August 6, 2004

Why people weren't talking about The SCO Group at LinuxWorld

Author: Chris Preimesberger

SAN FRANCISCO -- In 2003, much of the talk at LinuxWorld Expo & Conference was of
the increasing worry about IP litigation involving Linux and Unix, especially
emanating from Lindon, Utah, via The SCO
. SCO had filed a $5 billion lawsuit the previous March against IBM,
contending that Big Blue had knowingly misused and distributed SCO's Unix System V
code within its AIX operating system. A lot of not-very-nice words were used last
year to describe the litigation that SCO was initiating. This year, things were
different; the name "SCO" was seldom heard. UPDATED

*UPDATED* Oh, there are still plenty of SCO-involved lawsuits (IBM, AutoZone, Red Hat,
Novell, etc.) shuffling their way through the courts. All but one minor point in SCO's certification
infringement lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler was satisfied between the two companies out of court prior to the case being dismissed by a judge, so that case is effectively off the boards (more on the DaimlerChrysler deal at this link). No solid evidence has turned up during legal
"discovery" that incriminates IBM as being a patent-dodger or license denigrator.
In fact, IBM has poured a great amount of corporate legal talent, time, effort, and
money into proving SCO wrong; it has said in so many words that it intends to beat
the rap, no matter how long it takes.

Bruce Perens, a longtime leader in the free software and open source community,
spoke extensively about the threats to Linux and free software in general at the
2003 conference in his annual "state of open source" address. Surprisingly, he
didn't even mention SCO this year.

Perens has taken this battle another step further as a board member of Open Source Risk Management, which
indemnifies companies against Linux IP litigation. He spent his time during his talk introducing OSRM and explaining its mission, which is to take
a larger look at legal threats to Linux and other open source software. SCO is one
of the key reasons why this new insurance company was organized.

Perens sounds off

"Why is nobody talking about SCO? They're toast, that's why," Perens said. "What
would I say about them? There's nothing left of them."

Well, SCO does have several hundred employees in several locations around the
world. There is something left of them.

"When a company makes unfounded assertions for a month or two, it can be dismissed
as a mistake or wishful thinking. When the distortions go on for a full year, it
becomes difficult to explain the behavior as anything but a deliberate fraud meant
to hurt Linux. SCO's campaign against Linux was aimed solely at kiting their stock
from 50 cents to over $20 on many statements that, it is turning out, weren't true,
" Perens said.

Other LinuxWorld attendees felt the same way.

"SCO has yet to prove anything, as far as I'm concerned," said one IT manager from
Bristol, Conn. "They're a bunch of bumblers. Why can't they stick to UnixWare and
their current licensees and leave everybody else alone?"

"Frankly, I'm real, real tired about worrying and talking about SCO," said a Linux
developer from Toronto. "I don't have time anymore for this stuff. I've got work to
do, you know? I used up all my commentary on this topic months ago. I haven't
gotten a letter from them, and I don't expect to."

Overall, it wasn't the newsiest LinuxWorld conference ever. But there were
undoubtedly a lot of sales and partnership deals made. This was the first bona fide
LinuxWorld Business Conference. Perhaps the organizers should consider changing the
name for next year.

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