SCO threats dont have Linux users worried

The SCO Group Inc. may be threatening to sue all businesses using Linux, but users so far appear to be unmoved by the company’s latest legal stance.

Tom Pratt, information systems manager at Coastal Transportation Inc., a shipping company in Seattle, said SCO’s newest threats aren’t a concern because far too many businesses are now using Linux.

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“I don’t see how they could sue so many [companies] to pony up for a licensing fee,” he said. “They don’t have any kind of tracking [system]. I don’t remember signing anything with SCO saying I owe them any kind of licensing fees.”

Coastal uses Linux as its primary computer operating system to run databases, payroll and other accounting functions, human resources applications, and shipping logistics software, according to Pratt.

“I’m not scared at all,” Pratt said of SCO’s threats. “I don’t think this will have any effect on us at all,” he said.

Kevin Gray, IT operations manager at DreamWorks SKG’s film studio in Glendale, Calif., said he sees SCO’s allegations and posturing as a “big red herring … that’s not going to go very far.”

DreamWorks uses Linux in film production, animation, database servers and more, he said.

“I haven’t read anything that really showed us that … their claims are anything more than just lip service,” Gray said of SCO’s latest legal salvo. “If they have some major victories in the courts, you know, I think we might have to think about it. At this point, we just kind of laughed it off,” he said.

Brad Friedman, vice president of IS at Burlington, N.J.-based clothing and housewares retailer Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., said SCO’s newest legal front won’t change his company’s strategy, where Linux is currently used to run point-of-sale machines and for in-store transaction processing. Back-end uses for Linux are also being considered, but they haven’t yet been widely deployed, he said.

“It’s not like we should go out and license every single Linux box we have today, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t watch what’s going on,” Friedman said. “I’m not staying up all night over it.”

For Burlington Coat Factory, the SCO situation isn’t the only software question mark dangling over its IT department. Burlington is also an Oracle shop and is in a similar wait-and-see mode to see how Oracle Corp.’s hostile takeover attempt with PeopleSoft Inc. and J.D. Edwards & Co. plays out.

“We still have some time to go on this scenario,” Friedman said. “It’s a different adventure every day. This SCO/Linux thing is far-reaching. It’s just too early for anyone to put a stake in the ground one way or another.”

On July 21, Lindon, Utah-based SCO said it will now pursue lawsuits against any business running Linux if the business doesn’t buy a special SCO UnixWare 7.1.3 license to make its Linux software legal (see story). The prices of the licenses haven’t been announced, but are expected to be comparable to existing SCO UnixWare licenses.

SCO has been going after the Linux marketplace since March, when it sued IBM for allegedly misappropriating trade secrets related to SCO’s Unix products to benefit IBM’s Linux strategy (see story). SCO is now seeking $3 billion from IBM as part of the lawsuit, in which it says it has uncovered hundreds of lines of code in Linux that were allegedly illegally copied straight from SCO’s System V Unix code.

The company has claimed that because of illegal use of its System V code in Linux, its Unix business has been harmed by the rise of Linux in corporate computing.

In May, SCO warned all commercial Linux users that they could be using its code illegally and recommended that they seek legal advice to decide what to do about the issue (see story).

But the IBM lawsuit still hasn’t entered a courtroom, and many Linux users are apparently waiting to see what will happen there before deciding to deal directly with SCO in any kind of licensing arrangement.

Harry Roberts, CIO at Reading, Pa.-based Boscov’s Department Stores LLC, said his company continues to watch the SCO situation. Boscov’s runs both Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux in its operations.

“What we know is that Linux … is certainly open-source,” Roberts said. “We don’t believe we’re doing anything in violation of our agreements [with Red Hat Inc. and SuSE Linux AG].”

Source: Computerworld

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