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How SCO Helped Linux Go Enterprise 386

An anonymous reader submits: "SCO may now have filed for UNIX copyrights and made various allegations about code-copying, but the actual complaint against IBM still seems to be focused around allegations UNIX-based enterprise technologies (such as RCU, JFS and SMP) being improperly added to Linux. Yet, reviewing the Linux kernel archives reveals some interesting and surprising background on just who helped put these technologies into Linux. PJ's GROKLAW blog has uncovered that 'Caldera Employee Was Key Linux Kernel Contributor,' including what looks like a lot of work on the early stages of JFS. The same employee's name also crops up when we look at RCU. When IBM posts RCU improvements, did he complain? No, he requests further improvements even helpfully providing a link to inspire the IBMer!"

"Lastly, definitely worth reading, Alan Cox on Linux SMP. He says that got he ideas from a book (which presumably can't be somebody's trade secret), invented his own implementation, and did this using hardware provided by Caldera (SCO themselves do acknowledge providing hardware to the Linux SMP team)." The article points out of Christof Hellwig (the Caldera-employed kernel contributor) that "He's likely a great guy, and he's undoubtedly been a trusted Linux contributor, so this is nothing against him. It's about SCO and their position in the lawsuit, and it's about IBM's affirmative defenses."

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How SCO Helped Linux Go Enterprise

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  • Yay! (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:08AM (#6498057)
    It's yet another Your Right Online story that is nothing to do with Your Rights, Online or Offline! No, instead it is time for the daily two hours hate against our old enemy SCO. Let the flaming begin!

    Can't we just change YRO to "Legal Shit" and post all these stories under that? I could filter it a lot easier then.
  • Just remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by freeio ( 527954 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:11AM (#6498070) Homepage
    For better or worse, this battle is based as much on the court of public opinion as anything else. The repeated accusations, the repeated lies on SCO's part, will do their damage, even though all of it may well prove to be baseless.

    As Deep Throat (of Watergate fame) said: "Follow the money."
  • by dhodell ( 689263 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:15AM (#6498085) Homepage
    On alt.os.development, we've been discussing this somewhat humorously. It will eventually not be a problem. Linux will be able to simply rewrite its SMP handling (and other things that have allegedly been taken from SCO). In fact, at the OS level, working with 32 processors is no different from working with 2 (which Linux could already do before the alleged copyright infringement). However, handling 32 processors very well is a completely different story.

    In any case, this is a big inconvenience for many people using Linux in their companies. I have to stop development on one of my projects because I don't want to pay SCO any money to use Linux. And why should I? Linux is supposed to be free. (All the more reason to use BSD, which I like more than Linux, but anyway...)

    SCO is screaming to be bought out by IBM, even though they say in a press release that this is highly unlikely. It seems obvious to me, in any case -- SCO's not had a very successful product in a very long time.

    Here's hoping that the case goes to a court where there are people who know what they're talking about are presiding on the jury.

    And somebody please fill me in, but is the SCO hotshot lawyer who lost the Gore case against Florida and worked against Microsoft such a hotshot? It seems to me that he's more of a loser.

    My 2 cents.
  • Well, duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:15AM (#6498087)

    > SCO may now have filed for UNIX copyrights and made various allegations about code-copying, but the actual complaint against IBM still seems to be focused around allegations UNIX-based enterprise technologies (such as RCU, JFS and SMP) being improperly added to Linux.

    Yeah, but the actual complaint doesn't have any FUD value, and certainly isn't going to raise share prices enough to finance a set of golden parachutes, so you can expect to keep hear them harping on all that other stuff.

  • by MuParadigm ( 687680 ) <> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:29AM (#6498154) Homepage Journal
    Oh, this is wonderful.

    It became apparent in yesterday's new that SCO was going after the Sequent SMP code that IBM donated to Linux.

    Why the Sequent code? I'm guessing that Boies finally realized that the IBM sideletter gave IBM all rights to its own derivative work, which would burst most of SCO's claims. But the Sequent code would not have been protected from ATT's derivative works clause since Sequent didn't appear to have a side agreement like IBM's.

    Of course, if Caldera/SCO had a programmer actually working on the code, as this article suggests, then Caldera/SCO is an equal partner in donating and modifying the SMP code for Linux.

    Forget about whether they donated the code through "inadvertently" GPL'ing it. This proves they donated the SMP code knowingly, and even helped modify it for use with Linux. That's a much stronger case than relying on any of GPL's so-called viral qualities.
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:32AM (#6498166)
    There has been nothing of substance to this lawsuit from the beginning. If there actually is any matters of substance, SCO has carefully and maliciously opti mized its strategy to cause the greatest harm and distress to people that were seeking to perform a public service.

    That Caldera/SCO should be responsible for the complaints of the suit should come as no surprise. Mr. McBride has a history of manipulating the legal system, and The Canopy groups previous history has certainly involved legal manipulation as a profit center.

    At this point its not enough that SCO lose the lawsuit. SCO needs to be completely destroyed, and at the very least McBride need to be held personally accountable. Its the only way to discourage future land grabs by avaricious jackasses.

    If SCO MCBRIDE et al, aren't put down soundly it may very well stall or destroy Open source development permanently.

    Look at Rambus, SCO's strategy is no different. now can you imagine if a company with clear intelectual rights to a technology, an algorythm, or a "business method" arranges to have it placed in the kernel, or Glibc, or X. If they wait a few years removing the code might still be possible but the collateral damage from dependant programs breaking might be insurmountable.

    If we enter a regime where all OSS submission have to be checked against unpublished undistributed works OSS will be dead.
  • by Tragedy4u ( 690579 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:36AM (#6498180)
    If one of SCO's employee's (and by that I mean a company owned by SCO) is giving this technology away just how much do they value it? It's a good case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. "No one's buying our Unix software anymore, WAIT let's change our business model to SUE other companies for stealing our stuff...." (Meanwhile someone on the inside is GIVING it away willingly)
  • by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:39AM (#6498201) Homepage
    I have to stop development on one of my projects because I don't want to pay SCO any money to use Linux.

    Wow. Without providing any evidence or winning a court case, SCO has got at least one sucker to buy into their FUD. How sad.

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:54AM (#6498286) Homepage

    I have to stop development on one of my projects because I don't want to pay SCO any money to use Linux. And why should I? Linux is supposed to be free.

    Why in the hell would you stop development? That's just silly.

    You don't have to pay SCO any money to use linux. They're trying to shake folks down, they don't have a leg to stand on. You can read the license, and even if their case were not total bs, even if it turned out their allegations were true, you don't have any legal liability from using Linux under the license you have, until and unless SCO can get a court to say otherwise.

    This is no different than if I were to announce that Windows XP was actually mine, and start sending out letters to everyone I could find running it demanding that they buy a license for it from me. The appropriate response would be to laugh and chuck my letter in the trash.

    Even if I later proved that XP really was my code, MS would be liable, not the users I sent those letters to. They were using it with what they reasonably thought to be a valid license from the copyright holder. They would have no need to buy a license from me until after a court decided in my favour. And probably not even then, if historical cases (such as the suits back and forth between Stac and MS) are considered.

    The whole 'buy a license from linux from us' thing is just a scam. Don't give them money, and don't quit using linux, just laugh at them and go on.

    And somebody please fill me in, but is the SCO hotshot lawyer who lost the Gore case against Florida and worked against Microsoft such a hotshot? It seems to me that he's more of a loser.

    Indeed, his high fees certainly don't seem to be justified by his record, do they?

  • Re:Hear that? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kasperd ( 592156 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:57AM (#6498299) Homepage Journal
    IBM's quiet. Too quiet.

    Probably because there is no case. SCO have a big mouth but nothing else. Everything SCO says apears not to bother IBM. IBM just do business as usual. Now if just the media would have ignored SCO the way IBM does. But if this ever goes to court IBM will defend themselves.... What will be left of SCO when that happens?
  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ender Ryan ( 79406 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:59AM (#6498317) Journal
    Please login, so I can filter YOU!

    Seriously, I can't beleive this got modded +5 Insightful. This story does indeed have a bearing to "Your Rights Online", if you use or distribute Linux in any way shape or form.

    And please, if you're not interested in the story, do not respond to it!

    *rolls eyes at the idioacy*

  • by number6x ( 626555 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:13AM (#6498408)

    In any case, this is a big inconvenience for many people using Linux in their companies. I have to stop development on one of my projects because I don't want to pay SCO any money to use Linux.

    There is no reason Linux users and developers should worry about having to pay one penny to SCO. Consider that after years of battling Sears in court, the patent holder for the adjustable wrench got a huge settlement from Sears for the theft of his patented invention, but the many owners of Sears Craftsman wrenches never had to pay him royalties. Even though many of the owners of wrenches may have been businesses that used the wrenches to make their own products. Sort of the way you are using Linux to develop a project.

    Think about how Paramount had to pay the copyright holder, Art Buchwald, for the copyrighted material they took and put in the Eddy Murphy movie 'Coming to America', but movie goers didn't have to each send Mr. Buchwald a check. None of the theater companies that made money showing the film paid Mr. Buchwald, even though they 'trafficked' in tainted goods!

    Now, before they even prove they own it. Before they even show anyone what they own. The SCO group want Linux users to pay up front. This is totally unprecedented.

    Overturning years of precedent and setting a new example like SCO wants to do would have a chilling effect on the software industry in America. The software giants in the industry will not let this become standard operating procedure.

    IBM is very good at the IP law end of the software business. I am sure they did 'due diligence', and made sure the code they put in Linux was their code and not stolen. I think it is highly unlikely that the SCO group will be able to prove otherwise, especially because SysV UNIX is so tainted with other open source code.

    But even if SCO wins a settlement from IBM, just like Sears and Paramount, the users of the 'tainted' product will not have to pay a single penny.

    It is easy for us geeks to poke holes in SCO's arguments about code origin. Don't any of these Wall street analysts have enough business sense, and experience in past cases to call SCO's bluff?

    I now that all these costs eventually get passed down to the consumer level, so software users will pay for the extra legal work needed in the future to develop software. But this just adds to the cost of developing software within the USA. SCO is bad for the economy. Free market oriented software development like Linux and Apache are much better for helping to create a robust competitive economy.

    Support freedom of choice.

    Support free enterprise.

    Support free software.

  • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:28AM (#6498492) Journal
    >It's rather simple: there is no reason to pay SCO any money if you use Linux.

    >Whoever suggests otherwise should come up with proof. So far, no one has.

    For damage to be done to Linux (in terms of wider acceptablility) no-one has to show iron-clad proof, just enough doubt.

    As a decision maker, would you budget (and able to justify) paying for a licence up front or take the risk (and justify that risk to the CTO/company lawyers) that you are opening the company up to unknown charges? Would you even want to begin to have to explain anything to your CTO/company lawyers?
  • by panda ( 10044 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:31AM (#6498513) Homepage Journal
    >As Deep Throat (of Watergate fame) said: "Follow the money."

    Yes, and when you do, you find that the board of SCO is not at all the same as it was when it was called Caldera. A major change happened in ownership last year. Bascially, SCO is run by a bunch of people who have a history of making money by suing people. I'm sure they are very ignorant of just what went on at Caldera and the commitment that Caldera had to contributing to Linux. I'm sure they want to be ignorant, because these guys are up to their business as usual tactics. (Don't believe me, just check it out for yourself. You can find the SEC filings and several newspaper articles about it online.)

    Don't worry. This will go to court. IBM will expose just how much Caldera contributed. It will be proven that Caldera is the same company that today calls itself SCO, albeit management has changed. It will be proven that Caldera approved of what was going on, and that if anything SCO should be suing itself. These guys will lose their trial (heh, David Boies ;-) and be stuck with huge legal fees.

    SCO will go completely broke over this and not even Microsoft will save them. They'll have to auction all their property to pay their debts, and I'll be buying the UNIX IP for a buck or two.
  • by Jester99 ( 23135 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:35AM (#6498540) Homepage
    No, frankly, it couldn't.

    Two reasons, because users break down into two categories:

    1. Home users don't care about the magic end-of-support date. My mom still runs Windows 95 because it reads her email and she can use Word on it. It's been EOL'd long ago.

    2. Corporate users don't go "oh goodness, there's support running out in two months, we better start looking at new options!" These guys start thinking years in advance about what their next OS strategy is. Even then, because corporate IT depts often move very conservatively, mission critical services that run on NT 4 and "just work" aren't likely going to change over to something new just because NT 4 is EOL'd. (And, frankly, anything important running on an NT 4 box probably wouldn't port over too well to Linux. The TCO for the migration would probably be too high.)

    If this were a game revolving around NT 4->2K migration, it would've had to happen at least a year ago to be effective.
  • by Xoder ( 664531 ) <slashdot AT xoder DOT fastmail DOT fm> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:42AM (#6498579) Homepage
    I see all these people talking about how 2.4 is what SCO is complaining about.

    What about 2.5 or 2.6? Have these bits of code been re-engineered out, or are they also "infringing"?
  • by mm0mm ( 687212 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:49AM (#6498630)
    It is odd to see a company who is to pursue correction of IP infringements, demanding end users to obtain license in order to become immune from potential litigation, that the company will bring up otherwise. If you have common sense, you may wonder that the distributors of the product in alleged IP violation (RH, SuSE, and SCO itself) are the ones to be tried before end users. Even RIAA tried Napster, the distribution means of legal and personal files, before it began to pursue endusers in violation.

    Moreover, legitimacy of SCO's claim is yet to be proven by the court. McB claims that Linux is covered with a big cloud, but SCO is the one that keeps producing thick yellow smoke to keep the truth unrevealed. It is such an irony that's current tag line reads: "relax: Worry Free Software." They are now officially and shamelessly using FUD for their marketing. How could one "relax" in using products of the company who extorts end users for their own profit?

    Approaching endusers before correcting distributors' violation suggests that 1. SCO knows it doesn't have a strong case to stand, and 2. It is more profitable for SCO to keep the truth in the mist and play games with big corporations heavily relying on Linux. In's interview, McB states that Linus can take alleged SCO source out of Linux kernel to be "clean" --which he claims is impossible without losing enterprise capability-- OR SCO should be compensated for the loss. Having given Linus skewed options (w/NDA) to examine the alleged code, McB and Boies' intention is clear: SCO does not want Linux to be fixed. SCO et al wants the state of infringing code to remain unclear and the future of Linux to be uncertain, and wants current Linux users to continue using Linux so that SCO can charge license fees.

    SCO is no longer in Tech business. They sell worthless paper titled "EULA" now.

    If a famous artist stole [] your work, would you send letters to endusers and ask them to buy your book so that you won't be prosecuted for copyright infringement? I don't think so. But SCO does.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:49AM (#6498637)
    Sorry, but why on earth would you pay for something you DON'T EVEN KNOW IS SCO's? Until they prove, in a court of law, that it's their IP (and at this point everybody doubts that will happen - if it were true, they'd have already shown something, anything), you are free to use it as you see fit. It's not SCO's to sell. Period.
    You're also implying that SCO received ownership to Linux copyright (your wording is ambiguous). Please. All you're doing here is perpetuating FUD.
    Wise up.
  • by Gaetano ( 142855 ) * on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:52AM (#6498654)
    I don't think it would matter even if the developer had been doing so without authority. He is a representative of his company and acting on its behalf. If they didn't know about it that's an internal management problem of theirs and they are in trouble.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:04AM (#6498752)
    Hey! Christoph is a good guy, he worked for Caldera BEFORE they bought SCO and changed their name. He is a technical guy, and this suit was initiated by admins.
  • by idlethought ( 558209 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:09AM (#6498784)
    Wouldn't SCO selling a license on a product that can only exist illegally be equivalent to incitement to piracy?

    The fact that Linus et al may not *wish* to prosecute people doesn't change the fact that SCO would be actively encouraging people and businesses to illegally copy other peoples IP.
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:09AM (#6498792) Journal
    Bascially, SCO is run by a bunch of people who have a history of making money by suing people. I'm sure they are very ignorant of just what went on at Caldera and the commitment that Caldera had to contributing to Linux.

    Although it was Caldera that bought DR-DOS for the sole purpose of suing Microsoft over it. For a while, that was their primary business activity.

    Of course, they were Slashdot heroes back then, not bloodsucking professionla litigants...

  • ...from their own FTP site (haven't checked in a couple of weeks but it was their very late June).

    Timing is important here. If IBM did contribute SCO owned code, SCO would need to stop distributing versions containing infringing code as soon as practical after they identified the infringement. Anything that remains available on their sites after they've (internally) identified their claims is covered under GPL. Therefore the code in the 2.4.x kernel is all free from SCO claims.

    Note that the versions available may be changing all the time, as their research uncovers other potential infringements.

    Here is where it gets interesting. That kernel is probably a precompiled basic kernel. Are there any source modules for things like RCU and SMP that are not available from SCO's source trees but are available from other sites with the same patch level? That would tell us exactly what SCO believes is infringing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:48AM (#6499182)
    Don't forget that, more than likely, IBM knows what they're doing with this suit. I would doubt they have their head in the sand as to what implications this could have on the Linux community.
    IBM's lawyers are not to be messed with, from what I understand. If they take this suit seriously, they know exactly how and when they plan to crush SCO.

  • Re:IANAKD* but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pwtrash ( 593047 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:58AM (#6499311)
    Yep - think so. Their claim is essentially that some of their IP was included in the product, and that therefore distridution of the IP infringes on their rights. Very similar to sampling in music - you can't just record a Bootsy Collins lick & throw it into a song; you have to get permission.

    However, the end-user licensing (with no specific allegations of what is & what is not infringing) is ridiculous. Another post dealt with that very well.

    So, if there are infringements (which I doubt - else they would have made their case public by now), then their compensation would be from the distributors - I'd personally go after Red Hat, but I guess IBM's got more legs in terms of press coverage.

    The bad news is that it's working for now. The stock is going up, and I'll bet that at least one of two major holders are going to take advantage of this to the extent they can. So, SCO will die, but the folks who tried to screw everyone (and who finished off SCO with this nonsense) will walk away even richer than they were before.

  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:02PM (#6500084)
    True, but DR-DOS *was* the wronged party. The company might not have deserved to win (justice of that is unclear), but their opponent definitely deserved to loose. Which they, sort of, did.

    Caldera was never a company that I really admired, though they *did*, for awhile, promise the best integration with a Novell network of any Linux distribution. (Other problems with their distribution kept me from assessing the truth of their claims.)

    But I don't insist that my "good-guys" be perfectly good any more than I insist that my "bad-guys" be perfectly bad. You don't find the true extemes in this world. Mother Theresa was a very unusually good woman, but her saintliness is the creation of church PR. (Quite effective, but still a PR job, even though it had a good base.)

    Do you think MS is totally bad? You're wrong. They're selfish bastards with no care for the rights of others, but this isn't the worst they could be. Check out the history of the railroads or the mining corporations and you'll find much worse.

    SCO has nearly all of MS drawbacks, and few to none of their redeeming features. But they actually could still be worse. I'm certain of it. That said, I must admit that without a more intimate knowledge of their intentions and purposes the statement is a "statement of faith" rather than anything I could genuinely prove.
  • by Phillup ( 317168 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:12PM (#6500234)
    While I agree (mostly) with what you have said... I don't see how the license SCO is touting to have with IBM is that much different than the GPL in terms of "viral" nature.

    Aren't they laying claim to everything IBM implemented for AIX simply because AIX is a licensed UNIX?
  • Ironic, isn't it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erat ( 2665 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:15PM (#6500262)
    Before SCO started filing lawsuits and trying to impose fees for the use of Linux, Caldera was described as a parasite that took from Linux and never gave anything back. No amount of correction from me or anyone else seemed to sway you. In fact, all that I accomplished in this effort was shutting some folks up for a week or so, after which they'd jump right back in the ring, thrashing Caldera as brutally as ever.

    Now that SCO's doing what it's doing, all of a sudden you people are SCOURING for Caldera contributions and are uncovering all kinds of interesting stuff. Gee, could it be that the stuff I've been saying here for years is true, that Caldera wasn't the parasite that you folks made them out to be??

    Here's what really kills me: you folks may not have the power to kill a company, but I can't help but think that if Caldera got a bit more support from you people -- or even just a bit less of a thrashing -- the odds of SCO not being in the picture would have increased significantly. Ponder that for a moment. I'll wait...

    Before you, RMS, whoever (you know who you are), pick out the next legitimate Linux company to make into a pariah, perhaps you'll do a similar amount of research and uncover the truth about the company first.
  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:16PM (#6500288)
    Were the judge to rule that way, the upshot would be that nobody had any right to distirbute the modified kernel under any conditions. There would be no legal way to do so.

    That includes SCO as well as anyone else. This doesn't affect the right to use the software, only the right to distribute it.

    (And this would put a pause to the distribution of Linux code until it was rectified...or possibly a temporary pull-back to a 2.2 kernel. Unless some of the truly wilder assertions that SCO has been making are upheld ["All of your code is derivitive of code that we have the rights to, so it's all ours, and you can't say anything about it. Nyah, nyah, nyah."]. If you're going to consider worst case scenarios, you need to consider that one. Even the BSDs have been threatened. It's silly, but not that much sillier than the rest of the threats. They haven't said anything about the Hurd yet, or about AtheOS, or.... So even then there are bolt-holes. But if the courts are that corrupt, then nothing's safe.)

  • by aastanna ( 689180 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:22PM (#6500363)
    But if the code was directly copied than the SCO employee had no right to submit the code into the kernal.

    I can't just steal someone's code, publish it under the GPL, then do whatever I want with it because "Oh, look, it's been published under the GPL".
  • by worldcitizen ( 130185 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:22PM (#6500369)
    IBM (and whoever is losing any money because of the SCO FUD), please consider donating to and get them to write up a nice Q&A on the case and a template response letter to SCO's letters.

    IBM sales people being asked about SCO/Linux/AIX can then politely point companies to this Q&A. Something that will be clear for corporate counsels (for those that do not specialize in Copyright issues) and other legal advisors, plus a well prepared response letter could be pretty useful for assisting companies not caving in to SCO's extortion.

    The fewer companies that cave in, the less money SCO will have to fuel this BS.
  • by Lonath ( 249354 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:52PM (#6500787)
    This is how I see it:

    If (2.4 is under GPL) then (don't have to pay money to SCO to use 2.4)

    The contrapositive form:

    if (you have to pay money to SCO to use 2.4) then (2.4 is not under GPL)


    if (2.4 is not under GPL) then (2.4 is illegal)


    if (2.4 is illegal) then (you can't use 2.4)

    (hypothetical syllogism)

    if (you have to pay SCO money to use 2.4) then (you can't use 2.4)

    So, if you feel that you need to pay money to SCO, you can't use 2.4 since you're saying that it's not under the GPL. I hope that if anyone pays off SCO, the kernel coders sue the fuck out of them for copyright infringement since the payer is saying that they don't think 2.4 is under the GPL.

VMS must die!