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March 25, 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

By Mike Angelo -- 26 March 2003 (C) -- Page 5


SCO-Caldera v. IBM:


SCO-Caldera & the GNU/Linux Community:

AIX License Note:

A SCO-Caldera sideshow to its Caldera v IBM lawsuit involves a notice that SCO sent to IBM threatening to revoke IBM's Unix license. IBM's AIX operating system is based upon SCO-owned Unix. Both IBM's Irving Wladawsky-Berger and Michael Fay told MozillaQuest Magazine that IBM's UNIX license is irrevocable and perpetual -- suggesting that SCO cannot revoke IBM's Unix license. We have not yet dug into this issue. However, sometimes these irrevocable and perpetual license agreements can be broken under certain conditions such as a material breach by the licensee. Our interest is in how this SCO v IBM spat affects the Linux community -- the Caldera v IBM lawsuit. So at least for now, we could care less what happens in the SCO v IBM Unix-license revocation scrap. That could change, however. If SCO is able to revoke IBM's Unix license -- well -- that sure would push IBM 100% from Unix to Linux, would it not?

Summary and Conclusion

So far in today's discussion, Irving Wladawsky-Berger's answer to our questions has been partially quoted as it applies to particular questions. Here is Irving Wladawsky-Berger's statement in its entirety and uncensored.

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.

Lawsuits are not uncommon in the software industry. As with all lawsuits, we are taking this complaint seriously and intend to defend ourselves vigorously.

While there may be continued media speculation about this case, IBM intends to address it in court and not in the press. Our contract says our UNIX license is irrevocable and perpetual. You can be confident that our commitment to Linux and AIX remains unchanged.

AIX is the fastest growing UNIX operating system in the industry, and we intend to continue and accelerate that growth.

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.

IBM pretty clearly has denied and rejected SCO-Caldera's claims that try to belittle the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux operating system, Linux developers, and the Linux community. So have prominent, expert, well-respected, members of the Linux kernel and GNU/Linux community. Those allegations are pretty much universally rejected by everyone, except perhaps for the SCO-Caldera people and lawyers.

However, IBM fails to deny SCO-Caldera's allegations that IBM has contaminated the Linux code-base with SCO-owned Unix code. IBM also has failed to deny that it misappropriated and misused SCO-Caldera proprietary and/or confidential methods, technology, and know-how to aid in Linux development. That suggests that these SCO-Caldera claims might have some merit. Moreover, in the absence of IBM denying these claims, we apply our policy of deeming unanswered questions as admitted until such time as IBM might publicly deny these claims.

SCO-Caldera, in its broadly and vaguely pled Caldera v IBM Complaint, alleges that Linux distributions have benefited from IBM's contamination of the Linux code-base with SCO-owned Unix code and/or from IBM's misappropriation and misuse of SCO-Caldera proprietary and/or confidential methods, technology, and know-how to aid in Linux development.


Note: Please notice here an example of SCO-Caldera's sloppy pleading practice and the resulting confusion and folly that flow from it. SCO-Caldera and its lawyers use the term Linux in the phrase transfer of UNIX to Linux in paragraph 100. However, they fail to state specifically whether they mean Linux kernel, GNU/Linux, Linux distribution, and/or Linux applications. If that is the best SCO-Caldera and its lawyers can do in presenting their case, it's likely IBM does not have much to worry about

See for example paragraph 100 of the Caldera v IBM Complaint.

100. Based on other published statements, IBM currently has over 7,000 employees involved in the transfer of UNIX knowledge into the Linux business of IBM, Red Hat and SuSE (the largest European Linux distributor). On information and belief, a large number of the said IBM employees currently working in the transfer of UNIX to Linux have, or have had, access to the UNIX Software Code. (Caldera v IBM Complaint)

IBM refused to answer our questions about this Complaint paragraph and refused to deny its allegations. In the absence of IBM denying these claims, we apply our policy of considering unanswered questions as admitted until such time as IBM might publicly deny these claims.

Additionally, Red Hat and SuSE refuse to discuss the Caldera v IBM Complaint other than a very brief statement from SuSE condemning SCO-Caldera for insulting the Linux community. What are they trying to hide? In the absence of Red Hat and SuSE denying these claims, we apply our policy of considering unanswered questions as admitted until such time as Red Hat and SuSE might publicly deny these claims.

IBM, Red Hat, and SuSE fail to deny publicly SCO-Caldera's allegations that Linux distributions have benefited from IBM's contamination of the Linux code-base with SCO-owned Unix code and/or from IBM's misappropriation and misuse of SCO-Caldera proprietary and/or confidential methods, technology, and know-how to aid in Linux development. That suggests that these SCO-Caldera charges might have merit.

Something to keep in mind here is that a Linux distribution packager, such as Red Hat or SuSE, starts with GNU/Linux, which is a Linux kernel with additional code added to make it a complete, but basic, operating system (OS). Then the Linux distribution provider might modify and/or tweak the Linux kernel and/or the GNU/Linux OS to make the basic OS meet its performance and/or marketing-hype standards and requirements.

Next, the Linux distribution provider such as Red Hat or SuSE usually adds installation and configuration tools, documentation, drivers, utilities, desktops and window managers, servers, applications, and so forth to the basic GNU/Linux OS.

The point here is that IBM could have provided SCO-owned source code to Red Hat or SuSE that they might have added to their modifications of the Linux kernel and/or GNU/Linux OS code -- without the original kernel.org or GNU code being contaminated. Additionally, IBM's alleged misappropriation and misuse of SCO-Caldera proprietary and/or confidential methods, technology, and know-how to aid in Linux development could have been something that happened at the Red Hat and/or SuSE distribution packaging level rather than at the more basic Linux kernel and/or GNU/Linux OS level.

The refusal of IBM, Red Hat, and SuSE to discuss theses allegations and their failure to deny these allegations leads to reasonable speculation that there is some merit to SCO-Caldera's allegations about this.

Add to this mix a few other facts. Red Hat and SuSE both are vigorously pursuing the server/enterprise markets. Both Red Hat and SuSE have expensive, high-end, Linux distribution packages especially developed for the server/enterprise markets.

Moreover, in its SEC Form 10K filing, SCO-Caldera noted that it is Red Hat and SuSE that are the Linux threats to SCO-Caldera's UnixWare and OpenServer products. We operate in a highly competitive market and face significant competition from a variety of current and potential sources, including Red Hat and Sun Microsystems . . . Our principal competitors in the Linux market include Red Hat, Sun and SuSe. (Caldera 10-K filing at page 12)

In other words, the monkey-business that SCO-Caldera alleges might not involve the Linux kernel, GNU/Linux, and/or the Linux community as a whole -- rather just IBM, Red Hat, and/or SuSE. Isn't that interesting?

It might be that where SCO-Caldera made one of its big public relations mistakes in this matter is by including the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux OS, and the entire Linux community rather than limiting and focusing its allegations and attacks on IBM, Red Hat, and SuSE.

As to the final outcome of SCO-Caldera's accusations, only time and the court proceedings will tell -- unless IBM, Red Hat, and/or SuSE come clean about this in the meantime.

Stay tuned. There is lots more to come.




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



PCLinuxOnLine


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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