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Wilted SCO PR
Friday, January 09 2004 @ 03:20 PM EST

Not only has Microsoft notched up its anti-Linux PR, but SCO's PR folks have been busy little bees today too. I hope you're not eating.

First, Stowell has been talking to reporters, who of course print what he says. But there has been a shift. Now they actually find someone to speak for the other side. This is refreshing. As a result, the PR offensive looks a little wilted around the edges.

For example, Vnunet has an article that says that SCO will be turning over more evidence to IBM on January 12, which they say is in keeping with the deadline. No doubt they hoped that would be a headline. But the article instead points out that on the 23rd IBM gets to say at the hearing if they actually got everything SCO was supposed to provide. Stowell next tries to make it sound like they didn't lose the motion in December:

"SCO will then have the opportunity to request of the judge that she compel IBM [to] provide us with the evidence that SCO has requested but not yet received from IBM."
The article doesn't just stop there, though. It adds:
Stowell would not say what evidence it is awaiting.
So reporters are starting to ask some questions, instead of just accepting what SCO has to say. This is good.

This article also has the oddest quotation yet. Stowell says that SCO never violated the GPL because it "never signed over the copyrights". SCO must believe the drivel Forbes published about the FSF being the only ones who can enforce the GPL. Nobody loses their copyright when they distribute code under the GPL. It's a license, not a copyright transfer. Here's SCO's defense, evidently, against IBM's counterclaim of GPL violations, that they never signed over their copyrights:

"To do so, the company would have to knowingly sign over, in a legal document, the copyrights which the company inherited when it purchased the source code from Novell. The company has never done this and never intends to. You cannot accidentally give up your copyrights."

Stowell referred to the GPL's 'Section 0' which states: 'This licence applies to any program or other work which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed under the terms of this [GPL].'

SCO has never placed any such notice indicating that any SCO program or other work may be distributed, he added.

But Gary Barnett, principal analyst at Ovum, said: "SCO is making a very, very sophisticated argument that is open to very wide interpretation."

I so hope this is their planned defense. I won't say another word. That's how much I hope it is the defense they plan on using. They flunk all my GPL classes anyway.

Speaking of IBM, here is Caldera's partners page from 2001. Notice that Caldera was well aware of IBM's involvement in Linux going back to 1998. Let's not even go into the fact that Caldera was a Linux distributor itself, but the point is I don't see how they can argue that IBM surprised them after Project Monterey got shelved and that they had no idea IBM was involved with Linux until then:

IBM offers the industry's most comprehensive lineup of solutions for Linux®. IBM's efforts to advance Linux stretch back to 1998 and signify an unrivaled show of support via technology, skills, services, and corporate focus. With the industry's largest portfolio of hardware, software and services for Linux, IBM support continues to expand, allowing more companies to leverage Linux to grow their e-businesses.
They had a lot of partners back then. Take a look at their partners page today.

And PR is alive and well in Australia too. SCO is declaring war on you Aussies:

The SCO Group's Australian and New Zealand boss, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, told ZDNet Australia late on Friday afternoon that he was preparing to fly to London to finalise the vendor's strategies for securing licence agreements with large commercial users of Linux in Australia.

He said the point at which the licence would be available to Australian and New Zealand users was 'very, very close'. Pressed for a firm date, he confirmed that it would be before the end of this year's first quarter. . . .

O'Shaughnessy's trip coincides with the running next week in Adelaide of one of Australia's highest-profile Linux events, Linux.conf.au 2004, at which the SCO Group's long-running campaign is likely to be a hot topic.

Ooooo. Scary. And more PR about who SCO might be suing. Forbes hints that it might be Google, and of course, we all know Forbes always has the facts straight, ha ha:
SCO Group Inc., the software company that is suing IBM and extracting royalties from other Linux users, said Friday that it had held "low-level talks" with Internet search engine Google about a license agreement.

"Certainly if they're using 10,000 Linux servers that include our intellectual property as part of Unix, we would want them to license," said Blake Stowell, a SCO spokesman.

Eek. "Low level talks." That sounds grave indeed.

Let me guess: the stock price was down again yesterday? The "rag tag army" over on the Yahoo board predicted yesterday that there would be a barrage of SCO PR today. Looks like they had it right.

Far more interesting to those of us who don't own SCO stock is a "Face-off: Microsoft vs. Linux" article on TechTarget. It's interesting to me on two levels. First, it's a debate between Paul Gillin, TechTarget Editor in Chief, and Jan Stafford, Site Editor. She speaks for Linux. Gillin defends Microsoft. I know now to always view TechTarget articles with suspicion, now that I have read its Editor in Chief's views. Here is a sample:

But Linux is not a threat to Windows or even much of an alternative. Let's look at the argument about cost. Linux will always be free because of the way it's licensed, but the real cost of fully supported enterprise Linux is climbing. Red Hat just raised prices to $179 a year to support a workstation Linux license, all the way up to $18,000 a year for a mainframe installation. That's beginning to look a little like Windows pricing, isn't it? HP officials were recently quoted supporting the Red Hat price increase. Don't you think they, IBM and all the other hardware companies are just waiting for customers to buy in to Linux so they can raise prices on support?

And don't forget SCO. The software bad boy is trying to bill every Linux user for intellectual property it claims was stolen and inserted into the operating system. Users may be outraged, but notice that most vendors have been pretty quiet. In fact, they kind of like the idea of charging users for software. Vendors would be more than happy to bundle the SCO tax into the price of Linux.

First we had DiDio warning that the SCO lawsuit might get you if you use Linux, and now this guy is chanting the same mantra. Coincidence? or PR strategy?

The other interesting thing he says is that Linux is more reliable than Windows:

On reliability, there's no question that Linux has got a leg up on Windows, and that's why it's such an effective option for embedded systems. But Windows has become pretty reliable, too. Windows 2000 Server was far more reliable than its predecessors, and users and lab tests agree that Windows Server 2003 raised the bar again. It may not be "five 9s" reliability yet, but how many applications demand that level of uptime? In the core Linux market of file serving, mail serving and Web serving, Windows is now a pretty reliable option. And for systems administrators who don't have a computer science degree, it's relatively simple to use.
That's rather pitiful, don't you think? It's good enough, he says, but not as good as Linux. Even if you accept that they cost the same, which is laughable, or even if you accepted Microsoft's PR about Linux actually costing more, isn't reliability what you are looking for in software? All in all, not such good results for SCO, not that they didn't give it their all, I'm sure.

The lovely and tireless Ms. DiDio has done an analysis of Microsoft v. Linux, which she says nobody paid her to write, and which you can get next month. Not sponsored? Has the spirit of open source volunteerism gotten to her? Can you guess what she found? That Linux is cheaper by far? Nah. Just checking to see if you were awake. She channels SCO and MS, as usual:

"I don't think Linux is going to end up any cheaper than Windows, in fact, in certain environments it's going to be more expensive," Didio said. "In other words, users are going to find out that there's no such thing as a free lunch."
In an uncertain world, there is one thing you can rely on. Ms. DiDio will stand up for SCO. Here she even uses the very same words McBride used, no free lunch. It's probably just a coincidence that at the very moment Microsoft launches its anti-Linux PR about TCO, she is inspired to do an analysis of MS-Linux TCO and says the same thing Microsoft is saying -- and without any sponsorship to boot.

UPDATE: This is probably worth a headline all its own, but it seems most appropriate here. Look at this from Mercury News' Business Update, spotted by our eagle-eyed Brenda:

Speaking of heavy-handed and relentless, we bring you the latest from SCO Group. Bloomberg is reporting that Google has held discussions with SCO to avoid a possible lawsuit over the Linux operating system, SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said.

SCO claims Linux contains stolen code it owns and wants Google, owner of 10,000 Linux servers, to buy a license. The talks have occurred intermittently over the past three months and have involved low-level executives, Stowell said.

"The discussions haven't been very substantial," he said. . . .

"A lot of corporations are questioning whether SCO has a valid claim," said Brian Skiba, an analyst with Deutsche Bank.


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