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Editor's Notes: Ruminations on Utah, Asia, and DC

Sep 06, 2003, 00:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

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By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

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, copyrights.

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 claims?

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 proven.

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 month's time.

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 private industries.

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 interests.

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 Washington, DC.

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 attend.

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 actually implemented!

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, Computer Associates
  • "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 site.

This Forum promises to be on of the most unique open source events in quite some time, and I hope to see you there!