@CloudExpo Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, William Schmarzo, David Paquette

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 Linux.SYS-CON.com 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: http://www3.sys-con.com/banners/linuxworld336.cfm

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 www.groklaw.com

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
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Extreme Computing is the ability to leverage highly performant infrastructure and software to accelerate Big Data, machine learning, HPC, and Enterprise applications. High IOPS Storage, low-latency networks, in-memory databases, GPUs and other parallel accelerators are being used to achieve faster results and help businesses make better decisions. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at NVIDIA, focused on some of the unique ways extreme computing is...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, will contrast how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He will show the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He will also have live demos of building immutable pipe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
So you think you are a DevOps warrior, huh? Put your money (not really, it’s free) where your metrics are and prove it by taking The Ultimate DevOps Geek Quiz Challenge, sponsored by DevOps Summit. Battle through the set of tough questions created by industry thought leaders to earn your bragging rights and win some cool prizes.
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Governments around the world are adopting Safe Harbor privacy provisions to protect customer data from leaving sovereign territories. Increasingly, global companies are required to create new instances of their server clusters in multiple countries to keep abreast of these new Safe Harbor laws. Is it worth it? In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director of Anexia, Inc., will discuss how to keep your data legal and still stay in business.
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
Successful transition from traditional IT to cloud computing requires three key ingredients: an IT architecture that allows companies to extend their internal best practices to the cloud, a cost point that allows economies of scale, and automated processes that manage risk exposure and maintain regulatory compliance with industry regulations (FFIEC, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, FISMA). The unique combination of VMware, the IBM Cloud, and Cloud Raxak, a 2016 Gartner Cool Vendor in IT Automation, provides a co...