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To read comments to this article, go here
The SCO Unix timeline - Members Only
Saturday, November 29 2003 @ 10:49 AM EST

Here is some more on our project to try to come up with a better UNIX timeline. Charles Puffer has actually made a start on a graphic.

If you take a look at the SCO's page on Linux issues, the chart seems to show only two links between SCO's code and Linux - one from BSD 4.4, and another from Linux 0.01 which I believe was written by Linus himself. 2. On the bottom it states that "Original UNIX history chart created by Eric Levenez. Copyright © 1996-2003, Eric Levenez. January 2, 2003. Used with permission.". Eric's chart can be found here. They are not identical, however, despite the copyright notation which would imply that they should be. Has anyone asked Eric if he gave permission to change the chart? Does anyone know him? I wrote to him, but he never answered.

Note the excellent input in the comments section of the earlier members only discussion on this subject.

[ Update: Oct. 19, 2009 - Because SCO has now removed their version of the UNIX timeline, it seems appropriate to place it here for historians. So I am opening the article to the public.]

Update 2: In typical SCO fashion, SCO failed to recall that they'd also put this chart on Darl's site darlmcbride.com, so it's still there in its faux glory, just the way they posted it, with clickable features.

*********************************************

SCO's Unix Timeline
By Charles Puffer Copyright 2003


When I became aware of SCO's SCO Intellectual Property Pedigree I wondered if it would change as the court case continued. In correspondence, Pamela Jones noted that the SCO Intellectual Property Pedigree was based on Éric Lévénez's history and that it had already been changed. So I set out to document the changes as well as the present SCO version of the history. These are my comments based on review of both histories and a graphical comparison. You can view the histories yourself, Éric Lévénez's history is located here and SCO's history is here.

In the 1969 through 1982 sections, (and throughout the SCO version of the history), the only changes of note are the addition of colored lines to emphasize the SCO's view of Unix history and the change of the font/size of some of the labels mostly for emphasis and to move them away from the colored lines. The choice of colors does not seem to have meaning: Green for Linux referred to as (SCO Linux) Pedigree; Blue for the OpenServer Pedigree; Dotted lines of the same color are used for the History of Linux and Open Server. A Separate yellow line is used to emphasize the UnixWare Pedigree. The use of SCO Linux in this context suggests a level of proprietary on SCO's part.

In the 1983 section, the first interesting thing happens as the Linux pedigree is shown to be following the path of Sinix, when Sinix forks with one fork staying "pure" and the other combining with material from Xenix 3.0. SCO's green dotted line would like us to see GNU/Linux as derived from this Xenix-Sinix hybrid.

In the 1984 section, we see SCO's green dotted line follow down from the Xenix-Sinix hybrid to Minux. But wait--that's not what Levenez's chart shows. Levenez's history shows Minix coming from the pure Sinix line. This may be an attempt to more strongly connect Linux with Xenix, which SCO might like us to see as part of the OpenServer pedigree, or, it may be a mistake.

Between 1985 and 1991, we do not see any changes of note other then the coloration and font/size changes. There are not even any connections between any of the Unix and Minix (the sole carrier of the Linux pedigree) or vise-versa.

In the 1991 section, Linux comes into the picture. At this time we see more small differences in the histories, though I suspect many of these relate to different versions of Levenez's history and not to any actions on SCO's part.

In the 1994 section, there is a code addition from BSD Lite. This would and should be legitimate as long as the BSD license is observed.

In the 1996 section, MKLinux is created as a union of Mach4 and Linux.

In the 1998 section, IBM's Project Monterey begins.

In the 2000 section, we see connections from Linux (several types of Linux) to OpenServer. This creates a strong suggestion that there is more Linux in SCO than SCO in Linux. We also see arrows from Linux to Monterey followed by the Monterey dissolving into AIX.

In the 2002 section, we see three arrows from AIX to Linux. These arrows only exist in Levenez's history and may be a result of his continued updating while the SCO version has not been updated. We also know that IBM did make contributions to Linux and it may be the legitimacy of these contributions that SCO wishes to litigate.

I would not say there is a smoking gun or a clear view of SCO thought process in SCO's version of the history. Changes in the SCO version, (including the removal of Lévénez's copyright notice) seem to indicate a level of proprietary attitude. They also suggest a willingness to reach for small threads to hold up big weights and, if necessary, to find these threads where they do not exist. To the intent and ethical grounding of SCO's SCO Intellectual Property Pedigree, I think that is best left as an exercise to the reader.


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