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Doug Michels to Receive Award at SCOForum
Monday, July 10 2006 @ 10:55 AM EDT

I just received an email from someone who gets SCO Partner email, and they are announcing that SCO is presenting an award to Doug Michels, who used to be the CEO of old Santa Cruz Operation, at this year's SCOForum. You know. The guy who famously said that Linux was written by punk kids and that it was free R&D for SCO. He claimed later he was misquoted. Here's the letter he wrote in 1999 to try to clear that up. I found it funny to read some of the comments on this 1999 story.

Here's a bit from the announcement today:

Dear SCO Partner,

SCO Forum 2006, to be held August 6-9th 2006 at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas plans to be one of the biggest, best Forums in its 20-year history. That's right, this is the 20th year of Forum, and to mark that milestone we are bringing back the original architect and visionary for SCO Forum, Doug Michels, one of the original founds of the Santa Cruz Operation, who will be honored with a UNIX Lifetime Achievement award. ...

The Platinum sponsor for SCO Forum 2006 is HP.

We look forward to seeing you in Vegas!

Well. Not me. But it's interesting that Michels is willing to be so honored. I assume he has agreed to be there. Otherwise, it'll be like the Academy Awards: "Mr. Michels could not be here tonight, and we accept this award on his behalf."

Update: There is a press release now.

Update 2: There is now video on YouTube of Darl giving Michels the award and asking some questions about SCO

Forums when run by Santa Cruz.

Just to be clear, here's what he wrote in that clarification letter, in part:

SCO believes that Linux is a good thing and wishes to promote its ongoing success. We believe that the success of Linux is healthy for the overall competitive landscape. We also feel that open source developments have accelerated the growth of the Internet and the general rate of innovation in the industry, and that they are often the precursor to important new commercial opportunities. We plan to continue making key open source technologies available to our customers as well as to continue contributing technology and resources to the open source community....

To clarify a few points:

a) I do not believe Linux was created by "punk kids." During interviews, when I am asked about Linux, I always clearly state my respect and admiration for Linus and the community of developers who participate in the open source movement. I believe that the open source community is often perceived as an unruly bunch of young hackers, especially by the IT establishment, and that this will be a factor in the adoption of Linux.

b) Of course, I don't believe that Red Hat is in any way fraudulent. But, I do believe that there is a fundamental difference in the value proposition to customers between that of Open Source Aggregators, such as Red Hat, and that of traditional commercial software companies such as SCO. We will continue to educate customers so that they understand our view on this difference. And I will continue to try and find the right way to communicate this in measured and objective terms but none the less forcefully.

c) I also believe in the principle that great programmers should "steal" great code whenever possible, so long as they do not violate any laws or license agreements. In hindsight, it's clear that "steal" was a poor and confusing choice of words on my part. I was perhaps being too flippant by trying to point out that one can't really steal that which is freely offered.

All in all, I sincerely apologize if anything that I said, or am reputed to have said, has offended anyone. I promise to do my best to avoid saying anything which could be twisted or misconstrued into sounding this stupid....ever again!

Doug Michels

President and CEO, SCO

So, Santa Cruz's CEO was advocating "stealing" Linux code? And he writes in 1999 that SCO was going to "continue contributing technology and resources to the open source community." That might explain some similarities, I'm thinking, huh? I found this tidbit of interest too, from an interview in 2001, after the SCO/Caldera deal:

ZDNet: Why did the sale of SCO's operating system and services arms -- announced last summer -- take nine months when you originally thought it would be over in three?

Doug Michels: An acquisition is a process that requires the SEC to approve all documentation before you can ask shareholders. The transaction was more complicated than normal - and coming in the middle of the dot-com crash, the SEC was unusually paranoid about making sure everything was right. It's all about whether you disclose everything the shareholders need before they can take an informed vote. Because Caldera was a new economy Linux company, the SEC was meticulously careful. We ended up sending 800 pages of documentation to every shareholder. The process just took forever, but because of this we did have a chance to think about the actual deal and simplify it, but that meant making major changes to the document mid-way through.

When you have two public companies - one buying the other - then because both have already been audited it is a straightforward process, but because we were selling two out of three divisions we had to create accounts for the two parts of SCO going back five years.

All in all, an intriguing development. Here's a screenshot of a page I saved before it too went to the great 404 in the sky, a page about some of the technological contributions SCO made, including contributions to the Linux kernel. I took this screenshot of the page in 2003 because I thought it might die and go to heaven one day. As you can see with your own eyes, SCO announced proudly to the world some items it contributed to Linux. The page is not there any more to sing SCO's praises, but I am. Their Linux kernel page used to be at and I quoted from it in 2004 in an article, listing the contributions they had on that page then:

  • Minor modifications to enhance support for Windows environments like Sun's Wabi and WINE (Ron Holt)
  • Initial release of the Sangoma frame relay driver (Jim Freeman)
  • Extensive work on the kernel's IPX support (Greg Page, Jim Freeman)
  • SPX support (Jim Freeman)
  • Certain mutations of the kernel's NFS support (Olaf Kirch)
  • Initial release of the TLAN network card driver (James Banks)
  • Dynamic PPP channel work (Jim Freeman)
  • Early support of the SMP development effort (hardware provided to the SMP development team)
  • General occasional kernel hacking and patching (Torsten Duwe)
  • Help with the original IBM Token Ring driver (Greg Page)

And here's the screenshot:

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