August 19, 2003

Linus on McBride's latest claim

- by Joe Barr -

Darl McBride is at it again. According to a VNUNet.com story this morning, McBride claimed yesterday at the SCOForum Conference in Las Vegas that there are over a million lines of copyrighted SCO code in Linux. He added that they can't be removed because only SCO knows which lines they are.

Earlier statements by McBride indicate that SCO code didn't begin showing up in Linux until the 2.4 version. According to David Wheeler's analysis of the total lines of code in Linux, the kernel grew from 1,526,722 lines in version 2.2 to 2,437,470 lines of code by release 2.4.2.

If McBride's latest unsubstantiated claim is to be believed, the Linux kernel developers didn't actually contribute any new lines of code to the 2.4 release. It all would have had to come from SCO.

McBride's claim of the impossibility of removing SCO code from Linux may have been partially in response to an offer from open source advocate Eric S. Raymond, who recently said:

"We challenge SCO to specify exactly which code it believes to be infringing, by file and line number, and on what grounds it is infringing. Only with disclosure can we begin the process of
remedying any breach that may exist. If SCO is truly concerned about
protecting its property, rather than simply using the mere accusations
as a pretext to pump its stock price and collect payoffs from
Microsoft for making trouble, then it will welcome the opportunity to
have its concerns resolved as quickly and with as little disruption as
possible. We are willing to cooperate with that."

When asked for a comment this morning, Linus Torvalds had this to say about McBride's claim of a million lines of SCO code in Linux: "He's lying."

Update:

A story at LWN.net this morning supports Linus's statement. It reveals that the code SCO showed at the conference yesterday as proof of its claims came from a 1980's version of Unix which has been licensed under a BSD-style open source license.

Joe Barr has been writing about technology for 10 years, and about Linux for five. His work has appeared in IBM Personal Systems Journal, LinuxGazette, LinuxWorld, Newsforge, phrack, SecurityFocus, and VARLinux.org. He is the founder of The Dweebspeak Primer, the official newsletter of the Linux Liberation Army.

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