What would happen to Linux if SCO won all its lawsuits?
If the Linux vendors lost every case with Unix and/or the SCO group, what
might be the future of Linux?
There is no way to answer this question without speculating and there are a mountain of what-ifs to resolve before any reliable answer could be provided. For starters, it's not clear how many vendors are being sued in their capacities as vendors (e.g. the SCO v. IBM litigation has little direct connection with IBM's role as a supporter and vendor of open source products and services) of Linux and open source products. This means that the impact of the various lawsuits may be remote. Moreover, because the probability that every open source and Linux vendor involved in a lawsuit that affects the rights of the open source community to use the code in the kernel and distribute software freely is itself low, there is no way to develop a reliable matrix of results. If there were a final judgment after appeal that portions of the kernel infringed on protected code, the likely result would be monetary compensation to the damaged party and alterations to the kernel to reflect the judgment. Beyond this, who knows?
This was first published in November 2004