[linux-elitists] [mds@hsmds2.prnewswire.com: SCO Suspends Distribution of Linux Pending Intellectual Property...]

Nathaniel Smith njs@uclink4.berkeley.edu
Thu May 15 14:27:26 PDT 2003

On Thu, May 15, 2003 at 11:46:48AM -0700, Alan DuBoff wrote:
> I'm glad it was IBM they chose to go after, because IBM can stand up to the 
> challenge...but they've got a lot to explain to wiggle out of it, at least if 
> there is fact to the comments from the complaint that are listed on SCO's 
> website.
> You can be certain the IBM legal weanies are not patting Mills on the back 
> and telling him what a fine job he's done...

Am I reading the same quotes everyone else is?  I can see how the
stuff at http://www.sco.com/scosource/quotes_from_complaint.html is
maybe suggestive, in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink circumstantial sort of
way, but what's so damning about it all?

The first one, we have IBM and Red Hat jointly saying that IBM is big
on Linux, and has contributed "technology and resources".  Duh, we
knew that -- the question is whether they've contributed technology

Then we have Robert LeBlanc saying that IBM will be helping Linux get
up to speed so it can replace Monterey/AIX, and that they've made
contributions like JFS already.  There's the rather alarming quote
"we're willing to open source any part of AIX that the Linux community
considers valuable", but it's easy to imagine an assumed "as long as
we're not breaking the law by doing so" --- especially since 1) he's
describing principles and strategies, not fine contractual details,
and 2) the quote is meaningless unless someone actually produces
illegally open-sourced parts of AIX.

Then we have Richard Michos saying that IBM hires people to work on
Linux.  Big whoop.

And then e-Business Developer claiming that some AIX code was donated
to Linux -- again, big whoop, we knew this.

Then IDC reports that IBM expects Linux to replace UNIX... so what.

Then, in a quote that for once actually speaks to the issues (albeit
indirectly), Steve Mills at LinuxWorld says that IBM will use its
experience with AIX to bring Linux up to speed -- I guess that might
be understood as saying that AIX engineers (who might have proprietary
knowledge) will work on Linux, and thus there could be some
proprietaryness spillover, but it's a bit weak.  Nowhere in the quote
does he actually do more than promise to spend a lot of money to make
Linux better.  (I guess if you're reading quickly, "IBM's deep
experience with AIX and its 250-member open-source development team
will be applied to...Linux..." could read as if 250 AIX developers
were being assigned to work on Linux, but that doesn't make much sense
-- since when are people working on the AIX kernel an "open-source
development team"?  And besides which, this part isn't even Steve
Mills, but some reporter.)

Then finally we have the apparently totally irrelevant quote from the
Register about distributions.  Reading between the lines, I think it's
pretty obvious that they're worried about being sued for patent
infringement for code _outside the kernel_ -- i.e., they don't feel
they can adequately vet the thousands of packages that your average
distro includes.

I just don't see anything here (or anywhere else on their website) but
innuendo.  I guess these quotes are useful in establishing the
plausiblity of whatever code they're complaining about having made
it's way from SCO to Linux... but then, as other people have said, the
chain the other way is a lot shorter, considering that _all_ SCO
employees have access to the Linux source.

I wonder how much damage they can do with all this FUD (in the
original sense) before getting smacked down?  And does SCO think it
alone will be an acceptable ROI?

-- Nathaniel

.i dei jitfa fanmo xatra

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