SCO Unix

The tale of SCO Unix dates back to June 2003 when SCO decided that it would take on IBM in a bid to rid itself of competition it couldn’t cope with, i.e. Linux. At the time there was a lot going on, SCO were an established and well respected company and Linux was the new kid on the block and being free, something many companies were suspicious of.

SCO’s Claims

The initial claim by SCO that Unix systems and software over which it had intellectual property rights had been integrated into the Linux Kernel was met with a number of responses.

From the business community, complete shock and horror based on the belief that such an established company would not make such a claim and take on the likes of IBM unless they had a cast iron case, which meant that they might have to pay SCO large sums in license fees thus negating part of their argument for using Linux systems.

From the technical community, hysterical laughter. Firstly from the point of view that if some idiot has included code that he shouldn’t have, great, point it out and it’ll be removed faster than you can say “SCO are finished” – in which case SCO would have no rights over the software. Secondly, although there was no procedure in place for checking ‘all’ new code, the majority of code submissions (the core kernel in particular) are heavily vetted by Linus and a number of other developers and there is no way a substantial or relatively important sections of such code are going to get in. Which means that the worst case scenario is that there are some device drivers in the kernel that shouldn’t be there, which means that if you don’t use these drivers – SCO have no rights over the software. Either way – it seemed totally ludicrous.

Who’s really behind this?

As time went by it became apparent that SCO had no case and indeed that it had received funding from venture capital firm with regards to taking on IBM. “Strange” you may think that a venture capital firm would finance SCO to enable them to try to sue a giant like IBM?  Well, ordinarily it would have been, but in this instance it appears that the money trail leads back to Microsoft, as born out by the now famous Halloween emails between SCO and representatives their financing agents.

In the end …

On September 14, 2008 the SCO Group filed for Chapter 11, but still tried to fight on.

On October 19, 2009, SCO announced that it had sacked Darl McBride, SCO’s CEO and the architect of the law suit against IBM.

SCO’s request for a new trial has been denied, so it looks like it’s long running campaign against Linux has been dealt a death blow – but not before time. To quote a judge from 2005 “there is no evidence of any infringement”, so how come it’s dragged on and on, in who’s interest has this case been? Definitely not SCO, their reputation is ruined and they’re bankrupt, so who?

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