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Santa Cruz and its "Linux Strategy" Back in the 1990s
Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 03:40 AM EDT

Here are some more screenshots for you, showing the real Santa Cruz Operation relationship with Linux before the modern day SCO Group began suing the world and its dog. Back in the late 1990s, Santa Cruz had what it called its "Linux strategy". It included both money and support to help Linux succeed.

Our first headline, from 1998, is "SCO Sponsors Linux." Yes, Santa Cruz represented itself at the time as hopping on board the Linux train, which even back then was being used in the corporate environment. At the time, SCO wanted to encourage Linux as an alternative to Microsoft, which at the time was considered its "enemy". In a press release, it talked about its "ongoing strategy to support the Linux and Open Source movements". Let me show you, please, what I found.

Here it is, and here's a screenshot:

Did you notice that way back in 1998 Santa Cruz realized that Linux was being used in the enterprise? So SCO joined Linux International, which the article says means it gave money to help spread the use of Linux and support to make Linux better. What direction might that support take?

Emulating Linux applications on SCO is likely to be a lot easier, and since most Linux distributions can already emulate SCO binaries, it effectively doubles the potential market for applications, making it a lot more attractive to develop for both platforms. Is this is a tacit acknowledgement of UnixWare's defeat? Since Linux showed up in surveys as the only non-NT operating system to be increasing its market share, everyone from Computer Associates to Informix has jumped on the open source bandwagon.

So, if any UnixWare were to be in Linux, where might it have come from? At a minimum, we can conclude that Santa Cruz wanted Linux and SCO's software to be able to be able to run applications, both ways. And look at this: SCO did a deal with SuSE in 2000:

SCO also recently closed a deal with SuSE Linux AG through which the Santa Cruz Operation will provide its SCO Professional Services to SuSE customers. SCO Professional Services will provide planning, installation, configuration and deployment support and consultation for customers using SuSE's Linux operating system.

And here's another headline, "SCO Contributes to Open Source", from 2000, and another screenshot from it:

So, the handwriting was on the wall, and Santa Cruz began contributing source code to try to represent itself as part of the community. Not everything went smoothly, and when Doug Michels was quoted by the media in 1999 saying some dismissive things about Linux, he felt it necessary to send a letter to the Board of Directors of Linux International, apologizing for media reports he said distorted his words to make them sound negative toward Linux. Here's a screenshot:

Um. Let's look at one part of that statement close up:

So there you have Doug Michels saying that his position was that Linux is a good thing and Santa Cruz wished to promote its success. Nowadays, of course, the modern-day SCO would like to sue your pants off if you try to use it, but we're establishing the history here, not the current revision.

Here's a screenshot from Linux Weekly News, dated 1999, announcing that Santa Cruz had taken an equity stake in Linux Mall:

Here's the meat of the press release referenced:

SCO INVESTS IN LINUXMALL.COM

Expands Strategic Involvement in Linux Community, Takes Stake in Leading Linux Portal

SANTA CRUZ, CA (October 14, SCO (NASDAQ: SCOC) today announced it has made a significant investment and formed a strategic partnership with LinuxMall.com, the leading Linux e-commerce site and vendor-neutral Linux portal.

As part of its ongoing strategy to support the Linux and Open Source movements, SCO along with Hambrecht & Quist have committed to a substantial investment program, aimed at allowing LinuxMall.com to dramatically increase their growth. As a result of this investment, SCO becomes the largest external investor and will hold a seat on the board of WGS, Inc., the parent company to LinuxMall.com.

"SCO has a long history in the Open Systems and Open Source movements," said Doug Michels, president and CEO of SCO. "We have been distributing Open Source offerings for over five years as part of our product line. LinuxMall.com is a fast-growing company with a very compelling business model. The LinuxMall.com opportunity provides SCO with a way to pursue new business opportunities in the Linux marketplace with a partner that is distribution neutral."

"We're thrilled to be working with SCO. Doug Michels and I have been in contact for many years and I believe that SCO is a perfect partner for a company like LinuxMall.com," said Mark Bolzern, CEO of LinuxMall.com. "First, SCO's industry and technical experience are very valuable resources for us. Secondly, they are fully committed to the Linux Community. LinuxMall.com will remain independent, based on the same Community-centered ideals that have made us the number one Linux E-Commerce site and portal for Linux."

As a corporate sponsor of Linux International, SCO is a strong proponent of the Open Source movement, citing it as a driving force for innovation. Over the years, SCO has contributed source code to the movement with lxrun and OpenSAR, and currently offers a free Open Source Software Supplement CD that includes many Open Source technologies. Most recently, SCO announced a comprehensive set of Linux and Open Source-related professional services. See www.sco.com/linux for more on SCO's Linux and Open Source activity.

It's clear Santa Cruz was trying to endear itself to the Linux and Open Source communities. The press release references its "ongoing strategy to support the Linux and Open Source movements".

Here's a vnunet article from 2000, about SCO porting Tarantella to Linux:

And finally, here's a 2000 SCO press release, where SCO said it had been working on Linux for two years:

"SCO has been working on Linux and Open Source initiatives for more than two years," said Mike Orr, senior vice president of worldwide Marketing at SCO. "At LinuxWorld Expo, we will showcase exciting new products and initiatives that will bring UNIX, Linux, and Windows Systems closer together, enabling solution providers to take better advantage of the worldwide network computing infrastructure."

About Linux and SCO Open Source

Over the last eight months, SCO has expanded its strategic business opportunities in the Linux and Open Source markets. SCO has announced an alliance and investment in LinuxMall.com and a strategic business relationship with TurboLinux. Most recently, SCO announced that it has taken an equity position in Caldera Systems, Inc. Last year, at SCO Forum1999, SCO announced a comprehensive set of Linux and Open Source-related professional services.

As a corporate sponsor of Linux International, SCO is a strong proponent of the Open Source movement, citing it as a driving force for innovation and business opportunities. SCO has contributed source code to the movement with lxrun and OpenSAR, and currently offers a free Open License Software Supplement CD that includes many Open Source technologies.

Here's their motive, according to this article in vnunet in June of 2000:

Linux and Windows NT/2000 continue to squeeze Unix market share. Many pundits will tell you that life is becoming a little too interesting for the old guard. Michael Dell for instance, was spotted in London recently, promoting his vision that Unix will give way to Linux in the not-too-distant future.

Now word has leaked from semi-private briefings that Unix stalwart Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) will release its own Linux distribution by the end of this year. While some are asking what this will mean for the future of Unix and Linux, the real question is: what took it so long?

The writing has been on the wall for some time that SCO was going to evolve, if not into a pure Linux company, then at least into a major Linux player. The firm couldn't afford to let Linux pass it by.

That Linux distro never materialized, that I know of, but because they did the deal with Caldera in August of that year. And if the news leaked that it was planned, is it even conceivable that SCO had no knowledge of the innards of Linux? And would IBM or anyone have any reason to think that donating to Linux would be contrary to SCO's wishes or that it would do anything but help them? Also, for any who may be thinking, but what about the GPL? Here's some evidence Groklaw earlier published that indicates that not only Caldera but Santa Cruz also released code under the GPL.

So, that's enough for one article. But in case SCO is entertaining daydreams about resurrecting SCOsource, I thought it would be useful to make sure this history is part of Groklaw's permanent collection.


  


Santa Cruz and its "Linux Strategy" Back in the 1990s | 82 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 03:49 AM EDT
Please post corrections to the article here.

Please summarize the correction in the Title: field of your comment.

Thanks.

---
"The choice to exact consideration in the form of compliance with the open source requirements..., is entitled to no less legal recognition." --US CAFC

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] Discuss Groklaw News Picks
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 03:52 AM EDT
The Groklaw News Picks (NP) appear in the right hand column of the main page.

Please comment on them in this thread.

Mention the News Pick you are commenting on, for least ambiguity.

---
"The choice to exact consideration in the form of compliance with the open source requirements..., is entitled to no less legal recognition." --US CAFC

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT] Off Topic comments thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 03:56 AM EDT
Comments not related to the story are "in order" in this thread (note to those who haven't been following along: That's a reference to Robert's Rules of Order).

---
"The choice to exact consideration in the form of compliance with the open source requirements..., is entitled to no less legal recognition." --US CAFC

[ Reply to This | # ]

Michael Dell in 2000...... He should be embarassed now!
Authored by: tiger99 on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 05:31 AM EDT
He was not wrong in what he said. But sadly the Dell web site is currently very badly broken, and can't be accessed properly in either Firefox or Konqueror. In both cases, many pages display their text for a fraction of a second and then change to total blackness.

No doubt they work in the well-known badly broken browser which I don't have available here to try. It is probably a bug work-around that is breaking it on any browser that tries to be standards-compliant.

So if you want to buy a new Dell with Linux installed, you first have to use Windoze..... Not good.

Fortunately, I only needed a maintenance manual for a laptop which needed its keyboard changed, so I was able to Google for what I wanted and go straight to the correct page. That worked OK, but I do wish they would fix it.

Sadly a lot of so-called web developers are idiots or Gates-worshippers, or both, and can't grasp the idea of complying with standards.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Santa Cruz and its "Linux Strategy" Back in the 1990s
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 07:15 AM EDT
This is very, very good stuff.

---
Monopolistic Ignominious Corporation Requiring Office $tandard Only For
Themselves

[ Reply to This | # ]

Even in 2000 there were warning signs.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 07:31 AM EDT
""We intend to provide our technologies in an open access mode - not necessarily giving it all away in the public domain or under one of the licenses that forces us to give our technology back," said Love."Link

[ Reply to This | # ]

Funny?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 11:48 AM EDT
This is not funny, this is hilarious! :D

We have Caldera _and_ Santa Cruz promoting Linux, in parallel, like something
from The Marx Brothers.

There should be a timeline for all Linux promotions by these guys alone! :)

All GPLd software, payed-for adverts, stickers, bumpers, and bloopers. ;)


______
IMANAL

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Funny? - Authored by: PJ on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 03:24 PM EDT
...not the current revision
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 03:54 PM EDT
nice. ;)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Resurrection - Santa Cruz and its "Linux Strategy" Back in the 1990s
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 04:19 PM EDT
PJ,

I'd have thought there were already more than enough nails in the coffin to
keep that beastie out of circulation. How many more are you going to add?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Santa Cruz and its "Linux Strategy" Back in the 1990s
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 07:14 PM EDT
Is all this stuff recorded for posterity on the Grokline chart?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dateline of CBR article is 1998 - not 1996
Authored by: sk43 on Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 09:19 PM EDT
The linked CBR article is dated 18 August, 1998.

It nay not be well-remembered, but 1998 was a break-through year for Linux.
Prior to that Linux was an underground phenomenon more than anything else. Few
articles were written about it in trade magazines - in fact, web pages were
maintained with links to every article appearing in online publications like
Infoworld, ZDNet, Byte, etc, that reported on Linux, and the list was not long.
People like myself who were using Linux for serious applications were a bit
frustrated at what appeared to be a lack of respect or recognition.

A big change occurred in 1998, however, when the large database vendors
(starting, I think, with Informix) started porting their databases to Linux.
The list eventually included Sybase, Ingres, Oracle, and IBM. Whether
coincidental or not, Santa Cruz's sponsorship of Linux occurred right during
this transitional period.

It is also important to note that, even if it started in 1998, Santa Cruz's
involvement with Linux predates that of IBM, which SCO now places in early 1999.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Such a wealth of information
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 17 2008 @ 03:39 AM EDT
Wow. After reading this article and reviewing the testimony of Dion Johnson and David McCrabb I feel I have a very good overview of what was going on at Santa Cruz in the late 90s to the early 2000s. Groklaw is amazing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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