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Lineo Had a Tool to Search for GPL Code -- Why Didn't It Use It?
Monday, October 13 2003 @ 06:59 PM EDT

The Lineo story Groklaw wrote about yesterday wouldn't be complete without mentioning that Lineo, which Yarro admits used GPL code in an infringing manner, had invented a GPL compliance tool, the Lineo Embedix GPL Compliance Toolset, that checks your code and lets you know if any GPL infringing code is in your product. That raises a question. If they had this tool, why didn't they use it? Or check the code in some other way? Surely a company that would invent such a tool was aware of the need to check the code. And if they did use it, was their infringement innocent? What exactly is the game here? And one more thing: if there was an allegation of infringement, and Lineo knew they were guilty, why didn't they just say they were sorry and fix it rather than make it go to a lawsuit? Make up your own mind after you read this description of the tool from 2001:

"Lineo has an answer: the Lineo Embedix GPL Compliance Toolset. It's a set of tools that check your program to see how it complies with the GPL. It can analyze a developer's project and ascertain whether you need to modify a part of your project or not.

"The toolset consists of three parts: the Code Review Wizard, The Library Check, and the License Report Wizard.

"The Code Review Wizard will analyze the developer's coding habits and reveal any areas of exposure to the GPL that might need attention. It interviews the developer to determine the intent of the project and finds out which areas the company wants to keep secure from the GPL. This part is basically a large decision tree that takes you through all the possible situations that can be affected by the GPL and other licenses."

The tool was designed by Tim Bird, then senior vice president of research and development at Lineo. If the Canopy game was to make it look like the GPL is problematic for companies, I'd say the existence of this tool answers that. And if that isn't the game, the existence of the tool begs the question: why weren't steps taken to avoid the infringement and the lawsuit?


Lineo Had a Tool to Search for GPL Code -- Why Didn't It Use It? | 33 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Lineo Had a Tool to Search for GPL Code -- Why Didn't It Use It?
Authored by: BubbaCode on Monday, October 13 2003 @ 07:15 PM EDT
I am sorry. I thought I explained this earlier. The GPL tool can't and
doesn't go throught the kernel. I least at last check it didn't. The tool is
used by embedded developers such as myself to check the code they add or get
from third parties for GPL. For example we have a set of code that runs as
applications that are launched at start up and from telnet/ssh. We modified
ssh/telnet to lauch our code with an exec and a vfork.

The code run from the vfork is NOT GPL, but the kernel is. Any changes we make
to the kernel is GPL. If I modify something like telnet or ssh (a standard
application) I may or may not have to release under GPL. Depends on the
software license for the app.

The GPL license tool is therefore pretty useless for SysV and UnixWare checking.
Lineo tends of overstate what their tools can do. In general we were able to
do the same thing by just coding carefully and keeping files and run times
seperate from the GPL code.

Please keep in mind. Lineo was an EMBEDDED linux company. Its changes amount
to memory management (non-mmu), real-time enhancements, and chip support
libraries and drivers. Nothing that would port to sysV real well.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lineo Had a Tool to Search for GPL Code -- Why Didn't It Use It?
Authored by: mac586 on Monday, October 13 2003 @ 08:16 PM EDT

I did a bit of digging, and you'll find this open letter from Tim Bird interesting. The tool was marketed to counter the FUD spread by MS concerning the GPL. Here's a nice quote by Tim Bird concerning MS FUD and the GPL Tool from another article:

    "Pretending that this is a situation unique to open source development is one of Microsoft's worst lies," said Bird. "Doing ANY software engineering work requires responsible engineering practices and some oversight to avoid copying or utilising unfairly the work of others, or infringing on another party's intellectual property."

To rephrase PJ's original question, where was the "responsible engineering practices" and the management "oversight" at Lineo? Could it have gone down the toilet with all of the layoffs and subsequent outsourcing that occurred at Lineo? Is it safe assume the same is true about TSG and its current regime?

History shows that Caldera and Lineo both employed quality engineers who made considerable contributions to Linux and the GPL, and who were respected by their peers in the Open Source community. These engineers are long gone, and more than likely, so is any trace of engineering discipline that would prevent such a violation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lineo History
Authored by: arch_dude on Monday, October 13 2003 @ 09:21 PM EDT
Caldera was started by Ransom Love and Brian Sparks. The plan was to make money
by selling a Linux distro. Later the company split into two: Ransom stayed with
Caldera and tried to compete with Red Hat in the generic distro business, while
Brian headed up Lineo to compete in the embedded Linux business. There were a
bunch of tiny companies world-wide in the embedded Linux market who had been
attempting to co-operate: when Lineo was created, they decided that merging into
Lineo made a lot of sense, since Lineo had money, and they did so. MontaVista
was an exception: they stayed independent. After the merger of seven tiny
companies with one small company, things got strange. We might have made it all
work if the bubble had not burst at about this time. There were large
cultural differences among the companies, and the employees of the seven small
companies outnumbered the original Lindon-based Lineo.

Interestingly, the one unifying principle was a commitment to the Linux model
and the GPL. This was true in Lindon and in the rest of the company.

When the bubble burst, the big problem was how to continue to pay all the
salaries. The IPO was cancelled, the remote employees quit or were let go, and
things got nasty. I was gone by then. Caldera had not yet purchased UNIX from
SCO. The simmering rivalry with MontaVista had (and has) nothing to do with SCO
UNIX. Lineo was trying very hard to find a legitimate way to make money from
embedded Linux.

Inerestingly, A major selling point was that Lineo had done an astonishingly
thorough analysis of the Linux kernel (2.4, I'm almost sure) and had verified
to its own satisfaction that it had no intellectual property incumberances.
(there was talk about 4 software patents that we might need to work around, but
we knew how to do it.) Since we had done this analysis, we commited to our
licencees that we would IMDEMNIFY them and DEFEND the kernel that we sold. The
biggest customer was Sharp, who used the kernel in the Zarius, and who wes
indemnified by Lineo. I think Lineo is now majority-owned by Motorola. If SCOG
demands royalties, then Sharp will have to pay, or other customers will ask why.
If Sharp pays, it will come from Lineo's pocket, and Motorola (Lineo) will sue
Canopy for damages.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Update on Red Hat?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 13 2003 @ 09:36 PM EDT
I was wondering if there was any news on Red Hat

1. Did SCO produce a memo replying to Red Hat's memo (which itself replied to
SCO's motion to dismiss) ?

2. Has the judge ruled yet?

3. Any news on the motion to delay discovery? Have Red Hat filed a response?

4. If SCO's motion to dismiss is denied, when does SCO have to reply to Red
Hat's complaint? Have they done so already? If they have, where to see? If they
haven't, how long do they get?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Will there by any follow-up
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 13 2003 @ 10:44 PM EDT
We don't know the facts of the case, so this is all opinion

The question is: If there was a copyright infringement of Monte Vista's stuff,
when did it happen, and when did it became known?

Possible scenarios:

1. It happened after the acquisition by Metroworks/Motorola

2. It happened when Lineo was largely held/controlled by Caldera+Canopy, and
this infringement was disclosed at the time of the acquisition

3. It happene when Lineo was largely held/controlled by Caldera+Canopy, and this
infringement was not disclosed (whether known or not is another question) at the
time of the acquistion.

If scenario #3 was the case, would Motorola or MetroW have a potential case
against Caldera and/or Canopy?

Any insight from former Lineo staff members on which scenario is likely.

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO and Canopy
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 14 2003 @ 12:54 AM EDT
In the previous discussion about whether Canopy is a secured creditor.

This is what I found in SCO's most recent 10-Q

OT: SCO debts

Vultus Acquisition
"under two secured notes payable to Canopy totaling $1,073,000"

Liquidity and Capital Resources
"Additionally, we have a $2,910,000 line of credit with a commercial bank
that bears interest at the prime rate minus one percent (with a floor rate of
3.75 percent) that matures on October 31, 2003. Borrowings under the line of
credit are secured by a letter of credit from our principal stockholder. As of
July 31, 2003, there were no borrowings outstanding under the line of

OT: Owed to SCO
As of July 31, 2003, the $1,000,000 convertible note receivable discussed above
as well as both $100,000 notes receivable were outstanding and in technical
default; however, the Company had not demanded repayment. No allowance for the
past due notes receivable was recorded as
of July 31, 2003 since the Company and Vista continue to work together under the
license agreement discussed above and the Company is evaluating its option to
convert the notes receivable to equity in Vista.

OT: Also interesting

"The Company accounted for the acquisition of Vultus as a business
combination in accordance with SFAS No. 141. SFAS No. 141 requires that the
total purchase price, including direct fees and expenses, be allocated to the
assets acquired based upon their respective fair values. No current assets or
tangible assets of significant value were acquired. Based on the nature and
status of the research and development projects at the date of acquisition, none
of the purchase price has been allocated to in-process research and development.
The purchase price has been allocated to the intangible assets acquired as
follows (in thousands):"

"Our financing activities provided $2,329,000 during the nine months ended
July 31, 2003 and consisted of proceeds received from the exercise of stock
options of $1,443,000, proceeds from the purchase of shares of common stock by
our employees through our employee stock purchase program of $236,000 and
proceeds from the issuance of warrants of $650,000"

[ Reply to This | # ]

Blake Stowell on the Lineo case
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 14 2003 @ 04:59 AM EDT has an otherwise reasonable (for standards) report on the Lineo settlement at

But for some reason they had to get SCO's Blake Stowell to issue his weighty opinion as the conclusion of the article, and he happily obliged:

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell pointed to the case as evidence that open-source software such as Linux needs to be handled and tracked more carefully. "Fundamentally, there needs to be some mechanism in place to better police open source," he said.

Oh well, nothing really new here, we already knew is part of the FUD machine.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lineo Had a Tool to Search for GPL Code -- Why Didn't It Use It?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 14 2003 @ 05:15 AM EDT
Got up early and just read my e-mail. Might want to look at Slashdot today-
here are a couple of the headlines:

* NY Times Reveals SCO/Canopy Group Hypocrisy
* Samba Beats Windows IT Week Labs Test Results

At this time, Slashdot's articles for 14 October are not online. And I have
forgotten that darned NYT password.

If this headline is true, look for a big hit to SCOs stock prices. Seriously,
with all of IBMs clout I am surprised that something like this has never been
published before. IBM is a big company, and they are in the right here.

If the Times article is a good one, I will forgive that publication for
employing Jayson Blair <G>.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lineo Had a Tool to Search for GPL Code -- Why Didn't It Use It?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 14 2003 @ 08:52 AM EDT

Insider trading: Stock trading by someone who has "inside" (i.e., not publicly available) information.

I understand there is no formal, legal definition, which brings to mind the phrase "unconstitutionaly vague". But the judiciary has been letting prosecutors get away with it for a long time.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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