From Monterey to AIX

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-08-06 Print this article Print

5L"> Project Monterey was a deal between SCO and IBM, with Intels support, to develop a version of Unix that could run on systems based on Intels IA-32 and IA-64 architectures as well as IBMs Power4 processor. The result was to have been a single Unix supporting systems ranging from entry-level servers to large enterprise environments.

According to Ransom Love, then CEO of Caldera (the company which subsequently became The SCO Group), in a September 2003 interview, "We were really excited about Monterey as the next product step for Caldera/SCO. With it, we would move a combined Unix and Linux to a 64-bit platform. We were counting on it, and senior IBM executives had assured us that they wanted Monterey."

Then, according to Love, "IBM decided to name it AIX 5L [on August 22, 2000, 20 days after Caldera had bought SCO], and they wouldnt release [Monterey] on Intel. That became a real problem for us. SCO had depended entirely on Monterey on IA-64 for the future of our Unix and Linux product lines. IBM did offer some payment for our development troubles, but it was insufficient."

While these talks were going on, SCO/Caldera supported AIX 5L until at least May 15, 2001, when in eSTREET, then a partner publication from Caldera/SCO, it was announced that "a technology preview of AIX(R) 5L, a 64-bit UNIX operating system for Intel Itanium processors" was now available.

It was also already known, in all of the companies involved, that at least two features from SCOs UnixWare Unix operating system—the /proc file system and the System V printing system—were in place in AIX 5L on the Power processor.

At the time, SCO and IBM were, according to Love, still trying to work out a deal. When those talks became futile, Love, who didnt believe that taking IBM to court was the right road for SCO to take, elected not to sue IBM. Current SCO CEO, Darl McBride, has taken the litigation road.

McBride did this, he said in an April interview, because "IBM had told Caldera right before the deal closed that were going to keep supporting Monterey. Afterward, the IBM guy who told us [that IBM was no longer supporting Monterey] said, Sue us."

In an interview at SCO Forum in Las Vegas, McBride said, "We just want our business back. Were not after the Linux community, what were really after is IBM. Our concerns and our problems are directly related to IBM, and theres this indirect effect that touches Linux."

This is a return to SCOs original position. In March 2003, McBride said, "This case is not about the Linux community or us going after them. This is not about the open-source community or about UnitedLinux, of whom we are members and partners. This case is and is only about IBM and the contractual violations that we are alleging IBM has made and that we are going to enforce."

Since then, however, SCO fanned the flames of Linux supporters with such comments as, "The very DNA of Linux is coming from Unix"; and that the GPL (GNU General Public License), which Linux is licensed under, violates the U.S. Constitution and U.S. copyright and patent laws. And SCOs lawsuits against AutoZone Inc. and DaimlerChrysler were presented as being related to these companies use of Linux.

Click here to read about SCOs troubles with backer BayStar Capital.

Now, though, sources close to SCO, while not going as far as in some reports that SCO wont launch any more lawsuits, say, "Well use our legal resources to focus on our three outstanding suits [AutoZone, IBM and Novell] and let those set a precedent on how we might proceed on future litigation."

Graham said he isnt sure that SCO "claims to have found smoking gun e-mail messages in which IBM employees acknowledge that IBM was using SVR4 on PowerPC-based systems without a proper license. … Are they smoking guns or only starters pistols?" He also wonders whether this announcement may be yet another maneuver by SCO to avoid having the weakness of its original case (i.e., that it has yet to identify specific code in the IBM Linux which it alleges to have been derived from Unix) exposed."

But Graham doesnt think were any closer to the end of the SCO-IBM-Linux wars. "Contrary to recent murmurs that SCO may be tiring of the reversals of fortune its litigation with IBM and Novell has recently faced, SCO is in this litigation for the long run. It also means, however, that any quick resolution remains far off."

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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.

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