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Caldera OpenLinux X: Joke? Trial Balloon? Set up? Or a Hoax? - UPDATE: A Parody
Saturday, June 17 2006 @ 06:58 PM EDT

There is a supposed press release on a site owned by The SCO Group, located in Germany, purporting to announce that SCO is releasing a new version of OpenLinux, Caldera OpenLinux X, based on the 2.5 Linux kernel. I consider it a fake announcement.

First, that kernel would be implicated in the litigation. SCO's lawyers would never allow an announcement like this right now, let alone such a plan. Second, the GPL makes such a plan impossible to implement, in the way the page claims. Third, the release isn't grammatical English. Fourth, it's too silly to be believed. Fifth, it's copyrighted by The OpenLinux Foundation, not by SCO Group. Sixth, the tech makes no sense. For one thing, the 2.5 kernel is a development kernel and no one would base a distro on anything but a stable kernel. And finally, this isn't the method SCO normally follows when releasing press releases.

On the other hand, it's a web site owned by the SCO Group, although apparently hosted by a German university. So what might it be? It could be a joke, I suppose, to see who believes it. It could also be something worse.

I have noticed some troll comments on the Internet recently predicting that "Linux loonies" will DDOS if they get mad. This is of course one of SCO's favorite memes. Might this apparently phony press release be trying to outrage the community, so that a DDOS can be blamed on them? Don't laugh. That's how we got Yarro's law. Doing it like this provides plausible deniability if the plan doesn't work. SCO could claim they had nothing to do with it. It's conceivable someone hacked the site, I suppose, if we are going to list all the possibilities. I'd have to see the original and complete logs to believe such a story though. Remember the protest against SCO in 2003 that SCO employees themselves reportedly joined, only they drew outrageously offensive signs saying things like "I love software piracy," [large JPG] to discredit the protestors?

So, my advice is, ignore it. If it's real, they'll announce it in the normal channels. If it's a fake-out, there's no harm done by waiting to see what happens next. I'll provide the link that was sent to me, but I don't even recommend visiting the site, as I expect they will be keeping track of visitors:

Here's the ownership info from on the domain, in case SCO pretends they had nothing to do with it:

Created On:03-Aug-1998 04:00:00 UTC
Last Updated On:10-Nov-2004 04:47:01 UTC
Expiration Date:02-Aug-2006 04:00:00 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Dotster, Inc. (R34-LROR)
Registrant ID:DOTR-00936995
Registrant Name:Domain Administrator
Registrant Organization:The SCO Group
Registrant Street1:[redacted]
Registrant City:Lindon
Registrant State/Province:UT
Registrant Postal Code:84042
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:[redacted]...
Admin Organization:The SCO Group...
Tech ID:DOTC-03050361
Tech Name:Domain Administrator
Tech Organization:The SCO Group...

So you won't be tempted to visit, here's the meat of the "announcement":

SCO Announces Industry Leading Continuation Of OpenLinux Product Series

Caldera OpenLinux X Introduces Higher Levels of Service and Availability

LINDON, Utah, Jun 16, 2006 -- The SCO Group, Inc. ("SCO") (Nasdaq: SCOX), a leading provider of UNIX(R) software technology for distributed, embedded and network-based systems, today announced plans to release a new version of it's former OpenLinux franchise in early Q4 2006, known under the renowned Caldera label, branded version 10 - or shorter "X". These versions of OpenLinux Workstation and OpenLinux Server feature several technical enhancements and capture the best tools for Linux software development and deployment. In addition to these technical updates, each release features localization in English, German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Traditional and Chinese Simplified languages. OpenLinux increases the overall availability of applications and critical data by including backup server facilities within its single, high-availability, fail-over operating environment....

To provide extensive reliability and performance features, the Linux Kernel 2.5 codebase has been merged with recently developed additions to SCO's world leading UNIX core operating system. Already contained code owned by SCO is still included benefiting the stability and overall experience opposed to recent Linux kernel releases.

The decision to reanimate the very popular OpenLinux product series was made after it is evident that certain lawsuits regarding UNIX® System intellectual property and contractual rights are to be finished soon. SCO is eager to be the only future provider of Linux Systems for the enterprise market. Customers will again benefit from the high reliable SCO products, with additional XML and JavaBean support, at the low costs of a Linux System. As according to the Yankee Group SCO OpenServer products still outbeat Linux' yearly uptime by about 20 percent, world Leading companies should still consider to upgrade to SCO's UnixWare and OpenServer series. ...

Copyright (C) 2006 OpenLinux Foundation. All rights reserved.

Finally, here's a snapshot of the website back in 2000, thanks to Internet Archive. And now ask yourself: is there any other company in the world where you'd read a press release like this and believe even for a minute that it might be real?

Update: The page now reads like this:

Recently, on this site a fake anouncement of Caldera Open Linux X was found.

We thought it was obvious enough that it was fake. We had to learn it was not for all people reading it. So we took it down now. Apparently, also the DNS records are changed/deleted, so soon enough you won't get to this site using anyways.

We thought, it would not spread from Slashdot before we stop it (ie, this weekend). It was funny to follow people speculating and finding out about this site. Some people pointed out good reasons why this is hoax/parody, some bad or wrong reasons. Overall, we hope most people concluded it indeed was a parody.

Our submit to Slashdot concluded with "Is this real?" - sadly enough, Slashdot's editor wrote up a new text without any hints about this. We can't blame him, he maby was just in a hurry...

Nothing got hacked, it's just we got a previously used IP for this machine, so why not having some fun content on it? We apologize for any inconviences arised though! We didn't suspect it would be taken so serious. Some hints in the text proving this weren't read (talking about XML on a Server OS?), others were found but still taken serious. Please stop spreading this fake news, and if you know some sites who published it, please inform them to update their content. Thanks.

So, there you are. I've learned on Groklaw that when you do a parody, it's wise to label it clearly, because there are always folks who take it seriously otherwise. I haven't figured out yet why that is, but it is.

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