At SCO's annual reseller show, the company's executives put up a couple of
slides as a way of demonstrating how Unix code had been "stolen" and put
into Linux. The two slides were photographed and have since appeared on
Heise Online; see them here
The escape of these slides has allowed the Linux community to do something
it has been craving since the beginning of the SCO case: track down the
real origins of the code that SCO claims as its own. The results, in this
case, came quick and clear. They do not bode well for SCO.
The code in question is found in arch/ia64/sn/io/ate_utils.c in the 2.4 tree.
It carries an SGI copyright. It seems that SGI was not entirely
forthcoming in documenting the source of its source; some of the code in
question was, indisputably, not written at SGI. So where does it really
This code is from sys/sys/malloc.c
in V7 Unix. It has been widely published; among other things, it can be
found in Lion's Commentary on Unix (if you can get a copy). It was
featured in this
1984 Usenet posting. And, crucially, it has been circulated with the
V7 Unix source, which was released by Caldera (now
the SCO Group) under the BSD license. SCO would like the world to forget
about that release now, but the
Wayback Machine remembers.
So...SCO's code demonstration, the one that it put up to convince its
resellers of its case, comes from a version of Unix which first came out in
1979. The code was publicly circulated in the 1980's, and explicitly
released under the BSD license by [the company now known as] SCO at the
beginning of 2002. SCO might well have a complaint that SGI did not
properly give credit for the code it used. But there is no possible way
the company can argue that this code's presence in Linux is an infringement
of its copyrights.
And this, of course, is why SCO refuses to show the code that, it claims,
is copied. These claims do not stand up to even a few hours' scrutiny on
the net. SCO may yet have an interesting contract dispute with IBM, but,
from what we have seen so far, its claims of direct copying of code are
(Many thanks to those who commented on an
earlier LWN posting on this subject - those comments are the source for
just about everything that appears in this article. Many thanks are due to
LWN's readers; you have shown the best of what the community can do.
Update: see also: this analysis of SCO's
code by Bruce Perens.)
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