Even as SCO dies, the company lies

This would be funny if only there weren't people out there who are fool enough to believe in any anti-Linus lie. I mean, how dead does SCO have to be before its anti-Linux FUD finally disappears into the history books? It's not dead enough yet it seems.

In the latest revival of SCO's long disproved claims that there's Unix in Linux, Kevin McBride, brother to SCO's ex-CEO's Darl McBride, claims in the comments to a post about the Lanham Act at his law firm's Website that, "after careful review of all these issues, … Linux DOES violate UNIX copyrights, particularly in ELF code and related tools (debugger code, etc.), header file code wherein implementation code (not just the header interface) have been copied verbatim; STREAMS code; etc. that the Linux community use without license. Then there is the entire question of the overall structure and sequence of Linux being almost an exact copy of UNIX."

McBride goes on to write, "There was MUCH more submitted in the SCO v. IBM case that I cannot disclose publicly because it is comparison of code produced by IBM under court protective order that prohibits disclosure." Oh no! Not the old SCO, "We do have evidence but we can't show it to you!" line.

In the ensuing debate, McBride tries to turn the argument from one about Linux developers at large being guilty of stealing from Unix to one of IBM being the villain of the piece. He also takes some swipes at Groklaw writing, "You all accepted Groklaw's ongoing drum beat against SCO and Darl McBride, almost as a religion. Did anyone ever critically ask about Groklaw's agenda, funding sources or allegiances?"

Why, yes, actually, I did. Pamela Jones, editor of Groklaw, is a real person , and her motivation has been, and continues to be, to report the truth. Sorry, you can try to shoot the messenger all you want, but facts are facts. There was never any real copying of Unix code into Linux. Except, of course, the copying which was done by SCO, and its predecessor company Caldera.

You see, according to Ransom Love, CEO of Caldera when it bought SCO, the original plan was to combine Unix with Linux.  Love told me in 2003, "our intention was to see how Unix could expand and extend Linux. In a lot of technologies, Linux was going in slightly different ways, but we thought Unix was the natural companion to it."

"We took the Linux code that was available and learned to cleanly match it with the Unix APIs. The idea was to adopt Linux APIs and mechanisms to function on top of a scalable Unix code designed for SMP [symmetric multiprocessing]. At the time, Linux was moving to clustering to make Linux more scalable. We wanted to combine Unix's improved symmetric multiprocessing with Linux so that it would have both excellent clustering and SMP. Indeed, at first we wanted to open-source all of Unix's code."

That didn't happen, of course. Instead Love was pushed out and leadership was brought in to change Caldera/SCO from a Unix/Linux company into one that either 1) based its whole future on the theory that it could somehow beat a billion dollars out of IBM or, as I think is more likely as the years have gone by and the feebleness of SCO's case became ever more evident, 2) worked to enrich SCO's owners while pursuing Microsoft's agenda of spreading FUD about Linux.

In any case, before SCO changed its spots, SCO had already put Unix code into Linux. Indeed, in the blog's online discussion, McBride admits that SCO did contribute STREAMS, a Unix networking/serial device technology, to the Linux community. McBride wrote, "I have always acknowledged legitimate arguments by the Linux community that the use of this code was permissive."

Come on!

Eventually, McBride does work his way to the one point where I always thought -- yes, I thought -- that Caldera/SCO actually did have a real case against IBM. McBride wrote, "The SCO v. IBM case, however, is NOT primarily a copyright case. … SCO's DIRECT case against IBM was that IBM's former Dynix programmers (Paul McKenney, et al.) improperly used UNIX methods and concepts in making Linux enterprise hardened, and that IBM stole code from Santa Cruz in Project Monterey for use in AIX modules to bring AIX up to speed in UNIX and Linux in order to better compete against Santa Cruz on Intel-based UNIX and SUN Microsystems on RISC-based UNIX. (The quality of AIX badly lagged its competitors circa 1999, during Project Monterey)."

Too bad for SCO, unless you buy that the entire effort was one massive anti-Linux FUD campaign masterminded by Microsoft, that SCO did make the lawsuit into being almost entirely about copyright. If SCO had stuck to making it about how IBM had ended SCO and IBM's joint attempt to bring AIX 5L to Intel, aka Project Monterey, then I think they had a case. From what I know of how IBM ended that contract, I think Caldera/SCO was treated badly.

But, that's not the course SCO pursued. SCO made it all about the copyrights, and that plan blew up in its face. Indeed SCO's failure to show that it, and not Novell, owned Unix's copyright is what eventually brought its legal house of cards falling down. In the end, SCO's legal cases were all about copyright, and, frankly, SCO never had a chance of winning any of its lawsuits.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon