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Japan Has Had It With Windows
Monday, September 01 2003 @ 03:00 AM EDT

Not only did Japanese companies not respond favorably to McBride's Japan mission, the government of Japan now wants to develop open source software with China and Korea, so as avoid having to rely on Windows any longer:
Japan hopes to develop new computer software in cooperation with China and South Korea to make Asian economies less dependent on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, government officials said Sunday.

The software would be built into computer servers and Internet-enabled appliances, such as next-generation cell phones, the officials said. Computer worms have been attacking Windows recently, prompting government offices and major companies to reconsider their heavy dependence on the operating system.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma will propose the plan to his Chinese and South Korean counterparts during talks Wednesday on the sidelines of an expanded meeting of trade ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh.

You can only make people just so mad before they rebel.

read more (591 words) 57 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 03/21 04:35AM by Clifton Hyatt

SCO Has a Patent -- Not Linux Kernel-Related
Sunday, August 31 2003 @ 12:47 PM EDT

SCO Has a Patent --
Not Linux Kernel-Related


I noted with a measure of alarm that SCO has been granted a patent, as of March 4, 2003. It's Number 6,529,784 and it's a patent they applied for in 2000. That's the one weapon they didn't have, and I was glad they didn't. Here's what it does:

"Method and apparatus for monitoring computer systems and alerting users of actual or potential system errors

"Abstract

"A method for providing system management services to a customer's network of target computers through a communications network is described. Service subscribers have at least one target computer system. Each target computer system has a hardware configuration and a software configuration. An agent process is hosted on at least one target computer system of each subscriber. Each agent communicates with a centralized control server through a communication link. The control server manages the hardware or software configurations of the target computer systems through the server. By centralizing the resources for managing the computing resources of several subscribers at a single control server, the need for redundant management resources at each subscriber is reduced or eliminated. A method for providing a customer system management information in response to receiving information about the customer's target computer system is also described."

And here is how they summarize their description of what it does:

"SUMMARY

"Generally, an embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method and system for managing a network of target computers. Another embodiment of the invention is directed to agents for collecting configuration, diagnostic, frequency of use or other information from the target computer system and transmitting the collected information to a central control server. The control server receives the information and accesses relevant information from a database of software information. The control server then formats and transmits this information to the agent. The agent may act on the information directly or may display the information to a user through a management tool GUI.

"Another embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method of providing system management services to a network of target computers including the steps of enrolling customers to receive computer system management services for a fee, receiving information about the customer network from agents associated with target computer systems, comparing the target computer system information with software and hardware information stored in a database and transmitting that information to the customer."

I didn't understand what that means, except in the most superficial way, and so I wrote to programmer Karsten Self, who describes himself as "free software legal issues wonk, and maintainer of the SCO vs. IBM wiki" to ask him if this might come into play in the Linux kernel fight. He says not in his opinion, at least not at first glance:

"The '784 patent has nothing to do with the Linux kernel, regards its essential function.

"The patent describes a network-based centralized monitoring and configuration utility for managing and automating software package installation and updates, specifically over the Internet. A possible implementation is something along the lines of up2date (an RPM-based package management tool).

"Much of this is the sort of thing any half-competent 'Nix system administrator ends up setting up to manage their network or cluster.

"The Debian GNU/Linux packaging system, dating from 1994, performs much, though not all, of this functionality. apt-get, specifically, was released in April, 1998. Another tool, Nagios, provides remote system monitoring of a very flexible nature. A mailing list post I find references mon which predates the '784 filing date of Feb, 2000. http://www.kernel.org/software/mon/

"Note that there are two patents held by Tarentella f/k/a SCO (The Santa Cruz Operation)

"- 6,362,836 - Universal application server for providing applications on a variety of client devices in a client/server network

"- 6,104,392 Method of displaying an application on a variety of client devices in a client/server network."

Of course, getting a patent doesn't mean it can't be challenged in court, based on prior art, etc. And that's why I thought it'd be worth letting you know about it. As The New Yorker said in an article on patents and the new "intellectual property" wars, entitled "Patent Bending": "The new regime's defenders insist that in today's economy such vigilance is necessary: ideas are the source of our competitive strength. Fair enough. But you don't compete by outlawing your competition." Oh, yes they do, and I think we can rely on it that this is exactly what SCO can be counted on to try to use this for, which is why vigilance is necessary on all sides.

Anybody have any handy prior art in a back pocket?


51 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 09/03 12:03AM by Anonymous

Boies in a Post-Enron World
Saturday, August 30 2003 @ 07:49 PM EDT

I went to the Boies, Schiller & Flexner web site, and then clicked on the lawyers' listing by name, and I find that Mark J. Heise, not David Boies, is listed as representing SCO. You can try it for yourself by going here and then clicking on "Lawyer Profiles" and then choosing B and then H from the alphabet. However, it doesn't list any current cases for Boies at all, so that may just be their policy. Still, it's interesting to look around the site, if you have a high tolerance for Flash.

And here is an article from the Miami Herald last year, explaining a bit more about the firm and the merger with the Florida firm of Zack Kosnitzky. Between the article and the web site, you get a feel for the outlook of the firm and its clients. One thing I didn't know about Boies was this:

"The post-Enron world has given rise to a trendy legal specialty: the defense of companies accused of suspect accounting and insider self-dealing. At the top of the field is hot-shot New York attorney David Boies. . . .

"Zack says his firm brought Boies Schiller much-needed manpower, expertise and exposure to the Florida market, and Boies brought high-profile business. The Boies Schiller firm now has 160 lawyers -- both litigators and corporate attorneys.

'''We're a good resource to them and them to us,' he said. 'We did this deal to be involved in cutting edge litigation.'

"Zack, the litigator who worked closely with Boies on behalf of Al Gore during the election recount in Florida, is the administrative partner in Miami. Boies is the lawyer who represented the government in its attempt to break up Microsoft on antitrust grounds and Napster in its losing battle with the record industry.

"He probably would have been involved in the Enron defense too had he not agreed to represent Andrew Fastow, former chief executive officer of Enron, as a favor to one of Boies' law partners.

"And, it's not just the Miami litigators who are involved in the big suits. Zack's partner, corporate attorney Michael Kosnitzky, has been in the thick of it with Adelphia, the nation's sixth largest cable TV operator."


What a specialty. In fairness, the web site lists quite a few other areas of practice as well.

34 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 09/02 08:27AM by Anonymous

Small World Dept.-- SCO and MS
Friday, August 29 2003 @ 04:00 PM EDT

There's more than one way to fund a company, it seems. An alert reader noticed that Integral Capital Management companies just filed a 13G with the SEC regarding its shares in SCO. Here's their SEC filing. Here's the SEC Search page for Integral. Here's a list of institutional owners of SCO, and you can see that as of June, Integral was already number one on the list with 4.0%. Now it's presumably 5% or more, hence the 13G.

Who are these people? I thought I'd just check and see who thinks SCO is worth buying right along about now. I was particularly interested because last Friday I noticed a surge in buying, and all week there was a spike of institutional sell messages, and then this Friday, it suddenly stopped. No sell or buy messages, as you can see on this chart. If you switch the chart to the entire month, you can easily see that after this huge and atypical increase, suddenly nothing. So I went digging.

read more (1297 words) 85 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 08/31 06:26PM by Anonymous

Data Mining, Spectral Analysis, and All that Jazz
Friday, August 29 2003 @ 01:45 AM EDT

We're not born knowing what spectral analysis is. So when SCO said that spectral analysis is one of the methods they used to find "infringing" code, I had no idea what they were talking about. When Sontag compared it to finding a needle in a pile of needles, I figured it wasn't much use. And it turns out, on further investigation, that my intuitive conclusion may be about right, at least when it comes to using it for software code data mining for infringing code in this case.

An alert reader noticed something interesting. One of Canopy Group's companies is called DataCrystal. Could that be at least one of the three groups SCO hired to try to sort through the code of UNIX System V and the Linux kernel? DataCrystal does "advanced pattern recognition" and "AI systems". They actually claim to do a great deal more besides. One of the things listed on their what-we-do page is data mining. Presumably, that's what SCO wanted to do. And a look at their About page indicates that if you are the RIAA, you probably would want to have a company like DataCrystal to hunt down pirates for you. Another reader noticed this page about a DataCrystal, and he wondered if it might be the same company. It isn't, because this DataCrystal is the name of a project at USC, not a company. While I don't know if the Canopy Group company DataCrystal was hired by SCO, or whether there is any connection between the company and the project, it did make me start to wonder about the field in general. If you really wanted to know if two piles of code had identical or similar code, can data mining find out? And would matches be reliable for use in the way SCO apparently is using them? Judging by the SCOForum demo, we might think no. And we might be right.

I asked a Groklaw resource person, a man who worked for over a decade doing basic and exploratory research for the US DoD and the Canadian Ministry of Defence on topics related to secure communications and signals intelligence, including cryptology, statistical processing of natural language, signal processing, and computational learning, if he'd be willing to explain it in general and understandable terms, so we can follow along. Very likely this subject is going to be a very significant part of the case when it goes to trial.


read more (1621 words) 95 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 11/05 07:14PM by Anonymous

SCO Down, Up, Down -- What Is Wrong With This Picture?
Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 03:16 PM EDT

No, not the stock. The site. It's down again. Netcraft is pointing out that if they are having difficulties, there is something they could do to solve their problem. They could just do what Microsoft did and use Akamai's caching service:

". . . conceivably SCO may have difficulty swallowing its pride and buying a service that uses tens of thousands of Linux servers, for which Akamai presumably has not purchased a SCO licence."

Maybe SCO's UNIX servers aren't quite so dernier cri as they told the court. Maybe they decided to upgrade their web site materials and took themselves down and then had trouble getting back up. After all, there is the telling detail that it stayed up during business hours, and then went down. Maybe it isn't an attack anyhow, and the real problem is SCO laid off too many engineers. You think?

If they use IBM's Sequent to run their investor site, as Netcraft earlier informed us and clarified here, it shouldn't be a problem to use Akamai. For further clarification of that Netcraft story, go here:

"It turns out that the ir.sco.com Web site is hosted by Shareholder.com, an investor communications company that specializes in building and hosting investor relations Web sites, and that the Shareholder.com server that hosts SCO's investor relations site is co-located in a facility run by IBM Global Services.

"So IBM is connected to, but not the host of, SCO's investor relations portal. 'They are responsible for making sure the facility is secure, air conditioned, and that the Internet connections are connected to our [server] farm,' a Shareholder.com spokesman pointed out to me. He was also quick to note that the IBM facility was just one of two facilities his company used. The other is run by AT&T."


My question is this: Are we to believe that in all these days, if this was an attack, no one can think of a single thing to do about it? A tech company? With all the Canopy Group companies handy, including their ISP, ViaWest, which is also under the Canopy umbrella, there was no other server that could help out? No tech workaround? No firewall, nothing that a tech company could think of to try that could solve the problem?

When they do stagger back up, briefly, visitors report new material on the site. Then there are all the reports of SCO employees saying it wasn't a denial of service attack in the first place. Here is a third person who called SCO and was explicitly told that there was no attack, that SCO took its site down itself for maintenance. Groklaw already reported that two other people also called SCO and were told substantially the same thing. And if it was an attack over the weekend, but now it isn't, as Stowell indicated Tuesday, what is the difference in the symptoms?

One thing is clear, if it were a denial of service attack, it'd be one for the record books. Or maybe there is another explanation, and that is why SCO has decided not to put out a press release about it:

"SCO considered issuing a formal statement in the matter, said Stowell, but decided against it."

SCO refraining from putting out a press release? Anything wrong with this picture?

What to believe? On one side, we have Blake Stowell, who told us that tale about rocket scientists and MIT mathematicians. On the other side, Raymond tells about a mysterious phone call from nameless individuals who want him to be their leader.

Personally, I don't have any leader, and I'm sick of mystery and a lack of verifiable facts.

Until somebody analyzes the packets, and shows them, and not in obfuscating Greek, for crying out loud, and not just bald statements of "fact", I'm from Missouri.

I know that it is possible there was an attack, although I sincerely hope not. But I love facts and truth, and I would like to see some more of both. Could we please see some actual proof before headlines announce as fact something that doesn't yet seem to be established?

135 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 08/29 02:26AM by Anonymous

Disappearing Comments Article Disappears
Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 01:42 PM EDT

Amusingly, the brief note I placed about disappearing comments and my struggle last night to reconstruct the home page disappeared itself just now. I had tried to delete it yesterday, because right after posting it, the comments function suddenly turned back on. It took Radio almost 24 hours to reflect the change, but it finally happened -- just when I didn't want it to, after some really interesting comments had been posted to my note. Radio software is maybe staggering under the daily load of so many visitors and so many comments. And then there's me and my skill set.

We've had more than a quarter of a million page reads in the three months or so Groklaw has existed, and the first month there wasn't a huge audience, and it's really in the last month and a half that it's taken off. The audience keeps growing. We're moving to a permanent web site as soon as we can, so thanks for your patience in the meanwhile. Your lost comments are still viewable

MontaVista Organizing Partners, Customers
Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 12:28 PM EDT

MontaVista Organizing Partners, Customers
To Take a Public Stand Against SCO


Linux World is reporting that MontaVista Software has pledged to establish a "community of like-minded companies" to take a public stand against SCO. A check of their web site finds this information:

How does MontaVista Software intend to help its customers?

". . .MontaVista clearly disagrees with the statements on the SCO web site which state that Linux distributors are unable to indemnify customers against intellectual property claims because of the terms and conditions in the GPL. . . .

"MontaVista Software already protects its customers from a variety of technical and legal risks: MontaVista Software provides warranties on all editions of MontaVista Linux. MontaVista Software indemnifies its customers against claims involving the code it creates and delivers, pledging to replace contested code, license suitable code from third parties, or refund its customers' money.

"In addition, MontaVista Software is committed to working together with the Open Source community to ensure continued availability of non-infringing Linux code. MontaVista is also establishing a community of like-minded companies from among its strategic partners and customers to take a public stand against SCO and its attempts to intimidate."


MontaVista's partners page shows this statement by an executive of MontaVista partner Sony Corporation:

"'After first becoming popular with individual programmers and then making inroads on commercial servers, Linux is now proving its merits in the embedded domain,' said Masao Hori, deputy president, Network and Software Technology Center, Sony Corporation. 'Based on the reliability and performance of MontaVista[base ']s product, and the company[base ']s close ties to the Linux community, we are confident Linux will become one of the leading embedded operating systems and that MontaVista Software will increasingly be an important player in the market.'

"Masao Hori, Deputy President
"Network and Software Technology Center
"Sony Corporation"


A complete list of their partners is here.

You might also find Ed Felton's interview in Business Week of interest (although a warning to those of you with cookies set to Ask: endless and persistent cookie requests, enough to make me want to never return to Business Week), particularly this comment:

"There's a danger that [the government] will end up trying to pick winners or trying to clear the path for a particular industry segment to move into an area or protect an industry segment, rather than saying, let's keep the path open for everyone. Growth comes out of a healthy competitive atmosphere, not trying to choose a particular path forward. A lot of regulation we're seeing right now is, or pretends to be, motivated by concern about intellectual property."

His comment reminds me of two things: SCO saying early on that a government amicus brief was a possibility and Boies saying he took the case because he didn't want to see the software playing field get "tipped". My question is: why would it be his or anybody's business if the whole world were to switch to Linux? Customers aren't allowed to choose what software they like?

10 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 08/30 11:46AM by Anonymous

Japanese Government Says Keep Using Linux -- SCO Fears "Unnecessary"
Wednesday, August 27 2003 @ 11:51 AM EDT

The Japanese government has come out with a report, which calls fears over using Linux "unnecessary", despite the SCO claims, according to this article:
The report said, "If there are misunderstandings or unnecessary fears to use open source software among users, this means there would be a huge loss of opportunities for the software industry and the government to have access to it, and it would hurt the lives of the people." The ministry stressed the report was compiled for the purpose to remove such fears from the minds of people.

The 111-page report covers the licenses, the latest trends and situation surrounding the use of open source software, some case studies to explain how it is used by people and problems that may happen when companies use it.

I have tracked down where the report is available in Japanese as a pdf. If any Groklaw readers (you are a talented bunch) can offer translation of pertinent parts, I know we'd all be grateful. By pertinent, I mean particularly the report's coverage of the GPL, as noted by this news report:
The METI report clarifies the GNU Public License (GPL), the rules governing how the software may legally be used and offers definitions of terms in Japanese. There are also comments by experts on how ambiguous areas of the GPL are to be interpreted, said the report.
The Japanese press release is also available here.

6 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 08/28 02:09PM by Anonymous

SuSE Says SCO Licensing Invoices Are Without Merit
Tuesday, August 26 2003 @ 01:14 PM EDT

Of course, they said it in German. A friend of Groklaw at BYU has stepped up to the plate and volunteered his brother-in-law to do the following unofficial translation, which you can check with the original here:
SCO-License Invoicing Without Merit

SCO's recently announced billing of Linux users for proportedly using SCO Code in the Linux kernel, according to the LIVE Linux Association, is completely without merit.

"This new attempt obviously is a pure public relations maneuver," said LIVE-Board member Daniel Reik.  "SCO can obviously lay out no proof for their allegations.  As we already laid out, SCO itself has been distributing the Linux kernel as free software under the GPL.  Therefore there is no way for SCO to make any valid claims."

This view is also shared by the industry publication "Computerwoche" (Computer Week), and referred to Open Source advocate Bruce Perens.  One of the presentations SCO made at the SCOforum convention was supposed to prove that Unix code was illegally copied into Linux.  Bruce Perens inspected the origin of the 15 lines of code in question, which according to SCO were copied without permission from System V, for which SCO has authorship rights.

According to Perens, these lines of code were also released under the BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) License.  Therefore it is allowable to use the code in Linux.  The 15 lines of code are in a portion of the memory management components of Linux.

"In Germany, according to a legal order, SCO has already committed itself to stop claiming Linux operatingsystems contain illegally gained intellectual property from SCO Unix.  The SCO Group will, according to the order, also stop claiming that end users are liable for the use of Linux, that they have to fear fines or punishments, or that Linux is unauthorized derivative of Unix.  The punishment in Germany would have been a fine of 10,000 Euros.

The Linux-based enterprise operating system United Linux, that was jointly developed by SuSE, Turbolinux, Conectiva, and SCO, will continue to be supported by SuSE without reservation.  We fulfill all UnitedLinux commitments regarding our customers and partners, regardless of any actions that SCO undertakes, or any claims that they announce.

We have asked SCO to release statements indicating specific infringements. SCO has still refused to do this.  Furthermore, we have no indication that SCO has tried to directly inform us that SuSE Linux products contain unauthorized code.

We use routine processes to thoroughly verify that we conform to all legal requirements for all code released in our products, whether they are Open Source or proprietary components.


67 comments  View Printable Version
Most Recent Post: 08/29 03:08AM by Anonymous

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