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SCO Strikes Again, Terminates Sequent's Unix License

SCO Strikes Again, Terminates Sequent's Unix License

In another move likely to inflame the open source community - if it can get any more bent out of shape than it already is - the SCO Group terminated Sequent Computer Systems' SVR5 Unix license Tuesday for improperly transferring its source code and significant methods into Linux. Sequent is now an IBM property and, according to SCO, it "no longer has the right to use or license" Sequent's Dynix/ptx operating system. And, not to put too fine a point on it, clearly says "Customers may not acquire a license to Dynix/ptx" from here on out, the kind of allegation that Linux resellers are afraid of. After a team back with its lawyers, IBM spokeswoman Trink Guarino said that IBM had taken both Dynix hardware and software off the market long before SCO's lawsuit against it was ever filed and mumbled something about how SCO was trying the case in the press. She also said that SCO had presented IBM with no evidence that it had violated their agreement. SCO has already publicly alleged that Sequent's NUMA and multiprocessing technology were thrown over the wall to Linux to make Linux more enterprise-ready, but in its press statement Wednesday SCO got more precise claiming that what it called Sequent- IBM "contributed approximately 148 files of direct Sequent Unix code to the Linux 2.4 and 2.5 kernels, containing 168,276 lines of code." It is the first time SCO has identified an exact number of supposedly tainted lines. The Linux community will doubtless dismiss the number as small potatoes compared to the overall Linux operating system and clamor to replace them to put the issue to rest. SCO, which wants to be paid for the infringement, defines Sequent's NUMA and MP widgetry as derivative works and modifications of SVR5 and says they are hemmed in by the same contractual restrictions that apply to the original SVR5 code including "the requirement of confidentiality, a prohibition against transfer of ownership and a restriction against use for the benefit of third parties." Of course SCO has already lifted IBM's AIX license, a little fact IBM is diligently ignoring claiming the license is irrevocable. In the countersuit IBM filed against SCO last week IBM also claimed that Novell, which owned Unix before SCO, was able to trump SCO's termination, exercise its retained rights and "waive any contractual rights SCO claims IBM violated." SCO said it delivered "final written notice" of termination to Sequent Computer Systems on Tuesday after giving Sequent-IBM two- months notice as contractually required. IBM ignored the notice and didn't lift a finger to cure what SCO says is a breach of contract. SCO called the termination "self-effectuating" and said it didn't require court approval. Besides arguing over what exactly constitutes a derivative work, IBM evidently hopes to fry SCO's compensation hopes on the fires of the GPL. It claims in its countersuit that SCO forfeited any rights to reimbursement because it distributed Linux under the GPL, which bars proprietary rights. The charge, if the case makes it to court, could mean a serious legal test for the GPL that it may or may not survive.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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