Why SCO Needs to Go

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 10:39 PM

In the days before the presidential election in 2000, the local Republican Party held a large political rally in my town. During the rally, while the crowd anticipated the arrival of then Governor Bush, a chant could be heard throughout the arena: “No More Gore! No More Gore!” Here was a large group of people that felt it was time for change in the U.S. Government and this determination was expressed in that chant that spread across the building. Today, the GNU/Linux community doesn't face an election, but it does have a good reason to come up with its own chant, perhaps something along the lines of “SCO Needs to Go.”

If you haven't heard by now, the SCO Group, a former major player in the GNU/Linux distributor market and now the owner of the UNIX intellectual property, is seeking a minimum of $1 billion U.S. dollars from IBM in damages. The suit alleges “IBM is affirmatively taking steps to destroy all value of Unix by improperly extracting and using the confidential and proprietary information it acquired from Unix and dumping that information into the open-source community.”

It's clear to any long term observer of the community that this means exactly one thing: SCO has not been able to succeed in the Linux and dying UNIX businesses and is now seeking an alternative way to bring in profits. Its no secret that the company hasn't been doing well for some time, in fact, Open for Business and others questioned SuSE and Conectiva's alliance with SCO and TurboLinux (which was recently bought up by a Japanese firm) when UnitedLinux was formed in May 2002.

It is unfortunate that SCO was not interested in accepting the fact that they simply have not be able to compete with more agile and more efficient Linux distributors such as Red Hat, MandrakeSoft, and SuSE. Instead, the company seems to have decided the best course of action is to do the business equivalent of suicidal person murdering those around him prior to taking his own life and attempt to take the GNU/Linux community with it as it goes down the tubes.

SCOsource's lawsuit against IBM is unlikely to be an isolated event, rather, it may very well be that this could be the beginnings of a massive attack on supporters of GNU/Linux who have ties to legacy UNIX. Of the big players in the UNIX market, all of them are involved in the Linux community in some way, and using SCO's reasoning, they all could very well deserve the some of the company's legal wrath. If SCO is able to pull off the IBM lawsuit either by winning or settling, it could use the spoils to pay for attacks on other prominent Linux supporters such as Hewlett-Packard (including its Compaq division), SGI, and Sun Microsystems.

While Sun has been more cautious about throwing its weight behind GNU/Linux than the others, even it recently released Linux-based systems, not to mention the support it has provided to many pieces of code used by Linux distributions, including OpenOffice.org and GNOME. With Hewlett-Packard being deeply involved with GNU/Linux support and SGI pushing Linux over its own Irix variant of UNIX, they present very attractive future targets for a desperate company willing to use litigation to keep itself going.

So what is the community suppose to do when one of its earliest commercial backers suddenly starts suing some of the biggest proponents of GNU/Linux? In Open for Business' opinion, it should take whatever means necessary to avoid using any products or services from the SCO Group. The company's desperate actions indicate an ever increasingly unstable company unsuitable for consideration as an enterprise software provider. Clearly, the company is showing a complete disregard for not only the community, but for its own Linux using customers who benefit from the massive amount of Free Software development that is provided to the community by IBM.

Furthermore, this is hardly an isolated incident. SCO was the pioneer of restricting the freedoms that GNU/Linux provides by tacking on per-seat licensing on to SCO Linux and attacking the GNU General Public License that has, in part, helped GNU/Linux develop at the pace it has. While many had hoped that the departure of Ransom Love, the outspoken former head of the company, would change the company?s increasingly arrogant and desperate attitude, but today's actions show the company continues to take an adversarial attitude towards its former flagship OS.

The best thing that could happen for the community, GNU/Linux, and enterprises adopting GNU/Linux is the complete dissolution of this company. As such, Open for Business is following others in the community by officially supporting the complete boycott of the SCO Group. We believe our protest against this dangerous company represents the interests of our readers and the community we cover. As we have previous determined SCO's products too insignificant for consideration during our distribution reviews, this will not have much of an affect on our coverage, but nonetheless we feel it is an important move.

SCO needs to get this message: unless you quit attacking the very community that develops the software your customers want, the message that you are going to hear is “SCO Needs to Go.”

Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. You can reach him at tbutler@ofb.biz.