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A new SCO distribution

SCO has sent out a press release on a new version of SCO Linux Server 4.0. It is a fairly mundane offering; SCO, too, wants to sell high-priced "enterprise" version of its distribution; the version just released starts at $999 and runs on the Itanium architecture. It is only "licensed" for up to four processors, however; bigger machines will cost more.

If you go to the product page on SCO's site, though, you see some interesting things. They advertise all sorts of "next-generation enterprise features" including logical volume management, asynchronous I/O, the O(1) scheduler, journaling filesystems (including JFS), PCI hotplugging, high availability features, etc. All the sort of stuff that an aspiring business distribution with a (probably) Red Hat-derived kernel should have.

The only problem, of course, is that these are all features that, according to SCO's suit against IBM, could not exist in Linux unless SCO's proprietary technology had been stolen and put there illegally. SCO is even advertising features (JFS, EVMS) that were directly developed and contributed by IBM; JFS was even listed explicitly in the company's complaint. This is all stuff that, according to SCO, is destroying SCO's Unix business and depriving the company of a billion dollars (minimum) worth of intellectual property.

The proprietary technology that, according to SCO, was misappropriated is certainly contained in this new distribution. And SCO is shipping it with source, licensed under the GPL. Before filing suit, SCO might have been able to claim that they didn't know that "their" property was contained within their Linux distribution. But they have no "plausable deniability" now. SCO is, itself, shipping the code that, it claims, is destroying its business. The company is trying to have it both ways, selling Linux while claiming that the product is tainted. It would be interesting to hear how SCO justifies this position. Unfortunately, SCO did not respond to questions sent by LWN, so we can't tell you.


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Only one possible explanation for SCO

Posted Apr 17, 2003 1:12 UTC (Thu) by rknop (guest, #66) [Link]

Rectal defilade.

I simply cannot think of any other possible explanation for that company.

A new SCO distribution

Posted Apr 17, 2003 8:22 UTC (Thu) by anselm (subscriber, #2796) [Link]

Presumably all these features are in there by virtue of the SCO distribution
being based on United Linux, rather than because SCO have worked their
little behinds off to give them to us. It turns out that SuSE's Enterprise Server 8
smells pretty much the same, which doesn't come as much of a surprise
since the two are very much alike under the hood.

A new SCO distribution

Posted Apr 17, 2003 13:07 UTC (Thu) by erat (guest, #21) [Link]

I'm going to play devil's advocate here. I don't work for SCO and I not involved with -- nor have anything to gain from -- the lawsuit, in case that comes into question.

The SCO/IBM lawsuit seems to allege that IBM is taking SCO IP and is contributing it to Linux (the kernel, the utilities, whatever), making it available free of charge to anyone who wants it.

If this is the case, the (alleged) "SCO IP" that is in Linux (allegedly) belongs to SCO. I'm sure SCO doesn't sweat over licensing its own (alleged) IP to itself, so SCO's distribution of its own (alleged) IP should not damage SCO's revenue.

Basically, I don't see how this new distro could cancel out any of the stuff SCO alleges in its lawsuit against IBM. If they put this thing up on their FTP site for free download w/ source code, then I'd say they're contradicting themselves.

A new SCO distribution

Posted Apr 17, 2003 15:03 UTC (Thu) by jamesh (guest, #1159) [Link]

If we continue along that path of reasoning, you will note that the Linux kernel is covered by the GPL. SCO is distributing some of its IP as part of the kernel in its distro.

Since it can't place restrictions on the work above those mentioned in the GPL (including patent licenses, etc), anyone has the right to use those bits of IP under the terms of the GPL.

Of course, this wouldn't absolve IBM of "stealing" SCO's IP, if you believe that is what they did.

A new SCO distribution

Posted Apr 17, 2003 15:32 UTC (Thu) by erat (guest, #21) [Link]

Actually, having thought a bit more about it, I remembered that UnitedLinux source code RPMs can be downloaded and used without restriction as long as you don't represent the rebuilt binaries as being from the UnitedLinux project:

ftp://ftp.sco.com/pub/scolinux/server/4.0/SRPMS
ftp://ftp.sco.com/pub/scolinux/ia64/4.0/SRPMS

The former does seem to have kernel sources. I couldn't find the kernel sources in the latter URL, but perhaps I didn't look close enough (no "linux" or "kernel" packages that would contain all of the source).

So, I stand corrected. There does appear to be a slight contradiction after all.

A new SCO distribution

Posted Apr 17, 2003 19:03 UTC (Thu) by josh_stern (guest, #4868) [Link]

According to my superficial understanding of the lawsuit, there is no legal
contradiction. They allege that IBM broke non-disclosure agreements and gave
away their IP to the world (I suspect they are mostly full of it, but that is another
matter). Once the cat is out of the bag, there is no contradiction for them to try
and sell whatever they can on the same terms. The legal stuff is all about
money, not about being on somebody's buddy list or hate list.

A new SCO distribution

Posted Apr 24, 2003 14:23 UTC (Thu) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

But when you read the plaint, it's basically a list of lies, half-truths, and unsubstantiated irrelevant rants.

Like claiming that SCO was the only x86 nix until linux turned up...
Like claiming that no major nix from other vendors was ever ported to x86 (and yes, SCO *do* consider SUN to be a major nix vendor... :-)

Cheers,
Wol


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