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SCO: Fish or cut bait July 21, 2005

Posted by rjdohnert in Software reviews.

eWeeks Steven Vaughn-Nichols is once again declaring victory over the SCO Group in his current drabble printed by eWeek. First, Mr. Vaughn Nichols has been stating that this case would be shut down at every turn throughout this entire drama, that I have called repeatedly, the “Young and the Linux community” as of late (Do I need to give credit to the popular daytime soap “The Young and the restless”?) The first thing to remember is Mr. Vaughn-Nichols is not an attorney, he can talk to all the IP attorneys he wants but as long as they are getting only half the story from someone who clearly is taking one side over the other. I’m not an attorney either, I just know programmers, I know humans and with that in mind, I not only say there is in fact UNIX code in Linux but more than probable it was intentionally put there. Did IBM put it in there? We will never know. IBM is very careful about moving its skeletons around so no one can find it. The fact that the ever so popular PJ of Groklaw is in fact from IBM country and more than likely an IBM employee or contractor is evidence of this. It took a long time to dig up the facts on her. Either way the codes in there. The questions remain, how much? and how well the Linux developers obfuscated it to hide the codes true origins? The saving grace for the Linux community will not be guilt or innocence or whether code is in fact in or not included in Linux, it will be the fact that the community as a whole has demonized SCO so bad that, turned them into the monster, it will be difficult to find out who is actually telling the truth. The Linux community has done a fine job of playing the role of the innocent victim and trying the case in the court of public opinion that they are almost guaranteed a victory. SCO will be cut a break, they will have a jury of 12 people that have not been following the case and they will have 12 fresh minds to try to persuade that its case has merit. In the long run, this case is pathetic. SCO and the Linux community are both acting pathetic.

Now back to Mr. Vaughn-Nichols write-up. The SCO memo’s recently leaked are a great example of zealots taking and throwing all out of proportion. First you have Mr. Davidson the SCO engineer who says there is absolutely no UNIX code in Linux that has recently been deemed by the Linux community as a god, and Mr. Swartz, who was a consultant hired by SCO in 1999 to do a comparison who said there is in fact UNIX code in Linux. Mr. Davidson wrote LXRUN which basically allows Linux code to run on UNIX. How much in-depth knowledge is actually needed to write LXRUN? Not as much as Mr. Vaughn-Nichols would like for us to believe. LXRUN is an Application Compatibility Layer that institutes the higher level API’s of your source system to make those applications run on the host system. this is similar to the way that WINE allows Windows applications to run on Linux unmodified. I would say that Mr. Davidson did not require all that much internal knowledge of both systems to make it work well considering that both systems are engineered to take the same approach. Not rocket science. Mr. Davidson is full of it when he says he knows for a fact there is no UNIX code in Linux. Both systems utilize code from the BSD system that was released due to the Berkeley/USL lawsuit, so he he, there is UNIX code in Linux.

Now Mr. Vaughn-Nichols says this will impact Red Hat’s lawsuit against SCO. It will have no effect. Both Memos were already argued by both Red Hat and IBM when they were discovered through discovery. The judge didn’t grant the memo’s much weight. Wait whats that? you are saying the Davidson memo was leaked? No such luck, they were released by the court. Groklaw like most Linux advocacy zealots (subliminal hint: Steven Vaughn-Nichols) want you to believe that it was leaked from inside SCO by some mysterious Linux champion within the organization. Not the case. the fact that these memos are new to the public will not grant any more weight with the judge then they originally did.

Vaughn-Nichols did get one thing right, it is time for SCO to put up, which I believe they will argue their case. Will they have a successful outcome? No one knows and anyone including Mr. Vaughn-Nichols who says they can give you a guarantee that the community will prevail is not only a fool, but a damned fool. Linus Torvalds said when this case started was that SCO had to produce code and that the community would remove it. Anyone who thought this was going to happen didn’t think very straight. Not only would it be very stupid for Linus to admit guilt of a crime such as code theft and copyright violations but it would open the flood gates for more lawsuits and the Linux community would be swimming in them. Linus and gang have done a very smart thing by denying what code snippets SCO has provided but it was most expected. Eric Raymond argues that what SCO has provided is not executable code, well bucko, code is code. Doesn’t matter if it’s executable or not. to say this code is okay because it doesn’t build into a full program is like saying its okay for Chrysler to buy a shitload of Ford Mustangs, put a Viper engine in the vehicle and selling it as Chrylsers own new innovative product. Try it and see how fast you get sued. For those of you that feel the suit is frivolous then I have news for you. I know frivolous lawsuits; I’m involved in one now that I and three lawyers thought the merits were so silly that no judge in the world would hear it. yet it’s being heard. I don’t think SCO has much of a copyright case. I do think they have merit on their contractual claims but I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t provide guarantees sorry.

The guilty have a tendency to protest too much. Innocent people tend to just ride the wave. They may bitch about the inconvenience but all in all they remain silent. SCO may have made the statement but if the Linux community had remained silent and said they would wait for court day, it would not have gotten out of hand. To harass McBride and his family made me lose much respect for the Linux community. Launching DoS attacks against SCO committing unlawful acts against SCO and attacking companies such as Sun and Microsoft who have not publicly taken sides is kind of shitty (although I’m sure neither company is really rooting for the Linux guys). It would be nice if we could all live in harmony and share code for the betterment and advancement of mankind but Stallman’s pipedream was unrealistic in 1984 and it’s still unrealistic in 2005. If the dream was to become a reality we would all be wearing our Borg implants.

To SCO I say this: Good luck. Make your case. Play your cards and see where your chips fall. Do the best you can and I will still do business with you guys, win or lose.

To the Linux community I say this: Shut the fuck up, wait for your day in court and make your case. Do the best you can and I will consider doing business with you, win or lose.

EDIT: Due to soime inflammatory comments made I turned off commenting. If you wish to discuss this with me you may contact me at kane2004@gmail.com. One of my commenters I will acknowledge here. Beer28 I am so glad you still read Channel9. This writeup was meant to be serious, its a shame so many people could not acknowledge that. So for thos of you that want to hate me, and for those of you who think I am full of shit. Good for you. Fuck you. Have a nice life.



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