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In His Own Words: McBride

Feb 15, 2008, 23:30 (30 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

When SCO filed their restucturing plan yesterday, a surprising number of my colleagues in the press made great hay out of the statement:

"This reorganization plan will also enable the company to see SCO's legal claims through to their full conclusion."
Suddenly, all the "fat lady" and "it ain't over till it's over" metaphors were trotted out. SCO isn't dead yet, look out Linux fans!

With all due respect to my colleagues in the press: puh-leeze.

First off, most people with a modicum of sense knew the litigation wasn't over. With bankruptcy proceedings and the SCO v. everybody cases... there was very little chance that this was all going to fade away into the abyss. At most, all of these legal proceedings will enough new cash to keep things going faster--provided the court approves the restucturing plan. Which, as far as I know, the court hasn't approved yet. The York Group reorganization proposal was nixed, you may recall.

Second off, what the heck did you expect them to say about the litigation? "Oh, gee, we're sorry about all the fuss, and we'll try to wrap things up as soon as we can"? Hardly. Such a public statement would be akin to admiting defeat and wiping out any chance of a settlement or victory, which no defendant would ever do. Of course they're going to public hype up their chances. It still does not change the fact that SCO has very little chance of prevailing in any of these cases.

As for this notion that this will drag on the litigation, let's not get carried away. The Novell trial is set for April 29. I don't see that date changing. If it does, it won't be by much. If SCO loses that case (and I have to say "if" only because I am not a lawyer), then all the other cases are blown out of the water. Yes, there's the appeal process, and now there's new coin to fund that. That is pretty much the only thing this restructuring deal has changed.

I would not be surprised if the SCO lawyers aren't privately talking settlement yet. (Which doesn't mean any of the defendants will bite, mind you. After all this trouble, IBM, Red Hat, Novell, and AutoZone may not settle for anything else less than proverbial blood.) I am not laying too many odds on a settlement offer happening, though. Given the strangely coincedental ties between SNCP's "partners in the Middle East" and Bill Gates, it does not seem likely they will play it that way.

In the meantime, the one bit of interesting news that was revealed in the restructuring proposal was the impending resignation of SCO CEO Darl McBride. To me, that signaled the end of an era. The age of CEO-driven FUD will seem so much more... quieter if McBride indeed leaves SCO. What can be said about McBride that hasn't been said already? Rather than try to sum up his tenure at The SCO Group, I would rather pause and remember his own words (of which there were many). For myself, I can only recall the words of my childhood friend, who would often part with me saying: "Seeya! Wouldn'twannabeya!"

"'SCO is in the enviable position of owning the UNIX operating system,' said Darl McBride, president and CEO, SCO, in an interview with eWeek [March 6, 2003]. 'It is clear from our stand point that we have an extremely compelling case against IBM. SCO has more than 30,000 contracts with UNIX licensees and upholding these contracts is as important today as the day they were signed.'"

"CRN: What components does SCO allege IBM donated to the open-source community?
McBride: I can't answer that right now for legal reasons. It will be discussed in court. But we're not talking about insignificant amounts of code. It's substantial System V code showing up in Linux."

"Are you still saying categorically that there is offending code in the Linux kernel?
Yeah. That one is a no-brainer. When you look in the code base and you see line-by-line copy of our Unix System V code--not just the code itself, but comments to the code, titles that were in the comments and humour elements that were in the comments--you see that everything is taken straight across.
Everything is exactly the same except they have stripped off the copyright notices and pretended it was just Linux code. There could not be a more straightforward case on the Linux side."

"McBride declined to reveal the sources of his allegations, but he claimed that IBM was involved in Novell's and Red Hat's responses to SCO's lawsuit. 'Even though IBM looks like they're not really involved in it, they're very involved,' he said. 'From a PR standpoint, they're able to extract themselves from (the dispute), and so they throw Red Hat at us, they throw Novell at us, they have (Open Source Initiative President) Eric Raymond on their payroll. They have all these guys that they fund and then they just step back and watch the fracas go on.'"

"The second development was an admission by Open Source leader Bruce Perens that UNIX System V code (owned by SCO) is, in fact, in Linux, and it shouldn't be there. Mr. Perens stated that there is 'an error in the Linux developer's process' which allowed UNIX System V code that 'didn't belong in Linux' to end up in the Linux kernel."

"When you look at the GPL [general public license], it says that when you have a copyright violation, you either have to strip the copyright and take that work out of Linux--or--you have to shut Linux down. The nature of the violations to our IP we found are in such a broad nature that it would be virtually impossible to strip it out. And so now you are looking at the prospect of shutting down Linux or paying SCO a royalty."

"Well, we believe--we have had four attacks on our company over the last year. At least one was claimed--the Linux community claimed responsibility for the attack. We believe that there is a problem with Linux in terms of the code we see showing up inside of there. We don't know for sure if this attack is coming from Linux, but we have very strong suspicions that is the case."

"'The open source movement says that proprietary software shouldn't exist. They say that the operating system should be free, but that's a slippery slope,' McBride said. 'There's 12 million developers worldwide, are you gonna let their work be free?'"

"Although we have had a few setbacks in the court proceedings, important and significant claims remain in the case," McBride wrote. "In other words, to paraphrase a line from Mr. Twain, the rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated."

"Pamela [Jones], if you read this, please, give me a call. We just want to chat."

"The ruling that came down was a pretty hard shot. It was unexpected, a surprise. It was a huge disappointment. What I really wanted was to have our day in court in front of a jury of our peers. This ruling that came down basically took that opportunity away from us."

"'[There's] the view out there that we're just dead, and everybody's claiming victory over SCO,' he said in an interview on Sept. 28 [2007]. 'It's like the Linux faithful are lined up for the bad news. They've got their confetti ready to throw, and everybody's all excited.'"