IT admins: SCO threats not stopping Linux projects

Network and systems administrators don't seem to be in any rush to halt or delay Linux or open source projects because of the latest threats from the SCO Group. CEO Darl McBride, meanwhile, contends that commercial Linux users are continuing to sign up with SCO for Unix licenses.

Despite renewed legal threats from the SCO Group that it will pursue commercial Linux users in court, several IT

administrators in the United States and Europe recently told SearchEnterpriseLinux.com that they have no intention of delaying or halting Linux- and open source-related projects.

"My biggest concern has nothing to do with SCO. Rather, my biggest concern is converting a collection of legacy Sun hardware into a viable server base for Linux," said Jay Cuthrell, chief technology officer for integrator and service provider NeoNova Network Services, in Morrisville, N.C. "The concern is whether to use Aurora, Gentoo or Debian [and whether it's stable] -- not on the latest SCO ramblings."

SCO Group CEO Darl McBride recently told SearchEnterpriseLinux.com that the Unix and one-time Linux vendor continues to meet with commercial Linux users on a one-on-one basis and continues to sell them Unix licenses. SCO offered the licensing program as a means of staying out of court; the program was targeted at Fortune 1500 companies with large Linux installations. In March, SCO sued IBM, claiming that IBM improperly donated code from SCO's System V Unix to the Linux kernel. SCO is demanding $3 billion from IBM.

Since then, SCO has been vigilant about defending its intellectual property, not only filing suit against IBM, but sending letters threatening the world's largest enterprises with legal action if they did not purchase a Unix license from SCO. SCO said in October that it was satisfied with the number of licenses purchased and that it had decided to back off from a plan to invoice those companies. Meanwhile, the open source community remains skeptical of SCO's claims that companies are indeed purchasing licenses.

"We've talked to companies about Linux and they're not doing it, or if they are using it, they take out a license. We have yet to have a one-on-one where a company has said straight out 'no' and forced us to litigate," McBride said. "We know what's going on. We're a public company and, with all the disclosure we have to do, the last thing I'm doing is telling a bunch of lies. We have companies that are signing up, and we are going to protect their identity because they have requested confidentiality."

Still, administrators in contact with SearchEnterpriseLinux.com are expressing little hesitancy about using Linux for either mission-critical or edge-of-network duties.

"Delay implementing Linux, no way," said John Arechavala, network and systems manager for Carroll College in Milwaukee. "McBride has no claim."

SCO made plenty of claims in late November, when it declared the General Public License, which governs Linux and open source software, to be unenforceable and unconstitutional. It also subpoenaed kernel creator Linus Torvalds, GPL author Richard Stallman and other luminaries. The company also threatened to take legal action against Novell Inc. if it succeeds with its bid to purchase SuSE Linux AG.

McBride said IBM had subpoenaed people who were not central to the case, like analysts, investors and members of the media.

"We've taken the central issues of the case, Linux and the GPL, and essentially keyed on the leaders of those movements," McBride said. "We're going to bring in the guy who started the whole thing [Torvalds] and the father of the GPL [Stallman]."

As for Novell, McBride claims Novell's purchase of SuSE violates a non-compete clause agreed to when SCO (then the Santa Cruz Operation Inc.) purchased its Unix property from Novell. Since SCO claims its Unix IP is in Linux, it believes Novell cannot compete against SCO by selling SuSE Linux.

"When we bought Unix, we had language in there concerning non-competition. Novell cannot take its Unix property and compete against us," said McBride, a former Novell executive. "When the transaction is done, we'll see what we're going to do."

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