[Talk] SCO position, rationale and AUUG

Leon Brooks leon at cyberknights.com.au
Thu May 22 10:56:49 EST 2003

Jeff Waugh wrote:
> Mentioning it validates it. First rule of combative marketing:
> Never say "there's nothing to see here".

True. What I wish to get across is not "nothing to see here" but "look, 
Linux's quality controls work, and the licence also works".

Jeff also wrote:
> Who is the audience (assuming that it's not the same audience who
> have already read the OSI position statement)? Does this speak to
> them?

Brent Wallis replied:
> We need to offer up a suggestion for enterprises which reflects
> our concerns but expresses our firm belief in the whole thing
> being nonsensical, a mere sidestep towards the inevitable.

I agree with that. I believe our tactic for this "release" (or whatever) 
should focus on talking up Linux and FOSS and how well they're coping 
with spurious attacks.

David Lloyd wrote:
> So, if Microsoft decide to use some of the Unix source code to
> improve their line of products shouldn't they behave themselves
> and purchase the correct licence? Sure... it will cost them
> more than if Unix (that thing owned by SCO) were under the BSD
> licence or GPL but they're still playing by the rules.

I join Con on this one in saying that it will not be an improvement on 
anything they already have. Very little of what SCO have to offer 
covers anything but the UNIX kernel, and I can't see any use for that 
in SFU or anything else Microsoft ship.

<speculation level=wild serious=no>
Unless they've noted that in the last week two other 'phone providers 
have abandoned WinCE, and two *different* 'phone providers have 
declared for Linux, so are chasing a home-owned embedded derivative of 
SCO to replace WinCE with.

Con Zymaris wrote:
> My point is that until Microsoft stepped up to the plate to render
> moral support to SCO, no other major IT firm was saying a good word
> about them.

I think we need to at least undermine this sneaky tactic and possibly 
make mileage from it. I think the closest we can get to a positive spin 
on it is mentioning how much Microsoft's approach seems to have 
improved since the TimeLine/MS-SQL-Server debacle surfaced. I think we 
need to touch on this - combative marketing rules or no - because it is 
a fairly direct example of Microsoft doing exactly what SCO is accusing 
IBM-and-us of.

However, Jeff Waugh made another *excellent* point:
> Ever considered the fact that MS would prefer *not* to ship GPL
> code, and would be happier to base their SFU products on "the
> real thing"?

No, and I feel a proper chook for having overlooked this one.
(-: IMESHO, Jeff would be a horror to face across a courtroom floor :-)

Microsoft would of course be very pleased to be able to stop shipping 
GPLed code. It's a major stick in their spokes when it comes to 
deploring the "pacman-like" nature of the GPL.

I don't think that SCO have enough bits and pieces to accomplish this 
completely, especially since the biggest pieces of SFU have nothing to 
do with the licence MS has bought, but it would at least give Microsoft 
a bit of a jump-start on winkling this particular thorn from their 

In a way, I'm surprised that Microsoft didn't just buy SCO/Caldera 
outright, but perhaps they have in mind waiting until SCO's value is 
less than that of sand in the Sahara and meantime making friendly 
overtures until the axe falls.

Yes, Michael Still, I think rolling AUUG in would also be a good idea, 
pursuant to which I've added their "talk" list to this message.

I value AUUG not so much for their press contacts (although those are 
good) as because they have a set of valuable points of view which are 
centred around different concerns to either SLPWA or LA's.

If no Australian Linux or FOSS organisations agree on the content or 
obviously want to take part, I'll make it a release from CyberKnights 
Pty Ltd. I would prefer to see a harmonious public chorus from our 
Linux, FOSS and business interests.

So... take 2:


[Assorted organisations] are coming under increasing membership pressure 
to respond to accusations of code plagiarism from the Santa Cruz 
Operation (SCO).

The extensive quality control systems which a patch must pass before it 
is accepted into the main Linux kernel would massively modify and 
almost certainly reject any incoming SCO UNIX code. The internal 
systems of SCO UNIX and Linux are quite different, so it would make 
little sense to try grafting code from one kernel into the other.

The legal complaint filed by SCO against IBM contains many substantial 
errors of fact which leads [assorted organisations] to the conclusion 
that SCO have made a serious mistake in their evaluation of the 
situation, and that they should withdraw their suit against IBM.

One error of fact centres on using Linux with large arrays of 
processors. The collaboration which led to Linux running on 64-to-512 
processor systems such as SGI's Altix 3000 involved many people and 
companies - not just IBM - and resulted in Linux performance which 
dramatically outclasses SCO UNIX.

SCO have freely published the source code in question (under the terms 
of the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) which protects the Linux 
kernel) for some time after filing the complaint, so even if the 
complaint once had any merit, it no longer does.

Microsoft have recently purchased a UNIX licence from SCO to "improve 
the Unix compatibility of [...] Services For Unix", but while Microsoft 
would evidently like to stop shipping GPLed software itself for 
political reasons, their move does not validate SCO's charges.

We also note that Microsoft have dropped support for some of their 
software on SCO UNIX, but support those programs on Linux.

Linux's future is bright and certain, underwritten and stabilised more 
by the political and technical freedoms embodied in the GPL than by the 
fickle to and fro of shareholders or the dangerous flame of personal or 
corporate ambition.

It is quite safe to continue using Linux. This is true in terms of virus 
immunity and general reliability as well as in the legal and political 


For the curious, http://www.rtr.com/fpsupport/fp2000license.htm says, 
under "SCO OpenServer Release 5" and "SCO UnixWare 7" in the download 
table, "No Longer Available". They are simply not listed on the FP 2002 
page (http://www.rtr.com/fpsupport/fp2002supported.htm).

It's interesting that FP support for AIX (and for SUSE Linux on S/390) 
appears to have been discontinued at IBM's request.

Jeremy Malcolm has evidently been too snowed under to pitch in, and I 
would like to wait for his opinion since it is likely to carry 
significant professional weight.

Cheers; Leon

http://cyberknights.com.au/     Modern tools; traditional dedication
http://plug.linux.org.au/       Committee Member, Perth Linux User Group
http://slpwa.asn.au/            Committee Member, Linux Professionals WA
http://linux.org.au/            Committee Member, Linux Australia

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