SCO Blows More Smoke
Our e-mail discussion with Chris Sontag, in which he stated that the tainted code is not in the Linux kernel that Linus [Torvalds] and others have helped develop, took place on 24 and 25 April.
Between that time period and publication of our SCO-Caldera v IBM: SCO Clears Linux Kernel but Implicates Red Hat and SuSE, on 28 April, we had several e-mail discussions with SCO's Director of Corporate Communications, Blake Stowell, about the Sontag interview.
On 27 April, a day before publication of the SCO Clears Linux Kernel but Implicates Red Hat and SuSE article, we e-mailed a confidential preview copy of the article to Blake Stowell so that he could make sure the story was accurate and correct.
It was not until 29 April that we received e-mail from SCO's Blake Stowell asking us to make a correction in the story as to Sontag's statement clearing the kernel.org Linux kernel of containing any SCO-owned code.
However, there was nothing to correct. We printed what Sontag had said: We're not talking about the Linux kernel that Linus and others have helped develop. We're talking about what's on the periphery of the Linux kernel.
The official Linux kernel that Linus Torvalds and others developed and continue to develop is maintained by kernel.org. However, anyone or any organization may adapt and patch that kernel for their own use, such as developing a Linux-based operating system or a Linux distribution. For more information about that please see the Mechanisms of Tainting Linux Distribution Code section in our article SCO Clears Linux Kernel but Implicates Red Hat and SuSE.
Here is that with which Blake Stowell wanted us to replace that verbatim statement -- after it had been published.
Blake Stowell (29 April 2003): What Chris Sontag was saying was that "SCO has not identified any current issues with the code that is in the kernel today. However, SCO is still concerned that there is no mechanism in place in the Linux community to address what gets added to the kernel, and the periphery of the kernel, to make sure that there is no proprietary software being included. Yes, Linus and Alan Cox and others control what gets added to the kernel, but how do they know that what is being contributed is not proprietary? SCO would still like to see this get resolved in some way at some point."
Although that is not a correction, it is a new statement and an interesting change in what Sontag says is the way things are. That makes Sontag's new statement worth a follow-up story -- but not a correction. So, we sent e-mail to Blake Stowell telling Blake that we would not make a correction to the SCO Clears Linux Kernel story because there was nothing to correct, but we would run a follow-up story.
However, Sontag's new statement raised some additional issues and questions. Thus, we also asked Blake some questions about this new Sontag statement.
To date, neither Blake Stowell nor anyone else at SCO-Caldera has answered these questions directly. Some of the questions we asked but were not answered are appended to the end of this article for your reading pleasure. However, in an e-mail discussion yesterday about another issue, Blake Stowell also did address indirectly some of the concerns expressed in our questions to him about his correction request.
In asking Stowell these questions one of our concerns was that someone at SCO suddenly realized that by admitting SCO-Caldera had not found SCO-owned code in the kernel.org code, SCO had lost much of the vague, nebulous, and somewhat rubbery intellectual property (IP) hammer it is trying to hold over the entire Linux community. It also appeared to us that this new statement from Sontag and Stowell was designed to restore the uncertainty and vagueness about SCO's unsupported copyright claims -- so that it might regain some if not all of that rubbery, IP hammer that SCO is trying to hold over the entire Linux community -- which had been diminished by Sontag's earlier statement clearing the kernel.org Linux kernel of SCO-owned code.
Is There SCO Code in the Linux Kernel?
Let's take a look at what Blake Stowell is saying, and not saying, in his request for a correction:
Blake Stowell (29 April 2003): What Chris Sontag was saying was that "SCO has not identified any current issues with the code that is in the kernel today.
Read literally, considered along with Sontag's original statement, and taken with reasonable inferences, that says that as of 29 April 2003, SCO-Caldera had not found SCO-owned code in the Linux kernel as the said kernel existed as of 29 April. Absent the requested clarification from Stowell, we will take that to mean the kernel.org Linux kernel.
That amounts to Stowell's saying that as of 29 April, SCO had not found any SCO-owned code in the current kernel.org Linux kernel(s). That is not particularly inconsistent with what Sontag told MozillaQuest Magazine on 24 and 25 April. Nor is that inconsistent with statements from Linus Torvalds and other Linux kernel maintainers that there is no SCO-owned code in the kernel.org Linux kernel.
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.
Related MozillaQuest Articles
SCO-Caldera v IBM: