Microsoft to purchase UNIX rights from SCO

Posted 19 May 2003 at 14:33 UTC by madhatter Share This

It looks like Microsoft is going for another level of control: they're purchasing the rights to UNIX from SCO.

I originally was going to post this as a journal entry, but I wanted it to smack everyone in the face as soon as they visited the site. I think my worry is just exactly who all this will effect. After all... GNU's Not UNIX :)

No, they aren't!, posted 19 May 2003 at 15:50 UTC by azz » (Journeyer)

The way you've phrased it sounds like they're buying Unix outright; they're not, they're just paying the licensing fee that SCO are trying to convince us Linux users owe. Essentially, this is Microsoft making it clear which side they're on by finding a way to give SCO money to fight the case.

ah yes, posted 19 May 2003 at 16:04 UTC by madhatter » (Journeyer)

yes azz, you are right. this link explains it better, and makes it obvious Mircosoft is not trying to "buy" UNIX. The link I posted coupled with another misleading one made me think they were trying to purchase UNIX as a whole....

This article shows fundamental problems with advogato, posted 19 May 2003 at 17:11 UTC by jbuck » (Master)

Advogato provides for no mechanism for authors to withdraw or modify their articles, so now we have an incorrect headline, syndicated to many sites, attracting traffic to Advogato. Even Slashdot will fix a mistaken headline on occasion.

We suffer from this in all kinds of ways: duplicated postings when someone clicks "submit" twice, etc. Advogato needs some kind of editing mechanism.

crapola, posted 19 May 2003 at 17:28 UTC by madhatter » (Journeyer)

the first thing I did (this being the only article I ever remember posting) is look to see if I could edit it, but sadly I can't. The headline itself isn't as bad as the article, Microsoft really is purchasing UNIX rights from SCO, in the form of a license agreement. "Microsoft to license UNIX from SCO" would be much a much better headline though. Since mod_virgle has the ability to edit journal entries, I'm sure we can create the feature to edit articles as well. I guess I should be the one to do this since I'm the one that posted some misinformation.

unauthorized use of Unix code?, posted 19 May 2003 at 17:31 UTC by sej » (Master)

Can anyone provide links to what portion of a Linux distribution is alleged to contain Unix code? Or links to a discussion of the equivalent? Could they possibly have a case? I know the FSF has prepared for this allegation from day one. And I assume whatever got borrowed from BSD got lifted after efforts to sanitize the distribution of AT&T code (since the AT&T vs. U Cal Regents lawsuit predated the majority of Linux development).

SCO/Unix is MS/Unix, posted 19 May 2003 at 22:30 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

historically, SCO/Unix was originally Xenix, originally Microsoft Unix.

Microsoft farmed out MS-Unix to SCO, and retained a stake in SCO.

Microsoft (at least 5 years ago) had a significant shareholding in the Santa Cruz Operation. something like, i believe, 10% of their stock (on which i could be way out).

SCO/Unix has had the capability to run linux binaries for a long, long time.

SCO/Unix even comes by default with the same X-server as the major linux distributions!

i think the techies probably made enough of a business case to the managers to get them to drop SCO/Unix in favour of linux: that looks like having been reversed, which is interesting.

who figures that this is one last gasp by microsoft pulling the strings via SCO to kill off linux, and being prepared to sacrifice SCO in the process?

hopefully that won't happen: there are a lot of smart people working at SCO.

The usual question: what can we do? :-(, posted 20 May 2003 at 18:03 UTC by tk » (Observer)

historically, SCO/Unix was originally Xenix, originally Microsoft Unix.

Pardon? SCO Unix is a full-fledged multiuser OS, and Xenix is, erm......

Anyway, there seems to be a spate of doom-and-gloom articles on Advogato lately. What I'd like to know is, what are the things that we puny individuals can do to change the situation? (OK, I already know about giving $$$, protesting on the streets and in other random places, and using psychokinesis. Aren't there any other methods?)

The history lesson is absolutely correct, posted 21 May 2003 at 06:09 UTC by Omnifarious » (Journeyer)

SCO Unix really was Xenix, once upon a time. Xenix was a real Unix with AT&T source and everything stripped down to run on a 286.

It was never "Microsoft Unix", posted 21 May 2003 at 07:05 UTC by robocoder » (Journeyer)

Back then, AT&T didn't license the "Unix" trademark. So while Microsoft did license the Unix source, they had to market their port under a different name; hence, "Xenix".

The patent in question, posted 21 May 2003 at 23:30 UTC by raph » (Master)

SCO/Caldera does have a patent, issued just this March. Since their press release announcing the license with Microsoft mentions "a patent", it's reasonable to speculate that this is the one in question.

Don Marti has noted that there don't seem to be any other Unix-related patents to which SCO holds any rights. It's also worth noting that SCO is not claiming patent infringement in their complaint against IBM.

I'm interested to see if anyone else has opinions about this patent.

enterprise computing?, posted 22 May 2003 at 15:30 UTC by madhatter » (Journeyer)

In the OSI Position Paper there is a section on how SCO uses the terms "enterprise scalability" and "enterprise computing" but fails to define where they fall in the spectrum of enterprise computing. Perhaps they consider the patent their foothold in the enterprise market? I think the term "enterprise computing" can be interpreted various ways and is often mixed up with the term "high-performance" computing. I personally think they both have relevance to one another, but where is the line drawn?

interesting, posted 23 May 2003 at 18:40 UTC by madhatter » (Journeyer)

Here's something interesting: the claim seems to be that IBM leaked trade secrets into the linux kernel. Here's a quote from the kernel mailing list:


SCO-Caldera Senior Vice President Chris Sontag explicitly says that the kernel is *not* tainted, but that that other stuff that Red Hat and SuSE are including *is*.

Quote from the interview:

"Chris Sontag: We're not talking about the Linux kernel that Linus and others have helped develop. We're talking about what's on the periphery of the Linux kernel."

He doesn't specify exactly what he's talking about, but he makes an interesting claim:

"Chris Sontag: We are using objective third parties to do comparisons of our UNIX System V [SCO-owned Unix] source code and Red Hat as an example. We are coming across many instances where our proprietary software has simply been copied and pasted or changed in order to hide the origin of our System V code in Red Hat. This is the kind of thing that we will need to address with many Linux distribution companies at some point."


why on EARTH would IBM leak secrets to distros?

Unlikely behavior, possible approaches to problem-solving, posted 26 May 2003 at 20:25 UTC by rlevin » (Journeyer)

madhatter wrote:
why on EARTH would IBM leak secrets to distros?

It wouldn't. Even if IBM had some nefarious, long-term plan, this is hardly a moment when it would be looking to screw up Linux. IBM seems to be just ramping up its Linux strategy, and the 2.6 kernel has to be a critical component of its drive to increase services and consulting revenue. It also seems unlikely that IBM would submit inappropriate code for inclusion in the Linux kernel by accident. The company is extremely cautious with respect to intellectual property concerns in its code review process. Look at the length of time and the amount of effort it took to get Wietse Venema's postfix MTA released. My understanding is that he was not a regular employee, just working at one of IBM's facilities while on sabbatical.

We're told that SCO has not provided any information to free software developers on specific intellectual property infringements in GNU/Linux code. It's even unclear whether the alleged infringing code is in Linus' kernel, in the patches added to vendor kernels, or even in user space code. SCO doesn't seem to be contacting people to get them to fix the problem; instead, it's filed a lawsuit and has written letters to commercial companies that use Linux, telling them that they might be liable for licensing fees for their use of Linux. SCO's lawsuit may be worrisome, but it's also a bit hard to figure out, unless you assume the company is simply trying to make GNU/Linux look scary and possibly to score a settlement from IBM in return for making the problem go away. It doesn't look as if any legal action will be too successful, though the process could draw on for an extended period of time.

When is SCO's next shareholders' meeting? A useful strategy when a public stock company is misbehaving, is to buy a few shares of its stock and get a voice at the annual meeting. The point to make is that management is taking a course which will make it difficult to maintain shareholder value. Present credible alternatives to the strategy being pursued. It shouldn't be difficult; this is an end-game strategy, not one a robust company would be pursuing. The company still has an excellent reservoir of consulting talent, and it's premature to cash out and pursue a purely litigious approach. It's also not the safest thing to do in that it's likely to produce more litigation in response. The company should be using its resources to pursue customer relationships, not inviting extended litigation. By bringing up these points you get the issues of management responsibility onto the record, which certainly can make the management of a highly-regulated public stock company sit up and take notice.

Rob L.

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