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SCO Scores Low On Industry Good Will

Nov 20, 2003, 16:00 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)

By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today Writer

With its recent pronouncements about suing Linux customers and BSD, SCO's Darl McBride doesn't seem to be scoring very well in the good will department, judging from the reactions of Las Vegas showgoers.

McBride spelled out some of SCO's latest plans at least three times yesterday: in a press teleconference; a speech at Jupitermedia's Computer Digital Expo (CDE) in Las Vegas, and a press briefing just afterward.

Attendees at Comdex and Apache.Con--two other shows going on in Las Vegas this week--responded to the news with a mix of anger, frustration, bemusement, and concern.

In one conference session at Comdex, a showgoer asked panelists to comment on how the SCO dispute will affect desktop Linux. "Darl McBride should be put in a cage with IBM, (so they can) fight it out," replied one of the speakers.

"The situation is very unfortunate," according to David Kipping, director of business development for Trolltech, who also spoke at Comdex. SCO has gone through a number of changes over the years, Kipping pointed out, in an interview at Comdex.

"Now SCO is selling insurance. They're saying, 'You have to buy insurance from me, just to insure yourself from being sued by me.'"

Across town at Apache.Con, just about everyone's been interested in SCO's latest actions. "We're keeping a close eye on this situation, because we're very much an open shop. If SCO wins this, even in (an out-of-court) settlement, it could have an impact on what's meant by 'ownership of code,'" said Richard Smith, a developer at SAIC.

Other Apache.Con attendees talked about staging a protest during McBride's presentation last night at the Mandalay Bay. "It's probably better just not to go to McBride's speech, so there aren't as many people there to hear him," theorized another Apache.Con participant.

"This is the guy who's been 'going after Linux.' SCO wouldn't be getting any more customers now anyway, even if they hadn't stopped selling Linux," noted Chris Shiflett, an independent PHP developer, also during Apache.Con.

Until now, SCO has been "technically only going after IBM," Shiflett maintained. SCO, though, has never been willing to specify the "four things in Linux" that supposedly constitute copyright infingement.

"Meanwhile, from what I'm gathering, SCO hasn't updated UnixWare since the end of the last century," the developer quipped.

Back over at Comdex, some people were so busy with whatever brought them to Las Vegas that they hadn't heard yet about McBride's latest pronouncements. "Don't ask me. I'm a Microsoft guy. I don't know anything about Linux or SCO," shrugged one showgoer.

Others responded with shocked amazement. "Oh, man! That's wild! That's really not going to be very good fun!" predicted a software salesman scurrying by.

Noted a technician from Nebraska, in measured tones, "In my opinion, this is a lot like first saying, 'I'm going to put out a product that'll do everything for everybody'--and then turning around and saying later, 'Well now, by the way, it's not really clear whether you can use this product any more."

Predictions varied over the outcome of the dispute. "Right now, SCO isn't offering anything but threats," according to Shiflett.

"Well, good. Let SCO sue its customers! They won't win. In Germany, SCO has already been fined by the courts for making threats," observed a journalist from Slovinia, in reference to a court suit between SCO Germany and LinuxTag.

"SCO has created both the problem and the solution to it," said Trolltech's Kipping. "They'll probably continue pursuing all this to the very end."

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