernel up on ebay I imagine it would pull in a number with a not-insignificant number of zeros on the end.
  • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv,vadiv&neverbox,com> on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @12:55AM (#13284143) Homepage
    No, you two are confused. The problem isn't with the kernel, it's with the LKP.

    While the hypothetical Linux code in the LKP may or may make the SCO kernel GPL, it most certainly makes the LKP GPL.

    Which it is not. That's the GPL violation, right there.

    For what it's worth, I don't think a court would find a GPL LKP 'contaminates' the SCO kernel, either. 95% of the LKP just has to be stubs to the SCO kernel that SCO wrote. If the other 5% is Linux code, it's probably fairly self-contained.

    Not that I'm entirely sure there is actually any Linux code in there, and I think everyone's getting a bit ahead of themselves. Yes, SCO has said several things like that, but they've also said several things not like that. Going by what SCO says is useless.

    And there are very few things that actually could be copied and make sense. Almost everything in Linux is done via glibc, of which they use a legal copy of in Unixware to link with Linux programs. The kernel module is just to translate glibc Linux kernel calls into Unixware. (Why they just didn't hack glibc to work on Unixware I do not know.)

    So basically any copied code would have to be to support a serious feature that Unixware was missing but glibc required.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @01:41AM (#13284284) Journal
    Wouldn't it be something if some hotheaded CEO saw this and thought it was the other way around?

    I mean if darl and company saw they had linux code in thier kernel and because of poor record keeping decided thier basis for going after IBM. Then after discovering whats going on, they have to follow thru to attempt to save face. It would be like one of those "who shot JR" type of sceenes were it was all a dream and nothign happened at all.
  • by kasperd (592156) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @01:56AM (#13284325) Homepage Journal
    Putting Stallman on the stand is about the only way to fuck the case up.

    Don't send a hacker to do a lawyers job. Even if FSF were to get involved, it doesn't have to involve RMS []. Send Eben Moglen [], he'd probably do a good job.
  • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @02:58AM (#13284465) Homepage
    It's completely absurd from a legal point of view though. A great many licenses like the BSD licenses, which require even less of the licensee (let's not start another flamewar over "freer" here) have been through the courts and upheld. There's no case of "almost-but-not-quite-public-domain" licenses being nullified. And even if they were, they'd return to the default. And under US law, the Berne convention and so on that means copyrighted, not public domain. If they had gotten their way, you'd see pigs flying and an ice skating party in hell.

  • by mslinux (570958) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @09:10AM (#13285402)
    RMS: "Judge. Notice that I did not say 'Your Honor' because I do not honor the authority that you claim to hold. Furthermore, I will not place my hand on a Bible and pledge anyhthing to you as the Bible is a book of fairy tales and fables for which I hold no respect. And..."

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre