In an attempt to justify his company's actions, SCO CEO Darl McBride at CDXPO explained both the history of SCO's legal actions and his company's latest moves, including bringing suit against corporate Linux users.
LAS VEGASDarl McBride, in his CDXPO keynote speech here Tuesday, sought to justify The SCO Groups legal position and its most recent actions to a small crowd of about 70 attendees.
McBride, who was accompanied by a pair of security guards because of reports that his speech might be disrupted by protesters, said that as SCOs CEO, his loyalties are to the companys stockholders, customers and employees, not the Linux community. SCO, he said, was no more than six months away from running out of money when he came on board. So he looked at what valuable properties the company possessed and decided that SCOs best chance of survival was to maximize the worth of its Unix intellectual property.
McBride told the now familiar story of how, from SCOs viewpoint, IBM refused to co-operate with SCOs requests, which led to a lawsuit. The GPL is now a target of SCOs legal actions because IBM brought the GPL up in its countersuit, he said.
The suit has helped SCOs business, McBride said, adding that free software is inherently bad not just for SCO, but for all businesses. Open-source supporters in the audience complained that McBride mischaracterized many points in his presentation, especially statements that "free" software means it is free of charge, rather than being intellectually free.
McBride summed up his speech by saying that "todays GPL will not survive; Linux companies like Red Hat and SuSE could not survive; that Unix on Intel would continue to drive business and that SCO would prevail in its legal actions."
In a press conference held immediately after the keynote, McBride elaborated on SCOs latest legal moves.
SCO is looking at several dozen Linux-using companies to be SCOs first lawsuit against a corporate Linux user, he said. SCO will decide within the next 90 days which companies will be targeted, and companies are starting to make deals with SCO to avoid being sued. McBride would not say who these companies are or how many of them there are. "All SCO is trying to do is to get justice" for SCOs intellectual property claims, he said.
Read "SCO to Sue Corporate Linux Users."
As for the BSDs, McBride said some source code granted to the BSD in 1995 is now in Linux. While this isnt a front-burner item, SCO is currently analyzing the BSD source trees to see exactly what code, which he estimates to be no more than a few dozen but still vital files, were illegally copied from BSD to Linux. Afterward, in a process that he estimates will take six months, SCO will decide what, if any, legal action it will take against the groups and companies that stand behind the BSD operating systems.
McBride also elaborated on Microsoft Corp. and SCOs relationship. Saying that he understands how the conspiracy theories can arise, he said that Microsoft has no equity interest whatsoever in SCO. Read "Is Microsoft Behind SCOs $50 Million Cash Infusion?"
All that Microsoft has done is to pay for Unix licensing that will help it with its Services for Unix (SFU) product. Specifically, Microsofts first payment was for licensing that will allow the Redmond, Wash., company to improve SFU, and the second payment gives Microsoft the option to incorporate SFU functionality into the Windows server operating system. While McBride and SCO Senior Vice President Chris Sontag were quick to point out that they dont know what Microsoft plans to do with this option, they said Microsoft now has the legal right to add Unix functionality into future server operating system offerings.
Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director for Jupiter Research, an industry analysis house, commented that CIOs need to be concerned with SCOs actions because billions of dollars are at stake. "If SCO succeeds in winning even some of its points in court, big business support for Linux will disappear," he said.
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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.