Why Don't You and He Fight?

In the last several days, a drama has been playing somewhat in the courts, but mainly in the press. On the stage are three players -- SCO Group, IBM, and Microsoft. In the audience are all the vendors and users of the Linux operating system. SCO is suing IBM for $1 billion, claiming IBM has stolen trade secrets and violated license agreements for the Unix operating system, which is nominally owned by SCO. SCO has warned 1,500 companies that use Linux of the possibility they will be held liable for the theft of SCO intellectual property. And Microsoft has taken a Unix license from SCO, validating the first two concerns. Readers have been asking me what this all means, and I'm here to explain that it is theater, pure theater, and poor SCO is being played for a sucker by Microsoft.

Companies that turn to the courts as SCO has done are either dominant players in their market niche or desperate outfits that feel they have run out of other options. SCO Group appears to be the latter. Formerly called Caldera Systems, SCO was a major Linux vendor in its own right, but that business was recently put aside. Caldera assumed the ownership of Unix from the Canopy Group, which got it from Novell, which bought it from AT&T. While this seems like a complex chain of ownership, the Canopy Group is owned by Novell Founder Ray Noorda, and Canopy was the major investor in Caldera, so these are the same people just wearing different hats.

SCO -- formerly the Santa Cruz Operation -- was bought a couple years ago by Caldera, primarily for its strong reseller network. While SCO didn't own Unix (Caldera did), it had been selling versions of Unix for more than 20 years starting with Xenix, a PC version of Unix that SCO got, ironically, from Microsoft.

News source: I, Cringely | The Pulpit

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