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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) -- Page 3


SCO-Caldera v. IBM:


SCO-Caldera & the GNU/Linux Community:

The Linux Related Allegations

We asked IBM pretty much the same questions we previously asked Allan Cox, Richard Gooch, Gordon Ho, Linus Torvalds, and David Weinehall about SCO-Caldera's Complaint paragraphs 74 and 82 to 86 that belittle and insult Linux the kernel, the GNU/Linux operating system, Linux developers, and the entire Linux community.

Rather than address these questions one-by-one, IBM's Irving Wladawsky-Berger addressed them collectively. Fair enough. Irving Wladawsky-Berger told MozillaQuest Magazine:

IBM embraced open standards because it was the right thing to do for IBM and our customers. It gives customers unprecedented flexibility and choice for their IT infrastructure. We are on the right side of history here . . .

Our commitment to the open community is unequivocal. We continue to support Linux.

In an interview this week, Linus Torvalds said he thought IBM got serious about Linux because it was already enterprise quality from a technical perspective. I couldn't agree more. 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.

The Linus Torvalds interview to which Irving Wladawsky-Berger refers is our 10 March 2003 article, Linus Torvalds Comments on SCO-Caldera's Linux-Related Allegations.

However, IBM did not respond to other questions regarding SCO-Caldera's Linux-related allegations. Mike Fay said: I can't respond to every individual question as a matter of our policy about legal suits. Additionally, regarding not answering many of the questions, IBM's Irving Wladawsky-Berger said: While there may be continued media speculation about this case, IBM intends to address it in court and not in the press.

That's a cop-out. We consider that to be unacceptable stone-walling and trying to manage the news. That is the sort of corporate crap the Enron executives were feeding the media and the public while they were doing all the improper stuff they were doing. As a matter of policy, MozillaQuest Magazine believes that it is the job of journalists to cut through the corporate stone walls, corporate smoke-screens, and other corporate crap and to bring the real story to the public -- a most important obligation of the Fourth Estate (the press).

Certainly there are some questions and issues that IBM can rightfully decline to tell the public about in order to protect its legal defense of the Caldera v IBM lawsuit. Many of the questions we asked however do not impact on IBM's ability to defend itself in court.

Many of the questions we asked IBM go to factual things IBM's customers, partners, ISVs, OEMs, VARs, and stockholders have a right to know, the Caldera v IBM lawsuit notwithstanding. Likewise, many of these questions involve the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux operating system, and Linux distributions. So the Linux developers, Linux hackers, Linux users, Linux distribution packagers, ISVs, OEMs, VARs, the entire Linux community have a right to know the answers to most of these questions, the Caldera v IBM lawsuit notwithstanding.

Broad-based smokescreen statements such as IBM's Irving Wladawsky-Berger's statement, While there may be continued media speculation about this case, IBM intends to address it in court and not in the press, might play well in corporate board rooms and at the executive water fountain. They do not play well here. Moreover, corporate smoke screens and cover-ups only serve to invite media investigation, speculation, and coverage.

Many of us in the media are an odd and perhaps unruly bunch. We cover stories even though corporate bosses do not want us to cover them. We do not work for corporate bosses. We work for the readers, the consumers, and the people. We work our butts off to ferret-out the facts.

However, when corporate bosses hide the facts, we will speculate as to what are the facts. If the corporate bosses don't want us to speculate, they have an easy, honest option -- tell us the truth and give us the facts.

Here are three of the Linux-related questions that IBM refused to answer.

MozillaQuest Magazine: It sounds as though this lawsuit is not a suit alleging copyright infringement, patent infringement, or trademark infringement (the standard three prongs of the intellectual property complex). Rather, it appears the Caldera v IBM action is more in the nature of a contract or tort action. Is this correct?

MozillaQuest Magazine: It appears that the gravamen of SCO-Caldera's lawsuit involves IBM's support of Linux and the Linux community. Is this correct?

MozillaQuest Magazine: When did IBM first start to "officially" engage in (1) Linux-related development, (2) Linux-related marketing and/or sales, and/or (3) Linux-related support?

Now come on IBM. Is it really going to hurt your legal defense to answer these three questions?

Will it really hurt or affect your defense against the SCO-Caldera Complaint to tell our readers if the lawsuit is really about IBM's (helpful and much appreciated) support of Linux and the Linux community? We don't think so.

Will it really hurt or affect your defense against the SCO-Caldera Complaint to tell our readers if the Caldera v IBM action is more in the nature of a contract or tort action? We don't think so.

Are when IBM first "officially" engaged in (1) Linux-related development, (2) Linux-related marketing and/or sales, and/or (3) Linux-related support such big, bad, IBM corporate secrets? Do you really believe that SCO-Caldera does not know that information?

What are you trying to hide, IBM? Your refusal to answer these questions is nothing more than corporate stone-walling and an attempt to manage news coverage.

Incidentally, from SCO-Caldera's IBM lawsuit Complaint, it appears that IBM "officially" got interested so much in Linux in the year 2000 even though IBM refuses to say that. Absent a public statement from IBM to the contrary, we will take IBM's "officially" getting involved with Linux to have started in the year 2000 as alleged in SCO-Caldera's Complaint.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Is IBM engaging in cooperative development and/or marketing endeavors with Red Hat and/or SuSE? Is this cooperative activity formalized/memorialized by any sort of (legal) partnership or other sort of agreement or contract? If so, what and with whom?

MozillaQuest Magazine: How about any other Linux distribution providers?

IBM also refused to answer these questions. Are IBM, Red Hat, and SuSE engaged in cooperative development and marketing? Is IBM ashamed that it is partnering with Red Hat and SuSE? Why does IBM not want you readers to know whether these so-called partnerships are just the marketing-hype misuse of the term partner to mean just about anyone with whom one does business or a true partnership were there is a formalized, legal partnership agreement? What is IBM trying to hide? Is there another Enron sort of thing hidden here?

Frankly we do not see where an answer to these questions could hurt IBM's defense against the SCO-Caldera lawsuit. Unless, of course, IBM did improperly provide SuSE and/or Red Hat with SCO-owned Unix code, and/or SCO secrets, methods, know-how, and so forth, as SCO vaguely alleges in its Complaint.

What are you trying to hide, IBM? Your refusal to answer these questions is nothing more than corporate a smoke-screen. What you are doing IBM is trying to manage the news coverage of this issue.

MozillaQuest Magazine: SCO-Caldera claims that the Linux kernel and/or GNU/Linux source code is based upon its UNIX source code. In paragraph 74 of its Complaint Caldera d/b/a SCO alleges: "A new operating system derived from and based on UNIX recently has become popular among computer enthusiasts for use on personal, educational-based, and not-for-profit projects and initiatives. This operating system is named Linux."

MozillaQuest Magazine: Prominent members of the Linux kernel, GNU/Linux, and UNIX communities have denied SCO-Caldera's claims that Linux was derived from UNIX in our SCO IP Part 2 article -- Linux was built from the ground up and independently of the UNIX source code. Do you have anything you would like to add to that?

IBM also refused to respond to this question. Interestingly, IBM has no problem making a statement supporting the workmanship of and praising the Linux developers -- and its admirable participation in the Linux and open source community. And of course it is very good that IBM did that.

However, what piqued our curiosity here is that while IBM praises the Linux community, it does not refute SCO-Caldera's claims that Linux was derived from Unix. Isn't that interesting?

Does IBM have some knowledge or evidence that Linux was derived from Unix? Does IBM believe or know that there is some SCO-Owned Unix source code in the Linux Kernel, GNU/Linux, and/or some Linux Distributions?

If IBM can truthfully respond that Linux is not derived from Unix, then such a response could have no adverse affect on its defense of the Caldera v IBM lawsuit. However, if the truth is that IBM does have some knowledge or evidence that Linux was derived from Unix and/or does believe or know that there is some SCO-Owned Unix source code in the Linux Kernel, GNU/Linux, and/or some Linux Distributions, that could have an affect on IBM's defense of the Caldera v IBM lawsuit.

We have a standing policy at MozillaQuest Magazine that when the subject of a story refuses to answer a question, we take (or deem) that question to be answered in a way least favorable to the subject. We have applied that policy to SCO-Caldera in our coverage of the SCO IP matters and the Caldera v IBM lawsuit. It is only fair then to also apply this policy to IBM -- even if IBM is much more popular than is SCO-Caldera -- and even if almost all our readers seem to feel that in this Caldera v IBM matter, IBM is the good entity and SCO-Caldera is the bad entity.

Code Contamination Note:

The Linux kernel and GNU/Linux people have made it pretty darn clear that as far as they know, there is no SCO-owned code in the Linux kernel and/or GNU/Linux. They also have made it clear that if anyone can show where there is such SCO-owned code in the Linux kernel and/or GNU/Linux, they will pull the tainted code out immediately.

Therefore absent a statement from IBM to the contrary, we take it that IBM does have some knowledge or evidence that there is some SCO-Owned Unix source code in the Linux Kernel, GNU/Linux, and/or some Linux Distributions -- until and if IBM publicly denies that allegation. (Please see sidebar for an expalnation.)

To whatever extent the Linux kernel and/or GNU/Linux operating system has been contaminated with SCO-owned source code, if IBM really is the good entity in this Caldera v IBM dispute it should immediately tell the Linux community so the Linux kernel and/or GNU/Linux operating system developers can yank the tainted code.

SCO-Caldera has taken lots of heat from the Linux community for its belittling Linux. Part of that belittling is SCO-Caldera's allegations that Linux was not a serious, server/enterprise, operating system until IBM entered the picture and started contributing to the Linux community.

However, IBM must share some of the guilt for that attitude. In paragraph 92 of its Caldera v IBM Complaint, SCO alleges that on December 20, 2000, IBM Vice President Robert LeBlanc said We can't tell our customers to wait for Linux to grow up . . . Linux is still young. We're helping Linux kernel up to that level.  We understand where the kernel is.  We have a lot of people working now as part of the kernel team. More about Complaint paragraph 92 below.

An August 2000 report for IBM prepared by the Andrews Consulting Group, Investing in the Net Generation: IBM Comes to the Table, states in part at page 9: Right now, Linux is an immature operating system. It takes many years for an operating system to move to a robustness capable of enterprise computing. For now, Linux is positioned at the lower end of the market where its use in lighter applications and server appliances is about all it can handle.

So, it certainly does seem that in the year 2000, IBM considered the Linux kernel and the GNU/Linux operating system immature and not a server/enterprise grade OS. However, IBM does not use belittling rhetoric such as SCO-Caldera does by calling Linux a toy, bicycle and so forth.

Additionally, it is clear that IBM's year 2000 position regarding Linux is not meant to be destructive. Instead, IBM pitched-in and started helping the Linux developers.

Moreover, whatever IBM's position was in the year 2000, as expressed now by its Irving Wladawsky-Berger here is IBM's current position on this score:

. . . IBM got serious about Linux because it was already enterprise quality from a technical perspective . . . 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.

See IBM's Conduct -- The IBM-related Allegations on Page 4 ----->



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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