SCOicide – The SCO Group vs the World

On June 28, 2002, Darl McBride became the Chief Executive Officer of Caldera International, and proceeded to kill the company.

The above statement may seem rather strong to those who don’t know the background. Caldera International was a Linux Distributor. The company had made many improvements to Linux (including the first GUI installer), and while the Caldera version was never as popular as the Red Hat version, it was generally well respected. But Caldera was a money losing proposition. It had never made a profit one during it’s years of operation.

One move that Caldera made to try and become profitable was to buy the Unix business from the Santa Cruz Operation. The aim was to use the software distribution channel that Santa Cruz had successfully built up as a Unix vendor to sell more Linux, as Linux was expected to replace Unix in the X86 marketplace.

And then came Darl. The story gets really murky at this point. The people involved either aren’t talking, or are lying like a rug. This sounds harsh, but it’s the only viable conclusion based on the available evidence.

The public story is that Darl noticed that Caldera’s main source of income was the Unix business it had bought from Santa Cruz, and decided to concentrate on growing it. He also started asking questions about how Linux could be competitive to Unix in features and capabilities when it was a free software project (Darl apparently considered Free Software to be ‘hobbyist’ products, the sort of thing your Aunt May did on Saturday evening). As I said, this is the public story. Supposedly Darl was convinced that someone had transferred capabilities from Unix to Linux, and so Caldera sued IBM.

The lawsuit against IBM which originally was for $1 Billion US sent a shockwave throughout the tech community. Many of us wondered if maybe there wasn’t something to it – after all, the source for Linux was widely available, and if someone had copied something they shouldn’t have into it, it would be easy to find. Another consideration is that only an idiot would sue IBM without solid proof. Seriously. Would you launch a lawsuit against a company that was capable of ‘darkening the sky over Utah with lawyers’ without solid evidence to back up your claims?

I, along with a lot of other geeks started looking for answers. One of my searches lead me to a blog over at Radio Userland called Groklaw in early 2003 (the blog moved to Groklaw.net soon after). The blog was written by a PJ (Pamela Jones), who said she was a Geek and a Paralegal. PJ had written a lot of detailed articles. She explained how the legal system in the United States worked, evaluated the legal filings in the Caldera v. IBM case as they were filed, researched cases that were referenced and explained why they were important, and effectively ran an online seminar for programmers on legal system basics. It was a great resource.

Due to the interest in the case, Judge Kimbell told both parties to minimize redactions in the documents that they filed, and not to minimize the number of documents filed under seal. Because of this we learned that Caldera had hired people to investigate and prove the transfer of code, and that they reported that they COULD NOT FIND PROOF OF ANY TRANSFER. They filed their reports before the original lawsuit was launched. Darl, the CEO knew that he didn’t have any proof. None. But he went ahead with the lawsuit against IBM anyway.

Also there was the issue of whether or not Caldera actually owned the Unix copyrights. It was about this time that Novell, the seller, claimed that they sold the business to Santa Cruz, not the copyrights. So now Caldera sued Novell too. And Red Hat sued Caldera. And Caldera sued AutoZone. And Daimler Chrysler.

It was like watching a rabid dog running down the street, attacking everything in sight.

Or maybe watching a train wreck in slow motion. It was less than six months after the original lawsuit had been filed that PJ, along with the regulars who hung out at Groklaw managed to prove that what Darl was claiming was impossible. Which didn’t stop Darl of course. Remember at the start that I said only an idiot would launch a lawsuit of this sort?

It’s only now, that Caldera (which changed it’s name to SCO Group, apparently to confuse the Jury) has finally ended up in court, in front of a jury. The CEO is gone, they are in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, and even if they win, they probably won’t survive.

And every day, for the last six years, I’ve visited Groklaw at least once a day. My wife at one point accused me of having an online affair with PJ, much to my amusement.

Thank you PJ – for doing a wonderful job. For teaching me so much. For working so hard.

Thank you.

Wayne Borean
Thursday March 11, 2010

SCO Train Wreck still occuring in slow motion – molasses would be quicker

Oh dear. The total idiots at The SCO Group finally had a court decision that fell partly in their direction. Partly. The Appeals Court has decided that Summary Judgment was the wrong way to deal with the case, that it should have gone do jury trial, as there were facts which a jury was best able to address. This of course happened just as the trustee was appointed taking control of the company away from management.

What will happen next? It’s hard to tell. So far nothing has happened the way I thought it would, when I thought it would. But at present SCO looks like a Zombie from one of the Living Dead films.

Even mostly dead though, they still called an Investor Conference Call, which seems rather silly. Who is going to invest in a company that is in such bad financial shape.

Well, they have one true believer. Maureen O’Gara continues to sing the company theme song. You have to wonder why she is doing this? It gives the impression that they are either paying her (or she has invested heavily in SCO Group stock).

So we’ll have to wait and see. But it’s in the hands of the Trustee now, and unless someone (possibly from Redmond) is willing to put a lot of money on the line, it looks like the train wreck is nearly over.

KSL TV – another example of a media outlet that didn't check a story…

So a company calls up their local TV station, and wnats to get a story run. The reporter (Jed Boal) does enough checking to find out that there is a controversy of some sort, and then proceeds to interview Darl McBride of SCO. Unfortuneately Jed didn’t do enough research. The result is a story that tells only one side of the issue at all well.

So I wrote to the General Manager at KSL and politely pointed out that they’d missed a few points. That was last Thursday. So far, no response.

So I’ve decided to post my message to them here. Make your own judgement.

The KSL story is here

This is my response:

In regards to the story below, there are several innaccuracies that need to be corrected:

> Lindon-based software company…S-C-O…
> or sco…is a lighting rod of controversy in the
> computer world today…

True enough.

> (Darl McBride/SCO President and
> C.E.O.:) “IT HAS BECOME THE BIGGEST
> ISSUE IN THE COMPUTER INDUSTRY IN
> DECADES.”

Not really. The Microsoft Anti-Trust lawsuit was far bigger, as was the IBM Anti-Trust lawsuit.

> This summer, free software
> advocates…picketed SCO…

> They’re fired up over a fundamental
> fracture in cyberspace…free software
> versus intellectual property.

And who owns the valuable intellectual property in this free software? If you check you will find copyright statements by a variety of individuals and organizations. Public License Software is valuable intellectual property, in fact at the current rate of growth of GPL/BSD license (or shared source) software the intellectual property
value will exceed that of proprietary software sometime in the next year.

> In one corner I-B-M and free software
> users…

> In the other…SCO which owns the code
> they argue is running the business
> world.

Correction – SCO claims it owns code that has been incorporated into some shared source applications, particularly the Linux Kernal. This
claim is difficult to substantiate as SCO is not willing to specify what/where the code is. Also part of what SCO appears to be claiming
as theirs appears to belong to IBM – at least IBM holds copyrights and software patents related to it.

> SCO sued IBM in March for three BILLION
> dollars…claiming IBM broke a contract
> and misused trade secrets.

> (Darl McBride/SCO President and
> C.E.O.:) “THE STAKES ARE EXTREMELY
> HIGH…THE BALANCE OF THE SOFTWARE
> INDUSTRY IS HANGING ON THIS.”

This is debateable. While shared source code can often be usefull, proprietary code also has it’s points. Shared source projects may die because of a lack of interest by programmers, whereas a company like Intuit can push a project through.

> SCO claims ownership of Unix…an
> operating system used to run small to
> huge businesses…

> SCO says its client…IBM, has placed
> UNIX code into the LINUX operating
> system.

This part is complicated. SCO does not own “UNIX”. They do own rights to one source tree of Unix. Please see the following link:
http://www.opengroup.org/comm/press/who-owns-unix.htm

> Linux is free…easy to modify and
> distribute…and is taking off
> worldwide.

> SCO says it cannot compete against a
> free product that relies on its own
> trade secrets.

Interestingly enough IBM (AIX), Sun Microsystems (Solaris), HP (HP-UX, VMS) and Microsoft (Windows) all seem to be able to compete with Linux. And of course at this point we have only SCO’s word that it’s trade secrets are in Linux.

> The attacks on SCO escalated to
> internet trash talk, hate mail…even
> death threats.

But calling hard working people thieves (and then trying to steal their work is fine).

> (Darl McBride/SCO President and
> C.E.O.:) “THIS THING WOULD NOT BE AS
> BIG A DEAL AS IT IS IF WE DID NOT HAVE
> A CASE. SO, INSTEAD OF WAITING FOR A
> JUDGEMENT WHERE THEY MIGHT LOSE,
> THEY’RE TRYING TO SHUT US DOWN IN THE
> SHORT-TERM WITH CYBER-ATTACKS OR
> PERSONAL ATTACKS.”

Actually many people believe that SCO does not have a case. Also many companies including Red Hat, IBM, HP, Fujitsu, Novell, SGI, and Sony believe that SCO does not have a case.

> SO, WHO OPPOSES SCO? THOUSANDS OF LINUX
> USERS HERE IN UTAH AND
> COUNTLESS MORE
> AROUND THE WORLD.

You forgot the mention Ford, Ebay, Amazon, Pixar Studios, etc.

> WE TALKED TO SOME STUDENTS HERE IN
> PROVO, WHO WERE PART OF THAT PROTEST.

> Linux-users and peaceful protestors
> like Jason Holt want the code
> available…without permission.

Again, as of this point SCO has not proven that “Permission” is needed. Many government agencies seem to agree – the NSA, US Army, DOD, White House, and NASA all use Linux.

> He adds to it..others add to it.

> (Jason Holt/Linux User:) “I CAN ACCESS
> THE CODE, I CAN ACCESS THE TOOLS, I CAN
> ACCESS THE PEOPLE…WE’RE WORKING
> TOGETHER TO BUILD SOMETHING AS A
> COMMUNITY.”

Kind of reminds you of the United Order, doesn’t it?

> Linux users argue they have not seen
> proof of copied code…or evidence that
> the IBM product IS a derivative of
> Unix.

> (Jason Holt/Linux User:) “I THINK IT’S
> COMPLETELY BOGUS, THEY HAVEN’T SHOWN
> ANYTHING.”

> SCO says it can prove it was
> lifted…and will.

Interestingly enough SCO has shown some snippets of code that they claimed were lifted from their product and added to Linux. One of the snippets was proven to have come from Free BSD. The other one came from SGI and may have been a problem. SGI immediately rewrote the function in question as they could not prove whether or not the code was at issue, and then ran a comparison of the code in their Unix implementation against that of Linux. The report is on their website,
and make interesting reading.

> (Darl McBride/SCO President and
> C.E.O.:) “IF SCO LOSES THIS
> CASE…SOFTWARE BECOMES FREE, THERE’S
> GOING TO BE A DOWNWARD SPIRAL.”

If SCO looses this case software doesn’t become magically free. What will happen is that SCO as a company will cease to exist, so I guess that for the CEO of SCO it will be a downward spiral. For the rest of the world, it won’t much matter.

If SCO does win this case it will cause severe dislocations in businesses all over the USA, and increased costs for IT infrastructure. This in itself could be enough to cause a recession.

> More battles ahead before the case
> makes it to federal court in Salt Lake
> in 2005.

Actually the case may be decided far sooner. I understand that SCO has not complied with requests from IBM for documentation. IBM has filed a notice to compell, and the judge will hear it in early December. If SCO has not complied by that point it is possible the judge could throw the case out and award damages to IBM, which could criple or kill SCO.

I’d suggest that you drop this on one of your reporters and have them check the net for further information. One place to start is:

http://www.groklaw.net

Another is:

http://www.sco.com

and the SEC is also a good place to check. There’s a lot of information in SCO’s SEC filings that they didn’t bother passing on to your reporter.

—–

And that’s what I sent to KSL – what do YOU think?

Rage, fury, rage, fury, rage, fury….

I spend most of my time mad.

The number of fools in the world seems larger every day. The number of blithering idiots is incredible.

The number of thieves, scumbags, jerks, and assholes is beyond compare.

Take SCO – please.

A bunch of thieves trying to steal the valuble IP owned by the open source community, and running what looks like a stock scam on the side.

I never, ever, in my worst dreams thought I would be cheering for IBM. I never, ever thought that Novell would look like a white knight.

Every time I think of SCO I remember a line from one of Cher’s songs:

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves….

That’s SCO.