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Survey: Users to run with portability

Jul 28, 20034 mins

Plus: SCO goes another round in its Unix fight; Microsoft tweaks its licensing program; and more.

  • According to The Management Network Group, a research and consulting firm, a large number of businesses plan to switch wireless service providers once wireless number portability goes into effect in November. Based on new regulations, wireless service providers will be required to let customers switch to a new carrier while holding on to their wireless telephone numbers. TMNG says 24% of businesses with more than 500 employees are ready to switch to new providers once wireless number portability is available. Twelve percent of users say they will make the move within 90 days. The study is based on 100 telephone interviews with users who make buying decisions for their companies.

  • The SCO Group has opened another chapter in its fight to protect its ownership of the Unix System V source code, calling on Linux customers to buy UnixWare licenses from SCO in order to protect themselves from future litigation based on copyright violations. Last week, the company announced it had received copyrights for the Unix System V source code, giving it “broad legal rights against end users with respect to infringing use of Linux.” The move expands SCO’s legal battle, which began earlier this year when it sued IBM for $3 billion for allegedly misappropriating protected Unix code into its version of Unix, AIX. It then accused IBM of contributing the protected code to Linux. Darl McBride, SCO’s president and CEO, says the advanced symmetric multiprocessing capabilities of Linux 2.4 were ported illegally from its Unix System V code. He says users of Linux 2.4 and later versions who purchase a run-time binary UnixWare license will be held harmless of any future actions for use of Linux. Pricing for the license was not specified.

  • Microsoft, which has been tweaking its new licensing program since it went into effect more than a year ago, is at it again. The company has altered the indemnity provisions of its software license so that it will be liable if a customer gets sued because of Microsoft products. In the past, Microsoft would accept liability only up to the amount the customer had spent on the software. Microsoft also increased software warranties to a year from 90 days, and said it would give customers 30 days’ notice, instead of just 15, before conducting software audits. The changes took effect March 1.

  • Researchers are heaping criticism on electronic voting machines built by Diebold Election Systems after examining software code for the machines said to have been posted to the Internet by an activist. Avi Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, says the code shows a voter easily could trick the machine into accepting more than one ballot per voter. Another researcher, Dan Wallach, assistant professor of computer science at Rice University, echoed the findings, which have been issued in a technical report, saying the country needs to have extensive independent security evaluation of all electronic voting machines on the market. Diebold’s response was that the company would “reserve judgment on the researchers’ fundamental conclusions,” and Diebold noted that the researchers themselves acknowledged they could not be sure the code was actually from Diebold.

  • Novell last week announced that it would ship the next version of its flagship operating system Aug 15. NetWare 6.5 will include a Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition and Tomcat application server, open source applications such as the Apache Web server and MySQL database, and Perl and PHP development environments. In addition, Novell is bundling its Nterprise Branch Office and Virtual Office technologies in NetWare 6.5. A 100-user license will sell for $18,400.

  • HP, IBM and Sun are allying with three security providers next week to announce an open standards initiative for safe computing. Although the vendors did not provide details of the initiative in an invitation to an Aug. 5 conference call on the subject, Gartner analyst John Pescatore says the announcement centers on the adoption of a technology that lets companies monitor changes made to software on servers. Pescatore says he previously was briefed on the subject and that the initiative will bring technology from Tripwire to HP, IBM and Sun’s server products. The announcement is being made with Tripwire, RSA Security and InstallShield Software. Tripwire develops technology that uses digital fingerprints and is designed to let companies see if software on their servers has been changed. RSA will make the digital signatures, and Tripwire will provide the signature database. InstallShield provides software that enables distribution and management of software and digital content.