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SCO lawsuit: Good summer reading

Jun 02, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsIBMLinux

Everybody’s talking about it, not just the usual media outlets, but Forbes, BusinessWeek and even The Washington Post! It’s going to be the hottest story of the summer. No, not “The Matrix Reloaded” but “Linux, the Soap Opera” (or should that be the SCO Opera?).

With new plot twists showing up daily, it’s hard to keep track of who’s allied with whom as suits and contracts are thrown about, and the cast of characters comes and goes. We’ve got The SCO Group, IBM, the Free Software FoundationMicrosoft, the United Linux consortium and even the Open Group  choosing sides or making statements. Not even “Days Of Our Lives” gets this convoluted!

One company we haven’t heard from is Novell , and that’s rather curious because it’s involved in the story at many different points:

• SCO CEO Darl McBride got his start working for Ray Noorda at Novell.

• SCO bought the Unix code from Novell.

• Noorda left Novell under a cloud and put his money into Caldera, which later bought the Santa Cruz Operation and changed its name to The SCO Group.

• Caldera bought DR DOS from Novell, then sued Microsoft and settled out of court.

• Most of SCO’s executives are former Novell employees.

• Just last month, Novell CEO Jack Messman waved the Linux flag, essentially anointing the open source operating system as the successor to NetWare.

It’s widely believed that SCO started the suit against IBM as a ploy to get bought out by Big Blue. That’s just not working. Many feel that SCO’s recent agreements with and actions toward Microsoft are a “Plan B” attempt to get Bill Gates to buy it out. But Microsoft doesn’t work that way.

Microsoft, of course, will do anything to stem the migration of Windows servers to Linux hosts. If it can poke a finger in IBM’s eye at the same time, so much the better.

But why haven’t we heard from Novell? It has the necessary cash to buy SCO, probably for less than it sold both Unix and DR DOS. It wants to be a big player in the Linux market, and buying SCO would allow it that entrée. Buying SCO and then killing the suit against IBM would once again align it with Big Blue. It then could put the best parts of Unix and NetWare into Linux, creating a blockbuster network operating system. And, of course, Microsoft would not be pleased. Sounds like a reasonable solution to me!

Tip of the week

Late last week we did hear from Novell. While it appeared to further muddy the waters on the issue of SCO, Unix and who owns the copyright and patents, the basic premise of this week’s column doesn’t change. Nevertheless, see my take on the new claims from Novell .