Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Reinhard Brandstädter, AppDynamics Blog

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Bruce Perens on SCO's "Tapestry of Lies"

Bruce Perens on SCO's "Tapestry of Lies"

SCO management had a problem. Their quarterly financial report was going to show only twenty thousand dollars in income for their SCOSource licensing program. And so, in an announcement timed to distract people from the bad financial report, SCO announced two new lawsuits and license purchases from Computer Associates, Leggett and Platt, and EV1 Servers.

Computer Associates' CEO was quick to blast SCO, pointing out that CA had settled a breach-of-contract suit unrelated to Linux with Canopy Group - SCO's main investor - and one of its other companies, Center7. The settlement terms compelled CA to purchase some licenses from SCO, and required that CA not disclose those terms. Leggett and Platt managers who were asked about that company's license purchase scratched their heads, maybe someone in the company had purchased a license, but they'd asked around and they didn't know about it. And EV1 Servers CEO says he didn't pay nearly what SCO claims he paid.

When a company arranges for the appearance of sales, the way SCO seems to have done with CA and most likely has done with other companies, that's called window dressing. It's something that companies do to make their stock look better than it actually is.

On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO's strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO's financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital. SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell has admitted that the email is real, but called its implications a "misunderstanding", while Microsoft softly called them "not accurate". We'd hear stronger denials if there wasn't some truth there. This was followed by a comment from the the Securities and Exchange Commission that, yeah, they're interested. Mr. Anderer, expect to see lots of subpoenas with your name on them.

SCO has suffered other setbacks recently, in their lawsuit against IBM. First, the company dropped all breach of trade-secret allegations against Big Blue. The time had come and gone for SCO to provide evidence regarding those allegations, and it hadn't been able to support them. And then came a ruling on the discovery process in the case.

The ruling requires SCO to finally reveal, with specificity, what code IBM has copied from Unix to Linux, on the same day that IBM must deliver the source code of IBM's AIX Unix system to SCO for examination. The ruling is calculated to show what infringement SCO could allege just by looking at the published source code for Linux. SCO will then have two weeks to look at AIX, and make additional allegations regarding the transfer of IBM's AIX source code to Linux.

We have yet to see SCO's specific infringement claims, but we can expect them to follow the two general theories of copyright infringement that they've stated in the case or in other public venues.

SCO alleges that code that IBM wrote on its own for AIX became SCO's property or is otherwise encumbered by SCO due to terms of the Unix license that IBM acquired from ATT, the creator of Unix. According to SCO, IBM does not have the right to put in Linux any code that has ever touched Unix. That's why the judge is giving SCO a peek at AIX. But SCO's interpretation of the Unix license was refuted in by ATT itself when they announced a change in the license terms in their August 1985 Echo newsletter sent to all Unix licensees. ATT wrote:

Section 2.01 - The last sentence was added to assure licensees that AT&T will claim no ownership in the software that they developed -- only the portion of the software developed by AT&T

SCO is the "successor in interest" to the ATT license. They'll have to honor ATT's terms and ATT's own interpretation, and thus their claim on IBM's code will fail.

SCO's remaining copyright infringement theory is regarding the Unix API or ABI. SCO says that Linux contains copies of a number of the header files that define the Unix API or ABI. But SCO doesn't own that information. When Novell sold off the Unix business they'd purchased from ATT, they transferred the Unix definition and trademark to The Open Group, while SCO was sold some rights related to the Unix implementation. The Open Group maintains the Unix definition today as their Single Unix Specification, and they assert that anyone can implement it without a copyright encumbrance.

Indeed, the header files in question were released for the public to implement without a copyright encumbrance on five separate occasions in all. These included:

  • ATT's release for the ANSI C Language Standard.
  • ATT's release for the U.S. Government POSIX standard.
  • The USL v. BSDI court case of the early 1990's, in which ATT's Unix System Labs was found not to have a defensible copyright interest in Unix. Thus, Unix was in the public domain.
  • The transfer of the Unix definition to the Open Group.
  • The release of all ATT Unix implementations under the BSD license by Caldera (which now calls itself SCO) in 2002.

The chairpersons of the standards organizations are still living and able to testify regarding ATT's copyright releases, and the rest of the releases are documented in public records. And thus SCO's remaining allegation of copyright infringement will fall.

SCO's suit against Daimler Chrysler alleges that Daimler failed to give SCO an accounting of their use of Linux, which SCO feels is a violation of their Unix license. Daimler is a very large company used to nuisance suits. Their legal department alone is several times the size of SCO's entire staff. This suit places SCO in an expensive two-fronts war against the giant companies IBM and Daimler, or should we count the medium-sized companies Novell, Red Hat, and AutoZone and say a five-fronts war? In selecting AutoZone and Daimler, SCO was clearly targeting troubled companies that might be more likely to settle than sustain a long lawsuit, whatever its merit. But probably not likely enough. Companies that settle lawsuits with no merit just buy themselves more, similar lawsuits.

SCO's mounting legal costs have prompted a financial analyst at Decatur Jones to forecast that SCO's stock will post a significant loss. The same company downgraded its forecast of full-year earnings from the SCOSource licensing program from $7 Million to essentially zero in January ahead of news of the twenty-thousand-dollar quarter.

SCO's suit against AutoZone is related to AutoZone's alleged use of Unixware compatibility software for Linux previously released for free on the net by Caldera, before they stopped being a Linux business. SCO claims that AutoZone had old applications that ran on Unixware and could not be recompiled. This is unusual, in that most Linux users will not be moving software that they can't recompile. Caldera, now SCO, gave that compatibility software away for years, so they're going to have a very hard time showing that AutoZone didn't have a right to use it. A former AutoZone lead software engineer contradicts that the compatibility libraries were used at all.

SCO has run its campaign against Linux for over a year now, kiting their stock from fifty cents to over twenty dollars on many statements that, it is turning out, weren't true. When a company makes unfounded assertions for a month or two, it can be dismissed as a mistake or wishful thinking. When the distortions go on for a full year, it becomes difficult to explain their behavior as anything but a deliberate fraud meant to hurt Linux for Microsoft, their financial backer, while bringing SCO Millions in stock windfalls.

Perhaps the saddest part of this whole fiasco is its human dimension. Canopy Group was created and funded by Ray Noorda, who also founded Novell. Noorda would have hated SCO's current strategy. In fact, when the very similar USL v. BSDI lawsuit came up in the early 1990's, Noorda himself brokered the settlement between ATT's Unix System Labs and the University of California, so that Unix could go on without ambiguity. But more recently, Noorda has been afflicted with a very severe senility disorder and no longer participates in managing his own portfolio.

Canopy Group director Ralph Yarro, the self-proclaimed mastermind of SCO's strategy, was a graphic illustrator at Novell when he befriended Noorda. Noorda is said to have seen Yarro as "the only person who isn't after my money". Although we don't have oversight on the privately-held Canopy group, people close to the situation say that Yarro has been generous to his own portfolio with bonuses and other compensation. Yarro will probably be the major person to profit from SCO.

From a finanical standpoint, Canopy Group has already won. Because it's not a public company like SCO, we can't see all that's going on there. However, we know that they have swapped some of their other holdings, including a company called "Vultus", for SCO stock. And of course they've multiplied the value of their existing SCO stock as much as forty times over the past year. I've no doubt that much of this stock has already been converted to cash. The leaked email forecasts SCO's exit from this business in the near future. When they exit, Yarro and Canopy will walk away with tens of millions.

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.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
nastyphil 03/10/04 03:29:29 PM EST

If Groklaw's interperatation of the facts and the law in this case is accurate and mirrored by the presiding courts, then SCO doesn't have a case.

Cpl Laque 03/10/04 03:25:18 PM EST

SCO os done. Worst case scenario IBM actually put AIX code into Linux. SCO doesn't own the code. SCO doesn't have copyright on the code. It's even in dispute with Novell if SCO can even sue IBM over this AIX code anyways. Worst case is they will get a few bucks from IBM. Linux will remained unchanged. Obviously this case hasn't killed the adoption of Linux by many corporations. So I am not worried. Hell, SCOX is starting to plummet regardless of what crazy press releases SCO makes. Do you think AutoZone and Chrysler are worried about SCO? Even a large company would have trouble with the plethora of lawsuits SCO is dealing with and there will be more when all is said and done.
No one is taking Linux from us.

@ThingsExpo Stories
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.