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SCO Claims Linux Lifted ELF

SCO Claims Linux Lifted ELF

SCO's two latest filings with the Utah district court hearing its $5 billion suit against IBM claim that SCO's Unix Executable and Linking Format (ELF) codes are in Linux illegally.

The charge was made by SCO VP of engineering Sandeep Gupta in a declaration that is currently under seal, but is quoted, albeit tersely, in the new filings.

If the ELF charge stands, SCO believes it would topple the whole Linux edifice.

ELF is like mortar to the operating system. Stripped out, all its applications would break. And, according to SCO spokesman Blake Stowell, it would not be something that the Linux community could simply rewrite, which is the Linux adherent's pat solution to SCO's infringement issues.

ELF is sorta like Microsoft's DLLs and was developed by AT&T's Unix System Labs as part of the Unix Application Binary Interface (ABI) before Unix was sold to Novell in 1993.

In 1995, the year Novell sold Unix to the Santa Cruz Operation, an industry group calling itself the Tool Interface Standard Committee (TISC) came up with a ELF 1.2 standard and to popularize it and streamline PC software development granted users a "non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license" to the stuff, effectively putting it in the public domain, SCO says.

SCOsource chief Chris Sontag, the SCO VP in charge of the company's hate-inducing IP push, claims TISC, which folded immediately after the spec was published, exceeded its rights even though both Novell and the old SCO - as well as Microsoft, IBM and Intel - were on the committee.

Sontag also says that any entities that ignore SCO's ELF copyrights are infringing. Such a claim is likely to put SCO on a war footing, if it isn't already, with the Free Software Foundation, whose GNU operating environment makes broad use of ELF.

The Free Software Foundation is also the creator of the GPL, the viral license that makes Linux so provocative. SCO calls the GPL "quicksand" and claims it's invalid. IBM's countersuit against SCO claims SCO breached the GPL so the GPL could be tested in the court for a second, possibly definitive, time.

Where SCO is going to go with ELF is still up in the air, according to Sontag. It's still early days in fleshing out all its claims, he said.

SCO also claims "substantial similarity" between the Read-Copy-Update (RCU) routine in Linux 2.6.5 and Linux patches and SCO's copyrighted work, specifically SVR4.2 MP.

It thinks that Unix SMP 4.2 System V initialization (init) code was copied into Linux 2.6, that there's "substantial similarity" between the user level synchronization (ULS) routines in Linux and Unix, that its Unix System V IPC code was copied into Linux 2.4.20 and that copyrighted Unix header and interfaces were copied into Linux.

It also says the journaled file system (JFS) module from later versions of AIX, which SCO believes may derive from the JFS Unix, is in Linux 2.6. - MOG

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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