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The Courts Businesses IBM The Almighty Buck Unix Linux

SCO vs. IBM Battle Over Linux May Finally Be Over (networkworld.com) 231

JG0LD writes with this news from Network World: A breach-of-contract and copyright lawsuit filed nearly 13 years ago by a successor company to business Linux vendor Caldera International against IBM may be drawing to a close at last, after a U.S. District Court judge issued an order in favor of the latter company earlier this week.
Here's the decision itself (PDF). Also at The Register.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

SCO vs. IBM Battle Over Linux May Finally Be Over

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  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @09:40PM (#51484101)

    Burn the remnants of SCO and then stir the ashes.

    • I'm pretty sure I read this same headline on a Slashdot story maybe six or seven years ago - so I'll believe it when the lawyers say they're done.

      This lawsuit is their only product, after all.

    • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @11:53PM (#51484719)

      Jesus... even Duke Nukem Forever was finished before this lawsuit was!

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
        Duke Nukem forever is still a work in progress. It will never be finished. The tripe that calls itself by that name needs to be butt raped by some pig looking cops.
  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @09:41PM (#51484107)

    Somewhere buried in all of this was an opportunity for Netcraft to finally be right about something. Maybe that story has yet to surface, and will appear all in due course in tomorrow's feed bag.

  • Somewhere... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @09:46PM (#51484135) Homepage Journal

    PJ is toasting yet again.

    Maybe in another couple years' time, she'll have another decision to toast some more!

    • PJ!!!! Live in Peace, and I worship the ground you walk on. You were such a light in the darkness, a blazing beacon, showing us the way, a rallying cry for sanity and clarity against the FUD from every evil corner of the world (SCO, Microsoft, etc, etc). You were the center of our world for years, and we miss you, but glad you are in the world! Thank you forever, and we all drink a giant toast to you, hear hear!!! :).
  • But he did open up 32v, giving us all the 3 and 4 BSD as truly open source.

    SYS V needs to go open next, not that overloaded slowlaris, but lean mean SYS V

    • I cut my Unix teeth on Xenix, so System V would be pretty cool.

    • They should put SVR5 under GPL3 - Unixware, et al. At least Unixware can be used w/ HURD
    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @01:18AM (#51485027) Journal

      SYS V needs to go open next, not that overloaded slowlaris, but lean mean SYS V

      I was under the impression that the entire POINT of SYS V was for the major UNIX vendors to re-implement the guts of Unix as a clearly, enforceably, proprietary product (after the CONTU recommendations and the resulting copyright law changes explicitly extended copyright to software), then move to it and orphan the original development thread. (This might make opening it a hard sell to the members of the consortium.)

      There were at least a couple issues with the proprietary status of the AT&T code:

      One issue was that AT&T was still a government-regulated utility monopoly and there were some requirements about disclosing and releasing non-telephone-related inventions they came up with.

      The big issue was that, before copyright applied and before software patents were hacked up (by recasting software as one embodiment of, or a component of, a patentable machine or process), the only protection was trade secret and the related contract law. Trade secrets generally stop being enforceable when the secret out of the bag (with some details about whether the claimant contributed to the leak). Bell Labs had shipped code to a LOT of educational institutions. When the U of New South Wales used the System 6 kernel code and an explanation of it as the two-volume text for an Operating System class, the textbooks became an underground classic. This, along with AT&T's benign-neglect licensing policies, led to the burst of little, cheap, generic UNIX boxes, as this was also when microcomputer chips were just becoming powerful enough to do the job.

      Up to then a big barrier to entry was that every new machine needed a custom O.S. to deploy, and these were enormous, machine specific, and mostly in assembler. That made it an expensive, undertaking, suitable only for financial giants. But all but under 2,000 lines of Unix was in C, and the entire kernel, which included essentially all the platform-specific code as a subset, was well under 10,000 lines of code. If you had a C compiler and assembler for your new machine, it was a matter of a few man-months to port it and get it up and running. Essentially ALL the utilities and applications came right over. You didn't have to train users, either, because they all worked pretty much just like what they'd used in college.

      The game was:
      1. Grab a bootleg copy of the code.
      2. Port it to your machine and get it working.
      3. Go to AT&T and ask for a license "to port Unix to our new machine and sell it."
      4. AT&T, as a matter of policy, completely ignores any "violations" you may have committed during the porting phase and cuts you a license at a very reasonable price.
      5. You "port Unix in an AMAZINGLY short time" (like the ten minutes it takes to tell Sales to go to market) and you're in business.
      6. You (with your new business) and AT&T (with their small cut) slap each other on the back and laugh all the way to the bank. PROFIT! for you. (profit) for AT&T.
      7. Because of the policy in 4., everybody ELSE manearly everbody's king a new machine knows they can do the same thing. So many do. AT&T gets a rakeoff from ALL of them. PROFIT! for AT&T. Far more than if they went dog-in-the-manger, held up the first few for all the traffic would bear, and got no more customers for Unix.

      And because of this, it was in nearly everbody's interest to NOT challenge the AT&T-proprietary status of Unix. And it stayed this way until SCO's management screwed up and altered step 4. (Even then the case turned on other issues, so it never did come to the point of attacking AT&T's claim that Unix code was proprietary.)

      • I was under the impression that the entire POINT of SYS V was for the major UNIX vendors to re-implement the guts of Unix as a clearly, enforceably, proprietary product (after the CONTU recommendations and the resulting copyright law changes explicitly extended copyright to software), then move to it and orphan the original development thread. (This might make opening it a hard sell to the members of the consortium.)

        To which version of System V are you referring? The original one, SVR2, SVR3, or SVR4 and later?

  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @09:54PM (#51484167)

    SCO is never going away. Fifty billion years from now, long after the last human is dead, alien successors-in-interest will still be suing each other over it.

    • Double-tap to the head - it's the only way to be sure. Geez, doesn't anybody watch monster movies anymore?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        >Double-tap to the head

        Lawyers routinely survive this and go on to more career success. See previous instructions re fire, acid, sun, black hole.

        Q: Why do they user lawyers as lab rats now?

        A: There are some things the rats simply won't do.

      • Double-tap to the head - it's the only way to be sure. Geez, doesn't anybody watch monster movies anymore?

        You watch the wrong movies. Any avid movie follower knows that gunshots, wherever they are directed, are completely useless against zombies.

    • by ZipK ( 1051658 )
      Cockroaches will eat the remnants of SCO.
    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      I am surprised we haven't seen the rulings in Oracle vs Google over APIs used by SCO (or whoever has inherited it all). Arguing that Linux copying the Unix APIs is a copyright violation and that Stalman and Torvalds broke the law in creating the GNU project and Linux kernel...

  • by Cassini2 ( 956052 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:13PM (#51484271)

    The groklaw coverage was so good. I know that PJ closed the site down. Did anything ever spring up in its place?

    • by sk999 ( 846068 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:23PM (#51484333)

      Groklaw is not completely closed down - just running in stealth mode. All the recent court filings still show up there. Other updates show up now and again. Note that the link in the summary to the decision itself takes you to ... groklaw. Commentary and discussions do continue on other boards and forums, but not with the same focus that groklaw brought.

    • Whiplash (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @11:50PM (#51484709)

      PJ and Groklaw would be a huge boon for slashdot if you could somehow reach out to her and bring her back.

      • Re:Whiplash (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:32AM (#51485259)
        Didn't some hack employed by SCO publish the home address of PJ and then the home address of PJ's mother? That's the sort of thing to turn you away forever from unpaid and very poorly paid blogging to focus on your day job.
        • Re:Whiplash (Score:5, Informative)

          by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:47AM (#51485299)

          Damn it is that what happened? I had no idea.

          I thought it was just too much work for too little return.

          Copied straight from Wikipedia for those like me who didn't know.

          Jones was widely respected by journalists and people inside the Linux community. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote, "Jones has made her reputation as a top legal IT reporter from her work detailing the defects with SCO's case against IBM and Linux. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that her work has contributed enormously to everyone's coverage of SCO's cases." [23]

          Despite the high regard of Jones' peer journalists and the Linux community (or possibly in part because of it), a number of prominent attacks against Groklaw and Jones occurred. These attacks were documented and addressed in detail, on Groklaw and other web sites and also in court as part of the SCO litigation.

          During the first week of May 2005, Maureen O'Gara, writing in Linux World, wrote an exposé claiming to unmask Jones. Two weeks before O'Gara's publication, McBride said that SCO was investigating Jones' identity.[22] The article included alleged, but unverified, personal information about Jones,[24] including a photo of Jones' supposed house and purported addresses and telephone numbers for Jones and her mother.[25] After a flood of complaints to the publisher, lobbying of the site's advertisers, and claims of a denial-of-service attack launched against the Sys-Con domain,[26][27] Linux Business News' publisher Sys-Con issued a public apology,[28] and said they dropped O'Gara and her LinuxGram column. Despite this assertion, O'Gara remained with Sys-Con; as of 2009, she is the Virtualization News Desk editor at Sys-Con Media, who describe her as "[o]ne of the most respected technology reporters in the business" and has her work published in multiple magazines owned by Sys-Con Media.[29]

          SCO executives Darl McBride and Blake Stowell also denigrated Jones, and claimed that she worked for IBM.[30] Jones denied this allegation,[31] as did IBM in a court filing.[32] During an SCO conference call on April 13, 2005, McBride said, "The reality is the web site is full of misinformation, including the people who are actually running it" when talking about Groklaw, adding also "What I would say is that it is not what it is purported to be". Later developments in the court cases showed that McBride's statements to the press regarding the SCO litigation had limited credibility; very few such statements were ever substantiated and most were shown to be false. For example, McBride claimed that SCO owned the copyrights to UNIX, and SCO filed suit to try to enforce these claims.[33] The outcome went against McBride's claims. The jury found that SCO had not purchased these copyrights.[34][35] SCO appealed this ruling and lost.[36] McBride also made a claim to the press that there was a "mountain of code" misappropriated to create Linux.[37] When SCO finally presented their evidence of infringement, which centered on nine lines of error name and number similarities in the file errno.h, Judge Wells famously said "Is this all you've got?"[38] Professor Randall Davis of MIT later made a convincing demonstration that there were no elements of UNIX which might be copyright protectable present in the Linux source code.[39]

          • Re:Whiplash (Score:5, Informative)

            by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @09:38AM (#51486377)

            Damn it is that what happened? I had no idea.

            Yes, it happened (though the investigators found the wrong Pamela Jones). The reason PJ closed down Groklaw was because of NSA spying. The general supposition, based on her final Groklaw article [groklaw.net], is that she received an NSA demand to spy on her users, but her conscience would not allow her to do so. So she stopped doing Groklaw so she wouldn't have anything to spy on.

        • Didn't some hack employed by SCO publish the home address of PJ and then the home address of PJ's mother? That's the sort of thing to turn you away forever from unpaid and very poorly paid blogging to focus on your day job.

          Maureen O'Gara, then of Information Week I think.

        • The reason for closing down is in the last post on the page: Forced Exposure ~pj "Tuesday, August 20 2013 @ 02:40 AM EDT

          The owner of Lavabit tells us that he's stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we'd stop too.
          There is no way to do Groklaw without email. Therein lies the conundrum.


          What to do?"

          So the unavailability of secure email effectively stopped the site.
  • License fee (Score:4, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:26PM (#51484351) Homepage Journal
    Boy, do I feel like an idiot for paying my $699 License Fee to SCO.
  • Open source SCO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argumentsockpuppet ( 4374943 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:33PM (#51484385)

    Have you ever used SCO?

    I have. It wasn't a bad system. I didn't like it as well as Solaris, but it was stable and reliable and pretty well documented. For a long time, they had a good product and supported it pretty well.

    Yeah, the company sucked, but all that work, good programming, is now going to waste. What I'd like to see is IBM take ownership and open source all of it, have it relicensed under GPL and MIT licenses. Ultimately, I'd like to see a lot of that code legally incorporated into Linux.

    Why? Just to make the people responsible for the fiasco the lawyers and executives of the company SCO weep.

    • by jd2112 ( 1535857 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @10:53PM (#51484463)

      Have you ever used SCO?

      I have. It wasn't a bad system. I didn't like it as well as Solaris, but it was stable and reliable and pretty well documented. For a long time, they had a good product and supported it pretty well.

      It was kind of like Debian stable but not nearly as cutting edge.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        OH COME ON INTERNET. The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cruz_Operation) that produced SCO Xenix, SCO OpenServer, and SCO UnixWare is TOTALLY UNRELATED to the SCO Group (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCO_Group), except they have three letters in common.

        Posting anonymous - though I worked quite happily for the former and left a few years before the latter came into existence.

        You're collective lack of understanding is most dispiriting, given that there's plenty of facts available

    • Why? Just to make the people responsible for the fiasco the lawyers and executives of the company SCO weep.

      Why? They all got their paycheck and moved on. The investors lost some money. Darl McBride is now the CEO of ShoutTV. I'm never going to work there.

      I do remember when SCO was a respectable member of the Linux community, and Caldera was seen as a reasonable distro alternative. Suse was in there, too.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        Remember Mandrake? That was some great shit.

      • Re:Open source SCO (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:39AM (#51485275)
        With all the money Darl and his brother sucked out of that company they never need to work again. His "business model" was to start a case that could not be won, give the legal work to his brother's firm, string it out for max legal fees then take a golden parachute.
        Not a nice guy.
        I've got no idea why anyone other than a crony would every employ him.
        • Re:Open source SCO (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Foobar of Borg ( 690622 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @09:10AM (#51486249)

          With all the money Darl and his brother sucked out of that company they never need to work again. His "business model" was to start a case that could not be won, give the legal work to his brother's firm, string it out for max legal fees then take a golden parachute. Not a nice guy. I've got no idea why anyone other than a crony would every employ him.

          Well, that's the problem with corporate Capitalism. It works great until you run out of other people's money.

      • by ruir ( 2709173 )
        Finally. I wondered how about in earth we could have a thread about this nonsense without the summary and someone else mentioning Darl McBride. At least someone the facts and history, because slashdot is not what it used to be.
    • Have you ever used SCO?
      I have. It wasn't a bad system.

      Bad is a strong word. What it was? Dumb. It had old versions of everything and a non-standard mail daemon that totally failed to make anything easier than just using sendmail... so why not just use sendmail? They also wanted $INFINITY dollars for a compiler, which ultimately let Linux kill them. You want people to pay hundreds for the OS and pay hundreds again for a single compiler license while Linux will give it all to you for free and do everything SCO Unix does, to boot? HAHAHAAHAHAHA.

      SCO Xenix was by f

    • NO NO NO; it's obvious to anyone who's looked at this that the sub-morons over at SCaldera, after dropping that $5B suit on IBM, expected to get a settlement payout to Quietly Go Away. IBM's reaction was millions-for-defense-not-a-damned-penny-for-tribute, and blackened the Utah sky with lawyers. It's been dodge-the-bullet for McBride & his thugs since. Novell has the copyrights for the legacy-AT&T UNIX codebase, and seems unlikely to let it go for whatever reasons. Perhaps once the ashes of SCO
  • Out of curiosity I clicked on the tag, and two thirds of the other stories that showed up were also about SCO.

    So maybe this isn't over after all.

  • ...a 13 years old joke: http://imgur.com/iEy7v7O [imgur.com]
  • IBM and SCO have been doomed to eternally fight each other, we will see another legal battle every 4-5 years for the rest of eternity.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @01:18AM (#51485031)

    And... Emacs Wins, Vi loses!!!!

    Oops, sorry... wrong battle.

    • Because of course VMS crushes all competition from inferior OSs like UNIX, EDT is the real winner!

      • by 4im ( 181450 )

        Because of course VMS crushes all competition from inferior OSs like UNIX, EDT is the real winner!

        Umm... is that by any chance the same EDT as on BS2000 (Fujitsu / former Siemens mainframe)?
        That one would be a contender for vi...

  • by nbritton ( 823086 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @01:29AM (#51485051)

    Sadly this case is not over yet, reading the summary of the order there are still outstanding counts, this order only addresses Counts VII and IX. Furthermore SCO still has appeal rights. That said, looking through the summary, it's pretty safe to say that SCO will loose the whole case.

  • Still pursuing his millions, at least in 2013:

    http://archive.sltrib.com/stor... [sltrib.com]

  • I didn't think I'd live to see the end of that legal battle.
  • by meburke ( 736645 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @01:58AM (#51485157)

    Many of my customers are still using SCO Open Desktop. For new licenses and users I now deal with XINUOS http://www.xinuos.com/ [xinuos.com] . They acquired the assets of SCO from the bankruptcy proceedings. They are pretty good people to deal with. The best part is that I can use the same platform that I have used since 1981 when I was supporting AT&T 3B2 computers (with technical upgrades, of course). Open Desktop is the name of the System V 3.2 architecture. It is now time to stop denigrating SCO (the OS) and see it as a viable commercial alternative to Linux or xxxBSD, and is a stable, strongly usable platform for getting actual work done.

  • Simple car analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:12AM (#51485197)
    Darl McBride drove the public company that he'd been allowed to run into the brick wall that is IBM and took it to his brother's panel shop (legal firm). Both made a fortune out of the destruction. Massive legal fees and a golden parachute draining all value out of the company before bankruptcy.

    Linux was just the distraction for an old fashioned two man scam.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Slashdot headline: "May Finally Be Over"
    Referenced source: The Register.
    from The Register article: "the case isn't over"

  • ...is much more concise than "the latter company". Former and latter should be used when they are the simplest solution.

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @10:48AM (#51486749)

    It is nice to see scox lose, even if it is over a decade after it has any relevance.

    As I have been saying for a long time, this is much more a msft scam, than scox scam. For msft, $100 million to stomp (if not eliminate) a competitor is money well spent.

    Let's not forget that some scox insiders, like Riamondi, were selling their shares when scox was at $16. None of the guilty have been really punished, and they never will be.

    As to insiders losing everything, and scox becoming worthless: scox lasted a lot longer, and scox's shares went up a lot higher, than would have happened without the scox scam.

    Msft is still doing the same IP scamming. Only now it may be more effective. Msft and redhat have partnered. This makes redhat - and only redhat - immune from patent infringement lawsuits from msft. Sound familiar? It should. It is the scox extortion racket all over again - only this time with more credibility.

    > "Only Days After Red Hat Legitimised Microsoft’s Patents Against Linux Another Linux-Using Company Falls Victim to Microsoft’s Patent Extortion"
    http://techrights.org/2015/11/10/star-micronics-and-patents/

    Of course, msft rarely sues in court, they don't have to. You either quietly settle, or get sued out of existence.

    Once non-redhat distros become irrelevant, msft may turn on redhat. Or, maybe not. I think msft is okay with competitors, as long as those competitors can be dealt with, and are not too threatening. In 1998, Apple seemed to be okay as a competitor.

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:11PM (#51488395)

    The court has already decided many of the claims against SCO including copyrights and ownership. The claim in this order was about tortious interference: Did IBM, by hardening Linux and porting code over to Linux, maliciously interfere with SCO's customers and business relationships?

    Like many of SCO claims, the tortious interference were ambiguous and ever changing and lacked any detail. The number of parties that SCO alleged that IBM had caused interference changed by the month despite IBM asking repeatedly (and the court ordering SCO to respond repeatedly) to name the parties and the detail the interference. It was as low as 3 and as high as 150 with 150 being a number that SCO only claimed because one IBM email mentioned that it had 150 new customers on Linux.

    Similarily to other claims, SCO brought almost no evidence to the case despite years of discovery. In fact it was often contradicted by indisputable evidence that IBM brought. For example, SCO claims that IBM damaged SCO's Unix by communicating to their third parties like their investor, Baystar, that IBM was supporting Linux and that the third parties should abandon Unix. Almost all customers third parties swore to the court that they never had communications with IBM on the topic. The only party that acknowledged it had any discussions with IBM was Hewlett-Packard and they testified that the discussion did not change their relationship with SCO so there was no damage.

    The theory that SCO offered as motivation was that IBM wanted to damage SCO by hardening Linux and porting Unix code. Former SCO employees testified against SCO in that they did not believe damaging SCO was ever the motivation for supporting Linux. Their analysis was that IBM was competing against the likes of Sun and Microsoft by offering a cheaper Unix-like OS on cheaper Intel hardware that was nearly as good or better than Unix.

    There are still a few claims left but at this point the pattern keeps repeating: SCO loses on summary judgements because they never had a case.

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