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Linux.SYS-CON.com's Editor Responds to SCO CEO's Open Letter

Linux.SYS-CON.com's Editor Responds to SCO CEO's Open Letter

In his open letter to the open source community Darl McBride states, "it is clear that the Open Source community needs a business model that is sustainable if it is to grow beyond a part-time avocation into an enterprise-trusted development model."

I have news for you, Darl -- a new business model has already been invented. You're just not a part of it.

Whether using the Apache Web server, Linux, gcc, make, Apache Tomcat, PHP, or one of the many, many other open source packages, virtually every company today is heavily dependent upon open source. Virtually everyone.

The 'collaborative' process by which all these projects get created is based on a new business model. It's a business model defined by the *users* of the technology - not by vendors. Individuals in companies all around the world are simply working together to create the technologies collaboratively - and releasing them under open source licenses that ensure everyone can freely use and contribute to their enhancement.

Darl continues, "Rather than fight for the right for free software, it's far more valuable to design a new business model that enhances the stability and trustworthiness of the Open Source community in the eyes of enterprise customers."

Why he believes our efforts are "far more valuable" if incorporated into a "business model" is unimaginable. The immense economic impact of open source on the productivity of the American and the World economies is undeniable -- and accomplished without this "business model".

Open Source doesn't need to "design a new business model" - SCO does. Mr. McBride has simply not come to grips with the fact that his business model is dying. The open source community doesn't need his services or his intellectual property. We can innovate faster, work cheaper, achieve higher quality and impact productivity in this country (and throughout the world) much better than SCO -- by far.

Open Source is about being 'free' - as in 'freedom'. Open Source developers give away their work so that we will all be enriched - and so that they can get the benefit of the work that others have given away as well.

We don't need or want his help and we won't be working with him. SCO simply wants to control and own the ideas of the open source community and the fruits of our labors.

Open your eyes,  Darl McBride. The new business model that the open source community has already developed without your help is about to flatten you. This new business model is based on companies and individuals increasing productivity and reducing costs by collaborating on 'shared' IP that no one owns and is free.

The giant sucking sound you're hearing, Darl, is the sound of your customers all contributing little pieces to the open source picture - so they can get better value and get rid of you.

More Stories By Kevin Bedell

Kevin Bedell, one of the founding editors of Linux.SYS-CON.com, writes and speaks frequently on Linux and open source. He is the director of consulting and training for Black Duck Software.

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Most Recent Comments
Jim 12/11/03 05:06:23 PM EST

Five years from now, will anyone care about this little flap?

Warren 11/01/03 11:51:29 AM EST

Excellent reply. Open Source is the best "open business model" out there as it allows others to contribute based on their ability and receive benefit from the contibution of others. I agree that Open Source is powering the planet and we need to pull the carpet out from corporations like MS that get exceedingly rich by monopoloizing the industry. How much innovation has MS harmed by saying they are the only ones allowed to innovate on the Windows platform. Shame on MS! Regardless of SCO's claims, any issues can be readily adressed in the Open Source movement.

davy crocket 09/26/03 12:54:13 PM EDT

Good article. It is obvious that this is a last attempt for SCO be become profitable. Since sales are slowing, the company has turned to extortion. Microsoft also has a part in this with the financial backing (~1 million dollars) in a joint partnership.

Neither Microsoft or SCO will stop the strength and growth of Linux.

James 09/18/03 09:36:26 PM EDT

What I would like to know is whether there IS any SCO code in Linux that wasn't already in there in Caldera Linux distros? I doubt it.

Poor SCO. No (more) money for them.

Ademir Klauck 09/16/03 10:13:49 PM EDT

I'm not a expert in law, but everytime I think about this issue I became to the same point:

SCO give the code to IBM. IBM put it into Linux. So, the problem is not with the Open Source model. SCO have nothing do deal with Open Source community, because Open Source community doesn't broke any law. Someone who has the code (IBM in this case) put it against SCO knowlodge (I don't see the code to beleive it own to SCO or not) in Open Source.
If SCO have anything to clame rights, they need to clame a contract issue against IBM, and only.

Hawkie 09/15/03 04:35:22 AM EDT

That is just the question that needs to be answered. I think we need to debate these issues and find a model where OpenSource contributors are themselves liable for code snippets they donate. This will require a greater amount of work for project managers, but will in general make it a bit safer for corporations to use OpenSource. What also suprises me is the closed minds many has to the fact that the OpenSource community also has its rotten apples. It is just a matter of time before someone gets exposed for contributing copyrighted code, and then we as community needs to already be passed this stage of denial. If not then we will really hurt the future of OpenSource.

Just look at all the teenage wannabee hackers that wants to impress by modding virus code and then re-distribute it, dont you all think they will also get into the OpenSource community and "donate" code they have ripped from some copyrighted source ? As long as there is wannabees seeking recognition, there will be incidents like that. The big question is, if we as community are ready to face the challenge it brings ?

When the shit sooner or later hits the fan, and we get a case like this, then we need to be able to show we already have prepared for this, and that the violator must carry his own responseability, and not the end user.

gnitgnat 09/15/03 04:18:51 AM EDT

How can we pull together to find a solution?

gnitgnat 09/15/03 04:03:36 AM EDT

OK, got me...

Hawkie 09/15/03 03:44:09 AM EDT

Yes i am very sure they didnt have mainframe access, especially since they are close friends, and the project itself was of such a character that it could not be developed on a Mainframe emulator, since that can not reproduce the specific mainframe itself. But that is not the issue here. It is the legal implications we might face. Personally i wish we all could drop IP laws and share code freely, but that is not how the world works, and companies also has a right to protect their investments in development.

I am sometimes surprised how a higly intelligent community can forget the obvious things when doing discussions like this, and when i presented this problem to a magazine editor, he stated that this was an angle he hadn't thought of. I think that is the general problem, we forget the legal things and focus solely on the idealistic motives, but now we have been shown we need to re-evaluate the GPL and OpenSource development model if it is to grow out of its infancy and become ready for the wide spread corporate use.

Let us all pull together and find a viable solution to the legal problems so we can avoid cases like the SCO case later. And the current OpenSource tactics "Dont ask and dont tell" around code contributed, will just get us all into trouble. Off course its easy to do this in a community where there is no liability, but when it comes to corporations they need to safeguard against lawsuits, and with OpenSource, the end user is also legally liable for copyright violations.

gnitgnat 09/15/03 03:32:31 AM EDT

On September 15, Hawkie wrote:
>I am myself involved in openSource projects and as such i >also love to study what others do, and reads through their >code. And more than once i have found code snippets i can >clearly guess is borrowed from the employer of one of the >particpating programmers. One example is some code in a >project for clustering Linux, where i KNOW that none of >the programmers had access to their own mainframes, or >heavy duty servers, but several worked for companies that >had some, and that was involved in making similar >solutions. Imagine the future lawsuits here.

Hawkie, are you 1000% sure that they didn't have access to a personal mainframe? Never heard of HERCULES, an OPEN SOURCE mainframe emulator for PC's? Well, I think this is another piece of software worth being studied. I for myself do have a personal mainframe at home ;-)
Furthermore I don't believe that "inventing" a special solution is restrictable to a single human entity in distinct particular 3D-coordinates on this little planet. Historicians proved that for several "breakthrough" inventions in human history there was no single point of origin, but they occurred on different continents (is this far enough or has it to be planets?) at the same time, without people being able to communicate via Internet or even postal services or any other means. Sounds like the magic of "collaborative awareness of human mankind" diminishing time and space constraints...
Maybe it is time not to sue this any longer.

Hawkie 09/15/03 01:20:17 AM EDT

As i pointed out earlier the legal issues involving a company using OpenSource software, i still can not see anyone actually willing to address this issue. As i see it, this is the main issue to convince corporate users to use OpenSource. The liability issue is a major one, as the OpenSource end user is actually the liable party. Proprietary software is developed by a company that is a legal entity, and as such this one guarantees for the copyrights involved. In such cases the end user can not be sued by a party claiming copyright issues, only the distributor/manufacturer can be sued. So who will be willing to make a legal change to shield end users of OpenSource ? Well most certainly not any US government, because that would in reality be the same as opening up for re-use of any code found anywhere. So how can this issue be solved ? Well i know that lawyers will have filed day when OpenSource really enters the business market. They will hire fleets of people to look for cases in the source codes, and then get tons of revenue from legal proceedings as those using that software.

I can almost see the scenario where i as a systemspecialist recommends a OpenSource alternative for a customer, and eventually he gets sued for copyright violations, as well as beeing put in a position where he has to find another alternative for the software. That can be coslty for the customer as well as for me and my employer. So what do i recommend today ? Proprietary software off course.

I am myself involved in openSource projects and as such i also love to study what others do, and reads through their code. And more than once i have found code snippets i can clearly guess is borrowed from the employer of one of the particpating programmers. One example is some code in a project for clustering Linux, where i KNOW that none of the programmers had access to their own mainframes, or heavy duty servers, but several worked for companies that had some, and that was involved in making similar solutions. Imagine the future lawsuits here.

Well as i said, no use of OpenSource in corporate enviroments until the legal issues are solved.

If my clients asked me to sign a statement that i took on the legal responseability for OpenSource software i recommended i would not dare to sign it, not even if it was concerning the Linux kernell itself, because i can not say for sure where they got all their code from.

Would you sign such a statment ?

Paul Mann 09/14/03 06:13:48 PM EDT

Having used Windows for a graet number of years and spending a fortune on so called upgrade to anothor and due to the fact that Microsoft is the so called " industry standard" I was vey interested when I discovered Linux a few years ago. The very idea of the open source commmunity appealed to me but at the time I found it very difficult to get a system up and running as I did not have the technical knowlwdge. But with some patient study and the advent of graphical installers and the numerous "live cd's" my knowlwde has grown. If you plump for Red Hat, Suse or Mandrake it is now, with a little knowledge as easy to install a linux system on a PC as it is tio install Windows. But the great aded advantage is you get all the neccessary software you need bundled with it. This is what scares the living daylights out of companies producing mainsteram application such as MS Office. I am sure that Microsoft will in the near future try to introduce a massivily overprice version of Linux just to hedge their bets. If SCO want to take on IBM et al are they going to take on Microsoft?
I noted a recent press article about the how the Japanese govermnt and two other asian goverments are looking to Linux as a way of cutting down the cost of implementing affordable computing are SCO going to take on various goverments around the world? To me SCO has looked around and has taken note of the initially slow but ever faster increasing move towards Linux more corporate users, goverment users, for instance Thailands collabaration with HP to sell cheap Linux based laptops. SCO have decided they want to be the new Microsoft of the Linux future it is our code and you will all have to pay to use it. The future is bright the future is Linux the future for us at SCO is mega dollars!!!

DR 09/14/03 01:34:20 PM EDT

What amazes me in discussions concerning the Open Source business model is how few people appreciate exactly how small software companies are in comparison to the rest of the economy. By far the greater part of business is not involved in developing software products for sale, but in finding customised solutions to their internal business problems. Traditionally there have been only two routes; to buy proprietary solutions, or to develop in-house. Open Source, co-operative development provides an entirely new paradigm.

If one accepts that lifecycle costs (in terms of deployment, help desks etc.) are a function primarily of the complexity of an application and the context in which it is used, that for proprietary software these are the only aspects of total cost that a business can address (e.g. they can choose whether to use PCs or mainframes, how much training to give etc.), and that these costs will be broadly similar for both proprietary and open software, then the up front licencing costs of proprietary software are the only significant, variable element. These up front costs are also those with the highest present value; its money today not sometime downstream and its generally not directly connected to utilisation or value added. It is the present value argument this has made commercial solutions attractive on comparison with in-house development; I get something now, not sometime in the future.

It also makes open source software very attractive for two reasons; libre products tend also to be gratis so licence costs are eliminated; and there is enormous leverage in participating in an open source community, particularly when tuning a product for a given usage. In this context open source products don't have to be the best, they just have to be 'good enough' for the job today. Even if it is necessary to replace them in the future the deferral of the expenditure is of value. Maybe, for example, you'll need to replace mySQL with Oracle, but maybe you won't need to and maybe by the time you do mySQL will be good enough. As open source applications get better, so the 'good enough' tipping point is reached for a larger and larger community of users.

More interestingly there is significant economic leverage for any company - other than those whose principal business is software development - in contributing effort to open source projects. If, by contributing to a project the free software that is barely 'good enough' can remain so, then the cost of proprietary licences can be deferred indefinitely. Even ignoring the potentially significant, but somewhat nebulous costs, associated with vendor lockin etc., it is justifiable to contribute effort up to some proprtion of the value of proprietary software licences displaced.

Freedom Fries 09/14/03 09:54:51 AM EDT

> Open Source is about being 'free' - as in 'freedom'.

Why is it that this needs to be pointed out so often, over and over again? Is it because the opponents of Open Source exploit the double-meaning to lead the uninitiated away from the true value of Open Source - not that it "costs nothing", but that it lessens our bondage to corporate vendors.

We talk about "free" software amongst ourselves, knowing jsut what it means, but Joe Public get when we talk about "free" software

The opinion of Joe/Jane Public is important to larger battle between open and closed source. We need them to understand, empathise, and support us in something that they don't really comprehend.

Why then, we when talk about software freedom, can't we actually use the word FREEDOM.

"Open Source Software is Freedom Software."

Perhaps then, the public can see the true vision, and not just the free ride.

Also, Judd's idea (9 September 2003), is something that shoudl receive more airplay. Something else Joe public can understand.
> Open source software is written by people who wish to use it. Closed source software is written by people who wish to SELL it.

Stephen Samuel 09/11/03 07:08:47 PM EDT

Who among their current customers would have any use for a SCO box without an Apache Web Server, a sendmail mail transfer agent, a Samba server. . . .

Actually, lots. My understanding is that SCO's biggest customer base for their OS is intelligent teller (POS?) operations... Not much need for web servers or email there.

JonB 09/11/03 01:45:40 AM EDT

These are good questions and have been discussed in various forums. However, here are a few things to consider:

Currently the patent laws allow for broad registry of methods or ideas, as it applies to software. This might allow me to take out patents on the design patterns listed by Gamma, et al. So as it currently stands under U.S. laws, your suggested remedies may fail to protect against even independent development of a solution - and by this let me be clear in stating that I mean implemented code.

Jason V. Morgan discusses the issues of patents with respect to Open Source and possible remedies in Chaining Open Source.

Two patents recently in the news, one involving D.E. Technologies and one involving Eolas Technologies demonstrate problems with the patenting process, and the problems that arise from disregard for implementation.

Assuming serious and non-malicious claims of source code patent infringements, it would remain to be shown that there is a significant amount of code that has been transferred, and that the implemented code offers a unique innovation. The infringing party would then be given time to remedy the situation by removing the offending code.

The issue of developing code with an employer's resource is difficult to police, and difficult to show. However, it raises issues of whether what you think belongs to the employer or not. In some countries, employment contracts have clauses on software developed during the period you are employed belong to the company. Equally, the industrial relations laws of some countries would overturn such clauses in favour of the defendant. Similarly, clauses that prevent you from finding future employment or doing future work in a particular field have been applied in employment contracts. However, again a country's laws might overturn such clauses as they are restricting the employee's capacity to earn a living or would prevent them from earning a living.

This is a murky and dangerous path of thinking to follow. I don't believe we have a Papal ban as yet, and we don't have to practice our craft in secret. It is better not to explore the depths of paranoia.

As for the Open Source development model, the history and artefacts pertaining to the code developed are evident. Discussions and submissions, at least in the large projects are via e-mail lists. There are few code committers, and proposals for submissions are catalogued, whether rejected or incorporated. So there is open traceability for code chunks and code migration.

However, there are other issues that need to be addressed. The courts need to be more aware of technology in order to understand the implications and the arguments presented. Unbiased expert testimonials need to be more prevalent. The patenting process needs to be more diligent. Justice should be blind but not ignorant.

MHO.

This does not explore the breadth of your questions nor does it attempt to provide more than a starting point.

Hawkie 09/10/03 11:26:23 PM EDT

If a major company is to incorporate open source, how can they ensure that not one of the developers have contributed with source that is copyrighted ? In such a scenario we can get 1000's of businesses in a heavy lawsuit involving a copyright holder. I can even see a new type of fraud growing up around this. Imagine this scenario: A open source project is working really well and expanding. Then a company that has problems competing uses a fake developer and lets him insert some of their code that they have ensured is registered and copyrighted. The open source project then includes this code and publishes their work. Major companies might use it and by such increase the possible targets for a lawsuit. Then suddenly when the software emerging from this project is revealed as a breach on the Intellectual Property of some company. The open source organisations are not liable organisation per say, so they avoid the bullet, but the companies that have incorporated the software for use, will get massive lawsuits. And in such a scenario, the lawsuits will be a sure lose situation for the companies using the open source software. Why ? Well all prior court descisions have stated: "Not knowing intellectual property is being used is not a valid excuse". So in fact this scam would work. And what would make it even better is the fact that none of those contributing with code has to identify or sign a statement that they are the owners of that code, and that they release it to free use under the GPL.

As i started to think about this, i also started to see how people i know has delivered code in open source projects that was very similar to what they where working on, and here comes the real bomb. If you develop code on your employers equipment and with his software, even if it is on your spare time, your employer owns the code you have produced. That is just the reason why I personally always have had personal development software and personal computers for the open source projects i have been working on. And i have never been involved in a open source project that is close to what i work on. Temptation to use similar code would in such cases be to big, and that would be in the borderline area of copyright violations.

So do i think OpenSource has a future in corporate use ? Yes, but not under the current structure, and not without control of code and a better solution for copyright protection.

All contributors must be clearly identified including with where they work or if they dont work anywhere, so they can be liable themselves also for any violations that may occur. Some projects are today including a credits part in the code, and by checking up on where those people work i get cold feet using some of their software. Example without name and software mentioned: Programmer A has contributed significantly with modules for a security enhanced version of linux, at the same time i find he is working as programmer for one of the major companies making such solutions. He might be involved in the project with full knowledge of his employer, but what if he re-uses the same code as he has developed for his employer, without their knowledge ? Then any user of this security enhanced software can be sued by his employer since they have benefitted from a crime.

As part of this i moved a project i was working on myself from Linux to Solaris. It was not a too big job since I did not make the code proprietary. The users of my software have to buy a Sun Solaris license, but at least we wont get sued, and they wont get into trouble for using my software. For 20 seconds i considered paying SCO for a license to make sure i could still be using Linux, but then who knows if SCO is the only "violated" part here ? So i safed and switched OS totally.

The final question is if you would dare to use OpenSource on Linux if you had a million dollar business and could risk getting a lawsuit on your hands for using it ?

I think this is the real issue we should discuss, because without a solution to these imaginary scenarios, we could soon see a OpenSource community having to go underground due to lawsuits and such. And then it wouldnt really be a OpenSource community, but a piracy community.

Bear Pipe 09/10/03 05:47:38 PM EDT

"Mr. McBride wants the OS community to come up with a business model for using open source that he can wrap his greedy little mind around, because he wants to usurp that idea too."

Without Open Source, SCO wouldn't exist. Who among their current customers would have any use for a SCO box without an Apache Web Server, a sendmail mail transfer agent, a Samba server and the other software created by the OSS community and used by SCO to get money from current customers--those customers that are still around.

It seems terribly two-faced to criticize--and seek payment from--the OSS community for allegedly stealing code that can't be shown to be SCO's property (so far), while at the same time shipping a product that is full of OSS products--which SCO ships without making *any* payments to the OSS community.

Go away, Darl!

Stephen Samuel 09/10/03 05:07:36 PM EDT

Just because SCO has been unable, or more realistically unwilling to develop this component of their business to meet the rapidly growing demand, does not mean that the opportunity does not exist and that it is not being capatalized upon now, as we speak.

That comment made me laugh -- not because I disagree with it, but because it made me realize domething:

Mr. McBride wants the OS community to come up with a business model for using open source that he can wrap his greedy little mind around, because he wants to usurp that idea too.

It's not like we're expecting him to come with an inventive idea, are we?

Tsu Dho Nimh 09/10/03 05:02:08 PM EDT

"The giant sucking sound you're hearing, Darl, is the sound of your customers all contributing little pieces to the open source picture - so they can get better value and get rid of you."

Not a sucking sound. More like the silent fall of snowflakes, each one a small bit, but collectively capable of changing the landscape beyond recognition. SCO is a dying company, wandering around in a post-blizzard landscape, cursing the snow. I imagine that the monks in their scriptoriums felt about Gutenberg's press the way McBride feels about OSS - and look how successful they were.

RR 09/10/03 03:48:26 PM EDT

Magicians hate me because I always look -away- from where the misdirection is obviously pointing, and I always see the wires. I don't know enough about the politics of this whole situation to be able to tell you where to look, but I know this: Darl McBride is a master manipulator and very expert at controlling a situation. So, with his letter so obviously a troll, what is it he's got you -not- looking at? Heaven knows this man has something coming in from another direction, waiting to say "Ta daaaah!" to the shareholders. What is it?

R.

JEP 09/10/03 03:48:06 PM EDT

SCO is involved in a smoke and mirrors campaigne. Actually, they are basically using media and PR to entice new business and create FUD. If they can keep such accusations in the news, it doesn't matter what the truth is their stock goes up. Their IT business is evidently not doing well, despite what Mr. McBride purports (I believe in their copyright filing they said this was needed due to their slowing business). Much like so many politicians, they can spread lies, half-truths, etc. and unsettle enough people to generate false hope and the appearance of stability. In the end, if they fail to back this up, they will crash. I think they are very much aware of this. This is a final roll of the dice for a failing company. What's sad is, there are no doubt good IT folk who are on a sinking ship with their captain saying "Good news! There are no icebergs on our course and the weather is all clear. Any rumors of winds and rain are simply not supported by the reports we're getting."

JEP

JMS 09/10/03 10:12:49 AM EDT

Good article - hit the nail on the head.
The letter was just a publicity stunt to help his case against IBM.
I hope Bill will take care of him and his family when his company get put through the schredder.
Oh ya Darl - I will not work with you in any way and when I come across you product in a company I consult for or work for I will rip it out immediately. That will top priority on my project list. That is how I will work for you.
I do not need your "business model" you need ours and if you don't - stop selling software that is GPL'ed with your products and quit banking the future of your useless company on GPL'ed software.

Amy Wohl 09/10/03 10:00:44 AM EDT

It is lovely to see the Open Source community generate the intellectual capital to crush SCO's increasingly foolish (and confused) arguments. In some sense, it is a real example of the power of both the Internet as an information exchange mechanism and Open Source as its own business model.

As an economist, let me assure you that Open Source has a business model. It simply isn't one that a traditional company like SCO, which expects to be paid for code, can figure out. There are still lots of companies that can charge for code, but only when the code they are offering is valued by customers because it is unique or convenient or offers other recognized value. Other companies (IBM is a good example) charge for their Linux-compatible middleware code, but honor the Open Source community by supporting it with technical and financial assistance and by stronglyl supporting the open standards that permit customers to choose to use Open Source code when they prefer it and purchased code when they find it, for whatever reason, more valuable. Then, as many posters have noted, IBM extends its business model into the future by providing services to help customers plan, design, implement, and customize whatever combinations of hardware, open source, and proprietary code the customer prefers.

That is the new business model and it seems to be a very successful one.

lw 09/10/03 09:15:41 AM EDT

So instead of targetting Linux, how about turn the table around and see if SCO has infringe other people IP? SCO you should prove that you don't infringe others before you claim others infringe your IP.

lw 09/10/03 09:12:00 AM EDT

I think the fact that SCO is unwilling to provide core evidence to support their argument is probably because majority of their code has "rogue" IP from other companies/community that may turn around and shoot them dead. if they are exposed.

rn 09/10/03 06:37:14 AM EDT

There is a lot of ranting and raving about the Open Source Model which no doubt has revolutionized the software development industry. But not much on how to deal with this tangible problem brought on by SCO. All of us love Linux and Apache and all the goodies that the Open Source Model has engendered. How do we ensure that SCO does not use the IP laws to block the progress of this movement ?

A lot of companies that were slowly coming around to the fact that Open Source software actually works are giving it a skeptical look because of what SCO has done. While I do not believe that SCO will fundamentally succeed in its efforts, it can slow down the progress of Open Source and if this drags on for a sufficiently long time, gain enough critical mass in terms of the perception by Big companies and do lasting harm.

Meanwhile all that SCO wants is to make a few million bucks from it through license fees and such and then disappear. Will somebody who understands the operational aspects of this better than I do post references that may help us understand this better ?

LinuxKing 09/10/03 12:54:45 AM EDT

Being that Darl is now attacking the entire Open Source model, he should withdraw from any involvement of said products. The article should have mentioned how SCO's server products use Samba and other Open Source products. If Open Source is such a bad thing, remove it from your lame server products, Darl.

JonB 09/09/03 08:59:27 PM EDT

Kevin Bedell asks of Mr. McBride why he believes our efforts are "far more valuable" if incorporated into a "business model".

The answer, although it might seem to simple, is that the efforts are far more valuable to a company such as SCO. Any company, to attract customers must be a supplier of goods or services. Traditionally, companies contain the expertise to manufacture goods, deliver services or otherwise add value to the supply chain. Since SCO has no capability to manufacture software having divested itself of that expense, seeks to reap the benefit of a free software source that requires little processing or refinement, and on-sell that commodity. With no research and development costs, and little complex manufacturing, the margins will be, one would imagine upwards of 90 percent of the sale price. An extremely attractive business proposition no doubt to certain investors.

And for those who believe that the open letter was for the benefit of the Open Source community, let me at once assure you that it was not. This was a staged address for the benefit of Congress, SEC and those who will only receive sound-bytes of the continuing depredations of SCO Group. The reasonable yet aggrieved tone is designed to win over the sympathy of these other parties who are not familiar with the details. It is clever manipulation of the media and shows a political cunning that recognises the limited attention span of its intended audience.

The Open Source community have yet to recognise the machinations and the dangers, perhaps at its own peril.

Steve Szmidt 09/09/03 08:31:37 PM EDT

How sad... This Open Letter was not hot off his "typewriter" but actually a carefully worded message by who knows how many people over who knows what amount of time.

The result is really nothing but a bunch obvious lies and FUD. Moreover, lies and FUD that NO ONE is taking serious! Ha!

I cannot speak for all of us, but it sure feels like it when I concur with a a previous poster when I say we all wish for you and your poorly informed croonies get properly prosecuted by the SEC, Attorney General, FBI and others, in this modern era of swindle. (Does that come from behaving like a swine?)

No, Mr. McBride, you are in no position to give any business advice, unless it's for fools wishing to see how to make a complete ass of himself, nor is your word of any value. Clearly you've sold youself out as a solution to a bad business model. Before it's all over you should try to get your affairs in order and if nothing else but your own future, get some, sorry, lots of education on ethics & integrity. It will be good for the soul.

If there could have been a next time you could have tried to align yourself with others v.s. just making enemies everywhere.
Imagine, he's getting paid to ruin his life while attempting to ruin others... and to top it off he wonders why he's so unpopular!?!

(This is what I'll use as an example to my kids on how not to behave and what can happen when you try to swindle people.)

Goodbye Mr. McBride!

cirilo 09/09/03 07:08:08 PM EDT

Ah, poor Darl ... so overpaid and yet he has trouble comprehending what he reads. What he says about Bruce Perens is pure crap -- Bruce is not only quoted out of context, but Darl builds up a huge lie on that one phrase he misquotes. The summary of Bruce's comments was that alleged "evidence" of stolen code which SCO presented at a meeting in California was of no value because the code presented is about 30 years old, had been publicly released years ago, and has been superceded anyway. According to Bruce the only thing really wrong with the code, if anything, is that someone didn't provide proper acknowledgement of its source. He never, as Darl implies, stated that the code had been unlawfully misappropriated.

Judd Stevenson 09/09/03 06:57:55 PM EDT

Here's something that I haven't seen anyone else comment on in terms of open source vs. closed source:

Open source software is written by people who wish to use it.

Closed source software is written by people who wish to SELL it.

That funamental difference makes for a HUGE shift in quality. Someone who's wishing simply to make money says "I can sell it with bugs, nobody has a choice but to use it, and I can release patches later on". Someone who writes a package so they can use it is going to have a vested interest in making sure it works, works well, is safe and secure, and so on.

Add to that the global pier review of the open source model, and it's a recipe for better software. Money can be made in other ways, i.e. systems integration, installation, support, etc. I may not be able to charge for the software, but I can charge for putting it all together for a client so it works. I can charge for building custom solutions based on it.

And whatever I charge for, I know what I've built is a stronger, cleaner, faster, platform that was written by people who are driven to put together stuff that works.

End of story.

Eric Levy 09/09/03 06:43:02 PM EDT

I think the real issue here beyond the IP (as this is simply a smoke screen) is that the business model is already in place, and it is simply a model based upon services vs. a model based upon the licensing of OS IP. Just because SCO has been unable, or more realistically unwilling to develop this component of their business to meet the rapidly growing demand, does not mean that the opportunity does not exist and that it is not being capatalized upon now, as we speak.

SCO has been so busy builing an organization based upon litigation, that it missed the service revenue boat, and now the boat has left port and guess who is not on-board.

What SCO needs to come to grips with is that this boat is not the Titanic, and as hard as they try they are not going to be the Iceberg (even Icebergs melt over time).

Companies such as IBM, Redhat, SUN, etc. have built successful organizations that provide more than simply a clickwrapped piece of compiled code, but additionaly the human capital to ensure successful integration, support, modification, development, growth, etc. This human capital in the long term will hold much more value, then an entire portfolio of IP being leveraged for the sole purpose of short term corporate greed vs. long term corporate growth and the successful cultivation of dedicated customers, and sophisticated product offerings.

I find it very hard to believe that SCO has lured many new customers with their overt business plan of search and destroy through Mendacity, greed, and subterfuge.

I think SCO needs to remember the old saying "everybody does better, when everbody does better" -

Eric -

Judd Stevenson 09/09/03 06:38:09 PM EDT

RE: References on SysV and GPL
Ugh... I've read so much on this topic in the last 3 days. I've gotten stuff from at least 25 websites, and wasn't keeping URLs, and I've read a few articles in paper journals as well.

I believe it was in some wierd journal I got in the mail as part of an interview with Linus Torvalds at a recent conference. I can't remember the name of it, and the recycling guy took it off my hands this morning.

But Linus made it clear that every single piece of contentious code that SCO has brought up to date was already in the public domain. It just really reinforced the laughability of everything SCO is trying to do.

Sorry for the lack of specifics... I'm sure SOMEONE reading this article knows more than I do. Some days it's not hard!

Jon Martin Solaas 09/09/03 06:27:20 PM EDT

The flack about System v is crap, because if I recall correctly System v itself was GPLd.

Is that really so? It'd be really funny if it were true, but I'm not so sure ... do you have any references?

Sean 09/09/03 06:09:38 PM EDT

"Where would Linux still be without it I wonder."
Linux would still be where it is today. This whole SCO argument is stupid to begin with. To believe that only 1 person in the world could come up with a particular piece of code to solve a problem is not just naive, it's plain ignorant. Ok, so there was some I.P. code from SCO included in Linux, the only thing it did was save time solving the problem it was put in to solve. If the SCO code hadn't existed, the problem still would have eventually been solved.

There are only a fixed number of functions available in the C language. If I tell you I need to be able to count the number of characters in a string, there are only so many combinations of those functions that will actually solve the problem. If you add the requirement that the solution must be as fast as possible, your number of combinations is reduced even more.

Bill Gates has admitted he used to rumage behind the dumpster at school digging out old O/S code to study. How much of that "trash code" do you think ended up in Windows? Only difference is, no one has access to the source code for Windows, but how many intellectual property lawsuits would there be if we did ? You think Bill stopped with just dumpster code? There's no telling how much other code he's stolen from other people.

Judd Stevenson 09/09/03 06:05:21 PM EDT

To Mr. Brownell...

You've apparently not done your homework, sir. Every knowledgable source I've seen has made it clear that SCO has yet to produce documentation of a single line of code that was "stolen" and that any code they HAVE made public was previously released under the GPL. When you scream "copyright infringement" and then have to be sued in order for those you accuse to know what it is that's being infringed (i.e. Redhat's current litigation against SCO), your entire position becomes questionable.

Aside from that, the main thrust of the letter was a fairly pethetic combination of whining, begging, and appealing to the greed of open source authors. The piece about SGI was a series of recombined quotes, out of context and out of their original order. The flack about System v is crap, because if I recall correctly System v itself was GPLd.

All I see from this letter and the research I've done as a result of it is that SCO is lying, cheating, and trying to steal anything they can to keep from being drowned. They've tried to use a traditional business model to prosper in an open-source environment and it didn't work, so they've switched to trying to play victim... and it won't work either.

I wouldn't be surprised to see criminal charges against individuals at SCO for purgery, nor would I be surprised to see libel lawsuits against them from IBM, SGI, ATT, and anyone else they've tried to drag into this.

What I really fail to understand is how on earth they thought it would work... and I think this is the part I find most insulting. Did they really think that we were THAT stupid? Good god... I hold them in the highest contempt.

Franklin P. Muckley 09/09/03 05:56:01 PM EDT

"A telling comment, when it would appear based even on the scant evidence released to date that some of the core functionality Linux enjoys was stolen from SCO licensed source code."

How do you know? The code SCO has shown has either been traced to other sources, or has been removed before the suit, and they haven't shown the rest of the "1,000,000 lines of code".

"And, while we're at it, you dont mention at all the real thrust of the original letter which was that IBM, SGI, etc. have illegally taken SCO code and incorporated it into Linux."

Actually, the intent of the letter was to spread FUD. He misquoted his sources, made false claims, and attacked all of the Open Source community, while still not allowing the community to work with him.

"Where would Linux still be without it I wonder."

Well, since SCO didn't write it, the same place it is now.
What you fail to realize is that SCO *does not* own the UNIX specification (see here http://www.opengroup.org/comm/press/who-owns-unix.htm). They own code for a version of UNIX that they did NOT write.

Jon Martin Solaas 09/09/03 05:54:30 PM EDT

Exactly what source code do you refer to? What core functionality? To my knowledge SCO still hasn't revealed any hard evidence. In the letter from McBride Bruce Perens is quoted saying that SGI illegaly moved source code into the Linux kernel, however the quote is out of context, and McBride fails qoute Perens saying the actual code was removed from Linux long time ago, not because it was illegal to use, but because it just wasn't needed any more.

For the full story read
http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?cid=6905469&sid=77714&tid=88

However, I think McBride is in his full right not to embrace OpenSource. He can claim that the Open Source model is flawed as much as he want to. It's just not that relevant. Hence I also think the response from the Editor of LinuxWorld has the wrong focus. The most important thing is the fact that McBride is quoting out of context and deliberately misinterprets statements from central persons in the OpenSource community.

It's also quite funny to note that while McBride claims that OpenSource is "flawed", it's this openness itself that makes it possible to inspect the Linux source, and it's the closedness of SCO code and evidence that makes it so hard to grasp the fact that SCO claims are in fact nothing to worry about.

Has anyone ever thought about how much stolen intellectual property all the closed source systems lurking around actually might contain?

--
[email protected]

Michael Brownell 09/09/03 05:19:18 PM EDT

"The open source community doesn't need his services or his intellectual property. We can innovate faster, work cheaper, achieve higher quality and impact productivity in this country (and throughout the world) much better than SCO -- by far."

A telling comment, when it would appear based even on the scant evidence released to date that some of the core functionality Linux enjoys was stolen from SCO licensed source code. And, while we're at it, you dont mention at all the real thrust of the original letter which was that IBM, SGI, etc. have illegally taken SCO code and incorporated it into Linux. Where would Linux still be without it I wonder.

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