SCO: Friend to Open Source?

SCO’s litigation against IBM and other companies over the use ofLinux has led many in the open-source community to consider the softwarecompany an enemy.

But recently SCO has been attempting to clarify its position on theissue, noting that it not only uses open source in its products but also has contributed to open source in the past and will continue to do so.

“Many people think we hate open source, that we want to crush it,” saidthe company’s CEO, Darl McBride, in a LinuxInsider interview. “That’ssimply not true.”

The open-source community, however, may be reluctant to shift its opinion. “They’ve created a lot of bad feelings,” Gartner analyst George Weiss told LinuxInsider. “Even if they try to differentiate between open source and Linux, those bad feelings will still exist.”

Open Up

Several SCO products have open-source components, such as the open-source tools that are part of its OpenServer. OpenServer includes a Mozilla browser in addition to Netscape Communicator. It also offers Samba as a network services option.

The company offers the Open Source Tool Kit, or OSTK, an updatedand supported release for some open source tools for several UnixWareversions.

The addition of open source is largely a result of customer requests, SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell told LinuxInsider.

“Customers are interested in having both proprietary and open-source options in the products,” he said.

In a nod toward SCO’s ongoing lawsuits, Stowell added that the company views open source as “a good thing,” as long as the code used is not part of a company’s proprietary license, and does not include proprietary software.

SCO’s Contributions

Stowell noted that SCO engineers have made several contributions to open source in the past.

More recently, some of the company’s developers have been trying to contribute to Samba, a free open-source software suite that provides file and print services to SMB/CIFS clients. Samba is freely available under the GNU General Public License.

There has been some difficulty with certain open-source groups, Stowell admitted, because of SCO’s lawsuits. He said that the leaders at some open-source projects have been hesitant to accept SCO contributions because they thought it would spark animosity in the community toward those projects.

“Frankly, there’s been confusion about our stance on open source,” said Stowell. “Many people think that because we’re part of this Linux dispute, we’ve declared war on open source itself. But that simply isn’tthe case.”

Although some of its engineers are still actively working on open-source projects, the company made more contributions in the community in the past than it does so now, Stowell said. He added that it is likely the company will continue to contribute to open source, but he considered it unlikely that company engineers would return to previous contribution levels.

Continued Hostility?

Many in the open-source community feel that hostility toward SCO will persist.

SCO’s reputation was dented further inMarch when it followed through on threats to file lawsuits againstcorporate Linux users, targeting DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone during itsfirst salvo. Many in the community flooded online bulletin boards withvehement anti-SCO messages about the action.

Although SCO’s litigation has not alienated every open-source advocate, the company will still have difficulty in generating positive feelings in the larger community. “They’ve lost quite a bit of goodwill,” Gartner’s Weiss said. “Whether they can come back from that remains to be seen.”

12 Comments

  • As has been noted, McBride truly does not want to crush open source. He knows he can’t afford to, since SCO has no product that can compete on the open market. His only hope is to "monetize" the work of others.
    I believe Stowell may well have misinterpreted the reluctance that many open source projects have in accepting donations from SCO engineers. Most likely, the organizers of these projects are afraid of getting into any relationship whatsoever with SCO. They are reasonably afraid that, should they accept anything at all, SCO will at some point claim to own their work.
    McBride, Sontag, and Stowell have only themselves to blame for the view in which they are held in the community. It is inconceiveable that they will ever be trusted.

    • I question any entity that bleeds profusely for months (years?) and actually still lives (e.g. SCO), it ain’t natural! I say put ’em back in the ring for a few more rounds with DaimlerChrysler and let the "real" lawyers close this book on ’em once and for all so that OpenSource can continue forward! 🙂

  • SCO is the nemesis of OSS!
    There would be glee in everyones heart if SCO folded tomorrow! Even by their retailers because the tax break would be greater than their revenue and they would THEN be allowed to sell other software.
    Only a delusional individual would consider SCO in it’s current form, a freind of OSS.

    • According to McBride’s letter, OSS is a threat to the economy? Last time I checked, wasn’t Red Hat doing quite well? I expect Novell will also. (by the way, smart move on Novell’s part, way to go)
      Microsoft and SCO want to see Linux go away because it threatens their bottom lines. What never ceases to AM aze me is how much marketing trickery Microsoft is using to try to make Linux and other competitor software look bad. Really, if your products are THAT good, then don’t you think that your products will speak for themselves? If you need to resort to marketing hogwash to prove how much better your products are, then they’re likely not nearly as great as you want us to believe. True IT enthusiasts don’t let fancy documents, fixed case studies (paid for by the company who coincidentally happens to be part of the focus of those studies), the spread of FUD, conspiracy theories (see McBride’s letter), or the fact that you’re a technologically challenged moron who still struggles with the concept of Cut & Paste, sway our decisions away from a software choice. The ones that do need to go and drown themselves in the seas of ignorance and stupidity. McBride and friends are trying to destroy what’s possibly the last bastion of free enterprise left in this world. There is no reason why a ‘free’ operating system shouldn’t exist. Some forms of technology should be available to anyone who wants to try it, not only just those that happen to be able to afford it.

  • >"Many people think we hate open source, that we want to crush it," said the company’s CEO, Darl McBride, in a LinuxInsider interview. "That’s simply not true."<
    I have to agree with McBride for once. They do not want to crush it.
    What they want to do is profit unfairly from other peoples efforts. Their foolish suit against IBM was an attempt to "monetize" Linux, and yes we know that you contributed to OSS in the past. You released code under the GPL that you later claimed was stolen from you. Still, it won’t be long now.

  • The internet remembers Darl.
    And you understand neither the Internet nor open source.
    You don’t understand people either. People don’t like being lied to.
    Which pretty much leaves you in the cold, after 1 and a half years of continual lying.

  • ""Frankly, there’s been confusion about our stance on open source," said Stowell."
    I think the only ones confused about SCO’s stance on open source are SCO’s executives. Perhaps they should read their statements in order to clear things up for themselves…

  • Remember Darl Mclied’s open letter dated December 04, 2003 where he states:
    "SCO asserts that the GPL, under which Linux is distributed, violates the United States Constitution and the U.S. copyright and patent laws."
    He also states that in that same letter
    "The Free Software Foundation and others in the open source software movement have set out to actively and intentionally undermine the U.S. and European systems of copyrights and patents"
    SCO sure doesn’t sound like a friend to open source to me.

  • So SCO likes "Open Source". You’re serious, aren’t you?
    Why did they let Rob Enderle swear all over SCOForum about how evil "Open Source" is, and how stupid people are for using it, then?
    Enderle will probably be trying to "correct" the "misinterpretation" of his foul-mouthed speech, soon, I guess, but the damage is already done – SCO have since "cleaned up" their transcript of his outburst on their website, and Groklaw’s Pamela Jones refused to link to it, partly because of it’s foul content!
    You can’t make representations to the US court that the GPL is unconstitutional and unenforceable, and make public statements broad-stroking the entire community as liars, thieves, terrorists and plaigarists one day, and then try to say you’re their best friend the next!
    Most journalists may not have memories, but the community *does*.
    SCO talk about abuse of IP, but it looks to me that they’re one of the biggest culprits themselves – seems pretty clear they’re in breach of the GPL, yet still distributing under it, which is a breach of copyright law, pure and simple.
    The GPL says if you break any of its conditions (for instance by attempting to charge a royalty fee and trying to impose limitations on further distribution) you are in breach, and thus have no right to distribute. They are still distributing the Linux Kernel despite having broken this condition, so they are apparently engaged in criminal activities.
    No right-minded Free Software project co-ordinator would accept anything from a SCO employee for fear of allowing in code that could later be used as a stealth attack on the project.
    "Once you have pulled out the pin, Mr. Hand-grenade is no longer your friend".
    -cybervegan

  • Darl McBride is the last person that I would trust under any circumstances in regards to ANY project, software or otherwise.
    .
    McBride has repeatedly proven himself to be totally without credibility. Can we not all remember the repeated lies about millions of lines of SysV code appearing in the Linux 2.4 kernel? Have you read the latest IBM court filing?
    .
    "…still without showing any of its supposed evidence"
    .
    Darl McBride is no friend of open source and any overtures to the contrary should be treated with the total contempt they deserve.
    .
    It’s about time Darl started looking for employement elsewhere because he has burned all his bridges in this industry.
    .
    Brian
    Vancouver, BC Canada

  • "[…] I beleive that Open Source, as it is currently constituted, is a slippery slope. It undermined our basic system of intellectual property rights, and it destroys the economic reasons for innovation" – Darl McBride, President and CEO, The SCO Group, Inc. This quote appears in a letter sent to every member of congress. So now Darl is claiming he is not against Open Source? How pathetic.
    Here is a link to the full letter: "http://www.osaia.org/letters/sco_hill.pdf&quot;. And here is a link to the response put out by the members of USENIX: "http://www.usenix.org/about/sco_html.html&quot;. Enjoy.

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