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May 15, 2003

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MozillaQuest OP-ED

SCO-Caldera v IBM:

IBM Response to SCO-Caldera Complaint Is Outrageous!

Linux and the SCO-Caldera v IBM Lawsuit

By Mike Angelo -- 15 May 2003 (C)

Article Index

At Least IBM Contributes to the Linux Community

IBM's Evasive and Fictitious Answers

Judge for Yourself

Summary and Conclusions


Sontag Note

A few days after Chris Sontag admitted there is no SCO-owned code in the Linux kernel, SCO-Caldera CEO Darl McBride told CNET's Stephen Shankland that there is SCO-owned code in the Linux kernel. However, McBride refused to tell Stephen Shankland whether he, McBride, was talking about the Linux kernel or a patched/hacked Linux kernel.

Therefore, we believe that Darl McBride was blowing smoke when he made that statement to Stephen Shankland. (SCO: Unix code copied into Linux, By Stephen Shankland, CNET, 1 May 2003. Link in Resources section at the end of this article.

We address that, Chris Sontag's controversial admission, and a post-publication clarification from Chris Sontag in an upcoming story. Stay tuned

Actually, the complete title of IBM's Answer is Defendant International Business Machines Corporation's Answer to the Complaint of Plaintiff Caldera Systems, Inc. DBA The SCO Group, in all caps.

SCO-Caldera v. IBM:

SCO Clears Linux Kernel but Implicates Red Hat and SuSE

IBM Files Answer to SCO's Caldera v IBM Complaint

IBM Response to SCO-Caldera Complaint Is Outrageous!

SCO-Caldera & the GNU/Linux Community:

GNU - Linux Note:

General use of the term Linux can be confusing, particularly when legal matters are involved. At the center of a Linux-based computer system there is of course the computer hardware.

Then, conceptually, the Linux kernel surrounds the hardware.The complete next ring or layer is a Linux-based operating system. Outside of the Linux-based OS ring are the Linux-based applications and Linux utilities.

We discussed this in some detail in the Anatomy of a Linux Distribution section of our article SCO Clears Linux Kernel but Implicates Red Hat and SuSE. You will find a diagram of the ringed/layered Linux-based computer system there.

We have had some lengthy discussions with Richard Stallman (rms) and other key people of the Linux community about the terminology. Richard Stallman's position is that the Linux OS should be called the GNU/Linux operating system and he makes a very strong case for that position. You will find the crux of rms' arguments for his position in his article Linux and the GNU Project.

Richard Stallman has expressed some concern to us about our using the term Linux-based operating system instead of GNU/Linux OS. Others in the Linux community believe just plain Linux or Linux OS is fine. We believe there is no reason why there could not be, and might not be, an operating system that is based on the Linux kernel and is not a GNU Linux operating system.

Therefore when we use the terms Linux-based operating system or simply Linux operating system here, we are using them to mean any operating system, GNU or not, that is based on the Linux kernel. When we use the term GNU/Linux here, we are using that term to mean a GNU operating system based on the Linux kernel.

We have not yet decided if this is the way will use the GNU/Linux OS and/or Linux-based OS labels for our MozillaQuest Magazine Style Guide. This terminology is important and needs more attention. However, for now we will use these terms, GNU/Linux, Linux-based, and Linux as set forth in this note.

IBM filed its Answer to SCO's Caldera v IBM Complaint 30 April 2003 in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake. In its Answer, IBM says that it does not know that Linus Torvalds originated Linux or that GPL software is open source software -- and IBM denies that Linux is an operating system. This is unbelievable, but if you carefully read IBM's Answer paragraph by paragraph, that is what it says!

Moreover, IBM fails to deny SCO's allegation that Linux is an operating system derived from . . . UNIX. However, prominent and well-respected members of the Linux community refute SCO-Caldera's claim that Linux is a derivative of . . . UNIX source code.

Additionally, SCO-Caldera's Senior Vice-President, Chris Sontag recently admitted to MozillaQuest Magazine that there is no SCO-owned code in the's Linux kernel. (Please see Sontag Note in the right side-bar.)

This is a particularly key issue not only for the Caldera v IBM lawsuit, but also for SCO-Caldera's ability to attack just about every Linux distribution provider (LDP) and perhaps every Linux-based operating system user.

Unfortunately, SCO-Caldera owns the Unix source-code copyrights. If Linux were to have been derived from Unix code, then indeed SCO-Caldera might be able to mount copyright infringement claims against every Linux OS distributor.

We find it particularly problematic that IBM has not denied that claim in its Answer to SCO-Caldera's Complaint.

SCO's allegation in its Complaint and its frequent accusations in statements made by SCO management that Linux was derived from Unix have infuriated most, if not all, the Linux community. And now, in its formal lawsuit Answer to SCO's statements, which allege Linux is derived from Unix, IBM refuses to refute that false claim. That's outrageous!

IBM's Answer to SCO's Caldera v IBM Complaint is a huge disappointment.

For the most part, the Linux community has sided with IBM in this SCO-Caldera v IBM dispute. SCO has been attacking the Linux community and the resulting wrath of the Linux community directed towards SCO is well justified. However, after reading IBM's disappointing Answer to SCO's Caldera v IBM Complaint, it appears when it comes to corporate self-interest, greed, and dishonesty that SCO and IBM might not be all that different.

At Least IBM Contributes to the Linux Community

Perhaps there is one big difference between IBM and SCO-Caldera in this regard. On the one hand the big, blue giant has been using the Linux operating system (OS) and the volunteer work-product of Linux community developers to stuff its big, blue treasure chests and pockets with lots of nice, green, money.

However, on the other hand IBM has been giving back to the Linux community. IBM has hired some of the kernel hackers -- so at least those developers now are getting paid for hacking the Linux kernel. IBM has contributed code to the Linux community -- thus IBM too is contributing to Linux kernel, operating system, and software development.

Meanwhile, SCO-Caldera has laid off or otherwise gotten rid of Linux people. Additionally, it seems that these days SCO-Caldera is trying to deprive the Linux community of code rather than contributing code.

Perhaps the most important contribution that IBM has made to the advancement of Linux-based operating-system environments is that of migrating many of its customers to Linux-based computer systems. In doing that, IBM has lent immeasurable moral support and prestige to the positioning of the GNU/Linux operating system as a server/enterprise grade OS. (Please see the GNU - Linux Note in the right sidebar.)

Meanwhile, SCO-Caldera seems to be viciously attacking the prestige that the Linux OS has achieved as a server/enterprise product -- and doing everything it can conjure up to hurt the Linux operating system.

Additionally, IBM is using commercial Linux distributions such as Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux for the Linux-based computer systems that IBM is marketing. That helps those Linux distribution providers (LDPs) to generate much needed revenues.

Could it be that this SCO v IBM scrap is really about IBM using Red Hat and SuSE Linux for its computer systems rather than SCO Linux?

We suspect that it is the degree to which IBM gives-back to, contributes to, and participates in the Linux Community that provides the animus behind the Linux community's lining up on IBM's side in its dispute with SCO-Caldera -- and rightly so.

As a digression here and since this is an Op-ED piece, a really excellent Linux distribution provider that is in great need of increased revenues is MandrakeSoft. MandrakeSoft also has two server/enterprise grade Linux products. Plus, its Mandrake Linux 9.1 is one of the best desktop Linux products available today. If IBM were to market the MandrakeSoft products in addition to the Red Hat and SuSE products, that could be a much needed shot-in-the-arm for Mandrake -- at a time when it most needs one.

Except for the Summary and Conclusions section at the end of this article, the remainder of this article is a somewhat painstaking and boring analysis of SCO's Caldera v IBM Complaint and IBM's Answer to that Complaint. So, if you like please feel free to jump to the Summary and Conclusions section now. Otherwise, pop-open your favorite beverage and a bag of your favorite junk food and read on.

  • See IBM's Evasive and Fictitious Answers 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

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