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SCO Is Merely Mulling, Google is Nonchalant, and MS is Sued
Friday, October 03 2003 @ 02:17 AM EDT

SCO's Blake Stowell is claiming that they haven't made up their minds yet about suing SGI:

". . .Stowell said SCO has not made a decision about whether or not to pull SGI's Unix license.

"'It's not something we would consider until October 14th and not something we would do unless SGI refused to fix the violations of the agreement,' he said, referring to requirements that include removal of contributions related to Unix System V by SGI and the Linux community."

I think the reporter may have gotten that last part wrong. It seems to be saying that SCO will sue SGI unless the Linux community takes certain actions. That's like holding a gun to a man's head and telling a crowd to back off or you'll shoot him. Surely they can only sue SGI if SGI fails to take certain actions.

She's back: the lovely and tireless Ms. DiDio, faithfully doing her part, as always:

"Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio told LinuxInsider that SCO has been aware of 'blatant SGI violations' for a year, and the lack of action thus far indicates SCO may not want to take additional legal action. 'I don't think [SCO] wanted to do this,' she said. 'They wanted to keep it focused on IBM because they didn't want to bite off more than they could chew.'

"By aligning itself with the IBM side of the dispute, SGI might be putting SCO in a bind by forcing it to fight 'a war on all fronts,' according to DiDio."

A war on all fronts? Sounds perfect.

And that's not even mentioning the problem of going to court and explaining not doing anything for a year about "blatant" violations involving what SGI says are garden variety code snippets already in the public domain and no longer in the kernel. SCO has its work cut out for it on that front, indeed.

I can't help but worry about poor Ms. DiDio being sued by SGI herself for stating as a fact that they are guilty of "blatant" violations, when the matter has yet to be adjudicated in court. What happened to the goode olde days, when analysts pretended to be impartial?

On a pleasanter note, Google's chief technology officer Craig Silverstein has a bit to say about SCO and the advantages of using Linux:

"Q: You reportedly have one of the biggest Linux clusters in the world (more than 10,000 servers) -- what's your opinion of the recent SCO lawsuit and what it could mean for Linux users if it's upheld? Has it made Google nervous of basing its systems around open-source?

" A: The actual lawsuit is very narrow in its claims; we're not nervous about it at all. It's prompted lots of discussion, which has been very interesting to watch.

" Q: You have very cost-effective approach to your internal architecture. Could you expand on Google's general approach to its internal systems?

A: "We're cheap. We use commodity computers -- thousands of them, all hooked together, to get the processing power we need -- and because it's off-the-shelf stuff, each computer is very cheap. We've had to design our software to work well in such an environment: it has to be scalable and tolerant of errors, since when you have thousands of computers at least one is always on the blink, but it's been a very worthwhile investment for us."

So what do you think? Does Google sound terrified they might be sued by SCO if it gets out that they use Linux? And is GNU/Linux ready for the enterprise?

On the other side, the proprietary side, it seems there is a lawsuit against Microsoft for selling insecure software. A woman in LA is using two of California's consumer protection laws to file the action, and she is trying to get it certified as a class action:

"Attorney Dana Taschner of Newport Beach, California, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Marcy Levitas Hamilton, a film editor and 'garden variety' PC user who had her social security number and bank details stolen over the Internet.

"'Something fundamental has to change to protect consumers and businesses,' Taschner said."

I have a suggestion. Give Ms. Hamilton a Knoppix CD.

Microsoft says it will fight to prevent it from becoming a class action. But, tell the truth, don't you just wish you would sign on?

"'This complaint misses the point. The problems caused by viruses are the result of criminal acts by people who write viruses,' said Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake, adding that Microsoft was working with authorities to bring malicious code writers to justice."

Misses the point? Ms. Hamilton's point is they can write viruses that work because of the way MS writes its software. Then there is the issue of monocultures not being secure no matter what you do:

"Many of the arguments in the lawsuit and some of its language echoed a report issued by computer security experts in late September, which warned that the ubiquitous reach of Microsoft's software on desktops worldwide had made computer networks a national security risk.

"That report distributed by the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a trade group representing Microsoft's rivals, said the complexity of Microsoft's software made it particularly vulnerable to cyber-attack.

"'GLOBAL SECURITY RISK'

"'Microsoft's eclipsing dominance in desktop software has created a global security risk,' the lawsuit said. 'As a result of Microsoft's concerted effort to strengthen and expand its monopolies by tightly integrating applications with its operating system ... the world's computer networks are now susceptible to massive, cascading failure.'"

Of course a man could get himself fired for saying things like that. In their "Safe and Sound in the Cyber Age" column for Newscan, Stephen and Chey Cobb, author of "Network Security for Dummies" yesterday wrote about the monoculture issue, comparing it to the devastation caused in Ireland in the 19th century from relying on only one strain of potato:

"Reliance by an information system on one application or operating system, to the exclusion of others, reduces the ability of that system to survive a vulnerability in that operating system or application. This is the problem of monoculture, which can threaten different types of systems, not just information systems. . . .The security firm Symantec estimates that this summer's crop of worms may have caused up to $2 billion in damages over just eight days in August. The London-based computer security company, mi2g Ltd., projects global economic damages from malicious software to be in excess of $100 billion this year (the company estimates the total due to SoBig alone to be nearly $30 billion)."

The column isn't online yet, but it'll be here eventually. Do yourself a favor. While they fight it out, just switch to GNU/Linux software, or at least a mix of operating systems, and save yourself a lot of security hassles.


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