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Novell's Chris Stone: "We Still Own UNIX and We Believe that UNIX Is not In Linux"
Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 07:19 PM EST

ComputerWire is reporting on Novell's Chris Stone's speech at the Open Source Business Conference 2004. They characterize it as angry. He does make fun of Darl McBride's ideas, but you don't have to be angry to do that. The most significant thing he says is: "We still own UNIX and we believe that UNIX is not in Linux and that Linux is a free and is an open distribution and should be and always will be." He ought to know. Novell has access to both operating systems. If he says he believes UNIX is not in Linux, it's significant to me.

You can watch a video of the speech by going to this page and clicking on the picture under the title "Novell chides SCO". [PJ: Sept. 4, 2007 - It doesn't work now. Go here now.] I got a different understanding by looking at the video than just reading the news account. The article says he said that they "invented UNIX", but what I heard in the snip available was that they still own it. Maybe he said the other in a later portion of the speech, or maybe it's a mistake in the account. As usual, it's safest to go to the source for the most accurate information. While you are there, you might want to read the article about Microsoft's woes.

Another important point Stone makes is that while there is money to be made in IT, operating systems are becoming commoditized. Everybody needs to adjust, including SCO and Microsoft, and learn how to make money the new way, via services and applications, not infrastructure. There is no reason why, he says, proprietary and free/open source can't coexist.

The Groklaw reader who sent this to me, Steve Gehlbach, says it's important to note that this article is "part of the news crawl seen by all active stock traders with a level II access program such as Schwab StreetSmartPro, as monitored by DataMonitor for all stocks on the NASDAQ, NYSE, etc. It pops up for a daily news search on SCOX."

Here is a taste of what Stone had to say, according to the article:

"Al Gore didn't invent the internet and we didn't invent Linux. We invented Unix and Unix is not in Linux. Linux is a free and open distribution, and should be and will continue to be," Stone said to applause from OSBC delegates in San Francisco, California. . . .

He said Novell's $250m acquisitions proved Novell doesn't believe open source will destroy the software industry, while open source is a movement dominated by professional developers already working in the IT industry.

"Sixty percent of the people in the development community working for you also work in open source. They work for you! Linux, Apache and PHP are exceptional software," Stone said. . . .

Stone told open source ISVs to compete on customer service and applications not infrastructure like operating systems, which are becoming increasingly commoditized.

"We have got to recognize where the value lines are... we spent money building the infrastructure but the value is in the services - identity, security and office. That's where the money is. Not underneath. Until you realize that you won't make money."

Well. That was refreshing, huh? Update: On listening to the video, what he actually said is even stronger: he said, "We still own UNIX," not "We invented UNIX".

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