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SCO Fiasco Over For Linux, Starting For Solaris? 264

Posted by Zonk
from the wheel-turns-turns-turns dept.
kripkenstein writes "We have just heard that the SCO fiasco is finally going to end for Linux. But Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at DesktopLinux.com points out that the favorable result for Linux may cause unpleasant consequences for rival open-source operating system OpenSolaris: 'At one time, Sun was an SCO supporter ... Sun's Jonathan Schwartz — then Sun VP of software and today Sun's president and CEO — said in 2003 that Sun had bought "rights equivalent to ownership" to Unix. SCO agreed. In 2005, SCO CEO Darl McBride said that SCO had no problem with Sun open-sourcing Unix code in what would become OpenSolaris. "We have seen what Sun plans to do with OpenSolaris and we have no problem with it," McBride said. "What they're doing protects our Unix intellectual property rights." Sun now has a little problem, which might become a giant one: SCO never had any Unix IP to sell. Therefore, it seems likely that Solaris and OpenSolaris contains Novell's Unix IP.'"
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SCO Fiasco Over For Linux, Starting For Solaris?

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  • by Novell$699FeeTroll (1141325) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @02:20PM (#20197229)
    Don't forget ...to pay US your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.
    • by SIGALRM (784769) *
      Classic! I wondered where you were, if that's you s/SCO/Novell troll guy.

      I don't see Novell clawing for its very survival using the legal system to extort F/OSS users. Well, I hope I'm right anyway.
  • by LinDVD (986467) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @02:27PM (#20197267)
    Now that the Novell ruling has been handed down, reaffirming that Novell owns the copyrights Caldera Systems claimed and wished to have had, most of McBride's public statements are now worth less than zero. Before the judgment, there was some intangible value in the FUD factor, especially for Microsoft (and maybe SUN Microsystems).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Maserati (8679)
      Nahh, Novell didn't get a ruling that says they owned it (they have some, UC Regents has some, some is public domain). This ruling just says that SCO got exactly none of what Novell had, however much that may have been - which probably isn't much, the UNIX copyrights are a horrible mess that no one in their right mind would dig into (or sue over).
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        "the UNIX copyrights are a horrible mess that no one in their right mind would dig into (or sue over)"

        Oh, great - the insanity defense ... :-)

        ... because the stupidity defense won't work, and the truth that they're a bunch of lying cheating swindling dickheads [trolltalk.com] (do NOT click!) will hang them.

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @02:44PM (#20197403) Journal

      It's not really about the FUD, though. The real question is whether Novell will sue Sun or not for misappropriating their intellectual property by open sourcing OpenSolaris. My guess is probably not. I don't think Novell has anything to gain from it. They aren't making money off UNIX, really. They seem to have bet the farm on Linux and were willing to defend it against companies trying to bury it (because their livelihood depends on it), but I'm not convinced they'd stoop so low as to pull a SCO themselves and try to sue away the competition. That's just not how responsible businesses operate.

      Besides, Novell isn't really making money off of Linux, either. They're making money off their higher level bits---bits that run on both Linux and Solaris. Thus, suing Sun would actually be hurting Novell. That would be pretty silly.

      Of course, I'd love to see Novell drive a stake through SCO by releasing the UNIX copyrights into the public domain, but I don't see it happening. Would be fun to watch, though.

      • by AaronW (33736)
        I could see Novell using this to the advantage of Linux. For example, they could require that Sun allow ZFS and some of the other Solaris technologies be made available under the GPL as well. (I personally would love to see Linux gain a filesystem with some of the features built into ZFS like snapshots).

        -Aaron
        • Yeah, but then you have the problem of Andrew Morton saying those bits will NEVER be in the Linux kernel.

          Of course, "never" is a long time...and it may end up not being Andrew's call.

        • by geoff lane (93738)
          ZFS is already available for BSD and there is a useland implementation for Linux. How much more open do you need?
           
          • by AaronW (33736)
            Userland ZFS isn't all that interesting as a Linux file system due to the big performance hit. I would like to see it as a kernel module, though I think it would require some major changes to the LVM layer, which I think was one of the complaints about Reiser4.

            A userland file system is really only useful if performance is not a requirement. I.e. NTFS-3G is great for those times where access to a NTFS partion is required.

            I'm not saying that ZFS is perfect, far from it. Some key features are not fully impleme
            • by rbanffy (584143)
              I don't think the performance hit is that big. Compared to SATA disks, most CPUs are more than fast enough.

              What I don't like about userland ZFS is that it looks like a kludge. File system access should be deeper in the OS than the userspace.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mgv (198488) *

            ZFS is already available for BSD and there is a useland implementation for Linux. How much more open do you need?

            Its not the more open that you need. You need less open for ZFS to make it part of linux.

            Once Apple adopts ZFS as well as BSD it won't be long before it goes to linux.

            I do realise that this post sits on a fine line between insightful, troll and flamebait - but bear in mind I'm just commenting on how most good user features on OS X are now also available on Linux. And apple does have a way of ma

        • In what universe is do you live? Sun bought their "equivalent to ownership" license from AT&T before Novell bought the rights to Unix. Novell can't litigate anything against Sun with regards to Unix and OpenSolaris. And thus they would have a hard time winning such a lawsuit, taking singular ownership of the OpenSolaris code base and then releasing any of it under a different license.
        • by lokedhs (672255)
          No, they couldn't. ZFS is 100% Sun's code, and the "derivative ownership" theory was already (is already being) sunk in the SCO vs. IBM case.
      • by sloanster (213766)
        > Of course, I'd love to see Novell drive a stake through SCO by releasing the UNIX copyrights into the public domain

        Why abandon it to the public domain? What a waste. Better to put it under the protection of the GPL.
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          I'd settle for a BSD license. GPL is too restrictive. UNIX should be everywhere, and removing licensing burdens would be a good step towards that.

      • Better yet, Novell should assign the UNIX copyrights to the Free Software Foundation or the Linux Foundation. Perhaps then they could begin to earn back the trust of the FOSS community.
      • It's not really about the FUD, though. The real question is whether Novell will sue Sun or not for misappropriating their intellectual property by open sourcing OpenSolaris.

        As I understand it, Sun's "rights equivalent to ownership" claim relates to a purchase of rights from AT&T that predates either the SCO or Novell claims on Unix IP; while sun officials may have stated opinions about the validity of SCOs claims, I don't think those statements (or, for the same reason, the ruling against SCO) have any

      • Sun paid SCO $10M for those "rights". SCO owes most of that money to Novell (and more). Novell will likely never get their money from SCO and they should make Sun feel some of the pain too. After all Sun failed in their due dilligance with regard to the IP rights they bought. Any competent lawyer can plainly see that there was no written conveyance of the copyrights to SCO. Sun should have known what they were doing. Now they should pay for their mistake and offset some of the huge legal costs that No
  • Does anybody actually run OpenSolaris in production on non-Sun hardware? Open-sourcing Solaris seems more of an end-of-life abandonware move than a product line.

    • I am in the middle of building a X86 server that I intend to run OpenSolaris on. Trying to find a board that I know in advance is supported has been frustrating. However, I *think* the major problem is the lack of updates for documentation and not that new devices are not supported.

      You'll know how it went if you see me trying to sell a server, cpu, RAM combo.
    • Open-sourcing Solaris seems more of an end-of-life abandonware move than a product line.

      That's the classic FUD statement that has been made with regard to many other formerly 'closed' projects which went Open Source. Several previous examples:

      Mozilla (Netscape)
      Open Office (Star Office)

      Just because you think such a FUD campaign may now 'benefit the community' (whatever that happens to mean at any moment) doesn't make it less of a dirty FUD campaign than it has been in the past.
    • Yes. I'm one of them. Migrated from Linux, mind you.

      Just because you don't know about them, doesn't mean they don't exist.

  • Troll Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by turgid (580780) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @02:36PM (#20197335) Journal

    Linux and Solaris come from different code bases. Linux is Linux and Solaris is UNIX System V R4.

    Secondly, Sun didn't "license unix" from SCO. Sun bought some device drivers.

    There, settled.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kripkenstein (913150)

      Linux and Solaris come from different code bases. Linux is Linux and Solaris is UNIX System V R4.

      TFA didn't say otherwise, perhaps you miss the point here.

      The point is that Solaris is Unix (not Linux), and it just turned out in court that Novell own Unix. Coincidentally, Novell also happen to own a Linux distro. So, in theory, they might want to assert their rights on Unix to prevent Unixes (Solaris) from competing with Linux (and therefore with Novell's Linux, SUSE).

      But, this is just theory. For al

      • by kaiwai (765866) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @03:04PM (#20197539)
        Sun *NEVER* bought their rights off SCO - they bought drivers. Sun bought their rights off who ever owned SVR4 20+ years ago - IIRC Novell who bought UNIX Labs. Sun bought the most extensive rights to the code one could possibly have.

        The issue in question *SHOULDN'T* be Sun but Microsoft who purchasing IP rights to UNIX for their Services for UNIX. Sun already bought them 20 years ago. The issue at play are sales of IP by SCO to third parties.
        • You might be right, I don't know the details of Sun's licensing of Unix rights. If you have a good link, I'd be very grateful.
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Microsystems [wikipedia.org]

      Sun is most well known for its Unix systems, which have a reputation for system stability and a consistent design philosophy.

      Sun's first workstation shipped with UniSoft V7 Unix. Later in 1982 Sun began providing SunOS, a customized 4.1BSD Unix, as the operating system for its workstations.

      In the late 1980s, AT&T tapped Sun to help them develop the next release of their branded UNIX, and in 1988 announced they would purchase up to a 20% stake in Sun.[42] UNIX
  • ...can Microsoft buy Novell?

    I mean like 'em or hate 'em thats one firm with awfully deep pockets and the ownership seems to be settled now. Please, please tell me that I have missed something and I am being naive.
    • ...can Microsoft buy Novell?

      Based on M$'s arguments in the anti-trust/monopoly action against them years ago that they were not a monopoly because of Linux, it is quite likely that government regulatory agencies may block such a purchase based on monopoly issues.

      This, though, does not preclude M$ from pulling Novell's strings behind the scenes to inhibit growth in the Linux market. And with their business relationship with Novell, it looks to me that they're setup to have a certain amount of control witho

      • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @03:24PM (#20197669) Homepage
        Ahem, I'd like to see some supporting evidence for the notion that Microsoft has ANY sort of "control" over Novell.

        Making an interoperability deal - even if it includes "patent protection" and money changing hands - does not seem to me to indicate any sort of "control".

        Last I heard, despite Novell's profitability problems with the Linux side of the business, Novell is still relatively cash rich and entirely a viable company at this point. They're not SCO, dying on the vine and desperately looking for a way out. They might be that way in another five years if they can't get Linux moving fast enough, but they're not there yet.

        And obviously it would be ridiculous for Novell to "inhibit Linux growth" since they're betting the farm on Linux - unless you're one of the conspiracy theorists like Bruce Perens who think Novell only made the deal to tempt Microsoft into buying them out. I call tin-foil hat conspiracy theory on that notion.
        • by killjoe (766577)
          I think it's pretty obvious Novell has no real future. They haven't been able to make a go of netware which was a very good product. They can't make a go of linux either.

          There has to be a reason why MS spent so much money on Novell, linspire, xandros and others. Nobody can figure out why they gave so much money to small dying companies in order to keep them afloat.

          I think it's obvious they plan on using these companies as attack dogs just like they used SCO. They can have these companies attack IBM, HP, Ora
  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@b ... h u d s o n .com> on Saturday August 11, 2007 @02:40PM (#20197371) Journal

    Two, actually.

    Remember, they also bought a license. I wonder what Novell IP made it into Microsoft products, and if that wasn't the REAL reason Microsoft wanted a deal with Novell - not because of Microsoft IP in linux, but Novell IP in Windows?

    Plus, if Novell and/or IBM and/or Red Hat manage to piece the "corporate veil" surrounding the PIPE invenstment, there's another problem, which will be much worse for the convicted monopolist.

    • by jrumney (197329)

      and if that wasn't the REAL reason Microsoft wanted a deal with Novell - not because of Microsoft IP in linux, but Novell IP in Windows?

      So maybe all that money they paid Novell was actually for real IP, they weren't just buying FUD.

    • by HalAtWork (926717)
      I'm sure that by getting into these deals, MS was trying to convince other companies that they would have an advantage by getting the rights to use MS's patents. The real gain was for MS, since now all their products are covered by everyone else's patents thanks to the agreements. MS gets to use everyone's patents, everyone gets to use MS's patents, but they don't enter into an agreement with each other to cross-license their patents (i.e. Novell and Xandros don't get to use each others' patents, but MS u
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        The world will be a better place the more people just ignore Microsoft and "do their own thing."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2007 @02:45PM (#20197409)
    If Sun has to deal with Novell, it's not the same as anybody having to deal with SCO. SCO didn't care if it existed or not at the end of its legal battle with the rest of the world. Their strategy was all about monetizing their precious IP. Sun and Novell, on the other hand, think of themselves as ongoing businesses. They have no desire to run up huge legal bills. If there is an issue between them, they will negotiate like adults, money will change hands and everyone will go about their business.

    Bottom line: Novell isn't going to sue Sun.
  • certainly not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2007 @03:00PM (#20197519)
    True, SCO had no "IP" (as Darl would like to put it, frequently) to sell. However, they were Novell's authorized agent for handling licensing for UNIX. The deal was that ALL money from such deals would go to Novell, and a 5% administrative fee would be remitted back to SCO. Furthermore, SCO had no authority to initiate new deals with SYSV without Novell's authorization.

    However, Sun bargained with the authorized agent. It was not Sun's job to make sure Darl was fufilling his contractual obligations.

    Novell has asked for the money from this and the MS deal. THis means they are not trying to kill it.
  • by hedrick (701605) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @03:08PM (#20197567)

    While SCO didn't own Unix, it did have a right to sell licenses. The recent court order seems to regard the sale to Sun as valid:

    Finally, the court concludes, as a matter of law, that the only reasonable interpretation of all SVRX Licenses includes no temporal restriction of SVRX Licenses existing at the time of the APA. The court further concludes that because a portion of SCO's 2003 Sun and Microsoft Agreements indisputably licenses SVRX products listed under Item VI of Schedule 1.1(a) to the APA, even if only incidental to a license for UnixWare, SCO is obligated under the APA to account for and pass through to Novell the appropriate portion relating to the license of SVRX products. Because SCO failed to do so, it breached its fiduciary duty to Novell under the APA and is liable for conversion.

  • by geoff lane (93738) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @03:11PM (#20197589)
    Sun spent a lot of time and cash with lawyers to establish the ownership of all the code that was opensourced. Some parts of Solaris are still not available because of the ownership problems. One of the characteristics of open source is, once released, the worms cannot be forced back into the can. The Solaris code is never going to disappear. What would Novell gain by fighting Sun over this? Novell have no grounds (the same that TSG) for objecting to Sun orginated code, and the old Unix code has been publicaly available from many sources for years.

    It's possible that Novell could act as Microsofts legal sockpuppet, but as we have seen, those who act as Microsoft proxies are doomed to failure.

    • And Novell really wouldn't gain anything from being Microsoft's agent in this. Even damaging openSolaris wouldn't make up for the PR problems such a thing would cause Novell. They're already in the dog house with a lot of people (if not me) for even doing an interoperability deal with Microsoft. Acting further in the interests of Microsoft would doom their Linux business and they know it.

      Besides which, openSolaris is no immediate threat to Linux and likely won't be for years. Definitely not worth suing over
    • by arth1 (260657)

      It's possible that Novell could act as Microsofts legal sockpuppet, but as we have seen, those who act as Microsoft proxies are doomed to failure.

      Yeah, but their CEOs and CFOs can reap pretty substantial personal payouts before and during doom.
  • Agency (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @03:24PM (#20197667) Homepage

    Sun now has a little problem, which might become a giant one: SCO never had any Unix IP to sell. Therefore, it seems likely that Solaris and OpenSolaris contains Novell's Unix IP.
    SCO was Novell's agent in the sale of SysV licenses and it is likely that they were Novell's "ostensible agent" in the sale of this license to Sun. If so the license will stand even if they exceeded their authority in in selling it. Their failure to remit the receipts to Novell is entirely between Novell and SCO and has no effect on the validity of the license.
  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @03:31PM (#20197717) Homepage
    SCO possibly sold something to Microsoft and Sun that they didn't own, which is fraud. I'm not sure exactly what the agreements were (some vague unix licenses), but Sun and Microsoft might be able to sue them for that in addition to criminal charges.

    Of course, I believe that Sun and Microsoft really didn't buy anything, they were just funneling money to SCO.
  • If the desperately litigious SCO, thinking it owned the copyright to Unix, could announce that it found no reason to sue Sun over Solaris, how does it make any sense that the less litigious Novell would sue Sun?

    Just because SCO was found to not own the rights to Unix does not mean Sun's OS is suddenly at odds with Unix copyright. In fact, that seems to make no sense at all. Am I missing something huge?

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