SCO Licensee Takes Heat from Users

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-03-03

SCO Licensee Takes Heat from Users

EV1Servers.Net this week told its users that it had their interests in mind when it signed an intellectual-property license with The SCO Group Inc. to use Red Hat Linux. However, that hasnt stopped some of those users from threatening to leave the Web-hosting company over the deal.

On EV1Servers.Nets user forums, a vocal minority of users have stated that they dislike EV1Servers SCO deal so much, they plan to leave the Houston-based Web-hosting firm. According to an informal poll on the site, more than 25 percent of EV1Servers customers will abandon the company for another Web-site provider, while more than 58 percent said they are staying.

Typically, those who are threatening to leave are open-source supporters. But some have more pragmatic reasons: Theyre afraid that EV1Servers, which has gained much of its market share from rock-bottom pricing, may now raise its Linux hosting prices to pay the SCO licensing fees.

Some users have also suggested that EV1Servers is trying to move its users to Windows Server 2003 platforms. They note that Server 2003 is already EV1Servers least-expensive option for Web hosting. Others add that the company co-operated with Microsoft in the fall of 2003 to create a case study that showed Microsoft Solution for Windows-based Hosting version 2.0 combined with Automated Deployment Services (ADS) Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition enabled EV1Servers to deliver faster Web-site deployments than Linux. This study is also available in Microsofts anti-Linux "Get The Facts on Windows and Linux" Web site.

Next page: Ev1Servers CEO defends the SCO deal.

Ev1Servers CEO Speaks

Robert Marsh, CEO and "head surfer" of Ev1Servers replied to these and other such comments online on March 2 in a message to the companys users.

First, Marsh clarified, "We license Linux through Red Hat. They provide our distribution and support/updates for the Enterprise distribution. Plus, they do an awesome job at delivering. Their support and dedication is second to none. Our agreement with SCO is in no way any kind of indictment on Red Hat."

Marsh continued, "We did not license a Linux distribution or any software covered by a referenced EULA from SCO. We did, however, license certain IP from SCO." But, at the same time, Marsh wrote, "We fully support the GPL and the open-source movement."

Dan Kusnetzky, IDC vice president for system software research, said Marshs message was "an interesting statement." More piquantly, Eric S. Raymond, president of the Open Source Initiative said, "If he were serious about supporting the GPL, he would have told the GPL-violating thieves at SCO to get stuffed."

Marsh wrote, "Others have claimed that were essentially funding SCOs various lawsuits. This is not true. SCO already has like $60 million on hand and our small fee [over a million dollars, SCO representative Blake Stowell told] would not go very far defending an action such as this, much less prosecuting one." Marsh added, "We make no endorsement of SCO nor do we make any admission as to their claims."

Marsh defended EV1Servers purchase of the IP license: "HOWEVER, what we did do was make a prudent business decision based upon our circumstances and our customers needs and the need to bring certainty to their businesses."

"Whatever your position on the various suits, which SCO has said will increase. These suits have a very real and significant cost, even if proven unsuccessful. While our decision may not be popular, it does ensure that our customers (to the extent that they operate servers in our data centers) are protected from action by SCO with respect to those servers.

"In every step building the EV1 business, Ive had to make decisions that I believed in my heart were in the best interests of my clients and my shareholders," Marsh concluded. "My team and I have worked to bring the best possible service at the best possible price to our customers. In this case, the same decision making tools were employed and only after significant thought and analysis, an action taken.

"As a result of this action, our customers can be assured that as these cases work their way through the legal system, that they have no worry that SCO will take action against them for servers in our data centers."

Philip Albert, intellectual-property attorney and partner in the San Francisco office of the IP specialist law from Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP, said he isnt sure anyone has that much to worry about it in the first place. Nevertheless, "taking all of that (the SCO Unix IP arguments) into account, it is for each company to balance the odds of SCO winning its case with the terms of the SCO license and might end up taking a license to buy peace even if a license is not legally needed."

Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Be sure to add our Linux feed to your RSS newsreader:

Rocket Fuel