Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: VictorOps Blog, Liz McMillan, Victoria Livschitz, SmartBear Blog, Craig Lowell

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 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
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, will provide an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.