SCO, Open-Source Leaders Trade Barbs

SCO CEO Darl McBride took a swing at the open-source community this week, Linux & Open-Source Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reports, and Linux luminaries Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens weren't slow to respond.

Hardly a week goes by that The SCO Group doesnt launch a public assault on Linux. In this weeks attack, SCO CEO Darl McBride fist accuses the president of the Open Source Initiative, Eric Raymond, and the open-source community in general of not doing enough to stop Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on SCOs Web site.

Next, McBride takes Bruce Perens, a director of Software in the Public Interest, a nonprofit open-source development organization, to task for admitting that at least one small part of SCO Unix System V code is, in fact, in Linux. Finally, he reiterates SCOs recent arguments that SCO is defending not only its own claims, but the basic principles of intellectual property.

Needless to say, Raymond and Perens didnt let a day go by before responding. They claim, in an e-mail note sent by Raymond, that McBrides arguments are "falsehoods, half-truths, evasions, slanders, and misrepresentations." Specifically, Raymond denies that he has somehow hidden that person behind the SCO DDoS attacks. Indeed, he points out that Blake Stowell, communications director for SCO, e-mailed him a thanks message for his public stance against the SCO DDoS attack.


As for the Unix code, the open source pair doesnt address this issue directly. This might be because issue has already been dealt with in Perens analysis of SCOs Unix claims: "It turns out that we have a legal right to use the code in question, but it doesnt belong in Linux and has been removed." In short, even before McBride made his claim of IP theft, Perens had actually pointed out the incident and that the code in question had "already been removed from the most recent development versions of the Linux kernel, for technical reasons. It duplicated a function provided elsewhere, and thus never should have been included. The code was intended for one SGI system that was never sold, and another that is extremely rare, and was not used in the mainstream Linux kernel."

In the note though, the pair do address the broader issue of McBrides claims that there are "fundamental structural flaws in the Linux development process" writing, "We in the open-source community are accountable. Our source code is public, exposed to scrutiny by anyone who wishes to contest its ownership."

Finally, the open source duo state, "You invite us to negotiate, but you have persistently refused to state a negotiable claim. You have made allegations of a million lines of copied code which are mathematically impossible given the known, publicly accessible history of Linux development. You have uttered vast conspiracy theories which fail to be vague only where they are slanderous and insulting."

So it is that while McBride ends his note with a call for the open-source community to work together with SCO, the open source leaders are taking his message as simply yet another deliberately misleading declaration of war against Linux.

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.

Next page: Read an open letter from SCOs McBride to the open-source community.