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March 26, 2003

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Has IBM Contaminated Linux Kernel or GNU/Linux Source Code with SCO-Owned Unix Code?

SCO-Caldera v IBM:

IBM Replies to Some SCO Allegations but Hides Lots Too

Linux and the SCO-Caldera v IBM Lawsuit

By Mike Angelo -- 26 March 2003 (C)


SCO-Caldera v. IBM:


SCO-Caldera & the GNU/Linux Community:

Note: Until 2001, the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO), a UNIX company, and Caldera International (CALD), a Linux company, were two different companies. In 2001, Caldera acquired SCO. Then in 2002 Caldera changed its business name to the SCO Group. However, the corporate name remains Caldera International.

Many people still think of the SCO Group's Linux operations as Caldera. In order to make sure that readers would know and realize throughout the article that what is now the SCO Group is also the company once called Caldera, the SCO Group is often referred to as SCO-Caldera in this article.

Introduction and Overview

Today we look at the accusations SCO-Caldera makes about IBM and alleged IBM misconduct that would have IBM contributing contaminated code to the Linux community and giving SCO-Caldera trade secrets to Linux distribution providers.

So far in our Caldera v IBM lawsuit coverage we have focused on SCO-Caldera's Linux-related claims that belittle the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux operating systems, Linux developers, Linux distribution providers, and just about the entire Linux community.

Some Caldera v IBM Complaint Linux-related allegations attempt to paint a picture of the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux operating system, Linux developers, and Linux distribution providers as a rag-tag, intellectually deprived, resources deprived, uncoordinated, band of code-thieves. They are depicted as floundering with a toy-like, bicycle-like, wholly unfit for commercial or enterprise use, operating-system -- until IBM stepped into the picture -- thus bailing-out and rescuing Linux from such a dismal undertaking.

In so doing, it appears that SCO-Caldera has angered just about everyone in the Linux community that it had not already alienated. The media coverage of this has been mostly unfavorable to SCO-Caldera. And an on-line Linux news integrator, PCLinuxOnLine is sponsoring a SCO boycott in response to the Caldera v IBM lawsuit.

In our previous Caldera v IBM story, Alan Cox (2.2 Linux kernel maintainer), Richard Gooch, PhD, (The linux-kernel mailing list FAQ maintainer) and David Weinehall (2.0 Linux kernel maintainer) unanimously refuted and rejected the dismal picture of the Linux kernel and GNU/Linux operating system painted by SCO-Caldera. So have Linus Torvalds and Conectiva's Gordon Ho in previous interviews.

Today, IBM also rejects those SCO-Caldera claims. However, IBM refuses to deny the more legally serious SCO-Caldera charges that IBM contributed contaminated code to the Linux community and that it misappropriated and misused SCO-Caldera proprietary and/or confidential, methods, technology, and know-how to aid in Linux development.

While appreciative of IBM's contributions to the Linux kernel and GNU/Linux, Alan Cox, Richard Gooch, Linus Torvalds, and David Weinehall told MozillaQuest Magazine that the Linux kernel and GNU/Linux were already enterprise/server grade products before IBM started helping the Linux community. Conectiva's Gordon Ho also told MozillaQuest Magazine that the Linux kernel and GNU/Linux were already enterprise/server grade products before IBM started helping the Linux community.

During some e-mail discussions with the IBM people, IBM's Irving Wladawsky-Berger,General Manager for IBM e-business on demand, told MozillaQuest Magazine:

In their lawsuit, SCO says that Linux could not have become enterprise quality without IBM. This is an insult to the Linux community, which includes some of the top software designers in the world. While we hope IBM has contributed to this effort, the success of Linux is a direct result of the huge talent of the Linux community.

Interestingly, one of many things that SCO has done with its Caldera v IBM Complaint is to bring IBM and the Linux community together against SCO-Caldera. Over the past two or so years, IBM has been building and cementing an excellent relationship and lots of good will with the Linux community, inter alia, by (1) contributing resources, including personnel, to Linux development, (2) promoting Linux, and (3) marketing Linux and Linux-based products to its server/enterprise customers.

Nevertheless, SCO has leveled some serious charges including to-wit:

  • IBM has contaminated the Linux Kernel, GNU/Linux, and/or Linux distribution source code with proprietary, SCO-owned Unix source code and
  • IBM has misappropriated and misused proprietary, and/or confidential, SCO-Caldera methods, technology, and know-how to aid in Linux development.

The sort of good news is that IBM says it will defend against these charges. In defending against SCO-Caldera's accusations, IBM is defending the Linux community as well as defending itself.

In a telephone discussion, Mike Fay, IBM Vice-President for Systems Communications told, MozillaQuest Magazine: We are going to defend ourselves vigorously. Additionally, in an e-mail discussion, IBM's Irving Wladawsky-Berger told MozillaQuest Magazine: we are taking this complaint seriously and intend to defend ourselves vigorously.

IBM was very un-cooperative in answering questions about SCO-Caldera's more serious allegations regarding IBM contamination of the Linux code-base and alleged misappropriation and misuse of SCO-owned code, technologies, methods, secrets, and so forth.

In an interesting and speculative analysis of SCO-Caldera's allegations and IBM's failure to deny these allegations we show that IBM might be guilty of contaminating the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux operating system, and/or Linux distributions with SCO-owned Unix code, methods, secrets, and so forth -- as alleged by SCO-Caldera. Further, this contamination is more likely to have happened in respect to some Linux distributions (most likely Red Hat and SuSE) rather than with the Linux kernel and/or GNU/Linux. More about that further down.

Please keep in mind that we are not trying to be the judge and jury in this analysis. We are trying to present you with factual material and inferred fact in lieu of direct answers from IBM. Thus you, yourself, can be the judge and jury. It is up to you to decide if IBM and/or SCO-Caldera are guilty of any wrongdoing.

Initially, our discussions with IBM were targeted to getting IBM's take on the issues and its responses to SCO-Caldera's allegations. And, quite frankly we had expected that IBM would specifically deny SCO-Caldera's allegations. In part that is because so far, SCO-Caldera has failed to show any code in the Linux kernel and/or the GNU/Linux operating system that is identical to SCO-owned code.

Unfortunately, IBM chose to blow smokescreens and stone-wall. That of course led us to wonder if there might be some fire under all that SCO-Caldera smoke.

Unless we are doing an editorial and/or taking an editorial position on an issue, we do not take sides in stories. Rather, we go where the story takes us as we develop information, opinions, and facts from sources -- or as in this case are stonewalled when we try to gather information, opinions, and facts from sources. Here, in absence of honest, candid answers from IBM, that path leads us to speculate that IBM might have contaminated the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux operating system, and/or some Linux distributions with SCO-owned code, methods, techniques, and/or secrets.

So far, our in-depth and comprehensive Caldera v IBM coverage pretty much went against SCO-Caldera -- because that is where those stories took us. That's fair. Now the story takes us to issues that put IBM in a questionable light. It would unfair to write only those stories that are unfavorable to SCO-Caldera and then not to publish a story that is somewhat unfavorable to IBM.

Terminology Note:

Richard Stallman is concerned about the somewhat loose use of the terms GNU/Linux and Linux. To see why Richard Stallman is concerned about the use of the terms GNU/Linux and Linux, please see his essay Linux and the GNU Project. A link is in the Resources section at the end of this article on page 5.)

One of several things that makes writing about and analyzing SCO's Caldera v IBM lawsuit difficult is that SCO's Complaint is poorly pled. For example SCO, in its Caldera v IBM Complaint, is very loose with its use of the term Linux. As Richard Stallman has mentioned to us several times, SCO does not specify in its Caldera v IBM Complaint whether it means the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux operating system, a Linux distribution, or what.

Although SCO alleges in its Complaint that IBM provided SCO-owned code, methods, techniques, etc., to well, exactly -- the Complaint does not always clearly specify to whom this stuff was given. Was it to the Linux kernel people? Was it to the GNU/Linux people? Was it to Red Hat? Was it to SuSE? Was it to some other Linux distribution provider? Etc. Although in paragraph 100 of its Complaint, SCO-Caldera does name Red Hat and SuSE. More about that in the Summary and Conclusion section at the end of this article.

First let's look at some matters regarding the SCO-Caldera Complaint and the related legal process. Or, if legal stuff boars you, skip right on to the part about what SCO-Caldera is accusing IBM and some Linux distributors.


See The Caldera v IBM Complaint and Legal Procedure

on Page 2 ----->




Please see the first two parts of our series about SCO-Caldera's IP claims plus its intentions to enforce and license its intellectual property rights.

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

SCO-Caldera & the GNU/Linux Community: Part 2, Under the Iceberg's Tip



Resources


Related MozillaQuest Articles


SCO-Caldera v IBM:


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

SCO-Caldera & the GNU/Linux Community: Part 2, Under the Iceberg's Tip


Caldera OpenLinux 3.1.1 Available

Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 -- A First Look


UnitedLinux, a Divisive Weapon for Caldera's Darl McBride -- Part I

UnitedLinux, a Divisive Weapon for Caldera's Darl McBride -- Part II

SCO's Darl McBride and MozillaQuest Magazine's Mike Angelo Discuss Caldera Linux and LSB

Caldera/SCO 3.1.1 OpenLinux Distribution Gains LSB Certification


Linux Makes a Great Gift

Don't Forget the Books

LinuxWorld in New York City -- 21-24 January 2003


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Copyright 2000-2003 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved
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