If you didnt know anything about The SCO Groups recent history, youd swear that SCO CEO Darl McBride was the voice of kindness and pure reason in his recent open letter to the open-source community .
But some of us dont have a taste for SCOs Kool-Aid. I wont go as far as open-source leaders Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens, who called the statement "a farrago of falsehoods, half-truths, evasions, slanders, and misrepresentations"; Id just call it the best example of "spin" since Clinton declared that he had not had a sexual relationship with a White House intern.
So why did McBride do it? I think SCO and its chief executive continue their very public war on all things Linux for two reasons. The first is plain and simple: On the stock market, SCOs continued war dance plays well and drives the stock to ever higher numbers. So when SCO doesnt have any real news, the company pulls what is essentially a PR stunt to keep its name in the headlines.
The other reason: By baiting open-source advocates, SCO continues to try to make people think that the open-source community is a collection of ranting hackers with no more respect for intellectual property than 13-year-olds downloading pirated Good Charlotte tracks. In short, SCO is conducting a smear campaign.
As for McBrides request that SCO and the open source community work together at his letters end… come on! Thats just silly. You dont accuse people of covering up Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and intellectual-property theft, lecture them on copyright and Linux business models, and really expect them to respond with anything but anger.
Linus Torvalds, in his own open letter, to SCO opened up with the subject: "Open letter to Darl McBride—please grow up." And that kind of says it all.
But, why should McBride want to grow up? So long as he can keep the waters of public opinion boiling, SCO can achieve its real goals.
I dont think though that in the long run this constant stirring up of trouble will prove in SCOs best interests.
Lets go back to Clinton. The man was a liar, but in the end he got away with it. Why? Well, mostly because of Politics 101: There were more Democrats than Republican in the Senate. But, there was another factor.
Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel, was seen as an attack dog who was always trying to pick a fight with Clinton. Something, come to think of it, like SCO is now doing with the open-source community. With Clinton, people eventually got sick and tired of the constant uproar. So it was when the impeachment trial finally came to its head, there was no public outcry against Clinton that might have shifted Senate votes.
I think SCO, knowing in its heart of hearts it cant win in the courts for any number of reasons—first and foremost, it did release its own "copyrighted" Unix code for years as Linux under the GPL—has been trying to win in the court of public opinion. It makes for exciting headlines; but in the end, Starr lost the hearts and minds of the public, and I suspect SCO will, too.
Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about Unix and Linux since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.
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