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SCO Linux Downloads for Customers Only 11/01/03 -updated
Thursday, October 30 2003 @ 01:10 AM EST

SCO has a new policy on its Linux downloads:

"NOTICE: SCO has suspended new sales and distribution of SCO Linux until the intellectual property issues surrounding Linux are resolved. SCO will, however, continue to support existing SCO Linux and Caldera OpenLinux customers consistent with existing contractual obligations. SCO offers at no extra charge to its existing Linux customers a SCO UNIX IP license for their use of prior SCO or Caldera distributions of Linux in binary format. The license also covers binary use of support updates distributed to them by SCO. This SCO license balances SCO's need to enforce its intellectual property rights against the practical needs of existing customers in the marketplace.

Dear SCO customer,

Starting on November 1, 2003, SCO will institute new procedures for you to access binary updates and source rpms. If you own an SCO licensed copy of Linux (such as such as OpenLinux, eDesktop, etc.), it will be necessary for you to register (or re-register) in order to continue to receive support files. During the registration process you will receive instructions on how the new access procedure will work or you can visit: http://www.sco.com/support/linux_info.html "

There is, as of this post, no information on the page they invite you to visit, just a Document Not Found notice. UPDATE: It's working now. See updated information at the end of the article.

What exactly is a "SCO licensed copy of Linux"? And am I missing something or did SCO just tell its customers that the product they bought and paid for under one license, predominantly the GPL, which SCO now unilaterally says isn't valid, is being replaced by a new procedure whereby you must register and they offer you as a "gift" a free (as in gratis, not as in freedom) license that will take away several of the rights the customer already has paid for? What law would they be relying on here? Maybe they just noticed that if the GPL violates export laws, they are violating said laws too by their open-to-anyone distribution. Woops.

It's worded in the typical SCOspeak. They don't say you *have* to get the new license, but it sounds like you ought to, as part of the new procedure. Then, I'm guessing, they will show up in court, claiming X number of companies have already signed up for "SCO UNIX IP" licenses. Isn't that a new name, too? They used to call it the "SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux", didn't they? I wonder if somebody has been studying up on the GPL, not that they have it right even yet. Or maybe it's about the Australians who are suing SCO. The Linux IP license is very much at issue there. Or maybe they noticed you can't put restrictions on top of the GPL, and so they are now pushing a UNIX license, for "their" code allegedly put into Linux, instead of a Linux license. Or maybe they're in such disarray, they don't know what to do.

Caveat emptor, for sure. Last I looked, vendors can't change the terms of sale after the product has been purchased. I just don't know what these folks are thinking. If I buy a dress for $60, the store can't notify me a year later that they should have charged me $65 and now I have to send them the money. The deal is done. What, pray tell, is the difference? These customers bought a product under the terms of a license they wanted. Now SCO is saying they are changing the terms of the deal, like it or lump it, and you can accept or be sued? They evidently don't dare *sell* these prior customers these licenses, for the same reason the store can't bill me another $5. If the store tried it, I'd sue them and win. They hope their customers don't know the law, I guess, and will willingly sign up for a license they can't possibly want under any normal circumstances, since it severely restricts their use of the product they already paid for. I simply can't wait until this detail gets aired in court.

No kidding. The GPL is their downfall. It's almost amusing watching them get all tangled up in its terms. They can't satisfy their greed and abide by the GPL at the same time. Poor SCO. Poor Microsoft. They will have to write their own software, and they can't. They write it, but it isn't as good. They can't match our software because they won't use our method. The open source/free method of developing software results in better, more stable, more secure code, and it's developed blazingly fast in comparision to their pokey ways. They want the results, but they're so terrified of the open process, they won't use it. The apparent solution they have come up with is to steal GPL code. Maybe they think if they can get it put in the public domain, not that they can, then maybe Windows software will finally become secure, once it's running on Linux, like Apple runs on BSD.

It's pointless to talk about what use SCO could do with GPL code, because no one will ever do business with them again, aside from any payoffs there may be lurking in the shadows. Why would we? Look how they treat their customers.

UPDATE: The link to the info page works now and here's part of what it says:

"How to access RPMs and SRPMs for OpenLinux, eServer, or eDesktop through the password accessible download area.

"The Linux rpm and sprm files once available on SCO's ftp site are now offered for download to existing customers of OpenLinux, eServer, or eDesktop through a protected download area. To enter these areas you will be asked for a username and password. If you do not have a username and password, please read the Registration section below.

"The download location for OpenLinux, eServer and eDesktop products can be located at:

"http://linuxupdate.sco.com/openlinux
"The Caldera System Updated (kcupdate/cupdate)
"The Caldera System Updated (kcupdate/cupdate) will remain available to our customers for Linux non-kernel rpm files. To access Linux kernel rpm and srpms files you will need to use the protected download site noted above."


So a "protected" download. This new process may indeed be linked to the export law claim, and they do seem to be looking to open up new fronts, judging by this story, which indicates SCO may now try to go after those unfortunate enough to be using their libraries. They just want your money, by hook or by crook, somebody's money, anybody's. They started this saga talking about the SCO libraries and here we go again:

"As the world awaits the ramifications of The SCO Group’s Linux intellectual property licence, Linux users with SCO shared libraries installed for running Unix applications may have an additional licence to deal with regardless of the outcome, according to FreeBSD lead developer and Australian Unix User Group president Greg Lehey.

"Lehey said many third-party applications developed for SCO systems rely on the proprietary libraries supplied with the operating system. People have found it cheaper to run SCO-based application software under Linux, but they use the SCO libraries.

"'SCO claims that its licences only allow the use of the libraries under its own operating system,' Lehey said. 'It's possible that this claim might stand up in court. In that case, it would be necessary to re-write the applications. That could still be cheaper than running SCO.' . . .

"Open source developer Waldo Bastian said the stage is set for SCO to approach its shared library users in the same way it will with Linux users.

“'My prediction is that it is going to see how far it comes by extorting money from Unix licensees who have dropped SCO in favour of Linux and are now using their iBCS libraries to run SCO binaries under Linux,' Bastian said.

“If the company manages to find a single SCO shop that runs software written for SCO Unix on Linux with iBCS in combination with SCO libraries, and that shop has violated somehow the licence terms of this SCO library, it might be able to either sue or agree on a settlement.”"

As SCO looks to be opening up some new fronts, may we be the first to wish them the same success they had with their previous efforts.


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