Ah, Those litiginous Yanks, don’t they just make you crease up. On June 16th, SCO group delivered on it’s March 2003 threat to revoke the license for IBM to sell Unix (AIX). In theory (says SCO), Every AIX customer is now breaking the law.

Where does this problem come from? After going back over the companies records, there is a very confusing set of share trades, mergers, acquisitions and some very strange business practices that leave the SCO group holding the rights to Unix. Given that all in all it wasn’t worth a lot (Unix System 5 use is plummetting), SCO looked for a cleverer way to make some cash from it.

The way that SCO have gone about the IBM action will either boost them to the top of the OS vendors or kill them for good.

Every time that SCO CEO Darl MacBride Opens his mouth, either a corporation gets sued or a bundle of law abiding computer users get upset. What remains to be seen though is whether the bully boy tactics will pay off amongst the 1500 Linux using CEO’s that MacBride has targetted as lawbreakers.

MacBride is no stanger to the courts, he’s sued just about every one he’s ever had dealings with including previous employers: SCO better watch out in case MacBride leaves 😉

The basis premise of the SCO position is this: Linux is great. It was not too hot at Kernel 2.2, but then major Unix vendors got involved with it (IBM), and the 2.4 tree is really great: Enterprise computing, Multi way Symmetry, 64 bit on the way: the works. All, presumably they think, due to those Unix System V vendors.

What they claim has happened is that IBM and some other vendors have illegally used source code that was provided to them under an NDA and basically stuck it word for into the Linux code base. SCO are a bit cross about this.

SCO are in a difficult position here. It’s quite funny watching them squirm about considering things: They can’t actually show anyone the problems, because if they do that, the OpenSource community will just fix it by rewriting the code from scratch and move on: No more problem for Linux, only for IBM.

What this leaves them doing is trying to sue IBM without telling anyone what for, which is really rather funny.

Their whole $1Bn (Yes, One Billion Dollar) lawsuit hinges on not telling anyone what the problem is with Linux. Publicly, they claim that it’s ‘hundreds of thousands of lines of code’. Privately, they have persuaded a few experts to look at specific bits under NDA, but no-one has actually admitted to looking at a chunk of code bigger than 80 lines. Wow, that will take some rewriting, perhaps two blind monkeys will need a day for that section, grin.

Further confounding everyone, SCO claim that versions of Unix that they do not even own they have derivative rights over and thus this code may not be used in Linux.

What makes this even more interseting is that (conveiniently), SCO are selling a version of Linux! Yep, tis True. Open Linux is basically owned by SCO and contains extra compatibility libraries to help Unix V5 code run on the Linux platform. Talk about covering your bases!

Here we are then about 100 days after SCO formally wrote to IBM asking them to clarify there actions (without actually asking them to do anything), and SCO have supposedly revoked the license for IBM to use Unix and thus sell AIX (on which many IBM machines depend).

The only way forward that TurboTas can see is to scan the codebase CVS for code contributed by IBM and start rewriting it.

Those of you who prefer a more direct action approach could perhaps talk to those customers of SCO that don’t mind advertising the fact. Effectivly they are condoning the SCO bullying. Start off with MacDonalds and BMW!

Should TurboTas start to draw up a list of SCO customers somewhere on the Website? Use the voting form for this article to tell us what you think!

Leave a Reply