SGI: Letter to the Linux Community
Oct 02, 2003, 01:30 (30 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rich Altmaier)
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October 1, 2003
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
SGI's 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 removed.
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.
VP of Software, SGI