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SCO show used to defend fight with IBM

Aug 25, 20035 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsIBMLinux

At The SCO Forum, company defends fight with IBM, re-assures users

LAS VEGAS – If SCO users and resellers went to last week’s SCO Forum looking for some clarity in the company’s battle with the Linux community and IBM – they got little. What they got was the atmosphere of a circus sideshow and yes, some product directions.

Also: Linux advocate claims SCO evidence flawed

SCO focused on its lawsuit against IBM, seeking to parry criticism of its actions in what many see as an attack on the open source community. The company handed out T-shirts that read ‘Got Unix in your Linux?’ SCO played on the emotions of its resellers, who want to make money selling software and prefaced every presentation as to how things will be for SCO users if the judge throws its case out of court.

Separate product road map presentations highlighted enhancements SCO will make to its OpenServer and UnixWare operating systems as well as a new version of Unix System V Release 6. All new versions of SCO’s products will be Web-enabled and include programs such as Tomcat, Apache Web server, Mozilla and Samba support. A SCOx initiative adds Web services capabilities to the company’s products.

Users say they came to the SCO Forum to try to understand what the company that makes the products they use is doing and to see if the company has future product plans. “I came to find out more about the lawsuit since a few customers have expressed concern as to where things might go,” says Thomas Madison, CEO and senior engineer for Scatterpoint Technologies Group, an IS consultant for small and midsize businesses in Portland, Ore.

“Some customers are on the fence right now regarding whether to go to Windows,” says Madison, who has attended SCO Forum for the past 14 years. “This might drive them that way if they sense uncertainty about the future of SCO and its products, so I want to be able to reassure them that things will be OK.”

“Customers originally called us and asked ‘what’s going on, we’re worried about this,'” says Stephen Kyriakos, a director at Integra Solutions, a database consultancy. “SCO right now is a big question mark. As a company, are they going to be around, will they be smushed by IBM, what exactly is going to happen?”

Although concerned about SCO’s legal entanglement, other users and resellers also wanted to be re-assured that SCO planned to further enhance its OpenServer and UnixWare products.

Resellers play an immense role in their customers’ networks – they fulfill the IS function for small and midsize businesses, many of whom do not have IT staff to manage their networks.

“Last year at SCO Forum I complained about a lack of features in OpenServer and UnixWare,” says Boyd Gerber, CEO for SCO UnixWare and OpenServer reseller Zenez in Midvale, Utah. “I came to SCO Forum to see if they have fixed all I’ve asked about.”

“We are glad SCO is not solely focused on the lawsuit,” Kyriakos says. “They still have plans going forward, they still are going to do product releases. They are not just betting 100% on the lawsuit.”

SCO CEO and President Darl McBride highlighted his company’s complaint against IBM for copyright infringement to the 500 attendees at the James Bond-themed SCO Forum 2003.

He likened what SCO is doing to a Bond movie. “We’re off fighting for the right principles like Bond did,” McBride said. “We find ourselves in the midst of the battle of the century. We are subject to attack. We’ve heard people may picket on Las Vegas Boulevard. I can see them carrying ‘SCO to Hell’ signs.”

McBride and Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager of the SCOsource division, explained and exhibited publicly for the first time scraps of Unix SVR5 code they say have made their way into Linux.

“Has Unix found its way into Linux?” McBride asked. “Absolutely, it has.”

Interjecting some seriousness into the sideshow atmosphere, Sontag said the majority of the code they have cited as infringing its Unix SVR5 license was contributed to Linux by IBM. He says the company’s lawsuit against IBM revolves around the notion of derivative works – the idea that code IBM developed from Unix must be kept confidential and not shared with others as IBM, and other vendors such as SGI, have allegedly done.

Linux faithful have proposed taking out the infringing code and restoring Linux to pre-2.4 kernel shape.

“If there is infringing code in the Linux kernel, our community wants no part of it and will remove it,” says Eric S. Raymond, an open source spokesman in a memo issued last week.

McBride, however, said this is not enough.

“[Taking out the infringing code is] the equivalent of taking a 60-story building and ripping out the middle 30 floors,” McBride said. “The top half would come down and just magically match up with the bottom half. That’s the order of magnitude of problem we are dealing with here on the derivative works side.” 

SCO’s product road map

SCO promises a variety of new features in its next versions of OpenServer, UnixWare, SCO Unix 9 and Unix System V Release 6.
SCO OpenServer (Project Legend)SCO UnixWare
Q4 2004Q1 2004
Large file system support.
Parallel threads.
Apache, Mozilla, SCOx Web Services.
32-bit File Allocation Table.
New USB, Host Bus Adapter (HBA) support.
IPSecurity, VPN, PAM.
New USB, HBA and network interface support.
IPSec, Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM), VPN.
Tomcat, PHP, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Perl, Mozilla, Java 1.4.2.
SCOx Web Services.
SCO Unix 9Unix System V Release 6
Q1 2005Q4 2004
Runs SCO OpenServer, UnixWare, Windows, Linux Standards Base binaries.
64-bit operation.
SCOx Web Services.
SVR6 compliant.
Universal Driver Interface.
SCOx Web Services.
Windows support.
Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition, XML, SOAP, Web Based Enterprise Management.
Remote Web management.