Page Two

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-06-23 Print this article Print

The OSDLs focus has been to drive Linux further into the enterprise, yet yours has always been more broad than that. Is the enterprise focus something you are going to push more and focus greater effort on? Ive always focused on the desktop (a fairly high-end desktop admittedly). I think thats still where the most interesting stuff is, and the reason is largely still the same: its the area that sees the most varied usage patterns. Obviously, scalability is always sexy, so I enjoy that part too, but on the whole I think there are enough people looking at the high end, that for the good of Linux we should still concentrate on the "lower" end of desktops. The high end, to a large degree, is the easy part. The problems are well known, the solutions are out there too, and the workloads tend to be well-behaved. So its not something I worry about.
Are you seeing/hearing of any existing or potential Linux users pushing back or delaying rollout plans as a result of the SCO/IBM court case?
No, Ive not seen any customer/user respond in any way to the SCO/IBM spat, but thats partly because I tend to work only on the technical side, and the lawsuit hasnt affected that part. What is your position on SCOs IP claims and its allegations that code from Unix System V like its non-uniform memory access [NUMA] technologies have been incorporated into Linux? As far as I can tell, SCO doesnt have any IP claims. Their lawsuit isnt about IP claims; its about some contract dispute with IBM. The only IP issues they have brought up in a verifiable way has been the RCU [Read Copy Update, a way to access data structures that may be changing on multiple CPUs with less locking than normal] work that IBM did, and that SCO doesnt have any IP rights to that I can see: the patents are all IBM, and the code was written by (and thus copyrighted by) IBM too. Well, it was Sequent at the time, but theyre all IBM now. SCO alleges that you need to focus more on getting clarification as to where the code that goes in the Linux kernel comes from. Do you have any plans to change the current Linux development model? No. I allege that SCO is full of it, and that the Linux process is already the most transparent process in the whole industry. Lets face it, nobody else even comes close to being as good at showing the evolution and source of every single line of code out there. The only party that has had serious problems clarifying what they are talking about is SCO, and now when details start emerging like with RCU, its clearly about IP that they had nothing to do with, and dont even own. Im sure that they are confident that they own the collective work of Unix, but thats a separate thing entirely legally from being the actual copyright owner of any specific section of code. As the founder and lead developer of Linux and the copyright and IP holder, do you intend to get involved in the IBM/SCO legal matter? The less I have to do with suits, the happier I am. That said, if Im called as an expert witness, Ill go if only because Id be curious about the process. Some people in the open source community say SCO may itself have taken Linux code and included it in an unauthorized way in Unix System V, while others say its use of and contribution to Linux means it essentially open sourced those products. What is your opinion on these claims? I personally think its a lot easier (and thus more likely) to integrate open source code into a proprietary platform than the other way around. That said, I dont like the SCO FUD, and I dont have any huge reason to spread FUD around myself. In other words, I dont personally know of any such code. SCO has said you need to sign the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in order to look at the alleged copied code in question. I assume you are not going to sign it. Thats a fairly safe assumption. I dont generally sign NDAs even with friendly companies, because it can hinder my work. Id be crazy to sign one with SCO. Especially as signing an NDA would make the act of then seeing their claims totally useless, since I couldnt then go out and search the public for the sources. However, now that SCO is starting to talk a bit more about what they seem to object to, I have less and less interest in seeing the code. As mentioned, the stuff they seem to be complaining about they have absolutely no IP rights to that I can tell. Has this legal matter affected in any way how you or any of the kernel developers are working on the current kernel? Not that I know of, although I do suspect a fair amount of time has been wasted just worrying about it.

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