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Why Should Sun Stop at Novell - Why Not Buy SCO Too?

Why Should Sun Stop at Novell - Why Not Buy SCO Too?

  • LinuxWorld, San Francisco: Who'll Buy Novell First, Sun or IBM?

    So Sun president Jonathan Schwartz, apropos of nothing, up and tells the Wall Street Journal - in time to make the edition that hits the newsstands the morning LinuxWorld Conference & Expo opens - that Sun has been thinking about buying Novell.

    He said Sun wasn't negotiating with Novell, but it's been thinking about acquiring it because it would disrupt IBM's strategy of boxing in Red Hat - so Red Hat won't become another ungovernable Microsoft impudently competing more and more with IBM's own products - by throwing more of its business to Novell satellite SUSE, a wedding IBM paid for.

    Well, either what we've got here is a stink bomb or a trial balloon.

    In a blog attributed to Jonathan, he writes, "Whoever controls Novell controls the operating system on which IBM's future depends" and Sun, which has any number of scores to settle with IBM, would run over its grandmother to be in that position.

    If Sun's right, all it would take for it to buy Novell is upwards of $2.6 billion and a catfight that makes Oracle and PeopleSoft look like, well, pussycats.

    But why stop at Novell?

    If Sun really wants to torture IBM, it would buy Novell first, then SCO, and press SCO's $5 billion suit against IBM.

    And all that would take is the balls to fly in the face of political correctness. Sun has always claimed it's got big cajones.

    It may also have good reasons.

    See, rumor has it that Sun has its own bone to pick with IBM over IBM's use of SCO IP.

    Supposedly IBM used the SCO SVRV code that it illicitly got from its aborted Project Monterey alliance with SCO to shore up its SVR3-based AIX system, bring its functionality into "affinity" with Solaris and rustle Sun's customers.

    Such a thing could easily set off Sun CEO Scott McNealy, who's reportedly on pretty good terms with SCO CEO Darl McBride.

    There is, after all, no love lost between Sun and Linux. Sun's current object is to replace Linux with Solaris x86 and Sun, like Microsoft, has paid SCO millions for certain mysterious Unix IP rights.

    SCO may be able to convince Sun its IP claims aren't as farfetched as the open source community contends and if resources get tight at SCO because of its legal fees, Sun could prove to be SCO's ace in the hole.

    SCO currently believes that even the little evidence IBM has turned over so far - only seven of the 232 versions of AIX and Dynix it's under court order to cough up - has tightened the noose around IBM's neck and that once the court forces IBM to disgorge the rest of the discovery SCO wants - like internal e-mail - IBM will be dead in the water.

    SCO's evidence is currently under seal, but it's likely the company will amend its suit for a third time in the next month or so and outline whatever it's got on IBM.

    SCO evidently hopes to be spared some of IBM's legal posturing because IBM's own documents reportedly refer to AIX as derivative work based on Unix System V. The SCO-IBM fight is all about SCO's right to control how derivative work can be used.

  • 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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