September 24, 2003

Linux luminaries weigh in on HP's SCO indemnification

- by Joe Barr and Robin 'Roblimo' Miller -
Linus Torvalds (via email): "Hey, as long as they aren't paying SCO for it or similar, I'm all for it." (He's talking about HP's just-announced program to indemnify HP's Linux-using customers against IP lawsuits from SCO.)

Linus also said, "As we don't believe SCO has a case, and we're willing to put our money
on it,' indemnification is wonderful. It might be a cynical marketing tactic, but if people are asking for it, why not?

"But I haven't got any inside scoop in what went on. I'd be disappointed in
HP if they made some agreement with SCO. It's the old 'we don't negotiate
with terrorists' thing ..."

Bruce Perens (also via email): "Indemnification is really meaningless. All of the various parties offering
it will only refund your purchase price for their software, not your real
damages. So, you get nothing that you would not get just by downloading the
software from one of the sites that distribute Open Source without charge.
Then again, SCO's rantings are just as meaningless, and they have
zero chance of prevailing in court, so indemnity is easy to offer.

"People who consider indemnity important need to look more deeply into it."

Eric S Raymond (also via email): "Well. the first thing that occurs to me is this: HP obviously
doesn't think SCO is going to win its case. They're one of the
perpetual Unix licensees from way back; if they thought indemnification were
a substantial risk, it would have cost them nothing to take SCO's side --
and they actually have some reason to do so, in order to slow the
erosion of their high-margin HP-UX business.

"The second thing that occurs to me is that this is a move to one-up
IBM in the Linux-server business increasingly important to both firms."

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