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A Word to SCO from the Open Group's Website
Wednesday, July 19 2006 @ 10:20 AM EDT

Now that we have read SCO's incredible Objections to Judge Brooke Wells' Order (which I call their "How are we supposed to know what IBM did?" appeal), I'd like to say a brief word about some of the items SCO would like to sue about, and most specifically about methods and concepts. SCO can't seem to find them in their code, if it even is their code, despite having every AIX and Dynix and Linux release since the founding of the world. So let's show them where they can find some methods and concepts and some code too. Groklaw member Beowulfe sent me some very helpful links and started me on a riff.

Might I ask them to visit this page on the Open Group's web site, and start to look around?
This standard has been jointly developed by the IEEE and The Open Group. It is both an IEEE Standard and an Open Group Technical Standard.

Abstract: The 2004 edition incorporates Technical Corrigendum Number 1 and Technical Corrigendum 2 addressing problems discovered since the approval of the 2001 edition. These are mainly due to resolving integration issues raised by the merger of the Base documents.

This standard defines a standard operating system interface and environment, including a command interpreter (or "shell"), and common utility programs to support applications portability at the source code level. This standard is the single common revision to IEEE Std 1003.1-1996, IEEE Std 1003.2-1992, and the Base Specifications of The Open Group Single UNIX Specification, Version 2. This standard is intended to be used by both applications developers and system implementors.

So that sets the stage. The Open Group is about standards, specifically standards regarding Unix. It describes itself like this on the homepage: "The Open Group is a vendor-neutral and technology-neutral consortium, whose vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™ will enable access to integrated information, within and among enterprises, based on open standards and global interoperability."

Not if SCO can stop it. SCO isn't about boundaryless information flow. They have a different dream.

I think they will find if they visit the Open Group's website that SCO has a problem with items on the list of things it would like to sue about. For example, take STREAMS and the various system interfaces SCO fusses about. Here's the Open Group's page on System Interfaces: General Information. And that takes you to a most complete explanation of how STREAMS work and which IEEE document provides access to STREAMS modules. Here's the Standard I/O Streams page. I think those methods and concepts are out there, guys.

Or perhaps you'd like to read all about errno.h. Here you go, the Error Numbers page. And here's a helpful page called "Internationalized System Calls and Libraries":

This Product Standard defines the basic operating system interface (and header files) normally invoked directly from C Language programs. It includes full conformance to ISO/IEC 9945-1:1990 (POSIX-1). The ISO standard defines only a subset of the operating systems interfaces required by application developers and additional interfaces and features have been added to meet their needs. To satisfy internationalization requirements the Product Standard provides for full data transparency allowing flexibility in the choice of coded character set(s) employed.

Notice header files? Here's Caldera's register of certification to the standard for internationalized system calls and libraries. If you read their Brand Certificate [pdf], you'll find they first registered in 1995 and to do so they had to get certification from the Open Group, not the other way around. And *now* they want to sue people?

So, does that mean SCO is trying to sue people for using standards? Why, yes. I believe it does.

Here are some more standards, the Open Group's Standard Unix Utilities page -- whatever you want to know about how Unix does its thing; and here's the General Concepts page (or as I like to think of it the Unix Methods and Concepts page). Why, bless my stars. It seems the entire world is allowed to know about and talk about and share a mountain of Unix methods and concepts.

Then, just so SCO doesn't get any bright ideas that their troubles will be over if they just sue the Open Group too, here's a link to a UC Davis paper, The Executable and Linking Format (ELF), dated 1998 that goes into exquisite detail about ELF, beginning like this:

The executable and linking format (ELF) was originally developed by Unix System Laboratories and is rapidly becoming the standard in file formats. The ELF standard is growing in popularity because it has greater power and flexibility than the a.out and COFF binary formats. ELF now appears as the default binary format on operating systems such as Linux, Solaris 2.x, and SVR4. Some of the capabilities of ELF are dynamic linking, dynamic loading, imposing runtime control on a program, and an improved method for creating shared libraries.

1998 guys. The "standard binary format". If SCO wanted to sue over ELF, the time was back in the '90s, and not IBM.

And then, the cherry on top, an article all about ELF in Linux Journal from 1995, which explains it, shows code, and ends like this:

For more information about the ELF file format, you can obtain the ELF specifications from a number of sources--you can try in pub/tis/ The specifications are also available in a printed format. See SYSTEM V Application Binary Interface (ISBN 0-13-100439-5) and SYSTEM V Application Binary Interface, Intel386 Architecture Processor Supplement (ISBN 0-13-104670-5).

Nowadays, SCO follows a different standard, the FUD Works Best If It Isn't Too Specific protocol.

But, you may say, SCO may not know. Perhaps they are not tech-oriented.

Folks. They sell Unix software for a living. They write it. At least they used to. These days, they seem to be more about grabbing FOSS code and calling it good. Here's Caldera's 2003 Conformance Statement for UnixWare 7.1.3 on the Open Group's website. And here's a presentation by the Open Group at SCOForum 1998. They know. Maybe they hope the judge doesn't? And if their lawyers didn't know, I hope they will find this article very helpful.

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