Open-Source Leaders: Let Us See SCO Code

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-08-18 Print this article Print

Members of the open-source community ask SCO to show them controversial Unix code under a looser NDA.

LAS VEGAS—Members of the open-source community have approached The SCO Group with a proposal that they hope will allow them to look at the alleged offending Unix code in the Linux kernel either without or under a less restrictive non-disclosure agreement. SCO has said that no one can see its Unix code without signing an NDA agreement that will protect its intellectual property rights. But many in the open-source community say the NDA is unreasonable and far too restrictive in its current form. "The current NDA is completely unreasonable and will prejudice the ability of any of us to do our job going forward if we sign it. We feel that SCO needs to be reasonable about granting access to the offending code.
"But the open-source and Linux community also needs to be reasonable, so while we feel the evidence overwhelmingly supports our stance that Linux is not an unauthorized derivative of Unix, we want to be able to look at the offending code without prejudicing our future careers and so that we can remove any offending code, even if that is a million lines," Jeff Gerhardt, an active member of the community told eWEEK on Monday.
He also handed out copies of an e-mail message from Linux luminary Eric Raymond, the president of the Open Source Initiative, which was sent to Gerhardt on Monday and in which Raymond said that if there was infringing code in the Linux kernel, "our community wants no part of it and will remove it. "We challenge SCO to specify exactly what code it believes to be infringing….only with that disclosure can we begin the process of remedying any breach that may exist….if SCO is willing to take the honest, cooperative path forward, so are we. If it is not, let the record show that we tried before resorting to more confrontational means of defending our community against predation," the e-mail said. Gerhardt also made the suggestion of a less restrictive NDA at a media question-and-answer session with SCO CEO Darl McBride and other SCO executives, with whom he will meet on Tuesday to discuss the proposal further. At that Q&A session, SCO Senior Vice President Chris Sontag said there are millions of lines of offending code involved and that its highly unlikely the matter could be resolved by removing that code. McBride also spent a lot of time fielding questions about the recent lawsuits brought against it by IBM and Red Hat. Regarding IBMs suit, he said that Big Blue was more "complaining than filing a valid legal claim." McBride also found it interesting that IBM had brought up the issue of the GPL (GNU General Public License) in its filing, and said that SCO was "more than happy to go into court and take it on," he said. Mark Heise, a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, the primary law firm representing SCO, said that he found it interesting that with all its patents, IBM was arguing for open source. "We believe that any GPL claim by IBM is pre-empted by Federal Copyright law and are very comfortable with our position on that," he said. Next page: McBride talks about Red Hat suit.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel