October 1, 2003

SGI letter to the Open Source Community

To the Linux Community:

As one of many contributors to the Open Source movement and to Linux,
SGI takes the subject of intellectual property rights seriously. Our
contributions are a valuable expression of ideas which contribute to
the intellectual richness of Linux.

Over the past four years, SGI has released over a million lines of code
under an open source license. Throughout, we have carried out a
rigorous internal process to ensure that all software contributed by
SGI represents code we are legally entitled to release as open source.

When a question was raised by the community earlier in the summer about
the ate_utils.c routine, we took immediate action to address it. We
quickly and carefully re-reviewed our contributions to open source, and
found brief fragments of code matching System V code in three generic
routines (ate_utils.c, the atoi function and systeminfo.h header file),
all within the I/O infrastructure support for SGI's platform. The three
code fragments had been inadvertently included and in fact were
redundant from the start. We found better replacements providing the
same functionality already available in the Linux kernel. All
together, these three small code fragments comprised no more than 200
lines out of the more than one million lines of our overall
contributions to Linux. Notably, it appears that most or all of the
System V code fragments we found had previously been placed in the
public domain, meaning it is very doubtful that the SCO Group has any
proprietary claim to these code fragments in any case.

As a precaution, we promptly removed the code fragments from SGIs Linux
website and distributed customer patches, and released patches to the
2.4 and 2.5 kernels on June 30 and July 3 to replace these routines and
make other fixes to the SGI infrastructure code that were already in
progress at SGI. Our changes showed up in the 2.5 kernel within a few
weeks of our submission, and the 2.4 changes were available in the
production version of the 2.4 kernel as of August 25 when the 2.4.22
kernel was released. Thus, the code in question has been completely

Following this occurrence, we continued our investigation to determine
whether any other code in the Linux kernel was even conceivably
implicated. As a result of that exhaustive investigation, SGI has
discovered a few additional code segments (similar in nature to the
segments referred to above and trivial in amount) that may arguably be
related to UNIX code. We are in the process of removing and replacing
these segments.

SCO's references to XFS are completely misplaced. XFS is an innovative
SGI- created work. It is not a derivative work of System V in any
sense, and SGI has full rights to license it to whomever we choose and
to contribute it to open source. It may be that SCO is taking the
position that merely because XFS is also distributed along with IRIX it
is somehow subject to the System V license. But if so, this is an
absurd position, with no basis either in the license or in common
sense. In fact, our UNIX license clearly provides that SGI retains
ownership and all rights as to all code that was not part of AT&Ts UNIX
System V.

I hope this answers some of the questions that you and the Linux
community might have. We continue to release new Linux work, and are
very excited about the growth and acceptance of Linux. We are
continuing full speed to do new work and release new Linux products.
We take our responsibility to the open source community seriously and
are confident that we have an effective process to verify the quality
and integrity of our contributions to Linux.

Rich Altmaier
VP of Software, SGI

Thanks to Eddy Macnaghten for pointing this out at http://oss.sgi.com/letter_100103.txt


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