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Message to the Linux and Free Software Community Regarding the SCO Denial-of-Service Virus

Message to the Linux and Free Software Community Regarding the SCO Denial-of-Service Virus

On January 26, 2004, a new virus became rampant. I have reports that the virus payload has two purposes: to send an email spam for a mail-order "Viagra" vendor, and to perform a denial-of-service attack on SCO's web site.

Denial-of-service attacks via virus have been a common trick of email spammers. They were first used to take out some of the anti-spam blacklist sites. Several of those sites had their (non-spam-related) business so heavily disrupted that they closed the doors of their anti-spam projects rather than be attacked again.

The Open Source developers are a target of spammers. We are the creators of most high-profile anti-spam technology. For example, SpamAssassin started out as, and remains today, an Open Source project. The predominant mail delivery programs of the Internet are Open Source projects such as Sendmail and Postfix, and thus most efforts to spam-proof those programs are Open Source as well. This is important, because it gives spammers a reason to defame us.

SCO also has a reason to defame us, as part of their stock-kiting scheme. We have assembled ample evidence that they have lied under oath in court. Such a company would not balk at attacking their own site in order to paint their opponents in a bad light.

Thus, it is likely that this virus has been assembled for the purpose of defaming the Linux developers by spammers, SCO, or others. Your behavior will influence whether or not it succeeds in this mission.

Thus, I urge all persons who have sympathy for Free Software, Open Source, and Linux:

  • Do not cheer on attacks on the SCO site. By doing so, you falsely implicate our community in the attacks, in the eyes of outsiders who read your words. Our community believes in freedom of speech, not silencing our opponent's speech through net attacks. We will defeat SCO using the truth, not by gagging them.
  • Publicly deplore the attacks as an attempt to defame us, and not an effort of our community. Show others this notice. Continue to fight SCO, using all legal means at your disposal. Show others the analysis of SCO's ongoing fraud at Groklaw.net and elsewhere, and explain to them your own experience as a participant in the Free Software community.
  • Continue the visible presence of Free Software as a force for good in the world by producing excellent original software for everyone's free use and deploying it wherever possible. Promote these projects to the press and public as you carry them out. Do what you can for other public-good projects such as schools and non-profit organizations. FreeGeek.org is an excellent example of how to carry this out.
  • Show others by example that our side always takes the high road. When they see a low-road sort of action like denial-of-service, spam, or stock fraud, they'll know who to blame.

Remember that your actions count. You are ambassadors of our community.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens


[Version 1, January 27, 2004.  The master version of this notice is here. Please check that location for a more recent version. You may re-publish this material. You may excerpt it, reformat it and translate it as necessary for your presentation. You may not edit it to deliberately misrepresent my opinion.]

More Stories By Bruce Perens

Bruce Perens, a leader in the free software and open source community, is a member of the International Advisory Board of Linux.SYS-CON.com. He is the creator of the Open Source Definition, the manifesto of the open source movement. Bruce is founder or cofounder of the Open Source Initiative, the Linux Standard Base, Software in the Public Interest, and No-Code International. He is the creator of Busybox, which has spawned its own development community and is part of most commercial devices using embedded Linux.

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