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Caldera Software Linux

Wired on McBride 221

leifbk writes "Wired has a very interesting feature article on how Darl McBride and his sidekick Mike Anderer rose to fame. Some particularly juicy parts are about Anderer: 'He's supercompetitive,' said one. 'If he knows you'll faint at the sight of blood, he'll cut himself just to watch you pass out.'" A very thorough retelling of the legend that is SCO.
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Wired on McBride

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  • McBride is passe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @02:40PM (#9538338) Homepage Journal
    Think about it. The whole idea of history is that the victors will tell it. The losers will be written out of it or at the very worst written into it as very bad characters.

    McBride is about as bland as you get. He is the CEO of a company that produces nothing. He is fighting a movement arguably composed of nothing. He is the Don Quixote of the software world except he doesn't have half the attractiveness.

    Leave him to his money, he's got plenty of it. Linux will survive this idiotic onslaught, and whatever other challenges there are to come.

    Let's focus on making Linux better for all of us, rather than fighting windmills.

    Good idea, eh muchacho?
  • Re:class clown (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @02:51PM (#9538404)

    In the story text, he's described as "supercompetitive." I think a more straightforward description would be that he's a sociopath.
  • Re:Competetive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @03:09PM (#9538502) Journal
    That's not being competetive (sic). That's being an ASSHOLE. What kind of pers-- I think I just answered my question.

    From the Slashdot post: Some particularly juicy parts are about Anderer: 'He's supercompetitive,' said one. 'If he knows you'll faint at the sight of blood, he'll cut himself just to watch you pass out.'

    Being an aggressive asshole is the way to get ahead! Now move out of my way, you fucking peons! Don't get between me and my yacht!

    These wunderkinds don't create anything. They haven't discovered anything. They don't even seem to make particularly astute business decisions.

    All they're good at is blundering ahead, kissing the asses of those with power, back-slapping their "friends", and intimidating everyone else.

    But we've allowed them to succeed despite the fact that they've never contributed a damn thing.

    Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine. Did he ever become as rich as Darl McBride or Mike Anderer?

    Ken Thompson, and Dennis Ritchie wrote the Unix Operating System that Darl claims gives him the rights to Linus Torvalds's linux.

    Where are Thompson's or Ritchie's or Torvalds's millions?

    Well, Thompson and Ritchie got paychecks from AT&T, and AT&T sold Unix to Novell which sold it to Darl's company. So, according to the magic of capitalism -- and the recent additonal idea that corporate CEOs deserve the lion's share of their companies' profits --, the millions belong to Darl.

    Torvalds is (according to capitalism) a dumb-ass -- smart enough to write linux, but a dumb-ass nonetheless -- because he gives linux away for free. So no millions for Linus.

    Now an good capitalist will tell you that Thompson and Ritchie preferred regular paychecks to working on their own and owning Unix outright. And the capitalist would be right: when all capital is concentrated in the hands of the sons and grandsons of the guys who stole it in the first place, Thompson and Ritchie were free -- to starve.

    And a good capitalist will explain to you that the marketplace has determined -- correctly, because the marketplace can't be wrong, that's an axiom of capitalism -- that Darl McBride is socially;y far more valuable than Thompson or Ritchie or Torvalds. Even though without those peons, Darl McBride wouldn't have even a claim to his money.

    I'm no socialist., no communist. I see a value to capitalism, to the way the Market allows those with needs to meet those with the means to supply those needs. I think we'd be in deep shit if government tried to "manage" what the market takes care of so handily. And I even see a need to generously pay those CEOs and MBAs whose work makes the Market work so efficiently.

    But something is out of kilter when the heroes aren't the innovators, the discovers, the creators, but the MBAstard who can best throw his weight around.

    Do I have a solution to propose? Not really.

    Maybe we should adjust patent law such that inventors always retain some stake in their invention, even after assigning a patent -- sort of the way European copyright law recognizes creators' rights that can be sold and other rights that can't given up under any contract.

    Perhaps we ought to say that after the first ten million in profits to a corporation on a patent, five percent of remaining profits belong to the original inventor, no matter how the patent has been assigned.

    Perhaps we ought to establish a national version of the Nobel prizes, and give them to men like Dennis Ritchie.

    Or maybe we should just mandate that CEOs can't make more than, say 1000 times what their lowest paid employee makes. If the lowest paid employee makes $20,000 a year, the CEO would be limited to twenty million a year.

    I don't have the answers. But I know that something's wrong here.
  • by BRock97 ( 17460 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @03:20PM (#9538543) Homepage
    He is bland, a braggart, and doesn't know when to shut up, but what he is trying to do (namely, the profit off of intellectual property) cannot be ignored. The wired article makes a great point on the last page []: "Darl McBride is right about one thing: There's a big problem with Linux. <snip> The problem is that the free operating system created by Torvalds and his collaborators is poorly documented."

    To be honest, if it wasn't going to be McBride, it would be someone else down the line that would exploit this little problem. Most open source advocates would hate to say it, but with this kind of question looming over Linux as an operating system, some bigger companies won't look at it in the same light as they would, say, Microsoft Windows or Sun Solaris. It is good that, not unlike a band-aid, this is getting done now so that even the big corporations can know what most of us already do; without a question or a doubt, Linux is safe to use.

    I see no windmills here, but a true dragon that needs to be slayed.
  • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @03:22PM (#9538555)
    There may indeed be a holy war raging, but SCO joined it out of desperation, not in deference to a higher calling. The very day that McBride took the job as CEO in 2002, the company, then a friendly Linux reseller known as Caldera Systems, received a delisting notice from Nasdaq - despite having done a reverse four-for-one stock split just three months before. It then spent $4 million in a stock buyback to boost the price, which left the business with less than four months' worth of cash in the bank. Caldera's Linux operation was spending $4 for every dollar in revenue it earned. McBride faced a nearly hopeless situation. One of his first moves was to change the name of the company to the SCO Group and craft a strategy to use its ownership of Unix as a legal weapon against the Linux community.

    When your company is dying, change its name and start suing people. Yep, SCO is very much an influential leader in the technology industry. No wonder so many people want to use their products.
  • by NigelJohnstone ( 242811 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @03:38PM (#9538655)
    The wired story says that the claims that Microsoft invested in SCO via Baystar are unfounded. No, they're *unproven*.

    Just to remind you, the details of SCOs claims were outed by CT magazine in AUGUST 20th 2003: ml

    At this point it was clear SCO claims were junk. Not least because SCO story changed repeatedly, eventually claiming it was an example of code *like* the code shown by CT but not the actual code itself.

    LATER, in OCTOBER Baystar & RBC made the completely irrational investment. At this time it was clear SCO wouldn't prevail and their investiment simply kept them going. tm ent/2100-7344_3-5092702.html?tag=nl

    So a claim that Baystar did it because it believed SCO would make money from the lawsuits doesn't sound plausible.

    Since then we had the Opera settlement, where Microsoft paid Opera 12.75 million and a term of the deal seemed to have been that they keep the money secret (only revealed by a leak).$12+million +p ayment+to+Opera/2100-1032_3-5218163.html?tag=nefd. lede

    So this seems to show that indeed Microsoft can and does hide money payments.

  • Re:Father ?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gsfprez ( 27403 ) * on Saturday June 26, 2004 @03:47PM (#9538709)
    he helped himself closer to godhood by having 7 children, actually.

    don't believe me? Read the books yourself.
  • by ThisIsFred ( 705426 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @03:53PM (#9538751) Journal
    Warning: Invective ahead. This post is rated 'R'.

    The article contains about a billion inaccuracies, but I'm hoping that at least McBride's quotes haven't been altered, or this fact for that matter: Caldera was spending $4 for every $1 it made. Think about that for a second. Redhat is making money from selling services on top of GNU/Linux. IBM is making money from selling services on top of GNU/Linux. But, Caldera is losing money.

    Why is that? Could it be that Caldera's business model was boxing and and selling software through regular retail channels? Could it be that Caldera wasted a lot of development effort trying to take ownership of a product that was mostly GNU (read: industry standard) at the core by attempting to build proprietary extensions on it? I've reserved personal judgment about McBride up until this point: He's a shithead, pure and simple. No one will ever be able to convince him of that, but perhaps SCO shareholders could convince him that he's not working for fucking Microsoft, so that business model doesn't apply to his company. Attention dumbfuck McBride: Pick a business model that's profitable!

    Let's imagine for a moment some other famous CEO reacted the same way when the status quo began to crumble. Let's take Andy Grove on example. When Intel was losing ground the Japanese memory manufacturers, did they fold up shop, cancel R&D, and refuse change while suing both makers and buyers or foreign memory chips? Sure they dabbled in some protectionist tactics, but eventually they just changed their focus to something that the Japanese could not readily produce cheaply in mass quantities.

    I'd predicted last year that SCO's purpose was not a stock pump-and-dump scheme, but an attempt destroy open source, specifically those projects that fall under the GPL; An attack on the common infrastructure of the "enemy". The article contains, in McBride's own words, an admission of such.
  • IBM not OSS hero (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:00PM (#9538790) Homepage Journal
    I find it fascinating that IBM is now the defender of free software and Sun and MS are the defender of closed software. This is a dangerous oversimplification.

    First, what MS is prompting is software licensing, not closed software. They want everyone to pay a fee to gain the privilege to use a piece of software, and in the process agree to certain things that will insure a future cash-flow. All MS wants is money in exchange for software. This was somewhat of a new idea. The software itself was the product. It was no longer part of a service. If you wanted service, that will cost extra. It extended this concept through licensing with third parties. The purchaser of a system was now entitled to no MS support. The fee only covered the use of the software. Closed source or whatever is just a means to that end. One advantage to this is that hardware, software, and services are sold separately, which creates a confusion about responsibility and minimizes support costs.

    IBM, OTOH, sells services. They want to sell you the hard and soft ware as well, but they are a solutions provider. As far as I know, they always have been. Obviously back in the 70's there was no software, so they had to write it. This worked until MS told everyone that MS could provide the same service for a lesser price, which was more or less a lie, but whatever. Now IBM is just trying to make the business model work. They can put their solutions around whatever OS. They just want to sell the solutions. It turns out that the best way they can gain market-share back from MS is by supported OSS. MS really has no defense against this because they have no reputation as a service provider.

    Sun is just trying to survive. The settlement is part of that survival and cannot be taken as evidence of anything. Sun has been abused as much as SCO. They have had as much technology 'misappropriated'. Unlike SCO, they are not carpet bombing the industry. They are working hard to create a competetive product.

    Additionally, there are often question of why IBM did not buy out SCO. My belief is that we cannot assume they did not try. Until recently a majority of SCO stock was held by insiders, and much of the rest by institutional investors. I believe this means that it would have been very hard for IBM to just buy a block of stock at market prices, then go in and replace the board. They would have had to negotiate with the board, and one assumes that the board would have laughed at a 20 million, or even 80 million, dollar offer, which was the SCO market cap.

  • by geoff lane ( 93738 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:29PM (#9538954)
    Though we don't know for sure, most people think that IBM has decided to destroy SCO in the courts in order to discourage any others who may think that it's a good business idea to sue IBM in the hope that they'll get bought just to put an end to the irritation.

    IBM has a reputation to keep here - to be accused of theft and contract irregularities and not to prove the charges as false would be a very bad business move.
  • Article Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThisIsFred ( 705426 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:34PM (#9538980) Journal

    McBride and Anderer are two business world vagrants that made their millions from aquisition bonuses. Neither is particularly adept at actually running a business. The SCO situation blew up in their faces. The end.
  • Re:Competetive? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vsprintf ( 579676 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @05:27PM (#9539236)

    Or maybe we should just mandate that CEOs can't make more than, say 1000 times what their lowest paid employee makes. If the lowest paid employee makes $20,000 a year, the CEO would be limited to twenty million a year.

    I agree with most of your comment, but a 1000-to-one difference is still insane. IIRC, in the sixties, CEOs of large companies typically made no more than 60 times the average worker's salary. Aside from huge egos, insatiable greed, a lack of shame, and complete dishonesty and disregard for the law, what makes an American CEO worth 1000 workers who actually produce something?

  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @05:37PM (#9539286)
    There *is* very good documentation on where the code has come from -- despite what the article says.

    I think what he's talking about here is the fact that Linus doesn't have super psychic powers to be able to descern that when code is submited it is really unique and not merely that he knows who submitted the code.

    But that propriatary software makers do.

    We can confirm this for ourselves by applying our own super psychic powers against propriatary code. If you do this you will find that you cannot detect any code that has been copied from some other source.

    So who are you going to believe, Linus, or your own third eye?

  • by vsprintf ( 579676 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @05:51PM (#9539341)

    What I find curious is why a company would hire somebody with McBride's background.

    If you're a dying company in Lindon, Utah with no money, you put an ad in the Nickel Shopper for a CEO. Darl knocks the meadow muffins off his boots, walks down the block, and applies for the job. End of story.

  • by SEE ( 7681 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @06:18PM (#9539451) Homepage
    He expresses surprise that IBM didn't simply purchase SCO and donate the Unix code to the public domain; it would've been much cheaper than the current legal fracas.

    It is always a temptation to a lawyer-armed corporation,
    To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
    "We filed a suit last night -- we are quite prepared to fight,
    Unless you pay us cash to go away."

    And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
    And the people who ask it explain
    That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
    And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

    It is always a temptation to a rich corporation,
    To puff and look important and to say:--
    "Though we know we should defeat you, it would cost too much to beat you.
    We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

    And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we've proved it again and again,
    That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.

    It is wrong to put temptations in the path of corporations,
    For fear they should succumb and go astray,
    So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
    You will find it better policy to says:--

    "We never pay any one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost,
    For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    Corporations that play it are lost!"
  • Makes no sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scott Richter ( 776062 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @06:24PM (#9539484)
    A CEO who pays himself more than 40 times the median salary at his company is basically stealing.

    Then the CEO of McDonalds would make less than his lawyers. Let's think this through.

  • by dmaxwell ( 43234 ) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @08:32PM (#9540011)
    In the FOSS world, reputation counts for a quite a bit more. Code trees and user bases live or die based on reputation. Look at XFree86. A few months ago, they were the canonical implementation of X11. One bad licensing move later and they're blowing away like a fart in the wind.

    If IBM truly intends to use FOSS as a vehicle to (legitimately) make money then they need the trust of the developers as well as their customers.

    All that and SCO's accusations are not to be tolerated. IBM also has to maintain credibility in the business world. SCO's accusations are not to be tolerated and trying to interfere the AIX business is completely beyond the pale. They got between mother bear and her cubs there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @10:34PM (#9540436)
    There should be a mod option +5 Insanely Funny
  • Interesting ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grell ( 9450 ) on Sunday June 27, 2004 @12:10AM (#9540702) Homepage
    ...How little comment this generates.

    Why? Except for the eternal optimists hanging onto SCO stock, no one cares.

    We're all just quietly waiting for the corporate equivalent of the sound of quick fried mosquito as SCO hits the Big Blue bug zapper.

    It's not a totally useless article though.
    It will serve as a great "See this? don't depend on this behavior as a business model, mmmkay?" warning in years to come.


Keep up the good work! But please don't ask me to help.