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Eric Raymond's Homebrew SCO Poison 754

What Can You Expect From A University Named "UH?" writes "Eric S. Raymond responds to Darl McBride's charge that he's drinking IBM's Kool-Aid in SCO's fight against Linux. The main thrust: Yes, there is an alliance against SCO, but, like the Open Source movement itself, it arises from lots of folks spontaneously striving for a common goal. 'It's beyond me how [you] can have the gall to talk as though we need funding or marching orders from IBM to mobilize against you. IBM couldn't stop us from mobilizing!' "
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Eric Raymond's Homebrew SCO Poison

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  • by Hamfist ( 311248 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @08:52AM (#6792717)
    That rant pushes the edge of legal. One could definitely consider some of those words to be threats. I just hope they don't come to take him away. He's needed right now.
    • by Seth Finklestein ( 582901 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:01AM (#6792777) Journal
      As a long-time fan of Eric Scott Raymond, let me tell you: just because you disagree with a company, that doesn't make you a "threat." For example, Glen Harbiller campaigned against McDonald's all through the 1970s. McDonald's, of course, tried to sue him. They didn't want him to talk about McDonald's cruel labor practices, subpar food handling practices, and overly hot coffee (!).

      Similarly, rallying against anticompetitive bullies like SCO cannot be considered threatening. It is free speech. Now although all my senators and house members are owned by corporations, the justice system will find in favor of crusaders like me and Eric Scott Raymond.
      • by Eggplant62 ( 120514 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:22AM (#6793408)
        just because you disagree with a company, that doesn't make you a "threat."

        What scares me most is how, suddenly, the idea that we are somehow not allowed to speak out against just such corporations is becoming more and more common to the average Joe.

        When did America become this country of limp wristed wussies who were afraid to speak their minds because they might be sued by some big corporation? Yeah, they might sue, and you might have to defend a lawsuit if what you speak is not the truth. What one must do to speak out on any given subject, including this one, is to educate oneself!

        If you know more than the other guy and can only speak about the truth, what is there to fear?
        • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:53AM (#6793831)
          If you know more than the other guy and can only speak about the truth, what is there to fear?

          Well, how about:

          Huge Legal Fees

          Legal technicalities being used against you

          The truth being inadmissable in court

          Their lies being heard by the court as truth

          There are many many things to fear. There is currently a man in Alabama speaking what he truly believes to be the truth. As of now his career is in jeopardy, he is being charged with breaking laws , and will likely lose his fight.

          The biggest thing with the 10 commandments case in Alabama is that both sides believe they have the truth on their side. I can very easily see that McBride and co. think that the "truth" is on their side. In fact it would be required that they think this way, otherwise the label of "delusional" wouldn't be appropriate. And I belive that they truly are delusional about this case.
      • Lucky, becuase you have the First Amemdment, and actually strive to defend it. I have returned to Canada after spending 5-1/2 years legally working in the U.S. to see to my horror just how much our speech is abridged: i.e. discussing U.S. vs. Canadian style health care (private vs. socialized) is enough to get you arrested (yes, I was threatened with this simply because someone, in a public place, overheard a peaceful conversation I was having, weighing the pros and cons of each).

        Fools, because too many of you don't know, care, or realize, just how important this right is.

        • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:54AM (#6794665) Journal
          i.e. discussing U.S. vs. Canadian style health care (private vs. socialized) is enough to get you arrested (yes, I was threatened with this simply because someone, in a public place, overheard a peaceful conversation I was having, weighing the pros and cons of each).


          You're welcome to debate the merits of private and public health care in Canada. Write a letter to the editor. Hold a peaceful protest somewhere. Talk about it in a bar.

          The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees explicitly "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;" (Section 2(b) of the Charter).

          Mind, the Charter does contain restrictions and exceptions (Section 1 specifies "The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.", and Section 33 aka the "Notwithstanding Clause".) The U.S. Supreme Court also recognizes that there are tolerable restrictions on free speech in the United States--that doesn't make the First Amendment moot.

    • by Faggot ( 614416 ) <> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:03AM (#6792789) Homepage
      ESR is threatening to use every legal means available to fight SCO. that's legal, justified, implied and expected.
    • by brlancer ( 666140 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:06AM (#6792813) Homepage Journal
      I didn't see any physical threats, which is really what you have to worry about.

      Right now we need strong language; we need people willing to put it on the line and kick business and government.

    • by LinuxGeek ( 6139 ) <> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:25AM (#6792966)
      That rant pushes the edge of legal.

      ESR has learned from SCO tactics. McBride & Company don't have to be honest, they are only press releases. They have only made simple breach of contract charges in court where things like lies are punishable.
      • by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @12:11PM (#6794895) Homepage Journal
        SCO has been doing their best to get their legal disputed tried in every venue except a court of law where they know they'll loose. If ESR had simply said, "I disagree with Darl McBride and SCO," there would be no press coverage whatsoever. What he has done, instead, is to fire off a equal but opposite inflamatory rant to match the spewage from Lindon, UT. There is no threat contained in his rant other than that SCO will wish their ex-ambulance chaser management team hadn't provoked the open source community. More precisely, there is no threat of either physical violence or illegal action and thus, nothing illegal.

        It is an excellent rant though.
    • I found nothing in there threatening anything other than the use of all legal and lawful means necessary.

      The ones they should be taking away are the SCO executives who are clearly attempting to extort money from innocent Linux users and authors.

      (and who modded up the parent troll?)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:46AM (#6793106)
      SCO dragging him into court? Their whole gameplan revolves around not going to court but jacking up the out of court deal value.

      A libel or slander case would be ideal for getting the truth exposed. Not going to happen.
    • Not a threat (Score:5, Informative)

      by linuxislandsucks ( 461335 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:40AM (#6793682) Homepage Journal
      The proper term for promising Legal action and not doing it is Barratry.. y

      Whereas ERS promising that if certain action is not stopped that SCO and McBride wil face legal consequences is a perfect legal statement to make in that it does not open OSI or ESR to any other liabilities..

      as it stands Now any Linux User not charged by SCO Group has the right to ask the court to convict SCO group on Barratry charges..

    • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:02AM (#6793985)
      I didn't really consider what he wrote to be a physical threat to anyone, though it's certainly a legal gauntlet he's thrown down (or rather picked up, since SCO is the one who initiated this legal mess).

      ESR has written some faily provocative material, but I think he's really trying to provoke thought, rather than violence. He's a self-proclaimed "gun nut," but why does that worry anyone? He's never used a weapon on anyone that I'm aware of, and until he shows a proclivity towards unjustifiable lethal violence, it's difficult to justify any sort of sanction. Prior restraint, whether physical or intellectual, is hardly justifiable in this instance. It's also worth remembering that violence is not always the wrong path (here come the pacifist flames), despite what they are teaching in school these days.

      For example: his article on "when to shoot a policeman." At first blush, this kind of thing immediately raises my antennae; I used to be an LEO, of the tactical-team variety. If anyone's likely to be a target for killing, it would be a fellow like myself... yet I didn't find the article terribly alarming. He actually argues AGAINST the killing of policemen, except in very extreme circumstances (total breakdown of civil liberties... where the police become a tool of tyranny). Frankly, I'm glad people like ESR feel passionately about their rights, and are willing to defend tham... civil rights are what separates the US from the world of brutal dictatorial regimes. Frankly, if I were a policeman under such conditions, I would give up my badge; I would not be party to gratuitious abrogation of the rights of others... THEIR loss of rights is MY loss of rights. This might come as a surprise to some Slashdotters, but virtually all the cops I've ever known were able to make that intellectual leap.

      Most LEOs would never be a part of such wholesale represssion. Such atrocity creates an unholy bond between the masters and their agents, one that binds them to the same fate, usually a bloody one. ESR simply states a willingness to use the "final option" against a repressive, tyrannical government. This discussion may make people, myself included, uncomfortable, but discussions about revolution are hardly comfortable things. Now personally, I would look a bit askance at an individual who considered mass violence, societal upheaval, revolution, and bloodshed comfortable everyday topics... yet some simple intellectual discourse about such things should not be cause for sanction. ESR may be a strange guy, but I respect his intellect, and trust that he knows the difference between philosophical debate and action.

      But back to the topic at hand, I actually liked his letter to McBride. Some people will no doubt attack it as juvenile... I thought it was hilarious.
    • That rant pushes the edge of legal. One could definitely consider some of those words to be threats. I just hope they don't come to take him away. He's needed right now.

      The letter does not contain threats; it contains facts. If SCO does not back down they are going to be in a world of hurt, because they have opened themselves up to all kinds of legal attacks and being cut off technilogically. Their major products are or depend on Free Software to work. If they were sued by the authors of the Free Soft

  • by RealRav ( 607677 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @08:57AM (#6792746)
    I was truly surprised when I first encountered something like open source. It was on a mud not linux, but people were spending many hours coding and got very little appreciation for it. They still coded away. Linux is much the same way exept the code is more important. Now, if you try and take that away from them, I promise your in for a fight. You can't take someone's baby away. Dreams are better as dreams than reality.
  • by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:00AM (#6792766) Journal
    I also have sent off a message or two to various people, trying to ensure that all the various data items that come up, each of which refutes SCO claims in some manner, get brought together when the court case starts.

    For example, in response to a prior claim that the copyright law prevents the GPL from allowing users to make multiple copies, I wrote:

    There is an obvious flaw in that reasoning. It focusses on the the public, and not on the copyright holder. A copyright holder decides how a work is to be released, after all, and it is perfectly legal for a copyright holder to release something to the Public Domain, in which case everyone can make unlimited copies. So, the actual relevant fact is the copyright holder has the right to decide on any degree of release between public domain and not-at-all. Therefore, when the copyright holder releases something under the GPL, the copyright holder has decided to accept the GPL's details for a release. In such case the copyright holder is giving the public the right to make unlimited copies, which fact does NOT violate the copyright law.
  • Duplicate :-( (Score:4, Informative)

    by grandmofftarkin ( 49366 ) * <> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:01AM (#6792770)
    The exact same response [] found in the link provided in this new story [] can also be found in the final link update in the old story []. See Update: 08/22 18:26 GMT by M: ESR responds []. Hence this is a duplicate.
  • Stronger spectra (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Empiric ( 675968 ) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:01AM (#6792776)
    I don't think IBM's support or possible covert actions in aiding Open Source is any kind of problem at all. This reminds me of the views of some when Red Hat originally started charging significant money for their Linux distro; there was a minor outcry that they were profiting off of Open Source, and that this was suspect.

    To use a "software evangelism" analogy, look at all the various religions out there. In any given one, you'll find a bunch of factions/denominations that do not fully agree with one another, and that are of varying size and influence. Does this weaken their movement, overall? No. What it does is broaden the appeal of the religion for people of differing views, and keeps the debate alive internally which is crucial for their vitality.

    Having a variety of companies out there that are on the spectrum of non-profit to small-profit to big-profit is no issue at all, as long as none of them can take over the work for the purposes of excluding everyone else.

    On a related note, regarding IBM, I'm wondering why they don't take the position of offering legal counsel to (at least some of) the users currently being threatened by SCO. While it's completely understandable that they aren't going to provide complete indemnity (arbitrary claims such as SCO's times millions of deployments could theoretically come to basically infinity dollars), supporting the users who are currently being attacked by SCO would give IBM major karma points with the Open Source community, as well as giving them the opportunity to force SCO into revealing more about their alleged case. And, quite possibly, with the legal bills SCO would rack up defending a countersuit from all the users they've threatened, just implode them before the case ever gets to trial. This would be good for IBM and Open Source.
    • Re:Stronger spectra (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AlecC ( 512609 ) <> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:09AM (#6792835)
      And, quite possibly, with the legal bills SCO would rack up defending a countersuit from all the users they've threatened, just implode them before the case ever gets to trial. This would be good for IBM and Open Source.

      I don't think that would be good for Open Source: it would leave a shadow over the Linux for evermore. Anothe set of lawyer-ghouls could always buy the rights from the deceased SCO and start again. We need to get this to court and settled as fast as possible.

      Two possible outcomes:
      1. No infringment. Burn, SCO, burn
      2. Infringement. The infringing code is dropped fast, and the Linux community rewrites it fast. SCO says this is not possible. I think that that the OS Community - at Warp Factor 10 - could do it in three months. A fine for IBM - which won't kill them. Linux carries on with FUD removed.

      What we need is for someone to force SCO to reveal the allegedly infinging code - in public, not under NDA. Cannot someone get a ruling that, since it will have to be disclosed in court, it should be disclosed now?
      • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:22AM (#6792946)
        What we need is for someone to force SCO to reveal the allegedly infinging code - in public, not under NDA. Cannot someone get a ruling that, since it will have to be disclosed in court, it should be disclosed now?

        Que Red Hat ... oops, already done. This is all in the works, and the court will amost certainly require the alleged code be revealed publicly within a few months. End of SCO.

        There is almost certainly no infringing code whatsoever. But, in the extraoridinarilly unlikely event (statistically indistinguishable from 0.0, I suspect) there is infringing code, it will be removed immediately upon revelation, and $CO will be able to collect on $0.00 damages, as they have done the exact opposite that the law requires (work to mitigate the damages), trying through deception and secrecy to maximize any damages. Which does not fly, even in these dismal times. Never has, probably never will, and certainly won't for SCO. Their hands are "dirty," the code they reference has already been declared public domain by a court of law in an earlier AT&T v. BSD case IIRC, and if not, comes from so many textbooks (including at least one that places no restrictions on reuse of the code) as to be common knowledge. Their "trade secrets" case is dead in the water, and they have no copyright case.

        Red Hat has filed to force them to reveal the alleged code ... they will have to do so, and failure will result in contempt of court and/or fraud charges. I.e. if they don't reveal it to red hat when so ordered, and then try to use it in another court case, Darl et. al. will be having a deep, meaningful relationship with Bubba, compliments of their own contempt of court charges. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00.
        • by esnible ( 36716 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:08AM (#6793287)
          Did AT&T Unix 32V fall into the public domain? The judge said "Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate a likelihood that it can successfully defend its copyright in 32V".

          What if SCO's Microsoft-funded strategy is not to FUD Linux, but to revisit that decision and show that 32V did not fall into the public domain, but *became in fact a derivative work of BSD?*

          SCO claims to have contracts with IBM that entitle it to incorporate that companies code into its operating systems. We have made fun of such claims, but we haven't seen the contracts. Perhaps SCO really has that right.

          Could SCO be trying to show that Linux is also a derivative work of BSD, and thus BSD-licensed (non-GPL encumbered?)
          • No (Score:3, Insightful)

            by roystgnr ( 4015 )
            If 32V were a BSD-derivative, it would presumably be subject to the same relicensing that Berkeley did for all the rest of it's software, and the new BSD license is sans advertising clause and GPL-compatible.
          • by fanatic ( 86657 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:45AM (#6794542)

            We have made fun of such claims, but we haven't seen the contracts.

            Their complaint included a side letter amending the contract between IBM and AT&T/SCO/whoever, to the effect that IBM owns what IBM writes. SCO is DOA.

        • by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
          Personally, I suspect that there really is infringing code. And that it's not significant. But I also suspect that Unixware has infringing code. Much more centrally located.

          Question, though: If SCO could be forced to GPL Unixware, would we want it? Does it have any advantages at all? Perhaps the best we can hope for is that Red Hat get lawyers fees and damages. (And SCO goes bankrupt.)

    • by mcgroarty ( 633843 )

      On a related note, regarding IBM, I'm wondering why they don't take the position of offering legal counsel to (at least some of) the users currently being threatened by SCO.

      Probably because it would be good insurance for IBM if SCO did go after any of the end users. If SCO successfully starts collecting from end users, then SCO's case against IBM can't include an attempt at collecting damages. SCO can't collect damages twice, once from IBM and again from the users.

    • by kinnell ( 607819 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:33AM (#6793026)
      supporting the users who are currently being attacked by SCO would give IBM major karma points with the Open Source community

      I hate to shatter your illusions, but IBM, like any profitable company, are interested in shareholder value, not karma. They are using and supporting open source because they see this approach as a good business model, not to usher in the age of aquarius. They won't provide legal support to linux users who are not their customers, because it will not increase shareholder value, either directly, or indirectly.

      • by Empiric ( 675968 ) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:56AM (#6793188)
        Thanks for your comment, but you aren't "shattering my illusions". (Is there some kind of Slashdot mandate that to make a point you must actually insult whoever's comment you are addressing...?)

        If you don't like the word "karma", fine, "goodwill" then. And I am quite aware IBM feels this is a good business model. That's self-evident. And it will increase shareholder value if it eliminates the impression of a cloud hanging over one of IBM's primary business initiatives.
  • by mgessner ( 46612 ) * <> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:02AM (#6792779) Journal
    Umm... which is it?

    FWIW *my* calendar has 23 August 2003 as being a Saturday, and 20 August 2003 being a Wednesday.


    That detail aside, I love this letter. Thank you, Mr Raymond. That was inspired.

    I'm a little concerned about the side threat "As the president of OSI, defending the community of open-source hackers against predators and carpetbaggers is mine -- and if you don't stop trying to destroy Linux and everything else we've worked for I guarantee you won't like what our alliance is cooking up next." It worries me that Raymond would phrase things this way.

    I suppose there are a lot of non-violent actions that he could mean: tens of thousands of small claims actions (an idea which I love), protesting, etc. But there are some illegal ones that could be inferred from his statement: DOS, DDOS, DRDOS, etc, that would cause quite a stir; after all, aren't the ones that SCO's going after (the Open Source Community) in possession of (and the authors of) "subversive" source code (in McBride's eyes) that could be used against him on the Internet if the Community deemed it necessary?

    No, no, don't flame me; I'm merely trying to put McBride's way of "thinking" (if you can call it that) onto Raymond's letter.

    I am sure Raymond meant nothing of sort; however, in McBride's state of dementia and loose grip on reality, I wonder what he will think.

    I hope, if it's necessary, that IBM (or more likely the EFF) will be able to send in the lawyers on Raymond's behalf. But I hope even more that it won't be needed.
  • by adeyadey ( 678765 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:04AM (#6792793) Journal
    There is a basic problem with open source
    software - great though the idea is in
    principle - there is nothing to stop someone
    sneaking in some (C) code, then later standing
    up (maybe under a different persona) and sueing
    everyone for breach of copyright.
    Ok, thats not *exactly* whats happened
    here - but you get my drift.

    Perhaps some sort of special legal protection
    is needed - in the same way charities enjoy
    a special status..

    Code declared to be "public" must be posted
    to special government sanctioned database.
    Anyone who thinks and can prove breach of
    (C) can apply for their code to be removed from
    the database, but will not be able to sue for
    copyright breach for anyone using it for the
    duration it is posted (plus some nominal period
    of, say, 2 months or something like that)

    Just my 2 cents..

    • by gregor_b_dramkin ( 137110 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:02AM (#6793247) Homepage
      There is a basic problem with open source software [] there is nothing to stop someone sneaking in some (C) code, then later [] sueing everyone for breach of copyright.
      How is this different from any other public forum?

      Suppose I posted copyrighted songs on a website. The record labels could not sue the ISP, unless the ISP was unresponsive or negligent. The offending files would be identified and removed. The RIAA might then sue me for putting them there in the first place, but IMHO they'd have a right to do so.

      The nature of the copyright infringement in the music example is very similar to the alleged SCO material. Individuals contributing content to a larger body of work are each responsible for their own contributions.

      The difference is that SCO is saying, "There's copyrighted stuff somewhere on your ISP. Everyone who's ever seen your website owes us a hundred bucks, or we'll shut it down. Don't worry your pretty little head about the details. Trust us. There's a copyright infringement in there somewhere."

      The reason that SCO has not disclosed the nature of offending code is that they know their case would immediately crumble. Any code that they could stake a claim to would be rewritten a few hours after disclosure.

      If there is copyrighted code in the kernel, then whomever put it there is legally responsible. If they did it as part of their duties while working at IBM, then IBM may also be culpable. But NOT every person who ever used Linux!!!

  • by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:04AM (#6792797) Journal
    I read this a couple of days ago, and found it rather refreshing.

    Eric only said what is on the mind of everyone in the free software/open source movement.

    SCO is hitting below the belt, playing dirty ball against free software. It is about time someone vents their outrage.

    To paraphrase McBride, the GPL is null and void, and those free/open source guys need to rethink their whole world view, or pay the consequences.

    How can you not get upset in the face of such meglomania?
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:28AM (#6792987) Homepage

      >Eric only said what is on the mind of everyone in the free software/open source movement.

      Speak for yourself. I'd rather that he didn't speak for me, nor for Linus. I'm not minded to lower myself to SCO's level by making vague "Why I oughta..." threats. By making that threat, he's just given SCO more ammunition for their paranoid ravings. Nice one.

      • Actually, Mr Raymond pointed out in his letter that Linus Torvalds supports his comments:

        "Linus Torvalds is backing me on this..."

        If you don't want him speaking for you, that is easy to solve. Set up a website, write an open letter with your own opinions or proposals, and send a link to /.
  • Rant-a-liscious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by curtisk ( 191737 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:05AM (#6792804) Homepage Journal
    I'd ask if you'd found the right sort of isolated wasteland for your citadel of dread yet, but that would be a silly question; you're in Utah, after all.

    Take that offer while you still can, Mr. McBride. So far your so-called ?evidence? is crap; you'd better climb down off your high horse before we shoot that sucker entirely out from under you. How you finish the contract fight you picked with IBM is your problem. As the president of OSI, defending the community of open-source hackers against predators and carpetbaggers is mine ? and if you don't stop trying to destroy Linux and everything else we've worked for I guarantee you won't like what our alliance is cooking up next.

    This guy is all over the place, from humor to near, on the fence, threats....but someone has to give McBride some "tough love" and tell it like it is, for his and everyones own good. Ideally this would suffice but I sincerely doubt it will get through the thick skulls over at SCO.

    Hell of a read though.

  • Utah?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dereklam ( 621517 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:10AM (#6792845)
    I'd ask if you'd found the right sort of isolated wasteland for your citadel of dread yet, but that would be a silly question; you're in Utah, after all.


    Although this sort of ranting is useful for getting frustration off ESR's chest, it doesn't further the cause any more than DoSing the SCO site does. Reasoned, well-thought-out responses will have a lot better effect than giving Darl more ammunition for his own tirades. I think the open-source community in general has been doing a good job of keeping its responses level-headed, and we need to keep fighting the good fight.

    • by rkent ( 73434 ) <rkent@pos[ ] ['t.h' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:02AM (#6793241)
      Seriously. His rhetoric is weak. This whole screed could have been summed up in the phrase, "there is no conspiracy against SCO, merely a group of people with a demonstrable common interest in overturning its policies."

      But instead, it's a thousand-word, sophomoric rant accusing Darl McBride of being not as "smart" as people at IBM, boasting that he (Raymond) isn't afraid of lawyers, and topping it all off with that non sequitor about Utah.

      It's just inflammatory. It takes a kernel of well-reasoned argument and wraps it up in several layers of immature hubris and bravado. I can't imagine this having any positive effect on anyone with a degree of pertinence in the case at hand; like much of his work, I suspect its real purpose is to inspire populist support and reinforcement for ESR's own ego.

      I think the only thing I want to read by ESR from now on is fetchmail [].
      • by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:01AM (#6793957)
        Consider that by publically announcing that he's planning an action, he may be defusing some hot-heads who would otherwise act on their own.

        I think ESR will be a bit careful about anything that he actually proposes. And that he will ... castigate ... those who act out unwisely. But to be effective he has to seem someone that they *should* identify with. So perhaps a bit of what's going on is role-playing. It's a diverse community, so it needs a diverse set of "leaders", i.e., people who are trusted. ESR is the community's designated "leader of hotheads". And he seems to play the part quite responsibly. (Yes, he's also a guardian in ideological purity. The roles seem to go together rather well.)

        Remember, the community is diverse. Some people follow Linus, some follow ESR. Nobody follows all that closely. Who's your choosen spokesman? Personally I find Linus more emotionally appealing, but I clearly recognize that ESR is a pivotally important character. It's his stand on ideological purity that have safeguarded us many times in the past. Because of his past advocacy, the undermining of the community can't be done through license pollution, but needs to proceed though a FUD campaign, that's been rather unsuccessful. (And we need to be very thankful that IBM has decided that we are safer to play with than MS is. Otherwise we'd be killed by patents. As it is... IBM may just have said "Don't think about it" to certain other parties.)

    • ESR's already done the serious bit. The OSI's latest document [], written by Rob Landley and ESR, is such an awesome, sober, closely reasoned demolition of the SCO legal complaint that you would imagine IBM could just write "MOTION TO DISMISS" at the top of it and stick it in the mail.

      The useful value of this amusing rant is that it potentially widens the audience. Because it's extreme and amusing it get passed around and will be seen by people who aren't going to click a headline to read the technical deta

  • ...can I get a check from IBM too? Anybody know what benefits I get once I'm on payroll? Medical? 401k? Do I Have to wear a tie?
  • Perceptions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LinuxGeek ( 6139 ) <> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:12AM (#6792854)
    SCO is fighting a war not of fact, truth or honor, but one of perception. Mr. McBride seems mainly interested in raising SCOX share price regardless of method and it has been effective so far, the stock price went up $1.30 ( just shy of 10%) on Monday. Gee, press releases really are a short term substitute for R&D.

    I don't really feel sorry for the people that are going to loose large with the influx of daytraders that see SCO as a good inventment and powerful force that can shake even the mighty IBM. They will have lost their money in spite of the truthful information that is easily found. But when they do start loosing large chunks of money, SCO will feel the backlash and it won't be pretty. Those people will have no real allegaance to SCOs business, ideals or Unix history, only money.

    I think it is going to be a blood bath that SCO will be luck to escape, ESR has given a good accounting of motivation that the investors are likely to ignore, probably until it is too late to save their investments.
  • by JSkills ( 69686 ) <jskills.goofball@com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:14AM (#6792871) Homepage Journal
    Somebody call the whaaaaabulance for Darl already.

    Make no mistake, this is not about who is right or wrong, although we all wish it was. This is about money. SCO is like a tick under the skin of Linux. They're going suck as much blood (money) out of the situation for as long as they can.

    Despite his protests about the "attacks", McBride is clearly enjoying the fact that people actually know the name SCO. From the article:

    McBride proudly dumped two phone-book-sized binders of press clippings on the stage during his SCO Forum keynote on Monday as proof that his company had become more relevant in the high technology industry.
    "Relevant in the technology industry"? Come on now. The only reason they're "relevant" is that they're threatening the health of the technology industry. It's like saying gential warts is sexy.
  • by Chilles ( 79797 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:14AM (#6792875)
    Like a donkey that starved to death between between two haystacks...

    If all open source spokespeople / gurus speak up like this, pretty soon the board of SCO will feel like that donkey, unable to start suing for whatever reason because they are unable to choose where to start. How much capital do they have? How long will it take for them to bleed dry?

    All together now on three....
  • Wild Speculation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BootSpooge ( 61137 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:16AM (#6792889)

    The last paragraph is worded so strongly, especially the bit about fraud and IP theft, you can't help but wonder if some unnamed soul hasn't laid their hands on a copy of SCO's code and found GPL'ed code in it. The Linux personality module comes to mind.

  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:20AM (#6792916) Homepage
    but I'm sure SCO is going to be reading it looking for ways to sue him, not to hear his message.

    News Flash: SCO wants our money, not their code removed. In the case of Linux, they have no financial incentive to show their cards - they cannot occupy a better position than they do now. As soon as problems are solved they newspapers lose interest, and SCO has to be a product producing business again. We have see how well they do on that basis, and anyway who wants to deal with them knowing how they've approached this issue? I sure don't want to deal with people like that.

    This is not going to go away until they get squashed in court. They have made absolutely sure of that, by making incredible claims of ownership. The suspicion of free software from proprietary software trained CEOs plays into their hands. Those people, the ones who make the decisions, don't trust the opinions of the geek world. They listen to lawyerspeak. Hence, the SCO problem doesn't go away until it is clear in the never-never land of legal affairs that they have no teeth, however far fetched we might find their claims.

    Nor would it matter even if the community took the extreme action of moving to FreeBSD or Hurd, or developed a new kernel altogether. SCO would simply make more claims that they have IP that any possible functional OS kernel would have to infringe on. As awful as it sounds, that is in fact the purpose of some IP claims - people want to occupy strong positions to be able to legally make claims like that. So it doesn't sound as bizarre to some people as it does to us. I doubt it is true, but they have nothing to lose at this point and SCO will cling to the ankles of the open source community until they are struck off by a judges gavel. Nothing else will carry any weight whatsoever.

    So kudos to ESR for telling them off as they deserve, but aside from those already convinced SCO has lost it this won't do much. In corporate america lawyers are IT in matters such as this. We are going to have to batten the hatches and weather the storm, because SCO has targeted open source. This has (IMHO) been about destroying the free software world from day one, and they won't stop even if the linux kernel gets abandoned. There will still be a viable free operating system out there of some kind, and they will still have more work to do. We can't satisfy them as long as we exist.
    • by 47PHA60 ( 444748 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:23AM (#6793424) Journal
      In the case of Linux, they have no financial incentive to show their cards - they cannot occupy a better position than they do now.

      Actually, they may be in a legally precarious position. If you claim contract violation, the judge is likely to ask how the plaintiff tried to mitigate damages. If the defendant says "we offered to fix the problem, but they refused to tell us what we did wrong, then demanded 3billion USD," the plaintiff has a problem.

      For example, the Free Software Foundation has never sued anyone. They see a GPL violation; if they hold the copyright on the software, they contact the offendor and tell him to comply with the GPL. The offender complies (often it is just a mistake, not malice or attempted theft), and the damage is undone. There is no longer a reason to go to court, and if the FSF did sue, the judge would throw out the case, as the damage was mitigated willingly by the defendant.
  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:20AM (#6792924) Homepage Journal

    It's all nice and good that people are rebutting SCO's wild (and daily) claims, but why are they all filled with the same spittle-fringed invective and circus atmosphere? I could understand phrases like 'smoking crack' and 'drinking kool-aid', I could expect droll movie references, I could predict overzealous bravado from the pages of Slashdot. But why are these child-like protests included in the official "open letters" being sent to mainstream press and directly to SCO's offices?

    It embarasses me when I see the "luminaries" of the Open Source (and Free Software yadda) communities begging for attention with such antics. It just entrenches the world's view that all Linux users are immature, unwashed hacker bumpkins with Luke Skywalker style gadget belts, a DeCSS t-shirt, and a security-cracking Zaurus in hand.

    IBM is the role-model here, as well as the champion of our battle. IBM has successfully married pin-stripes and rack-mounts. While we're not "passing our statements through IBM" and IBM isn't "orchestrating" our feedback, they surely could teach us something about effective and professional resistance to the legal challenges brought against Linux.

    • by BigBadBri ( 595126 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:43AM (#6793091)
      So there's a 'correct' mode of speech?

      One that the lawyers like?
      That the politicians like?
      That passes for polite conversation at a Mormon fondue party?
      That is neutered, sterile and grey?

      Come off it - when someone is personally maligned as Eric Raymond was by Darl McBride, the use of invective and sarcasm is not only justified, but almost mandatory.

      SCO is trying to destroy the Open Source movement for their own greed - if that doesn't make you angry enough to react properly, then nothing will.

      And IBM can handle the 'effective and professional resistance' to the lawsuit, while those with wit and style (like Raymond and Torvalds) fight the PR battle.

      Chill out, square daddy!

      • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:18AM (#6794191) Journal
        Sorry, but I just don't agree.

        ESR has a long history of writing tirades like a 14 year old fanboy, albeit one with an excellent grasp of English.

        It is possible to write a STRONG article--one full of very clear and ferocious intent, that doesn't contain sophmoric sarcasm and literary raspberries.

        Interestingly, ESR quoted Jeff Gerhardt, who managed to do exactly what ESR fails at: tear a strip off of SCO and Darl, offer them a way out, make it PERFECTLY clear where he (and his supporters) stands, and remain mature.
  • by cnb ( 146606 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:21AM (#6792927)

    really is this just a troll or what? probably
    does more damage to the open source community
    then any good.

    i mean was the guy drunk or something?

    It makes "Flamebait" on slashdot seem "Insightful".
  • by tds67 ( 670584 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:23AM (#6792950)
    Eric S. Raymond
    President, Open Source Initiative
    Friday, 20 August 2003

    So now Eric Raymond is attacking SCO from other time dimensions? SCO is in DEEP doo-doo now!

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:23AM (#6792955) Homepage

    Take a blue pill, Eric. Who do you think you're speaking for? What is your "alliance" cooking up next? An 10% increase in the amount of outrage on Slashdot? 15% more "IANAL, but somewun shood sew SCO!!!!" posts? Ooh, how about a "yeah, us too, they're, like, bad men" rider on IBM or Red Hat's counter-suits?

    I for one would really like to know what ESR and his OSI disciples are "cooking up". We've heard enough bullshit and veiled threats from SCO over this matter. I am simply not interested in being associated with someone prepared to lower himself to their level in that respect.

    Put up or shut up, Eric. And while you're at it, don't drag Linus into this. He's a big boy, he can speak for himself.

    • Make a stand (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sbranden ( 471243 )
      Personally, I think esr has done the right thing here. If someone threatened my family, my community (read OSS in this case) or myself then I would hold my ground and stand up. Too many people and organisations let others push them around.
  • by Ratface ( 21117 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:28AM (#6792988) Homepage Journal
    He's the first person I've seen who makes ESR look like he's *not* a paranoid conspiracy nut! :-D

  • Is Darl OK? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:30AM (#6793002) Journal
    Dear Darl,

    I knew when we went all weekend without a SCO story that things were a little off. Now the only SCO news we get are dupes. Are you feeling OK?

    You haven't said much in awhile. Either the ESR response cornered you (doubtful) or you've run out of things to say (more likely). Darl, please issue a new press release. We haven't heard from you in awhile and I want to make sure you're still OK. You were innovating so much with all those press releases, one right after another, and now with this lack of press releases I wonder, have you stifled your own innovation? Also, I haven't fallen on my ass laughing boisterously since Friday, and I need some inspiration. Thanks!

    Your friend

    PS I still owe you a SCO license. The check is in the mail, I promise.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:31AM (#6793008)
    SCO's MIT mathematicians go AWOL

    SCO said, they had three teams, including a team from MIT math department, examine their "proof" of UNIX code improperly in Linux

    1. No such team could be found at MIT. And SCO are back tracking on this claim. []

    2. Here is an example quote that SCO made about MIT math involvement: rnment/legalissues/story/0,10801,81973,00.html []

    SCO was able to uncover the alleged violations by hiring three teams of experts, including a group from the MIT math department, to analyze the Linux and Unix source code for similarities. "All three found several instances where our Unix source code had been found in Linux," said a SCO spokesman.
  • by wildzeke ( 191754 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:32AM (#6793016)
  • by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:33AM (#6793028)
    ...that discusses getting preliminary injunctions against them, you can go here. []
  • by A_Non_Moose ( 413034 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:52AM (#6793163) Homepage Journal
    SCO = Stupid, Confused Org.

    ESR = Eric's SCO Rage.

    IBM = It's Better Manually.

    IANAL = I Am Not a Lawyer/Llama.

    I hope this clears up the confusion for TECBA's.
    (Those Easily Confused By Acronyms).

  • Speaking for whom? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tarsi210 ( 70325 ) * <> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @09:55AM (#6793184) Homepage Journal
    There's lots of comments about how ESR "isn't speaking for me!" and shouldn't be lowering himself to the level of SCO's attacks. Frankly, I was refreshed and glad he said what he wrote for a couple of reasons.

    One, it said what I've been thinking for ages -- you're screwing with the wrong community on this one. Some of you are going, "What? What community?" Maybe it's just me, but there is a large number of people, using open source, who basically have the same mindset about such things. No, we don't always agree, but that's our strength, not our weakness. Flexibility is more profitable than agreement. ESR's commentary is just playing back what a lot of us, maybe not all of us, but most of us have thought about SCO one time or another.

    That being said, another reason is because in order to mobilize a community of anyone, you have to have inspiring people to "wake up" the masses and get them thinking in terms of defense, retaliation, protection. ESR's letter maybe be frank, bold, perhaps even cocky, but it gets the point across -- we're getting tired of this shit. Time to do something about it. Perhaps this won't mobilize anything and y'all will just stay reclined in your chairs sipping another Bawlz. But if it gets you on your feet asking what you can do to further the open source movement and defense, well...then the job is done.

    You might not fully agree with ESR and you might think he's a pompous prick, even. But I think his point still rings true -- SCO is being a real dumbass and they're getting way annoying. Time that they put up or shut up, and if they don't, the community (for whatever that means) needs to start taking the stage to defend what we think is worth defending.
  • by sharv ( 71041 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:05AM (#6793265) Homepage
    He made a comment near the end of the article about "serving my people". While I admire ESR for his single-minded zealotry, I also fear that same single-minded zealotry.

    I'm glad someone is out there fighting for What's Right, but agreeing with ESR on this topic doesn't automatically make me one of "his people".

    Does it?

  • ESR: Shut up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enry ( 630 ) <> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:14AM (#6793331) Journal
    Just because you can shout louder than everyone else doesn't make you right or a representative of the community as a whole. Linus calling McBride crazy is one thing. You making threats is just juvenile and an embarrasment to the rest of us. RMS doesn't try to pass himself off as a Linux representative, and he does a very good job of it.
  • by pergamon ( 4359 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:31AM (#6793546) Homepage
    Great. Whether SCO has any case whatsoever the press concerning this story is one of the biggest threats to Linux and open source adoption in corporations in quite some time. While OSI documents like Halloween 9 [] are useful, they probably won't get quoted. When ESR, especially when he explicitly is writing as the president of the OSI like in this article, posts an immature rant like this it does more harm than good by providing SCO and reporters covering the story with quotable examples of immaturity and complete lack of tact. Imagine a CNN article on the subject pulling out
    "I'm in at least semi-regular communication with most of the people and organizations who are causing you problems right now."

    followed by
    "Take that offer while you still can, Mr. McBride. So far your so-called 'evidence' is crap; you'd better climb down off your high horse before we shoot that sucker entirely out from under you."

    which could easily be a mob threat. Do you want your boss to see this in the press?

    "Was this what you wanted out of life, to end up imitating the doomed villain in a cheesy B movie? Tell me, does that dark helmet fit comfortably? Are all the minions cringing in proper form? "No, Mr. Torvalds, I expect you to die!" I'd ask if you'd found the right sort of isolated wasteland for your citadel of dread yet, but that would be a silly question; you're in Utah, after all."
    ...does that cast Linux and open source in the proper light for widespread adoption in your Fortune 500 company?

    We don't have official press releases or public relations departments for the Linux and open source community as a whole. I'm not saying there should be and ESR has the right, president of OSI or not, to make any comment he wishes. I just think that this type of thing does more harm than good.
  • by rifter ( 147452 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:28AM (#6794323) Homepage

    SCO sued IBM in March, claiming that the Armonk, N.Y., company had inappropriately contributed code to the Linux operating system in violation of a Unix licensing contract that IBM had signed with AT&T but that had later been transferred to SCO. In May, Novell claimed that it, and not IBM, had the rights to the Unix source code -- a claim it later retracted.

    Novell never retracted their claim to own the UNIX license. What happened was when Novell pointed out publicly that they owned the license to UNIX and SCO had been asking them to sell it to them, SCO produced an addendum to the contract which they said transferred the license. Novell pointed out that their copy of the contract never contained that addendum, but has not said anything since. Later SCO published the quoted sentence almost verbatim in a press release (IIRC it was a quote from Darl McBride) and the press has been plagiarizing it ever since.

    I would be willing to bet hat the Novell lawyers are feverishly tryingto figure out the following:

    1) in this wacky world of law, can "double secret" addendums be considered legal?

    2) How far does the Judge's imagination need to stratch for this?

    3) Does the contract say itself anything about addendums?

    4) Where did this addendum come from?

    5) Can they punish SCO legally for fabricating the addendum?

  • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <lynxpro@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:45AM (#6794546)
    Are we viewing this whole situation too narrowly? We all know Microsoft wants Linux and the GPL discredited and that is why they "licensed" (ahem...opinion here, money laundering) SCO's intellectual property. But isn't this a two-front business war they are playing? Think about it. They provide the capital to fund SCO's drive to discredit Linux. But in turn, SCO has destroyed any corporate goodwill they might've had in the process, thus discrediting independent Unix (not tied to hardware, such as HP, IBM and Sun) as a solution. So in effect, Microsoft through its proxy combatant [SCO] is effectively hurting Linux AND Unix all at the same time. I understand now why Microsoft indemnified its customers, conveniently before SCO raised their asking price from $1 billion to $3 billion in the lawsuit against IBM...
    • I think equating "independent Unix" with "SCO" is naive at best. The software that SCO actually sells hasn't been a credible player in a decade. Unixware was actually fairly nice, but recent versions have been thoroughly tainted by the inconceivably horrid legacy SCO code base. If SCO has any corporate goodwill it's only among people who haven't actually been forced to use their products...

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers