Skip to content


more on SCO v. IBM: ‘All your base are belong to us’

Ben forwards a link to this Byte article, SCO: All your base are belong to us. His commentary:

One day I’ll have a blogtastic, but for the moment, have you seen this priceless interview, in which SCO goes over the edge into complete barking insanity?

‘We believe that UNIX System V provided the basic building blocks for all subsequent computer operating systems, and that they all tend to be derived from UNIX System V (and therefore are claimed as SCO’s intellectual property).’

His emphasis. But let’s face it, he’s emphasising the right part ;)

So they now think they are owed money by every modern OS: that includes FreeBSD, Windows, Apple, presumably QNX, etc. etc. Linux was just the easiest one to start with, since the source is available and IBM (with their deep pockets) are closely allied with it. MS have already paid up for a SCO license, although many commentators see this as a means to support SCO in their anti-UNIX lawsuits.

In more detail, SCO claim to have full IP rights to several major components of any high-spec OS:

  • JFS (Journalling File System).
  • NUMA (Non Uniform Memory Access).
  • RCU (Read-Copy Update).
  • SMP (Symmetrical Multi-Processing).

Let’s pick one there: RCU in Linux seems to have originated (at a glance) from code developed by Sequent for their DYNIX/ptx UNIX, which was an AT&T UNIX System V-based OS. Sequent ran into trouble, and were bought out by IBM. Later, patches to implement RCU were submitted by IBM from Sequent’s code.

SCO now owns the AT&T UNIX System V IP; therefore SCO owns the RCU code in Linux — even though Sequent developed it independently, on top of the System V base, as far as I can see. Hey, that’s even more ‘viral’ than the GPL — at least the GPL tells you in advance what mistakes you’d have to make for this to happen! ;)

In other words, it seems their POV is that, if any code came anywhere near other code that may have been part of the original AT&T codebase, it’s now tainted with SCO’s own ‘viral license’. Absolutely insane.

It’s unclear exactly how ‘all subsequent computer operating systems’ also infringe this viral license, but SCO reckon they do.

In the meantime, they don’t seem to have realized that these kinds of over-broad claims are not looked on favourably under EU law; while they make cartooney threats in the US, they open themselves up to all sorts of anti-trust-type claims elsewhere in the world. But then, at this stage I don’t think they plan to actually offer any products, or operate as a software company, so they probably don’t really care about that.

To really muddy the waters, an ex-SCO employee has recently made allegations that SCO copied code from the GPL’d Linux kernel into their UnixWare product.

Ah, fireworks. Anyway.

For a kinder, gentler form of total insanity, check out the guidelines for forming ‘inexplicable mobs’ in Manhattan — via bb. Totally cool.

Comments closed