Red Hat Bolsters its

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-02-18 Print this article Print

Case vs. SCO"> Speculation about the possible Linux user to be sued took another turn this week following a filing by open source and Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. to supplement the record in its case against SCO. That filing was first reported on the Groklaw Web site. In August, Red Hat filed suit in a federal court in Delaware seeking pre-emptive relief against SCO and its claims that the Linux code base has illegally copyrighted Unix code to which SCO now owns the rights.
SCO has sought to have that cased dismissed, saying its legal actions are against IBM and not Red Hat or its customers.
But the latest Red Hat motion disputes that and includes copies of letters that SCO had sent to financial services firm Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. in New York, and Lehmans responses. Lehman is a Red Hat Enterprise Linux customer. A Red Hat spokesman confirmed that the motion had been filed and that it included letters to and from Lehman, but declined further comment. A source close to Red Hat said Lehman had not been singled out and its inclusion in the motion to supplement the record certainly did not imply that SCO was considering suing Lehman. It was more likely that SCO would target an IBM AIX and Linux customer, given the $5 billion lawsuit SCO has filed against Big Blue, the source said. SCOs Stowell also expressed surprise at the mention of Lehman Brothers as a potential target for its legal action. "This is the very first time I have heard its name brought up by anyone or run by me or anyone at SCO. "So I dont have any comment on them specifically or any other Linux customer at this point in time," he told eWeek. But enterprise Linux users have been guaranteed support from most of the vendors and the key industry players in the event they are sued by SCO. The threat of legal action against a Linux user has prompted a spate of indemnification plans from the major vendors. HP was the first to make such a move in September,, saying it would indemnify its customers against any legal liability from the use of Linux under certain conditions. That was followed in January by Novell, Inc., of Provo, Utah, and Red Hat, of Raleigh, N.C., which both announced programs to protect their Linux customers. Novell announced an indemnification program against possible legal actions for SuSE Linux 8 customers that signed an upgrade protection and qualifying technical support contract. Red Hat launched the Open Source Assurance Plan, which is designed to protect customers Linux investments and ensure they are legally able to continue to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux without interruption. But IBM is holding firm to its plan to not indemnify its Linux customers. Jim Stallings, the general manager of Linux at IBM, told eWeek in a recent interview that it is not necessary for IBM to indemnify its customers because several layers of protection are already available to them. "If Im a customer and Ive made a Linux buy decision, I have the two distributors, Red Hat and Novells SuSE Linux, saying they are going to protect me, the customer. The OSDL [Open Source Development Labs Inc.] has also said it is going to protect the customer, and, by the way, IBM is in the OSDLs defense fund, along with Intel [Corp.] and other members. "So we are all in this. IBMs in court fighting the major fight, were protecting customers through OSDL, while Red Hat and SuSE are also protecting them. If Im a customer, I have layers of protection," Stallings said. Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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


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