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June 17, 2003

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Only 80 Lines of Common Unix and Linux Code -- So Far

SCO-Caldera Shows No Proof That Linux Was Derived from Unix

By Mike Angelo -- 17 June 2003 (C) -- Page 1

SCO's NDA Show And Tell Scam Was A No Show Sham!

Article Index

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:

On or about 4 June 2003, SCO-Caldera (SCOX) launched what SCO CEO Darl McBride promised would be show and tell time at SCO's Lindon Utah HQ. At issue are SCO-Caldera's claims that Linux was derived from Unix and that the Linux code-base is contaminated with SCO-owned Unix code.

These issues were raised by SCO in its Caldera v IBM lawsuit. However, veiled threats by SCO to sue Linux developers and Linux end-users too have, in essence, turned the matter into a SCO-Caldera v Linux war.

Viewing SCO's Code Claims

So far it appears that only two people, computer trade analysts, have signed the controversial SCO NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), which SCO-Caldera requires for entry to its code-carnival tent, and looked at the SCO/Linux code comparison offered by SCO. The original code-review schema was to have code-reviewers make the Lindon HQ pilgrimage in order to review the code, However, with only two takers, SCO Senior Vice President took the SCOsource code-review sideshow on tour to the Boston offices of the two analysts that agreed to participate in SCO's show and tell code viewing.

SCO's Blake Stowell told MozillaQuest Magazine that Aberdeen's Bill Claybrook, and Laura DiDio at Yankee Group are the two analysts that have reviewed the SCO/Linux code. A third analyst, George Weiss at Gartner, apparently was on the list for the code show.

George Weiss told MozillaQuest Magazine that he did not review the code. Apparently he would not sign SCO-Caldera's controversial NDA. However, according to Blake Stowell, Chris Sontag did visit with George Weiss on 4 June when he was calling on the other two analysts.

The only analyst to view SCO's code presentation, that as far as we know is technically qualified, is the Aberdeen Group's Bill Claybrook -- a former Unix kernel programmer. He is the Aberdeen Group's Research Director for Linux and Open Source, Unix, and Grid Computing. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Southern Methodist University in Dallas Texas. Bill Claybrook has more than 35 years experience in the computer industry including Unix architecture and software engineering.

In a 10 June Aberdeen Group Perspective, SCO-IBM Lawsuit: Time for Some Changes?, he says with qualifications, that he saw only 80-lines of code that looked as though they might be present in both Unix and Linux. More about that further down in the interview with Bill Claybrook.

The overly-structured and perhaps restricted format of SCO-Caldera's code-viewing show ends up proving little or nothing -- other than perhaps that SCO's show and tell production was a no show scam!

Nevertheless, Bill Claybrook's report of his SCO code-viewing experience is well-done, informative, and interesting. We discussed Bill Claybrook's report and code viewing experiences with him via e-mail from about 6 June to 13 June 2003. MozillaQuest Magazine's interview with Bill Claybrook is a little further down in this article.

SCO's Code Claims and Issues

The crux of SCO-Caldera's anti-Linux war and intellectual property (IP) claims can be summarized quickly. Simply take a look at this excerpt from the letter Darl McBride and SCO-Caldera sent out to at least 1,500 companies, including Fortune 500 and Forbes 1000 top companies. It is that letter that precipitated the German Linux community's successful legal counterattack against SCO-Caldera. That letter, dated 12 May 2003, states in part:

Linux is, in material part, an unauthorized derivative of UNIX . . . We have evidence that portions of UNIX System V software code have been copied into Linux . . . legal liability that may arise from the Linux development process may also rest with the end user . . . We intend to aggressively protect and enforce these rights . . . we are prepared to take all actions necessary to stop the ongoing violation of our intellectual property or other rights.

SCO Code Show Fails to Support SCO Code Claims

Our conclusions about SCO's code-review side-show, based upon Bill Claybrook's report, our discussions with Bill Claybrook, and previous interviews with other people, is that so far SCO-Caldera has failed to produce any probative evidence that Linux was derived from Unix. Likewise, so far SCO-Caldera has failed to produce any probative evidence that there is SCO-owned Unix code in either the Linux kernel or the GNU/Linux operating system (OS). There are some provisos to these conclusions, which are discussed further on in this article.

SCO Director of Corporate Communications, Blake Stowell, takes exception to our conclusions:

I would say that is false. We have shown code and done things to prove our case. Bill Claybrook said the following in the EE Times article that I think you should read before making statements like that..

Note: not sure what Blake Stowell meant by the following. The only thing that followed that statement was the URL for the article.

The article to which Blake Stowell refers is Linux-Unix ties spelled out, By Charles J. Murray, EE Times, 9 June 9 2003. Link in the Resources section at the end of this article.

Bill Claybrook's report is dated 10 June, so the extent there might be conflicts between the 9 June EE Times article and Bill's 10 June report, the presumption is that the later dated Report would be controlling. Much of our discussion with Bill took place after 9 June too. Thus, to the extent there might be conflicts between the 9 June EE Times article and Bill's comments reported here, the presumption is that the later dated comments would be controlling

Bill Claybrook does not reach the conclusion we reach here in his 10 June report. However, the facts he reports show that SCO-Caldera's show and tell code-review fails to show anything to contradict what we previously have reported, and what we conclude above. SCO's code-view show also failed to refute that which the prominent and respected members of the Linux kernel and GNU/Linux communities reject. They reject SCO's claim there is SCO-owned Unix code in the Linux kernel or the GNU/Linux OS.

There are provisos to our conclusion, however. One proviso centers on how one defines a derivative work. The way SCO-Caldera wants to define derivative work, the Journaling File System (JFS) code, the Nonuniform Memory Access (NUMA) code and the Read, Copy, and Update (RCU) code would be Unix derivative works included in the Linux kernel.

That basis appears to be a matter of the structure of SCO's Unix licensing agreements, rather than the definition of derivative work pertaining to copyrights. (17 U.S.C. 501, et seq.) In other words even if the donation of JFS, NUMA, and RCU code to the Linux kernel developers by IBM is contrary to its Unix license from SCO, it might not constitute a copyright infringement under the U.S. Copyright ACT. (17 U.S.C. 101, et. seq.) Copyright infringement is not part of SCO's Caldera v IBM lawsuit.

Additionally, according to Bill Claybrook, the JFS, NUMA, and RCU code was not part of SCO's code show and tell event.

Another proviso is that Bill Claybrook found 80 lines of code common to both the Unix and Linux code the SCO-Caldera people showed. Considering how much code there is in the Linux kernel and the GNU/Linux operating system, 80 lines of common code seems insignificant. Moreover, Bill Claybrook was not able to determine if the 80-lines of code might have been copied from Unix to Linux or from Linux to Unix -- nor does he report the source or author of these 80-lines of possibly purloined code.

That is because SCO showed no evidence regarding these issues. Bill Claybrook does not go off jumping to conclusions about the SCO code show and tell event.

Note: It was not the intention when this article development started to look into the credibility of any analysts or pass judgment on their reports and opinions. However, it became apparent to us that one analyst's work does not come up to snuff in our opinion. Once we reached that conclusion, we felt it our journalistic obligation to report that in this article. There already is more than enough FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) wrapped around the SCO IP issues and the Caldera v IBM lawsuit. Neither this writer nor this publication will countenance an analyst contributing to that FUD. This issue is discussed further at the end of this article in the Credentials Appendix

He reports on the factual evidence Sontag showed and basis his opinions on the evidence -- that is the way real professional experts do things.

Laura DiDio, a Yankee Group Senior Analyst for Application Infrastructure and Software Platforms, claims she saw 200 lines of common code. She also asserts, with apparently no personal knowledge or reasonable basis to so say, that these 200 lines of code were cut and pasted into Linux from Unix. However, we give very little creditability to her report of the code-viewing. Please see the sidebar Note for more about that.

  • See Bill Claybrook interview and discussion 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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