Editor's Notes: Ruminations on Utah, Asia, and DC
Sep 06, 2003, 00:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
By Brian Proffitt
A few things on my mind this week: first and foremost is the
upcoming Enterprise Linux Forum we're hosting next month. But
before that, a look back at the news of the week.
SCO Preps Invoices
I am going to go out on a limb here and predict that not many LT
readers are happy about this development. Or maybe they are, in the
happy way someone sharpens their knifes.
In actuality, I question what all the hubbub is about. Like most
tech journalists, I went out and asked some lawyers about what they
thought about this whole thing, and I got a lot of answers that
left my head spinning with talk of clauses, prior art,
Digesting this information, I came up with two questions that
any recipient of a SCO invoice should ponder. Actually, one
question and one hypothetical analogy.
If Kentucky Fried Chicken were to decide to sue Church's Fried
Chicken for trade secret pilfering of their "11 herbs and spices"
recipe, KFC would certainly be within their rights for suing
Church's if they thought they had a case.
But while the case was being tried, would KFC have the right to
charge Church's customers for continuing to eat at Church's?
That's my analogy, with apologies to any vegans out there.
Here's the question, that's more direct.
If one receives an invoice from SCO, I would think this one
simple question should be asked:
"On what legal basis can you make this claim?"
The SCO Group, thus far, has come back with a lot of claims that
because their code is in Linux, they have the right to charge
customers for using it. The KFC analogy would cast doubt on this,
but let's say that my analogy is completely off the mark.
I will even go so far as to acknowledge there may well be code
duplication between SCO's UNIX and the Linux kernel and that SCO
genuinely believes that they are the victim here.
But none of these stipulations changes the answer to the
original question. What is the legal basis for these
The answer, for now, is that there is none. In no court of law
or undisputed piece of evidence has SCO legally demonstrated that
their code is in Linux. So, these licenses they are trying to sell
are very premature, to say the least.
SCO can show people the code all they want. Because there
probably is duplication. But where is the chain of evidence? The
leaked code from the SCOforum last month showed that there is
indeed duped code in SCO UNIX. But within hours, the chain of
evidence of that code was quickly demonstrated to be
completely different from SCO's claims.
Maybe Bruce Perens, Eric Raymond, and all the other analysts are
wrong and SCO is right. I personally doubt this, but the point is
that things are in dispute and nothing has been
Thus, SCO's licensing of Linux before the legalities have been
sorted out smacks of desperation and an effort to get an influx of
cash. But how successful has the effort been? According to SCO, two
customers have signed up for their Linux licenses to date.
The first customer, SCO revealed, has two Linux servers, which
got SCO US$1400. A month later, another customer purchased the
Linux licenses. We don't know how many servers that customer had,
but it's likely not a lot, or SCO would have mentioned it.
Guesstimating heavily and figuring a generous five servers, which
gives SCO a grand total of US$4900 of acquired license fees in a
Not a lot so far, is it?
Asia Rocks to the Linux Beat
Lots of news coming out of Asia this week, with Malaysia making
a big push to move to open source software in the public and
The move is all that more interesting when you consider that
Malaysia's IT background is almost pure Microsoft products. Or
maybe not so interesting.
Malaysia is making a big push to be a software and IT leader in
Asia, and they are clearly feeling that being beholden to a foreign
company with a bigger budget than Peru is not in their best
They're not alone, either. South Korea, China, and Japan are
getting together to make their own homegrown operating system, most
likely based on Linux. Those are three nations you'd likely would
not see cooperating on many things. But clearly the move away from
proprietary and multinational lock-in transcends old enmities.
On the Road Again...
October is coming up soon. Here in the US, it's a time for
leaves falling to the ground, pumpkins growing on the vine, and
little kids' thoughts to turn toward all of that candy they're
going to get on All Hallow's Eve.
For some of us, it will be a chance to figure out how
effectively you can merge Linux into your business strategy, as
Linux Today hosts the third Enterprise Linux Forum, this time in
The first two forums have been small, yet successful affairs,
but now we want to build the Forum into something beyond "small."
Linux started small, but those days are long gone.
So, here's what we're doing to make this show really big. First
off, we've chucked the traditional model on how the program for the
conference was put together.
You know how it usually goes: most conferences just put out a
"call for papers," which is then answered by a disjointed group of
individuals, from which "the best of the worst" presentations are
selected, usually by companies who only want to market their
product line. For this, attendees are expected to pay big money to
So, we decided to do something different this time around.
First, we hired Conference Chairman Jon "maddog" Hall. Second,
under his outstanding vision and leadership, our conference team
put together a comprehensive set of abstracts and matched the
sessions with world-class speakers knowledgeable about the Linux
marketplace and the problems of enterprise issues.
Working with maddog has been one of the highlights of my tenure
at Linux Today, and his drive and enthusiasm for Linux and Open
Source really shines through in this Forum.
For instance, many Linux conferences are dedicated for the
already-converted Linux user. Our Forum recognizes that not every
system in a company will be Linux, nor that everyone is currently
using Linux, or is even very comfortable with what Linux and Open
Source entails. We have organized the sessions into three tracks,
described below, that should cater to all ranges of this spectrum
of potential to existing Linux users.
Track 1: Linux in the Boardroom
Many people have heard and read the hype about Linux and Open
Source, but what is all the fuss really about? The sessions in this
track are designed to present a higher-level view of the most
important aspects of the Linux operating system and the Open Source
development methodology. From certification to open standards,
security to storage strategies, this track will give a
comprehensive, business-oriented look into the strengths and
weaknesses of Linux in the enterprise.
Track 2: Linux in the Front Office
Day after day, news appears in the tech media about some company or
municipality shifting over to Linux in their daily operations. But
how did they do it? What were the costs involved? In this track
will be case studies detailing how Linux and Open Source was
Track 3: Linux in the Server Room
For those who want to get into the technical aspects of Linux
implementation, this track will provide excellent and detailed
knowledge on Linux development, systems administration, and
security. Sessions on embedded Linux and hardened SELinux will
round out the track to give you a very strong leg up on getting
Linux going in your organization!
We have some very strong sessions lined up, which we are very
sure will attract an excellent showing of private and government
managers and executives. Highlights of the program include:
- Keynotes from Jon "maddog" Hall, Executive Director, Linux
International; Michael Tiemann, CTO, Red Hat; Mike Balma,
Hewlett-Packard; and Jonathan Eunice, Illuminata.
- "More Than Just Linux" session delivered by Sam Greenblatt,
- "Achieving Large-Scale Linux Desktop Adoption" by Nat Friedman,
Ximian Division of Novell
- Case studies from municipal governments, law enforcement, and
the finance industry.
We're also expanding the scope of the Forum to include more
community involvement from local Linux User Groups, discounts for
government and academic personnel, and informal ad hoc sessions in
the evening where you can learn more about this whole Linux thing
in a more casual setting.
To make the show even more attractive for attendees, there's the
choice of the venue itself: the New Convention Center in Washington
DC. The capitol area is home not only to the movers and shakers of
the US government, but also to a burgeoning tech community out on
the Beltway--not to mention Washington's proximity to several major
East Coast cities.
The forum is coming up on October 22-23, and registration is
going on now. You can register and check out the full conference
program at the show's Web
This Forum promises to be on of the most unique open source
events in quite some time, and I hope to see you there!