Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Peter Silva

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

SCO: Unix plus Linux equals trouble

UnitedLinux members are not insulated from future SCO lawsuits

(IDG News Service) — The SCO Group, arguably, isn't making many friends in the Linux camp these days. Last month it filed a US$1 billion lawsuit against IBM Corp. for allegedly misusing Unix code to bolster Linux efforts. SCO owns Unix System V code, which IBM had licensed to build AIX. SCO now acknowledges it may extend its legal activities to Linux distributors SuSE Linux AG and Red Hat Inc., and doesn't rule out action against users of the open source operating system.

The move wouldn't be so unusual if not for the fact that SCO is a founding member of UnitedLinux, a group of companies that have united to distribute Linux software worldwide.

Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager of SCOsource, the SCO division in charge of managing and protecting the company's Unix intellectual property, spoke with IDGNS about SuSE, UnitedLinux, IBM and Linux users. His overall message is that Linux developers, distributors and customers are using code that doesn't belong to them and if they don't settle up with the Lindon, Utah, software company, they can expect to see their day in court.

Question: SuSE feels protected against any legal action you may consider because of contracts with SCO and with UnitedLinux in which you are a member. Do SuSE and other Linux distributors including Red Hat have reason to be worried?

Sontag: Regarding contracts we have with SuSE and UnitedLinux, I would unequivocally state that there is nothing in those contracts that provides them with any protection or shelter in the way they are characterizing this in the press. If I were them, I would not be making those kinds of statements.

Question: Are you planning any legal action against SuSE or Red Hat?

Sontag: We have no action planned at this time. Our focus is on the IBM lawsuit. This does not mean, however, that we will not initiate other actions to protect our intellectual property at a future point.

Question: You're a member of UnitedLinux. Would you say that your lawsuit has caused some friction within that group?

Sontag: Yes, there is some friction. But we've been doing our best to have open dialogs with the other participants and members in UnitedLinux. Darl McBride, the CEO (chief executive officer) of SCO, has had numerous conversations with the other CEOs within UnitedLinux. We've been doing everything we can to keep the dialogue open and are trying to work to conclusions that will be amicable for all the parties involved. We haven't come to a good conclusion yet. But we're always hopeful.

Question: Wouldn't you agree that your legal action is causing uncertainty in the Linux community and that this uncertainty is undermining the marketing efforts of UnitedLinux?

Sontag: There is definitely uncertainty and doubt. And there are problems identified within the Linux community. We were not the first ones to raise the intellectual property issue, but we certainly have a major issue now. Since digging into the lawsuit with IBM, we've become very aware of issues related to Linux and other areas.

Question: So what's your goal?

Chris Sontag

Sontag: Our hope is that we can bring this to a full conclusion so that everyone has a final understanding in terms of intellectual property issues.

Question: Some people are beginning to question if SCO isn't more focused on Unix these days than on Linux. Are you still committed to Linux?

Sontag: Our primary focus has always been on Unix. Our efforts related to Linux have been to provide choices and multiple solutions to our customers. This hasn't changed.

Question: Could you imagine pulling out of UnitedLinux if there is some continued friction in the group?

Sontag: We're evaluating all our initiatives related to Linux right now. We have no announcements to make regarding what we may or may not be doing at this point. But certainly we will have to reassess the businesses, opportunities and issues in the marketplace and make appropriate adjustments as we go along.

Question: So abandoning UnitedLinux is a possibility?

Sontag: I'd prefer to defer that question for now.

Question: What prompted you to initiate the IBM lawsuit when you did? Why now and not a year ago?

Sontag: We had started working on SCO source-related initiatives late last year. We began digging into a lot of issues and started having some concerns. Then we went to LinuxWorld early this year and heard statements from Steve Mills, a senior executive at IBM responsible for the company's overall software strategy. Basically, he said that IBM will exploit its expertise in AIX to bring Linux up to par with Unix and went on to say a lot of other things, like trying to help obliterate Unix. IBM is a licensee of Unix technology from SCO, originating back to contracts with AT&T Corp. So IBM's position became a big problem for us.

Question: IBM is a big company with deep pockets and plenty of political clout. Do you think you can win the case?

Sontag: We're very confident about the case. We believe we have significant evidence to present at the appropriate time in court.

Question: What is the next step?

Sontag: SCO made its initial filing. IBM was supposed to respond within 30 days. They requested an extension of 30 days, which we granted them. So after 60 days, they responded with basically nothing -- a very vanilla law school 101-type level response, which was rather surprising. This month, we will have meetings that will occur between attorneys on both sides and some scheduling hearings with the judge. Then we will move into phase of gathering documents, evidence and depositions from all parties we believe are appropriate to this lawsuit. The steps beyond that are up to the judge. [See, IBM responds to SCO's $1 billion complaint May 2.]

Question: Could this go on for months, even years?

Sontag: A complex legal issue like this could take years. However, we think we'll be able to have the issue expedited more quickly due to the damages that it is causing SCO. We also have contractual obligations to IBM related to our license of Unix System V source code, which IBM has used for AIX. We have the ability to withdraw or pull the AIX license on June 13, which should cause IBM to expedite this issue as well.

Question: What about SuSE and Red Hat customers and other Linux users? Could they face litigation or be impacted in any way?

Sontag: Certainly, as the evidence mounts, there could be concerns and issues for end customers. When you're talking about copyrighted materials or trade secrets being inappropriately obtained and released, even the recipients of that information have to have concerns.

More Stories By John Blau

John Blau is a Dusseldorf correspondent for the IDG News Service, a affiliate.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
will kranz 02/03/04 04:32:34 PM EST

I was searching for sco vs IBM suit info on Linux.
You have an interesting article, but your web site
keeps trying to send me big cookies which I resent.
I will not be back.
Server is:

vardhman 11/27/03 01:31:30 PM EST

SCO seems to be doing nothing nowadays for making their Operation system or products better. I think they will finally start saying buy Microsoft Windows quit our Unix. They seem to be preparing for "Suing" all the time. I think they have turned up into a "suing company" from a unix company. Cant they think of doing some development work so that people buy their OS.
Threatening is not a solution. If their OS was worth so much as the Linux Kernel developers have to copy code from it, why should Linux be taking away their market of Unix?

Justin 11/27/03 07:53:29 AM EST

For a broader viewpoint on SCO's claims, and how little evidence they are able to produce, visit

For example, in their list of 'infringing' files, there are several that do not actually contain code...!


Dilbert Dobbs 11/27/03 04:45:49 AM EST

At this point, in regard to all the letters SCO has sent out, this amounts to nothing but pure assertion on SCO's part at this time. Why would anyone in a company pay money to SCO just because they happen to assert something? Obviously most folks recognize this as Microsoft looks to be the only company that has struck a deal with SCO. No surprise there.

Until SCO can get a court ruling to back them up, they're just spouting pure assertion - and they've certainly not been willing to back their demands up with any kind of proof. On this basis their demands amount to pure hog wash - or perhaps a certain style of extortion.

@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief Architect at CTS, will explore the synergy of Big Data and IoT. First he will take a closer look at the Internet of Things and Big Data individually, in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. Then he will explore the relationship between IoT and Big Data. Specifically, he will drill down to how the 4Vs aspects intersect with IoT: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Value. In turn, Tony will analyze how the key components of IoT ...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
As-a-service models offer huge opportunities, but also complicate security. It may seem that the easiest way to migrate to a new architectural model is to let others, experts in their field, do the work. This has given rise to many as-a-service models throughout the industry and across the entire technology stack, from software to infrastructure. While this has unlocked huge opportunities to accelerate the deployment of new capabilities or increase economic efficiencies within an organization, i...
“All our customers are looking at the cloud ecosystem as an important part of their overall product strategy. Some see it evolve as a multi-cloud / hybrid cloud strategy, while others are embracing all forms of cloud offerings like PaaS, IaaS and SaaS in their solutions,” noted Suhas Joshi, Vice President – Technology, at Harbinger Group, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud wit...
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VividCortex, the monitoring solution for the modern data system, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The database is the heart of most applications, but it’s also the part that’s hardest to scale, monitor, and optimize even as it’s growing 50% year over year. VividCortex is the first unified suite of database monitoring tools specifically desi...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated a...
Learn how Backup as a Service can help your customer base protect their data. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Stefaan Vervaet, Director of Strategic Alliances at HGST, will discuss the challenges of data protection in an era of exploding storage requirements, show you the benefits of a backup service for your cloud customers, and explain how the HGST Active Archive and CommVault are already enabling this service today with customer examples.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Key Information Systems, Inc. (KeyInfo), a leading cloud and infrastructure provider offering integrated solutions to enterprises, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Key Information Systems is a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced softwa...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, ...
Cloud Foundry open Platform as a Service makes it easy to operate, scale and deploy application for your dedicated cloud environments. It enables developers and operators to be significantly more agile, writing great applications and deliver them in days instead of months. Cloud Foundry takes care of all the infrastructure and network plumbing that you need to build, run and operate your applications and can do this while patching and updating systems and services without any downtime.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Masters Technologies, provider of leading network visibility and monitoring solutions, will exhibit at the 17th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Masters Technologies is a leading provider of high speed networking solutions focused on Gigabit, 10 Gigabit, 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit Ethernet network access and connectivity products. For over 20 ye...