sco

Uh…is this microphone on?

by Michael Alderete on 7/25/2003

I subscribe to a mailing list for Linux news, called LinuxGram. The writer, Maureen O’Gara, has a writing style that could be described as “feisty.” It comes out once a week, and manages to entertain as well as inform. Recommended.

Last week Maureen broke the story that SCO planned to expand their frivolous claims, and use their copyright on a particular branch of Unix source code to levy a tax on Linux users. It’s SCO’s latest move in their campaign of deception to extort money from IBM and other Linux supporters, by pouring as much FUD around Linux as news editors will publish, until somebody cries “uncle” and sends SCO a big check.

LinuxGram issueI called it McCarthyism here a while back, and when this particular story hit my Inbox, I posted those same thoughts onto the discussion board for the story. I did it without much thought, and — no thought requiring less time than thinking — ended up being the first post to the discussion. Ah, fame!

Little did I know! This week it would seem I was writing the news, instead of reading it: my posting was the lead in a special “reader feedback” issue. The e-mail graphic to the right is pretty much exactly what I saw early this afternoon (click for a larger, readable version), with zero warning that my name would be in bold print underneath the story heading “Mr. McBride, Bite Me!”. Yikes!

For the record, it’s the next guy down who actually wrote “bite me”; I don’t know if my posting was more rational, but at least I won’t get teeth marks on my butt because of it.

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Software McCarthyism

by Michael Alderete on 5/21/2003

Reading an article on CNet today, about the SCO Group’s latest moves in their infringement case against IBM, I came to a sudden realization: the SCO Group is engaging in “software McCarthyism”.

For those that don’t know the details, SCO alleges that IBM misappropriated trade secrets and other intellectual property from SCO and added them to Linux, thereby ruining SCO’s business. They want $1 billion.

Their lawsuit is not much more than a series of wild accusations, none of which is backed up with substance. Their senior executives have been giving quite a few interviews, where they talk of “clear evidence” of “hundreds” of infringements that they will “reveal soon”, but can’t right now.

In reality, the evidence is overwhelming that SCO didn’t have anything worth stealing, and that IBM hasn’t stolen anything. But that’s not stopping SCO from pounding the drums. It’s textbook McCarthyism, wave around wild claims but keep changing the specifics, so people are wondering, “Are there 232 infringements or 487 infringements?” and not “Is there any merit here at all?”

I don’t understand SCO’s motivations. They wanted to be acquired, and thought the lawsuit would put pressure on folks to buy them out. But IBM has stated publicly that they will “blacken the sky” with lawyers, and the lawsuit itself is riddled with factual inaccuracies, to the point where some are suggesting that SCO’s suit is knowingly deceptive to a degree that they should be sanctioned under Federal civil procedure. The industry-wide (excepting Microsoft) resistance to SCO can only be toughing their opponents’ resolve. So there is no way this is going to work out well for SCO.

It is working out well for Microsoft, who is using this opportunity to continue to sow the seeds of FUD around Linux, in the hopes of slowing down the erosion of their server business (which is getting killed by Linux). Microsoft recently paid SCO a bribe to continue the lawsuit. I wonder if there is an appropriate metaphorical link from their role here to the original McCarthy.

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