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February 5, 2003

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SCO's Blake Stowell and MozillaQuest Magazine's Mike Angelo Discuss SCO Intellectual Property Issues

SCO-Caldera & the GNU/Linux Community: The SCOsource IP Matter

By Mike Angelo -- 5 February 2003 (C) -- Page2

(4) What applications require the SCO-Caldera IP libraries?

SCO's Blake Stowell told MozillaQuest Magazine there are about 4,000 UNIX applications that require the SCO libraries to run on Linux. The applications used are usually known as COFF applications and ELF applications.

ELF (Executable and Linking Format) is a Unix System V binary format. COFF (Common Object File Format) is a System V executable and object file format. System V is one of the UNIX Systems Labs products that now belong to SCO.

In our e-mail discussions, Blake Stowell told MozillaQuest Magazine: Nearly all of these applications are from third-party software developers that were developed to run on SCO OpenServer and SCO UnixWare. Using our UNIX libraries, they can also be run on Linux . . . A complete listing of third-party applications that work with SCO OpenServer and SCO UnixWare are listed at the following URL:

MozillaQuest Magazine: So the applications involved in this SCO libraries IP matter are applications developed to run on SCO operating systems. Does this mean then that applications developed to run on other UNIX flavors are not affected by the SCO libraries IP?

Blake Stowell: Precisely. This does not affect applications meant to run on other flavors of UNIX or on RISC-based UNIX systems.

(5) What are the impact and effect of the SCO-Caldera IP licensing and enforcement on the Linux community?

So far, the SCOsource announcements and issues appear to be more in the nature of saber-rattling and market posturing -- but with little real impact on the Linux, GNU, free software, and open source communities at this time -- sort of. The impact of the SCOsource announcements and issues falls on users of SCO UnixWare or OpenServer applications.

SCO-Caldera is a member of the UnitedLinux consortium. Conectiva and SuSE also are members of the UnitedLinux consortium.

Paula Hunter is the UnitedLinux General Manager. In an e-mail discussion she told MozillaQuest Magazine: The SCOsource program falls outside of the UnitedLinux activity with The SCO Group. This announcement does not affect our plans with SCO as a UnitedLinux member or the ongoing development and distribution of UnitedLinux offerings. No impact there.

In an e-mail discussion, SuSE Vice-President Joseph Eckert told MozillaQuest Magazine: all we can comment on is what we know. We believe SCO certainly has a right to protect their intellectual property rights and the library announcement they made makes perfect sense. We also trust our fellow United Linux partners and are confident that they would not do anything to damage or impede the Linux community. No impact there.

Conectiva's Gordon Ho in an e-mail discussion told MozillaQuest Magazine: At this time, we do not believe that there is any impact to Conectiva from the recent SCOsource announcement. Conectiva Linux does not contain any of the SCO UNIX shared libraries. We remain alert to further developments coming from SCO's new business unit and will examine impact as we receive new information. No impact there.

Red Hat Linux is not a member of the United Linux Consortium. Please remember that Red Hat Marketing Vice-President Mark Devisser told MozillaQuest Magazine that he was not aware of any SCO-Caldera intellectual property (IP) included with Red Hat Linux. He also told MozillaQuest Magazine that the SCO-Caldera IP libraries have no effect upon Red Hat Linux. No impact there.

Also please recall Scott McNeil's statement: The Free Standards Group only builds standards based on open source software. None of our standards (LSB, OpenI18N, OpenPrinting) include or reference the SCO libraries in question. No impact there either.

That being said, the SCOsource UNIX and Linux libraries licensing and enforcement could be designed to keep SCO customers from switching to non-SCO Linuxes. The key to that is stated in the 22 January 2003 SCOsource press release:

The SCO System V for Linux license will provide access to SCO's UNIX System Shared Libraries for use with Linux. Customers frequently use SCO's shared libraries to allow UNIX applications to run on Linux. In the past, SCO's UnixWare and OpenServer license agreements did not allow these UNIX libraries to be used outside of SCO's operating systems. With this announcement, customers can now license these libraries from SCO for use with Linux without having to license the entire SCO operating system. This will enable customers to now run thousands of UNIX applications on Linux.

While SCO's UnixWare and OpenServer license agreements did not allow these UNIX libraries to be used outside of SCO's operating systems, it has been a simple matter to pull these libraries out of UnixWare or OpenServer. Although an intellectual property right infringement, all a SCO UnixWare or OpenServer user needs do to migrate to Linux and port the user's UnixWare or OpenServer applications over to Linux is to pull the SCO shared libraries from UnixWare or OpenServer to their Linux installation.

The SCOsource Q&A document addresses this noting that one way to import the SCO shared libraries is to: Copy the shared libraries from a disk or through the Internet. In this case someone has unbundled the shared libraries from the SCO offering and opened them up for copying. This is illegal. It is this behavior that we will stop through the creation of SCOsource and today's announcement.

Simply put, that means that a SCO UnixWare or OpenServer user that desires to switch to Linux must either switch to SCO Linux or pay SCO $149 per CPU in order to run SCO UnixWare or OpenServer applications on a non-SCO Linux installation.

Thus it appears that the SCOsource announcements and issues have little real impact on the Linux, GNU, free software, and open source communities at this time. The impact will be on SCO UnixWare and OpenServer users that desire to switch to Linux. Either they can switch to SCO Linux and continue to use their UnixWare or OpenServer applications or they can switch to a non-SCO Linux and pay SCO $149 per CPU to license the SCO shared libraries for use on the non-SCO Linux.

Please keep in mind that this article and the comments made by our sources are made on the basis of what is known now. Things easily could change as SCO's intellectual property licensing and enforcement endeavors progress -- or as more information about SCO's intellectual properties comes to light.

(6) What else is in this iceberg?

Often the devil is in the details. One detail here is the statement in the SCOsource Q&A document: The first deliverable from SCOsource will be SCO System V for Linux, which includes a license to SCO's UNIX shared libraries. (Emphases added.) First deliverable -- is there more to come?

Another detail is on the SCOsource Web page: Changing market conditions are leading SCO to both expand its licensing programs, and to take a more careful look at possible unlicensed use of its intellectual property. Sure sounds as though there is more to come. Are the SCO shared libraries just the tip of an iceberg? Links to the SCOsource Q&A document and the SCOsource Web page are in the Resources section on page 3 at the end of this article.

The SCO Group now owns the entire bundle of products that were the property of the AT&T UNIX Systems Laboratory when Novell purchased USL. The SCO Group also owns all the products and property that belonged to SCO when Caldera purchased SCO (including the stuff SCO bought from Novell. It owns all the Caldera products and property. All in all, the SCO Group has a nice collection of products and properties.

For example, a February 1993 press release issued by Novell states: USL develops and markets the UNIX System V operating system, the TUXEDO* Enterprise Transaction Processing System, the C++ Programming Language System and other standards-based system software products to the worldwide computer industry.

We asked the SCO folks some questions about C++ and if C++ licensing and enforcement would be added to SCOsource's licensing and enforcement program. SCO did not reply to the C++ questions.

What else is hidden within the SCOsource iceberg? A clue to that question might lie in SCO-Caldera's Novell background and connections.

Caldera International was originally formed in 1994 by Ray Noorda, Bryan Sparks, and Ransom Love -- all at one time affiliated with Novell. It appears that all of Caldera's top-level people have been, at one time, affiliated with Novell.

That appears to have carried through with the current SCO Group, which is the former Caldera International. SCO President and CEO Darl McBride is a Novell alumnus, SCO Senior Vice-President Chris Sontag, who also heads up the SCOsource endeavor, is a Novell alumnus. So is SCO's Director of Corporate Communications, Blake Stowell, a Novell alumnus. Novell is well-known for vigorous enforcement of its intellectual property rights -- often taking infringers of its IP rights to court and litigation.

We asked the SCO folks: to what extent is the SCOsource endeavor modeled or based upon Novell's IP licensing and enforcement endeavors, policies, and practices? SCO did not reply to this question.

Looking over the 22 January 2003 SCOsource press release, SCO Establishes SCOsource to License Unix Intellectual Property and the SCOsource Q&A, it appears that SCO's UNIX shared libraries that allow Linux users to run UnixWare applications on Linux are just the first SCO intellectual properties that SCO plans to license and enforce under its new SCOsource program.

We asked the SCO folks: what other SCO properties will be added to this licensing and enforcement program? SCO did not reply to this question either.

Another question-set that the SCO folks did not answer is: Is there any other SCO intellectual property that is applicable to Linux and/or GNU/Linux? If so what is it and how does it apply to Linux and/or GNU/Linux? SCO did not reply to these questions either.

MozillaQuest Magazine has a policy that unanswered questions directed to a source are deemed to indicate the source is hiding something. Moreover, that policy constrains us to deem the answers to such unanswered questions to be the possible answers that are least favorable to the source.

Employing that policy here, the answers to the unanswered questions are deemed to be that SCO (1) plans to add C++ licensing and enforcement to SCOsource's licensing and enforcement program, (2) the SCOsource endeavor is modeled or based upon Novell's IP licensing and enforcement endeavors, policies, and practices -- including vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights and often taking infringers of its IP rights to court and litigation, (3) more SCO properties will be added to this licensing and enforcement program, and (4) there is other SCO intellectual property that is applicable to Linux and/or GNU/Linux.

We also asked the SCO people whether Microsoft is using any SCO C++ or other SCO intellectual property, if Microsoft now is licensing intellectual property from SCO, and would SCO seek to enforce its intellectual property rights against Microsoft? No answers from SCO there either. Is SCO contemplating engaging Microsoft in an intellectual property battle?

See Conclusions on Page 3 ----->

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