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Can CA Save Linux from the Great Satan SCO?

Can CA Save Linux from the Great Satan SCO?

It's dawned on Computer Associates that IBM pays it royalties for the SMP technology in AIX, IBM's version of Unix, because of the work done long ago by Unix icon Locus Computing Corporation.

CA says it owns the Locus IP by virtue of its huge $3.5 billion cash purchase of Platinum technology Inc in 2000. See, Platinum had bought Locus in a stock swap in, oh, 1995.

Now, of course, the SCO Group has made a big megillah about the SMP facilities that found their way into Linux. It claims that IBM ripped the widgetry out of Sequent's Dynix version of Unix, which SCO alleges it had dibs on, and threw it over the wall to Linux to make Linux enterprise-fit.

SCO's claim has made CA, not exactly what you'd call a SCO booster these days, curious about whether Sequent's SMP functionality also originated with Locus. It's got its fingers crossed and its investigators out hoping to foil the Anti-Linux in its tracks.

One assumes CA will have to wait to see what SCO's case against Linux turns out to be when SCO finally turns over the discovery that it's been ordered to deliver to IBM.

Locus, by the way, whose name will bring a tear of nostalgic remembrance to many an eye in the industry, was famous for an emulator program called Merge that ran Windows programs on Unix. It was developed, if we recall correctly, for AT&T back when AT&T owned Unix.

Ironically Locus was one of very first and very rare companies to have a Windows and later NT source license from Microsoft.

Merge wound up getting bought by an outfit called Dascom that did the military-grade Compartmented Mode Workstation security widgetry for the old Santa Cruz Operation, the SCO Group's predecessor, minutes before CA took Platinum over. Then two months later IBM bought Dascom.

IBM mucked around with Merge, but at the time it really wasn't interested in a kit to run Windows apps on Linux (doubtless a result of Lou Gerstner's vision-less approach to running the company) and IBM wound up spinning off the stuff to an Dascom-conceived outfit then called TreLos on unexplained terms.

TreLos subsequently merged with a Citrix-on-Linux-style start-up called LastFoot.com and morphed into NeTraverse, which happens to peddle a WINE-free way to run Windows on Linux call Win4Lin, the direct descendent of Merge, that has new SMP abilities and some server management thrown in.

According to what NeTraverse officials have previously said, a Merge resale license was hooked to UnixWare and wound up with the SCO Group.

The SMP functionality in AIX however apparently doesn't originate with Merge. It was reportedly written under a special deal.

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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