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Analysis of SCO vs. IBM 282

Posted by michael
from the paper-pushing dept.
icantblvitsnotbutter writes "An excellent -- and clear! -- article over at LinuxWorld.com has a multipoint analysis of SCO's 40-page complaint (this is a brief?!). For all those IANAL's out there, here's something to sink your teeth into. On the balance, the outlook seems positive for IBM. Still, the parallel invocation of a contractural clause potentially nixing AIX lends some credence to claims that this is a just way for SCO to coerce IBM into buying them out..." Some old documents from a similar lawsuit have surfaced, and naturally ESR has his own take on the case.
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Analysis of SCO vs. IBM

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  • by watzinaneihm (627119) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:13AM (#5511453) Journal
    Almost nothing new there which you couldnt have found by not sifting through earlier slashdot stories. What I would have really liked is something on the lines of "Here is patent number 1" and here is how linux is different/same.....
    It is not as if SCO patent reads like "WE patent UNIX and everything that looks like it. And that is that.They have to patent some feature of the OS which they can accuse IBM of violating"
  • Nice brief (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nenolod (546272) <nenolod&gmail,com> on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:19AM (#5511499) Homepage
    Looks like it was written by a high school student, but none the less, what a nice brief. Dont those SCO People work hard?

    Plus, their case doesn't hold water because, the SCO that we're talking about is not the same SCO as the SCO that provided Unix, after AT&T.

    This SCO is caldera. The old SCO is SCO. Do the math, Caldera != SCO. Therefore, I do not see their grounds at all.
  • by TaranRampersad (650261) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:20AM (#5511504) Homepage Journal

    If SCO is just about to sell out, and is attempting to inflate it's 'intellectual property equity' in the hope that someone with money may buy them? Or maybe there are already talks underway?

    If not, this appears to be a horrid act of desperation.

  • Random Programming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechnoWeenie (250857) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:23AM (#5511528)
    Averment 41
    Shared libraries are by their nature unique creations based on various decisions to write code in certain ways, which are in great part random decisions of the software developers who create the shared library code base.

    It's interesting to note that SCO considers the decisions of programmers to be basically random.
  • by turgid (580780) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:30AM (#5511582) Journal
    I wouldn't worry too much about what ESR has to say. The man has gone on a fruitbreak of late.
  • by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:34AM (#5511610) Homepage
    Reading the Linux world article SCO claims that Linux advanced features such as failover SMP etc could only come about after many years of development. However I do find it a bit narrow sighted in that they think that IBM is the only one who could procduce this software and port it. There are other blue chips out there who have written failsafe software and ported it to Linux. Personally I think SCO is talking rubbish (well at least on this point at least). I really need to read all 40 pages of their document but don't really have the time. (heh who does :)

    Rus
  • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:36AM (#5511628) Homepage
    SCO own the rights to the "original" Unix source code. They're suing IBM, ostensibly on the grounds that IBM incorporated ideas in the "original" Unix (which IBM had some rights to) into Linux; they claim that Linux couldn't have done all the technical whizz-bangery that it has without help from the original source code.

    The real reason is that SCO is dying, and wants to be bought out by IBM, thereby knocking up the final share price for their investors.

    Got it?

  • by Mr.Phil (128836) on Friday March 14, 2003 @11:51AM (#5511746)
    I know it is the "hip" and "cool" thing to rag on ESR for his views on pretty much anything, however this brief is a very well written document and worth your time to read it. Whatever his precieved faults, he is able to put this issue in clearer prospective for me than the the original posting did.

  • by Shalda (560388) on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:04PM (#5511878) Homepage Journal
    Lawyers are neither programmers nor Unix historians. Most of the lawyers I've met can use Word, Excel, read email, but that's about it. Furthermore, much of the work (and especially fact-checking) is done by paralegals making $12/hour who try and look this stuff up on Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw, or the like. Most of their information comes from the mainstream press and prior cases. Stating that AT&T didn't know what to do with Unix at first is lousy reading (for a mainstream audiance) and practically begging for a defamation lawsuit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:16PM (#5511989)
    However you leave out item 3. In their complaint, SCO goes on to say "Therefore, the mathematical probability of a customer being able to recreate the SCO OpenServer Shared Libraries without unauthorized access to or use of the source code of the SCO OpenServer Shared Libraries is nil." In other words, SCO assert that it is impossible to create a compatable library without riping off SCO's source code. This is demonstratably rubbish, as anyone with the knowhow can reverse engineer the API to a shared library without the source. You don't have to look any farther than WINE to see this in action.

    SCO are either delusional, misinformed or lying. Either way, that is not a good position to be in if you've just filed a $1Billion lawsuit.
  • ESR's Amicus brief (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tmasssey (546878) on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:16PM (#5511991) Homepage Journal
    Interesting...

    I just finished reading the brief. I must say that for the first half or so, I was very impressed with it. It was simple, logical and factual. However, by the end, it seemed to devolve into a statement of beliefs and feelings that, to me, did not feel right in a court brief. For example:

    SCO's complaint, in all its brazen mendacity, is the last gasp of proprietary Unix. The open-source community and its allies are more than competent to carry forward the Unix tradition. We pray that all assertions of exclusive corporate ownership over this tradition be given a swift and merciful end.

    Am I the only one who thought that this was not the forum for such OpenSource flag-waving?

  • by Featureless (599963) on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:31PM (#5512107) Journal
    This alone, from SCO's complaint:

    Averment 86: It is not possible for Linux to rapidly reach UNIX performance standards for complete enterprise functionality without the misappropriation of UNIX code, methods or concepts to achieve such performance, and coordination by a larger developer, such as IBM.

    I hope the rest of their case shows the same degree of arrogance and technical ineptitude. IBM would have little to worry about.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14, 2003 @12:53PM (#5512379)

    The key to this case is the discovery phase. If the judge allows SCO to go forth with discovery, they can begin to prove their case that IBM Monterey engineers were re-assigned to IBM Linux projects [by examining employment records], and then go from there to showing the actual loss of intellectual property [by examining email records, memoranda, minutes of meetings, and unpublished IBM Linux code & unpublished IBM Linux documentation].

    IBM lawyers, on the other hand, will do everything in their power to prevent discovery in the first place - by having the discovery motion quashed and the case thrown out.

  • Blatantly wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StormReaver (59959) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:20PM (#5512595)
    Some of SCO's accusations are so blatantly wrong, they make my head hurt doing the necessary mental gymnastics needed to validate any part of SCO's twisted logic:

    "Averment 23: [omitted for brevity]"

    This is entirely irrelevant. Linus started Linux on the '386 because it was available and had the features needed for his pet project. Intel processors' ability/inability to function at "enterprise level" at this point in time doesn't matter one iota.

    "Averment 78: The primary purpose of the GNU organization is to create free software based on valuable commercial software. The primary operating system advanced by GNU is Linux."

    The primary purpose of GNU is to provide a high quality, freely usable/modifyiable/redistributable implementation of an operating system that functions similarly to Unix. I argue that the value of commercial Unix was collapsing until the widespread use of Linux with the GNU system.

    The primary operating system advanced by GNU is GNU. The Free Software Foundation has long been grudgingly accepting Linux until the Hurd is ready to replace it. SCO is completely distorting reality here.

    Averment 79: In order to assure that the Linux operating system (and other software) would remain free of charge and not-for-profit, GNU created a licensing agreement entitled the General Public License ("GPL").

    Have the SCO lawyers ever read the GPL?? The GPL specifies, in plain language, that it encourages profit motives for GPL software. You can sell it for as much as people are willing to pay for it. You just can't make it closed/proprietary. The GPL was created to ensure that people would never have the rug pulled out from under them by a greedy/unscrupulous company like SCO.

    Averment 82: Linux has evolved through bits and pieces of various contributions by numerous (italics mine) software developers using single processor computers

    I italicized "numerous" here. A large group of highly motivated individuals can accomplish wonderous things. I wonder if SCO thinks that complicated software just spontaneously comes into existence all by itself. More likely, SCO thinks that only it has highly talented and highly motivated people. Looking at what happened to Unix after SCO bought it, I'm doubtful that SCO employs any of the latter.

    In the last several years, multi-processor systems have fallen in price enough that groups of low-paid individuals could afford to buy shared systems. More importantly, the price of dual processor systems have dropped in price enough that individuals can afford to buy them privately. (sarcasm on)But since Linux is developed solely by poor hippies, that couldn't possibly have happened(sarcasm off).

    Also, there is nothing that disallows IBM from providing commodity hardware and publicly available specifications to some developers with the explicit purpose of providing access to otherwise prohibitively expensive hardware for expanding Linux's capabilities.

    To comment on the author's closing remarks:

    "This case serves as a reminder that organizations take non-disclosures seriously."

    This case serves as a reminder of just how incredibly important the GNU and Linux projects are to the computing industry. Once this type of nonsense can be swept into the historical shitcan, we can all work in a more peaceful environment.

    I hope IBM shreds SCO with legal fees and then countersues to recover them. Let SCO end its life in unrecoverable debt.
  • by DenOfEarth (162699) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:57PM (#5512952) Homepage
    the thing you are ignoring here is that there are some things that IBM will put into Linux that not many teams of dedicated hackers would or could, due to access to large scale hardware along with the funding that goes along with it.

    It's well and good to say that ext3 or Reiser beats out JFS, which is probably true, because all installations of linux are going to use those things, including the hacker's box sitting at home. However, not everyone has the time, money, nor interest to develop those areas of Linux that need to be developed in order for it to compete on the level of enterprise class servers. IBM sells those products, and thus they contribute to Linux in ways that a desktop user might not quite see.

    Maybe when I'm running a wackload of processors at home on a huge rackspace (when I own my own island too), I can try and contribute to scalability or some such other thing, but until then, IBM fits the bill perfectly.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:06PM (#5513038) Homepage
    What televangelists include citations?

    ESR is getting a bum rap in this instance. People are using his past mistakes as a lame excuse to ignore or poke fun of him. His brief is remarkably sensible, well thought out, and well documented.

    To date, it is the most reasoned response to the SCO lawsuit.
  • by cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:32PM (#5513253)
    One thing they missed is the whole BSD "fork" of UNIX. Back in the old days, AT&T gave pretty much every University a site license. One of these of course was UC Berkeley, where they did some some pretty core work, such as this unimportant thing we call TCP/IP. For a long time folks referred to TCP/IP as "Berkely sockets". Hmm, they also gave us C-shell, so maybe they shouldn't get off unpunished. BSD got folded into the "one True UNIX" in SVR4.

    As far as "getting up to enterprise grade" speed comparisons goes, they're at some level irrelevant, at least in the way SCO framed it. UNIX vendors had to blaze trails, find their way, mess up, and find the true path again. Linux followed these trails in the form of POSIX. It's much quicker to code to a spec than have to code and lay out the spec, distribute the spec as it changes to your development team, and see how well it integrates after all at the same time. Having the spec also makes all that super coordination "magic" that SCO was talking about seem a little less fairy tale-ish. Lay out a spec, give parts to different people, have them code, and then at the end it all comes together. Who else has been burned by Linux' version of select()? It's coded to the BSD select() man page, unfortunately BSD select() isn't and neither is any other commercial vendor, and Linux select() is not bug compatible with other select()s. There's your miracle for you, the magic of troff. (at least it's not info pages, god no...)

    BSDi also had a commercial UNIX, BSD based of course, on x86. I did some work on it. At the time wasn't enterprise ready, at least the version I worked on (the SMP implementation was pretty basic, the kernel was forced to run on a single processor) but in later years it got better and in fact I thimk FreeBSD SMPng is based off ideas from BSDi. My non-lawyer mind wonders how many statements of "fact" in the complaint have to be shown to be false before the case can be dismissed.

    On other IANAL notes, I wonder if IBMs law firm is reading these posts and all the other arguments on the other web sites and saying "yeah, thats a good point.. yeah, write that one down."
  • Averment 82 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maltese Falcon (11786) on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:45PM (#5513371)
    I love this thought:
    ...Virtually none of these software developers and hobbyists had access to enterprise-scale equipment and testing facilities for Linux development. Without access to such equipment, facilities, sophisticated methods, concepts and coordinated know-how, it would be difficult or impossible for the Linux development community to create a grade of Linux adequate for enterprise use.
    I think Jon "maddog" Hall [http] might disagree with this statement!
  • by rdean400 (322321) on Friday March 14, 2003 @03:03PM (#5513532)
    The question is: how much of SCO's supposed intellectual property in the Monterrey project was the result of IBM's expertise in the field of high performance computing?
  • by ces (119879) <christopher DOT stefan#gmail DOT com> on Friday March 14, 2003 @04:10PM (#5514115) Homepage Journal
    Reading the Linux world article SCO claims that Linux advanced features such as failover SMP etc could only come about after many years of development.

    One would think IBM has substantial in-house experience with failover SMP, journaling filesystems, logical volume management, NUMA, and hot-swap hardware. I believe their mainframes had most of these features long before any UNIX machine did. I mean IBM has only be developing operating systems for what 50 years or so?

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