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FUD vs. Freedom

LJ Staff

Issue #113, September 2003

Watch our Web site for facts on the SCO case.

If you typed “Linux” into Google News or any other news aggregator site recently, you probably got a bunch of links to the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit, the information technology industry's most bizarre legal battle. Because the case is moving way too fast to keep up with in a monthly publication, we're running our articles about the facts of the case on our Web site.

We're not writing down merely the latest “Fear Uncertainty and Doubt” (FUD) that SCO execs Darl McBride and Chris Sontag are giving the mainstream media. You know us better than that. We've got articles that bring a little more insight to the case.

In August 2002, our correspondent Jeff Gerhardt published the first hint of SCO's search for money in the dusty file cabinets of UNIX licenses, and he quoted McBride as saying, “obviously Linux owes its heritage to UNIX, but not its code. We would not, nor will not, make such a claim” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/6293).

A lot has changed since then, and Doc Searls covered the initial complaint in March 2003, when Sontag said, “I have to say that this is not an issue regarding the Linux community. This is an issue between SCO and IBM.”

Later, SCO pulled its own Linux distribution, and Sontag claimed that there is “significant copyrighted and trade secret code within Linux”.

Our May 15 story was the first public mention of SCO's offer to let independent experts review the allegedly copied code under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), available at www.linuxjournal.com/article/6877.

Later, we published the full text of the NDA and decided it was too legally risky to accept it ourselves (www.linuxjournal.com/article/6923).

But, Ian Lance Taylor, the mastermind behind Taylor UUCP, came to the rescue, signed it and walked into SCO's office. His essay on the journey revealed tantalizing facts about an 80-line function that is in fact the same in SCO UnixWare and Linux—but also found elsewhere (www.linuxjournal.com/article/6956). He wrote:

The similar portions of the code were some 80 lines or so. Looking around the Net, I found close variants of the code, with the same comments and variable names, in sources other than Linux distributions. The code is not in a central part of the Linux kernel. The code does not appear to have been contributed to Linux by SCO or Caldera. The code exists in current versions of the Linux kernel.

What's next? By the time this issue goes to press, anything could happen, so watch our Web site for the facts. After all, you can get FUD anywhere.

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