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Here's the Plan, Stan
Monday, June 09 2003 @ 12:40 AM EDT

I found this email to SCO partners, which details what the real deal is, dated last January. Now I understand why they feel impelled to follow RIAA tactics. They are in the same "our business plan is no longer viable, so we must hang on with some rather unpleasant muscle to force technology progress to stop this exact minute" group. All they want is your money and an injunction, if necessary, so you can't use anything better than what they have to offer. Instead of Linux replacing UNIX, which it is rapidly doing, they would like to set up a UNIX toll booth to slow this traffic down, and have a Linux-UNIX hybrid, where you can use Linux, but you must pay a license for high-end UNIX functionality to.... why, to them, silly.

I like their plan better than my own worst-case scenario worries of yesterday, because at least in this scenario, Linux isn't killed off outright. I also like their plan because it won't work. You just can't make people want something less good than what they know they could have if you weren't standing in their way. You can make that work for a while, using the legal system, which always protects the status quo, until the consciousness starts to rise and people start to get it. Then somebody like Apple sets up iTunes Music Store and one judge rules Grokster isn't illegal, and then the game is pretty much over. It is the same for SCO and UNIX. Something better than UNIX arrived. The law can't change that. It just can't. That's not what laws are for.

So, without further ado, here is the memo:

From: "TeamSCO Partner Program" -
Date: Wed Jan 22, 2003 8:34:27 AM US/Eastern
Subject: SCO News: SCO Establishes SCOsource to License UNIX Intellectual Property

Dear Tony,

In an effort to keep you informed of new offerings and services provided by SCO, we would like to inform you of a business division, announced today, within SCO called SCOsource which will manage the licensing of its UNIX intellectual property. SCOsource will manage the substantial UNIX intellectual property assets owned by SCO, and will operate an array of licensing programs.

Key components of this announcement include:

  • The creation of SCOsource, a division of SCO that will expand the licensing of the company's core intellectual property, including the core UNIX source code.
  • The first offering from SCOsource will be SCO System V for Linux-an end-user licensed product for use on Linux systems. SCO System V for Linux provides unbundled licensing of SCO's UNIX System shared libraries for use with UNIX applications, enabling them to run on Linux.
  • The appointment of David Boies and the law firm of Boies, Schiller and Flexner to help research and advise SCO on the company's intellectual property.
** SCOsource **
SCO's patents, copyrights and core technology date back to 1969 when Bell Laboratories created the original UNIX source code. SCOsource will manage the licensing of this software technology to customers and vendors.

"SCO is the developer and owner of SCO UnixWare and SCO OpenServer, both based on UNIX System V technology," said Darl McBride, president and CEO, The SCO Group. "SCO owns much of the core UNIX intellectual property, and has full rights to license this technology and enforce the associated patents and copyrights. SCO is frequently approached by software and hardware vendors and customers who want to gain access to key pieces of UNIX technology. SCOsource will expand our licensing activities, offering partners and customers new ways to take advantage of these technologies."

** SCO System V for Linux **
The SCO System V for Linux license will provide access to SCO's UNIX System Shared Libraries for use with Linux. Customers frequently use SCO's shared libraries to allow UNIX applications to run on Linux. In the past, SCO's UnixWare and OpenServer license agreements did not allow these UNIX libraries to be used outside of SCO's operating systems. With this announcement, customers can now license these libraries from SCO for use with Linux without having to license the entire SCO operating system. This will enable customers to now run thousands of UNIX applications on Linux.

"The most substantial intellectual property in UNIX comes from SCO," said Chris Sontag, Senior Vice President for Operating Systems and SCOsource, The SCO Group. "While Linux is an Open Source product, it shares philosophy, architecture and APIs with UNIX. Starting today, SCO's libraries will be available to third-party application developers, OS vendors, hardware providers, services vendors, and end-users. SCO will help customers legitimately combine Linux and UNIX technology to run thousands of UNIX applications. SCOsource plans to create other new licensing programs to make our rich inventory of UNIX System technology available to the market."

SCO will offer SCO System V for Linux for $149 per CPU. Volume licensing discounts will also be available to enterprise customers and OEMs.

SCO is offering customers of SCO Linux Server 4.0 a license to SCO System V for Linux as a free value-add to their use of SCO Linux. Future updates to SCO Linux Server will include a license to SCO System V for Linux.

For more information, please email the TeamSCO Partner Programs Team at or your local Channel Sales Manager.

Thank you,

TeamSCO Partner Program

Here is why the plan won't work. It's too late.

Here is an interview with IBM's Linux GM, Jim Stallings, in which he says this:

"The velocity of Linux adoption is extraordinary. There are no customers who are not either evaluating, piloting or using Linux in production."
He speaks a bit about the SCO thing too:
"I believe I am correct in saying there are no violations on any intellectual property issues and we will continue to support our Linux customers. It will be business as usual."
SUSE's CEO adds this:
"People don't ask anymore why they should use Linux -- but how and when. Also, the discussion around scalability to high-end machines is going away, thanks to the progress of the Linux technology and thanks to the industry partners and customers that can prove how well suited Linux is for mission-critical, high-demand type applications. There is still ground to cover, but nobody doubts anymore that Linux will shortly get there as well, thanks to the unstoppable innovation power of the community and thanks to the ones making Linux ready for the enterprise....."
This is the juggernaut SCO is trying to stop. And notice in this comparison of various Linux server products that the next kernel, 2.6, is expected to bring "improvements in vertical scalability and mainframe reliability".

So now, like Mama Rose in "Gypsy", after her daughters don't need her any more, SCO is angrily singing, "All I did and what did it get me?" -- and striking back. Bought all that UNIX IP just as it's becoming irrelevant.


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