Open-Source Guru Perens Denounces SCO Denial-of-Service Threats

Open-source leader Bruce Perens on Tuesday offered an open letter to the Linux community about MyDoom and how open-source supporters should react to it.

Along with this weeks arrival of the MyDoom worm came its threat of distributed denial-of-service attacks against Unix vendor The SCO Group of Lindon, Utah. The company said on Tuesday that it had been hit with DDoS attack and offered a reward for the arrest and conviction of the worms author.

Concerned over the reports on open-source boards that cheered the DDoS attacks, longtime open-source heavywight Bruce Perens on Tuesday weighed in on the matter. He offered an open letter to the Linux community on his Web site.

Here is the text of his "Message to the Linux and Free Software Community Regarding the SCO Denial-of-Service Virus," described as Version 2:

""On January 26, 2004, a new virus became rampant. I have read reports that the virus payload has two purposes: to install a remote-execution back-end of a type commonly used by spammers to redistribute email, and to perform a denial-of-service attack on SCOs web site.Denial-of-service attacks via virus have been a common trick of email spammers. They were first used to take out some of the anti-spam blacklist sites. Several of those sites had their (non-spam-related) business so heavily disrupted that they closed the doors of their anti-spam projects rather than be attacked again.The Open Source developers are a target of spammers. We are the creators of most high-profile anti-spam technology. For example, SpamAssassin started out as, and remains today, an Open Source project. The predominant mail delivery programs of the Internet are Open Source projects such as Sendmail and Postfix, and thus most efforts to spam-proof those programs are Open Source as well. This is important, because it gives spammers a reason to defame us.SCO also has a reason to defame us, as part of their stock-kiting scheme. We have assembled ample evidence that they have lied under oath in court. Such a company would not balk at attacking their own site in order to paint their opponents in a bad light.Thus, it is likely that this virus has been assembled for the purpose of defaming the Linux developers by spammers, SCO, or others. Your behavior will influence whether or not it succeeds in this mission.Thus, I urge all persons who have sympathy for Free Software, Open Source, and Linux:Do not cheer on attacks on the SCO site. By doing so, you falsely implicate our community in the attacks, in the eyes of outsiders who read your words. Our community believes in freedom of speech, not silencing our opponents speech through net attacks. We will defeat SCO using the truth, not by gagging them.Publicly deplore the attacks as an attempt to defame us, and not an effort of our community. Show others this notice.Continue to fight SCO, using all legal means at your disposal. Show others the analysis of SCOs ongoing fraud at and elsewhere, and explain to them your own experience as a participant in the Free Software community.Continue the visible presence of Free Software as a force for good in the world by producing excellent original software for everyones free use and deploying it wherever possible. Promote these projects to the press and public as you carry them out. Do what you can for other public-good projects such as schools and non-profit organizations. is an excellent example of how to carry this out.Show others by example that our side always takes the high road. When they see a low-road sort of action like denial-of-service, spam, or stock fraud, theyll know who to blame. Remember that your actions count. You are ambassadors of our community.""

According to Perens, the "master version" of this notice is here.

Bruce Perens is a longtime figure in the free software and open-source software communities. One of his achievements was leading the Debian Projects open-source Linux distribution as well as authoring the Open Source Definition, what to many is the manefesto of the open-source software movement.

He is also the mover behind the recent UserLinux initiative, an effort to provide a desktop and server Linux platform for the enterprise. It is based on the Debian distribution and uses the GNOME interface.