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Linus Comments on SCO v IBM 631

djtrippin writes "Linus comes forth on the SCO v IBM suit and how it pertains (or doesn't, for that matter) to Linux." He definitely puts a fair amount of perspective on the whole thing. This story really is only going to get more bizarre.
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Linus Comments on SCO v IBM

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:45PM (#5482281)
    No, really. I mean, yes, he's the figurehead of the Linux movement, but who cares? This is a legal matter, we should go ask Lawrence Lessig instead.

    He has already said he does even think about patents, and that pretty much shows his attitude towards the whole thing.

    Mozillaquest asking Linus for his comments were a typical waste of time, because everyone already knows what he is going to say.
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:48PM (#5482299) Journal
    If the people he worked with jumped off a bridge, would he?

    Seriously. Did they ask for the 'people he works with's opinion? No.

    Think for yourself man! Dont live through others.

    Form an independant thought!

    Oh wait, patrairch of the Linux community. Nevermind, just copy everyone else then.
  • by Hardwyred ( 71704 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:49PM (#5482306) Homepage
    Ya know, while the article was short, it was nice to see mozillaquest take great pains to ensure that they added no bias of their own, but instead simply acted as a scribe. Nice to see.
  • Spin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IIRCAFAIKIANAL ( 572786 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:50PM (#5482310) Journal
    Normally, we end our articles with a summary and/or conclusion. We do not do so with this article. That's because we want you to have the benefits of Linus Torvalds' comments about the SCO-Caldera v IBM lawsuit without any spin from us.

    The fact that CmdrTaco left out snide comments as well as these guys just proves how stupid this whole SCO thing is. Well, it doesn't really prove anything :P - but it's nice to get an article without the OSS "zealot" spin (I mean that nicely, really!)

    Very interesting how he put in into perspective - basically, SCO is alleging that Linux wouldn't be enterprise class without

    (1) a high degree of design coordination, (2) access to expensive and sophisticated design and testing equipment; (3) access to UNIX code, methods and concepts; (4) UNIX architectural experience; and (5) a very significant financial investment
    which it got indirectly from SCO.

    Course, that's bullshit (at least point 3, which is the only one that really matters as far as I can tell - correct me if i'm wrong).
  • by SmokeSerpent ( 106200 ) <benjamin@NoSPAM.psnw.com> on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:55PM (#5482329) Homepage
    "Ho humm..." Wow...words to live by.

    I think so. We should all cultivate a more detached and relaxed attitude when confronted with the writhing death pains of a Corporate Dinosaur.

    Not only is SCO not going to get a penny out of IBM if this went to trial (I'd like to see the battle of the expert witnesses as to whether Linux is to Unix as a Bicycle is to a Luxury Car), but they don't intend to go to trial or to do anything else other than get IBM to put some of the money the money they would of spent on a trial directly into SCO's pocket instead.

    The "Slashdot thing to do" is often to start with the wailing and gnashing of teeth on every issue. Many of those issues, like this one, that sort of thing simply isn't appropriately spent on.

    Linus is a smart guy. He walks softly, but carries a big stick.
  • by DataPath ( 1111 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:56PM (#5482332)
    Well, the question involved is whether IBM has been insinuating UNIX (SCO owned, apparently) IP into the Linux kernel. And apparently their claims are that Linux could not POSSIBLY have advanced as fast or as far as it has without stealing UNIX IP, it MUST be stealing UNIX IP. Linus knows better than just about everyone else WHAT goes into the kernel, if not necessarily where it comes from. Since you can be pretty sure IBM isn't talking, Linus is the best source for evaluating with the community is capable of.
  • SMP? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:58PM (#5482352)
    UNIX, on the other hand, commonly links 16 processors and can successfully link up to 32 processors for simultaneous operation. This difference in memory management performance is very significant to enterprise customers who need extremely high computing capabilities for complex tasks. The ability to accomplish this task successfully has taken AT&T, Novell and SCO at least 20 years, with access to expensive equipment for design and testing, well-trained UNIX engineers and a wealth of experience in UNIX methods and concepts.
    Um, SysV doesn't do this. Good SMP for UNIX has been added to all the VendorOSes, but without any help from SCO.
  • Mozillaquest? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ebuck ( 585470 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:59PM (#5482355)
    Let's all take a step back, and take a deep breath.

    Remember that this is Mozillaquest.

    Keep breathing.... KEEP BREATHING!!!

    (read some of the past articles if you don't already know, or better yet... don't).
  • Ho Hummm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cranos ( 592602 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:06AM (#5482387) Homepage Journal
    Okay the site design looked like a dogs breakfast but at least Linus's comments were interesting? Weren't they?

    He basically said what everyone else knows, SCO is going to hell in a hand basket and in desperation is trying to suck more money out of IBM. The bullshit claims about linux are nothing more than that, bullshit.

    Ho hummm...
  • by ehiggins ( 35174 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:08AM (#5482394) Homepage
    And there's the beauty of open source. We could ask SCO, "fine, you've got the source, show us the alleged Unix IP-infringing code".
  • MozillaQuest? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Captain Rotundo ( 165816 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:29AM (#5482486) Homepage
    I've never read MozillaQuest, but I find it wierd that a site with the word "Mozilla" in its title doesn't render properly in my copy of Mozilla (1.2.1 from Debian Testing)

    or maybe they intended the page to have a 3-inch margin?
  • by steve_l ( 109732 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:33AM (#5482500) Homepage
    no, but there is no point. They'd be better of buying Sun, or Apple. Sun for Java, Apple for power PC systems people still want.

    SCO are like microsoft: a company trying to make money out of middleware. It seemed a good idea when everyone was prepared to pay for middleware, but now that's just, well, silly. Linux, Apache and to an extent the OSS Java projects (apache, jboss and sforge hosted) have helped reduce the value of middleware. Which leaves cash for the hardware vendors and the consultants. Which is where IBM fits in.
  • by lenski ( 96498 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:36AM (#5482518)
    • a high degree of design coordination: The internet
    • access to expensive and sophisticated design and testing equipment: dyadic (to quote the old evil empire...), quad, and higher-count multiprocessors that have become far more common under the influence of Moore's "law"
    • Access to UNIX code, methods and concepts: People have been studying OS technology for 40+ years... Including IBM! :-)
    • UNIX architectural experience: Again, this is standard upper-classman study. I studied this stuff at the age of 18, 28 years ago. (Back then, our studies were somewhat "academic", given how many System/360. /370, CDC supercomputers existed at the time...)
    • A very significant financial investment: Add up the contributions of the core teams, the hundreds of regular patch providers, thousands of enthusiasts, and hundreds of thousands of people studying this stuff (Gnu very much included): The cost of paying that many smart people professional wages would be, in a word, huge.

    SCO has completely missed the effects of common availability of computational resources. I remember when crossing the gigaflop "barrier" was a big deal. Today it's your average laptop. 18 years ago, a UNIX source license in a business context could cost about $125,000 (as priced by a friend of mine, working on Sequent boxes). Apparently, that's when SCO executives seem to have stopped noticing the progress of technology.

  • by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:38AM (#5482527) Homepage Journal
    SCO wants to be bought. Either by M$ or by IBM.... Only Satan know what will M$ do with this if they buy SCO... If IBM buys them... well thats another story.
  • by Greg Koenig ( 92609 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:39AM (#5482531)
    Actually, I immediately thought of the USL v. BSDI case when I heard about SCO's recent filing. My OS of choice tends to lean towards the BSD side (simply due to my background as a CS Ph.D. student, I suppose) but I certainly use Linux for many projects. I used FreeBSD back in ca. 1992 when it seemed that it might be encumbered due to licensing difficulties from USL.

    I think the important thing to realize is that while different open source software camps may at times compete against each other (Linux vs. BSD, Gnome vs. KDE, etc.), in the end the diversity we have within our ranks is a very powerful asset. Had the lawsuit in 1992 turned out differently, Linux would have been an unencumbered alternative that would have allowed the movement to continue forward. Likewise, in the extremely off chance that SCO did do something to encumber Linux today, the open source community has many other fine operating systems that are alternatives and which could be a basis to continue moving forward.

    IMHO, an important lesson to realize from this after it finally settles down (and I have no doubt that SCO will end up appearing kind of stupid in the end) is that the diversity in open source software is the biggest benefit and allows it to overcome these kinds of things.
  • by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:56AM (#5482575)
    I wonder, what will be the total cost to IBM to properly defend themselves in this suit, plus the amount that they spend on "licensing" Unix from SCO? At least $32.9M perhaps?

    If IBM takes this to court and points out the whys and why-nots then this suit has every possibility of being considered frivolous - depending on where it's filed, etc. IBM can make SCO pay IBM's expenses - and then what's left of that $32.9 MM won't buy a cup of coffe and a wireless browsing session at your local all night diner.

  • by E-Rock-23 ( 470500 ) <lostprophyt AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:57AM (#5482579) Homepage Journal
    I don't think I quite understand SCO's position on this whole matter. But, with UnitedLinux slowly crumbling and the nature of Linux, I'm willing to bet that SCO/Caldera might get laughed out of the Linux business.

    IMHO, IBM has done a world of good for Linux. My favorite commercial remain's IBM's basketball team ad that featured the Chris Mullin wannabe wearing number 12, and the team owners discussing his role on the team.

    "How can we get him to work for peanuts?"
    "Because he loves the game..."

    That's exactly what Linux needed - to get it's name out beyond our little Geeks-Only circle to the masses, both Corporations and the Average Joe/Jane. Now, how did that harm Linux or Linux development? How did that muddy the waters? If you ask me, it rocked the boat in a good way.

    Linux has grown by leaps and bounds, from a grassroots OS to a viable option for both business and home use (more the former then the latter). This lawsuit serves no real purpose, IMO. Honestly, I'll just bet that it's an attempt by a faltering SCO to steal some of the thunder that IBM has built for Linux. They just want a piece of the pie.

    Final Prediction: SCO's complaint will be thrown out, and Linux will continue moving forward, with or without them.
  • by evilpenguin ( 18720 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:16AM (#5482638)
    I agree, and I would go even further. Diversity in technology and infrastrcuture is, in general, good. The internet worms and viruses should teach us this. This is why One Microsoft Way is not a good thing, even if you do not subscribe to the GNU philosophy of Free Software (although I happen to do so).

    Diversity is good even within the Free Software world. We don't all use sendmail and that is good. We don't all use Gnome and that is good. We don't all use Mozilla, and that is good. There should be three, four, five choices for every major category of software.

    A lot of people seem to think this is a bad thing. It is "confusing." I dont think so. You select by feature, fit, or whim (depending on necessity) and you limit failure by design, failure from malicious interference, and failure from excessive lawyering.

    I'd like to see diversity in all infrastructure technology. (Like combining the present grid with neighborhood wind/solar energy).

    Sure, I can be a loudmouthed bigot about my favorite technologies, but even though I don't happen to use FreeBSD, I am glad to know it is there (and I have an ISO of it at hand if need be).

    I use more than one Linux distro at home (Debian, RedHat, and SuSE). I use OpenBSD for my firewall machine.

    Diversity, redundacy. These are the basis of true reliability. Sure, Microsoft (for example) can try to secure the shit out of their next OS, but if everybody uses that one product, one mistake takes everyone out.

    The *nix world hasn't (as a rule) been much more systematic about security than has Microsoft, but its diversity has been its saving grace.

    The biggest failures of *nix security have occurred in those few places where one package has indeed been dominant. Sendmail is one. BIND is another (BTW, what alteratives to BIND exist for Linux and *BSD? I actually don't know and would like to know.)
  • Re:Spin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dido ( 9125 ) <[hp.muirepmi] [ta] [odid]> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:40AM (#5482700)

    A brief exposition on why the points are BS...

    1. a high degree of design coordination Who says this couldn't be achieved by the Open Source world? It has, and Linux is not the only example (though it is, admittedly the largest scale project of them all).
    2. access to expensive and sophisticated design and testing equipment In the true spirit of Free Software/Open Source, all of the design and testing is done by the community. Having hundreds of thousands (and now millions) of people all making use of it is far far better than the best testing equipment money can buy.
    3. access to UNIX code, methods and concepts What for? Have they taken a look at the Linux code, or even the code for the GNU utilities that are part of a standard UNIX environment? Does any of it have anything in common with the code they say is theirs? It's all open, SCO, prove it. You can have a look.
    4. UNIX architectural experience Oh please. As if there weren't already thousands of people with this kind of expertise at the time Linus Torvalds began this work!
    5. a very significant financial investment The off-time of thousands of hackers who would otherwise be paid significant money is indeed a "significant financial investment". And furthermore, what's wrong with the fact that real financial investments are coming in from IBM and other companies?
  • I thought it'd be a fun thing to email ibm's contact us page and say "best of luck guys -- for your support i'm much more inclined to recommend your solutions" to IBM, and something like "what? are you nuts? i'll never work with anyone who buys your company again"


    Call their sales line-- get product information, ask licensing questions, etc. Then send them a letter indicating that you cannot recommend their solutions on the basis that their licensing gives none of the benefits of open source and that the suit against IBM works against them ;-)
  • Re:uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `srevart.sirhc'> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:50AM (#5482733) Homepage Journal
    Be hard to do.... Probably they would supeona the source code and cvs records (or other concurrency systems) and try to prove them wrong.
  • Re:Business Plan (Score:2, Insightful)

    by No. 24601 ( 657888 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @02:01AM (#5482759)
    But those who win, "innovate". ;)
  • Premium to acquire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Goonie ( 8651 ) <robert...merkel@@@benambra...org> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @02:11AM (#5482788) Homepage
    There seems to be some suggestion that that is exactly what SCO is trying to get IBM to do, so that SCO's owners can get out with some cash.

    If IBM made a takeover offer now, the market would probably assume that they fear losing the lawsuit, and that would increase SCO's value way above its current market capitalization, to somewhere much closer to a billion dollars(maybe more-they could probably go after several other big Linux-supporting IT firms).

    Given that the evidence behind the claim appears to be very, very shaky, and the stakes are high, it would seem to be worth IBM's while to fight this one out in the courts for a while. If they win, they can *then* purchase SCO's IP for a song, far less than even the 25 million of the current market cap :)

  • Re:rejoinder (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Goalie_Ca ( 584234 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @03:00AM (#5482913)
    re sig: well, 1/2 is integer divide which will return 0.
  • by LinuxGeek ( 6139 ) <djand DOT nc AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @03:01AM (#5482914)
    Linus is one of a few expert witnesses in this matter. He knows who contributed code and when it was merged. Lawyers can't enter testimony, they ask questions and enter exhibits that the judge and/or jury will use to decide matters.

    The interview with Linus is quite informative and indicates that SCO will have a hard time proving their accusations. He will likely present the same answers if or when he is asked about these things in court if called as an expert witness.

    Good lawyers are experts on legalities and current legal trends, not tedious subject matter.
  • Poor Linus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrscorpio ( 265337 ) <twoheadedboy@sto ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @03:16AM (#5482956)
    He has a cult following that borders people like Kurt Cobain, Ed Vedder, Jim Morrison, etc. Every word this man speaks/writes is copied, discussed, scrutinized, and dissected into oblivion.

    Tomorrow on Slashdot - "Linus Found Using Porta-Potty in Public Area".

  • by kcelery ( 410487 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @03:36AM (#5482995)
    As expressed by Linus, the lawsuit is to 'sue to win on any merit' but 'sue to buy time' so they have a card on the bargaining table in selling SCO. So if the lawyer has clue, they'll find some obfuscated argument, regardless of content, to drag on for months or years.
  • by pointwood ( 14018 ) <(jramskov) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @03:37AM (#5482998) Homepage

    It's easy to look at IBM as a "the good guy" and forget all the bad things they stand for too!

    In Europe there is currently a big fight about software patents and who do you think is a big supporter of them?

    Here is a quote:
    IBM's patent department is actively lobbying Europe to legalise software patents. They have invested millions in fighting example cases to leading European lawcourts such as the EPO's Technical Boards of Appeal and the German Federal Court in order to soften and eventually remove European restrictions on patenting software. They have also threatened European politicians that IBM might close down local facilities if software patents are not legalised in Europe. IBM has also prevented the US government from conducting studies on the value of software patents for the national economy. In the wake of the Opensource hype, IBM's rhetoric has become relatively moderate, but nonetheless it is supported by real pressure. IBM has acquired approximately 1000 European software patents whose legal status is currently unclear. Given the great number of software patents in IBM's hands, IBM is one of the few software companies who may have a genuine interest in software patentability. Once software patents become assertable in Europe, an IBM tax of several hundered million EUR may be levied on European software companies.

    Link [ffii.org]

    Now, what is the biggest threat to Linux? SCO or software patents?

    Besides that, I find SCO's suit very stupid - the only winner in this is going to be the laywers.

  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @04:19AM (#5483072)
    Exactly, but they are against an adversary with infinite pockets, relatively speaking. If IBM stays the course they can drain SCO dry, bankrupting the company, before the "bargaining table" is even reached.

    In the meantime, if the suit does not look to be going well for SCO no one else will touch them as a purchaser.

    SCO has banked everything not on being able to sell out, but on selling out to IBM *and only IBM.*

    If IBM considers the value of its relationship with the Linux community as something to maintain SCO may have simply cut its own throat with this ploy.

    I believe this is what ESR was refering to when he called it "deeply stupid."

    It relies on the "good will" of the party you have just attacked, a party much stronger than you are (indeed, that's part of the point of the ploy) to play the game by the rules *you* wish to play by.

    Yes, I think that's deeply stupid.

  • by mentin ( 202456 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @05:15AM (#5483175)
    Another possiblity for SCO [management] is to make sure everybody else thinks they are looking for a buy-out and that there is a chance of actually being bought. This raises their stock and the current management can get rid of this stock with better profit.

    The goals of corporation and goals of corporation managements don't always coinside. It does not seems as if SCO is any different from Enron in this sense.

  • It all started... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:36AM (#5483507)
    It's a simple story.

    It all started when an idiot went and spent a fortune the buy "the UNIX trademark" from bell labs. Then another idiot spent a huge amount of money to buy "the UNIX trademark" from the first idiot (who was now mutated to "smart guy").... You can imagine what happened. SCO is the final idiot who spent the biggest amount of money to buy "the UNIX trademark". They will always be idiots until they find someone else to sell "the UNIX trademark". But nobody wants it today. That pisses them off....

    After POSIX, the "UNIX concepts" were made public, and implementing them is certainly cheeper than carring around some rusty code from 1970.

    It was all wrong from the start.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:57AM (#5483551)
    Cause everyone knows IBM wasn't known for producing scalable, extensible, reliable or secure mainframe operating systems since before Unix was even born...

    In fact, one could argue that it's unclear Unix could have reached its levels of scalability and security without appropriating fundamental ideas/approaches to such things from the then-available IBM mainframe operating systems!
  • by edoug ( 66662 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @10:05AM (#5483868)
    If successful, would this lawsuit open the door against any other company that allows employees to contribute to open source projects as the primary function of their job? Let's say I work for Company X which has access to IP of another company, if I'm involved in an open source project that could (however loosely) infringe on that IP, would Company X be open to suit? This just doesn't feel good.
  • by vocaro ( 569257 ) <trevor@vocaro.com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @10:38AM (#5484106)
    The "rules" on "its" and "it's" vary in different parts of the world. It is different in England and the United States, for example.

    There is absolutely no difference between the British and American usage of "its" vs. "it's". You must be thinking of "its" vs. "their". In British writing, for example, companies are usually pluralized, such as: "Red Hat are working on their next release of Linux." In American writing, you will see: "Red Hat is working on its next release of Linux." A similar example comes from the word "crowd", as in the British expression "The crowd are roaring." American English never pluralizes the word "crowd", taking it to be a singular group rather than a number of people.

    You just get over it and you have a wider variety of reading material.

    No! The problem of "its" versus "it's" is universal. It is a grammar mistake, not an idiom, no matter what country you live in. I challenge you to come up with a sentence where British English would use "it's" and American English would use "its". (Correctly, I mean, and without grammar mistakes.)

    never mind if they happen to be from the exact same part of the world and have the exact same education so that their punctuation can match.

    This is not an issue of regional differences in punctuation. "It's" and "its" are completely different words.

  • by BigDish ( 636009 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:26PM (#5485018)
    But generally, one only requests information if they have an intent to purchase a product. Even though there never is an intent to purchase, the goal is to make them THINK that you intended to purchase, but their licensing and lawsuite are why you did not.
  • Re:And Lo..... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pboulang ( 16954 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:42PM (#5485144)
    I see you've never hosted a poorly written dymanic site. Good for you!

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard