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Glyn Moody

Glyn Moody's look at all levels of the enterprise open source stack. The blog will look at the organisations that are embracing open source, old and new alike (start-ups welcome), and the communities of users and developers that have formed around them (or not, as the case may be).

SCO What? It's Patently over for Copyright

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Remember SCO? It's a once-important company that developed a death-wish by suing IBM in 2003. As Wikipedia explains:

On March 6, 2003, the SCO Group (formerly known as Caldera Systems) filed a $1 billion lawsuit in the US against IBM for allegedly “devaluing” its version of the UNIX operating system. The amount of alleged damages was later increased to $3 billion, and then $5 billion.

SCO claimed that IBM had, without authorization, contributed SCO's intellectual property to the codebase of the open source, Unix-like Linux operating system. In May 2003 SCO Group sent letters to members of the Fortune 1000 and Global 500 companies warning them of the possibility of liability if they use Linux.

Actually, this doesn't do really justice to the utterly suicidal nature of SCO's action. Here's what SCO put in the original complaint:

82. Linux started as a hobby project of a 19-year old student. Linux has evolved through bits and pieces of various contributions by numerous software developers using single processor computers. Virtually none of these software developers and hobbyists had access to enterprise-scale equipment and testing facilities for Linux development.

Without access to such equipment, facilities, sophisticated methods, concepts and coordinated know-how, it would be difficult or impossible for the Linux development community to create a grade of Linux adequate for enterprise use.

83. As long as the Linux development process remained uncoordinated and random, it posed little or no threat to SCO, or to other UNIX vendors, for at least two major reasons: (a) Linux quality was inadequate since it was not developed and tested in coordination for enterprise use and (b) enterprise customer acceptance was non-existent because Linux was viewed by enterprise customers as a “fringe” software product.

84. Prior to IBM’s involvement, Linux was the software equivalent of a bicycle. UNIX was the software equivalent of a luxury car. To make Linux of necessary quality for use by enterprise customers, it must be re-designed so that Linux also becomes the software equivalent of a luxury car.

This re-design is not technologically feasible or even possible at the enterprise level without (1) a high degree of design coordination, (2) access to expensive and sophisticated design and testing equipment; (3) access to UNIX code, methods and concepts; (4) UNIX architectural experience; and (5) a very significant financial investment.

85. For example, Linux is currently capable of coordinating the simultaneous performance of 4 computer processors. UNIX, on the other hand, commonly links 16 processors and can successfully link up to 32 processors for simultaneous operation.

This difference in memory management performance is very significant to enterprise customers who need extremely high computing capabilities for complex tasks. The ability to accomplish this task successfully has taken AT&T, Novell and SCO at least 20 years, with access to expensive equipment for design and testing, well-trained UNIX engineers and a wealth of experience in UNIX methods and concepts.

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