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Two Perspectives on The SCO Group

Aug 29, 2003, 23:30 (27 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Lane Anderson)


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[ Thanks to Matt Asay for this link. ]

"What if a behemoth, multi-billion dollar company used something that belonged to you to make a fortune? You'd want a piece of it, right?

"That's the simple argument of the SCO Group, of Lindon, Utah. SCO claims that IBM has leaked some of its Unix code into Linux, the open-source software program. It filed suit against IBM in March for $1 billion, a number that has been increased to $3 billion on last count.

"But that's just the beginning. In May, SCO also sent letters to 1,500 large companies warning that Linux is tainted with its stolen code, and those that use it they may be legally responsible. That's when all hell broke loose. Never mind that major corporations like IBM and Novell are betting their business on Linux. SCO also awakened the ire of geeks everywhere, mobilizing a force of fervent open source advocates who are pillorying the software company on chat groups, launched a denial-of-service attack on its Web site, and picketed its headquarters. Of course, it doesn't help that just two months ago, SCO, a former Linux supplier, was one of them. That's where SCO's simple argument starts to get a little sticky..."

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The Economist: Of Monkeys and Penguins

[ Thanks to Sebastià Pla i Sanz for this link. ]

"SCO, for anyone who has never heard of the company, is pronounced 'skoh', as in Scopes. Indeed 'the SCO case' of 2003 sounds increasingly like the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, which pitted religious fundamentalists against progressives wanting to teach Darwin alongside the Bible in American classrooms. The SCO case plays the same role in a culture war now consuming the software industry. On one side are the equivalents of the fundamentalists--buttoned-down types clinging to proprietary and closed computer systems. Facing them are today's evolutionists--the pony-tailed set championing collaboration and openness in the form of Linux, an operating system that anybody can download and customise for nothing. The 1925 trial had a monkey as its symbol; the 2003 case has the Linux trademark, a cute penguin.

"Leading the fundamentalists is Darl McBride, who was hired as SCO's chief executive a year ago. SCO was called Caldera at the time, and was in a sorry state. It distributed Linux, but was bad at it and made losses. Caldera had, however, recently bought the rights to UNIX, an old operating system, from a Californian firm, Santa Cruz Operations, which in turn had bought them from Novell, which had got them from AT&T. Mr McBride, like several directors at Caldera, has worked for Novell and is a devout Mormon. He seemed a natural choice to rescue the firm..."

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