The SCO Group's decision to enlist Microsoft to bolster its Unix IP property battle against IBM has drawn fire from Linux advocates, one who claimed the move is all smoke and mirrors and could spell the death throes of SCO.
As part of the deal, Microsoft said it would license SCO's Unix patents and source code to show support for the IP rights all vendors and ensure compatibility between its Windows OS and Unix/Linux platforms. SCO also sent a warning letter about potential IP violations to 1500 corporate customers using Linux distributions.
Anthony Rumble, a local Linux advocate and MD of Linux reseller EverythingLinux, said SCO's claim is all smoke and mirrors. "Basically, it's bordering between diversionary and outright lies. It's just the death throes of SCO really. It's a move by SCO to say 'Buy me please, somebody.'
Rumble claimed that Microsoft is trying to verify whether SCO has an IP claim and if this is the case, will buy the company. "They might buy it and then use that to attempt to hijack the whole Unix/Linux thing which is what they're good at - it's what they do," he said.
"But I've got some bad news for them. SCO don't have a leg to stand on. If there really is an IP issue in there they [Microsoft] could buy it [SCO] and use that as ammo. But that won't happen because Microsoft will work out like everyone else knows that it's really all smoke and mirrors," he said.
Rumble continued: "They're crapping on about how IBM stole their SMP code but their product never had any high scalability code in it anyway. Anyone who knows SCO, knows SCO wasn't big in the enterprise market at all. SCO's market was in small servers," he said.
Other resellers said the battle is getting ugly. "These guys at SCO are making themselves a puppet of [Microsoft Chairman] Bill Gates," said Anthony Awtrey, vice president of integration at I.D.E.A.L. Technology in the US.
"The biggest threat Microsoft can raise against the OS and Linux is the specter of [intellectual property] contamination. Now we're seeing it played out in the market, even though Microsoft has its hands clean."
Added Ron Herman, president of Blue Chip Computer Systems & Consulting in the US: "The old SCO should have put their foot down a long time ago on these licenses. It seems opportunistic for SCO and a great deal for Microsoft."
Guy Goodman, MD at Australian SCO distributor MPA Systems, said the issue around SCO won't affect his business. "At this stage, it won't have any impact on our business. There are a number of people out there that feel that Unix/SCO is the way to go and there are other people who feel that Linux was a variation of that and were happy to see SCO move to Linux and probably would be upset by this decision," he said.
He said the distributor is "diversified enough" that it won't impact the business. "Most of our customers have SCO OpenServer and have not moved their applications to Linux. With SCO they have a lot of resellers like us who see most of their applications still running on Open Server and Unixware and see revenue [in these products]," he said.
Goodman said Linux is growing and he has an emotional attachment to Unix/Linux because he's used it for so long. "The open source issue and applications related to Linux or Unix to me is something that I feel that you can't stop. "I think SCO is feeling that there is some code in the Linux kernal that is their IP and it's been taken from them without compensation. "For us, [MPA] it's an interesting time frame - most of our business is Unix related but we find that in many instances we are utilising open source products like SAMBA and Apache and other variations of that on SCO Open Server and Unixware that you tend to implement in certain applications when your talking to customers. As far as I know these aren't in the IP case - they're outside that," he said.
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