Thursday, September 4, 2003
Linus: "SCO People Are Having Such
A Hard Time With The Truth"
Peter Galli interviewed Linus Torvalds about the SCO code show. Linus not only says they are having a hard time with the truth, he adds a few choice words about hypocrisy:
"Galli: SCO has said that there are so many lines of code, and a variety of applications and devices that use that code, that simply removing the offending code would not be technically feasible or possible and would not solve the problem. Do you agree?"
"Linus: They are smoking crack. Their slides said there are [more than] 800,000 lines of SMP [symmetric multiprocessing] code that are 'infringing,' and they are just off their rocker. The SMP code was written by a number of Linux people I know well, so their claims are just ludicrous. And they claim they own JFS [journaling file system technology], too. Whee. They're not shy about claiming ownership of other people's code -- while at the same time beating their breasts about how they have been wronged. So the SCO people seem to have a few problems keeping the truth straight, but if there is something they know all about, it's hypocrisy."
Linus needs to stop holding back and let us know what he really thinks, or he's going to make himself sick. Joke. Joke. It's one of the refreshing things about him that he doesn't speak in corporate weasle words.
Anyway, it's worth a read, because, for one thing, he promises that if SCO can show some legitimately infringing code, although he considers that highly unlikely, he'll remove it. Of course, that's been his position from the beginning, but it certainly doesn't hurt to say it again in public, because in the trials, their refusal to comply is likely to hurt them badly. On their problems with the truth:
"They've said several times that the code they have found is not 'historic Unix' code and 'not BSD' code, which they know you can't infringe, since BSD has been shown to be independent, and Caldera itself released the historic code in 2002. To counter the open-source people's contention that any shared code is likely of BSD or 'ancient Unix' origin, [SCO has] claimed several times how it's 'modern System V' code that they have clear ownership of. That's despite massive proof to the contrary, going back three decades."
What he expects all of their code to turn out to be is more of what we already saw: BSD code or ancient Unix or code that looks similar because both are based on public standards.
Meanwhile, Sun lost ground to IBM in the server space, as corporate guys call it, so there is some justice in the world after all. Sun is the only one who actually lost revenue. IBM is numero uno this quarter, ahead of HP too, speaking of weasles. I hope anyone thinking that sucking up to SCO, or trying to hedge their bets, leads to $$$ reads this report. What they forget when strategizing is that people won't buy your products if they hate you. Not even in corporations. Not if they have a choice. And trying to force people to buy your stuff by litigating against your competition makes people hate you.
Here's a nice story about Lithonia Lighting, North America's largest commercial lighting equipment manufacturer, stepping into the Linux pool and finding the water mighty fine. Here's another about choosing Linux over UNIX and why.
And finally, here's a snip from another obnoxious article by Rob Enderle, but it's worth noting because he might know something:
"As a result of recent attacks, the U.S. government is considering regulating both vendors and enterprise users of software. It won't matter what platform you run, you'll enjoy extra costs as you try to comply with that regulation. Governments are ticked off and they aren't just targeting Microsoft."
Why not just target Microsoft? They seem to be the hub of the problem There were five, yes five, security warnings just today, one critical, involving Visual Basic. That means pretty much everything the normal user will be using on his computer is at risk.
Could it be that somebody wants the government to regulate "vendors and enterprise users of software"? I am starting to wonder if these "attacks" we keep hearing about are really attacks at all or if they are being staged for a purpose. Nobody with all the money MS has to throw at this problem can be so incapable of designing software or of being able to find a solution.
And why was SCO running Linux servers when it was allegedly attacked, when it is in the business of creating and selling UNIX servers? And now Enderle uses that detail to imply that all platforms need regulating? Hmm. The plot thickens.
And take a look at this list of arrested virus and worm writers and ask yourself if US government regulation will stop problems with malware. Only two people on the list are Americans. So what is the game here? I don't know, but I'm starting to pay attention.
Last but not least, from Larry Lessig's blog, a taste of Bill Gates on patents and what they are good for:
"So here's perhaps the most concise and compelling account of just why software patents will harm new innovators (that's you Europe) and benefit old innovators (that's America), written in 1991 by Mr. Gates:
'If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete stand-still today. The solution . . . is patent exchanges . . . and patenting as much as we can. . . . A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.' Fred Warshofsky, The Patent Wars 170-71 (NY: Wiley 1994)."
Now It's Invoices By October 15 --
And SCO Says It Is Not a Pump-and-Dump
Well, it's time to go back on mailbox alert, as the threat index rose from yellow back up to orange. Once again, we are threatened with ...shudder... invoices.
The company that had no concrete plans to ever sue anybody less than a week ago is now saying they will be mailing out invoices before October 15. IDG says "thousands". LinuxWorld says exactly a thousand, for starters. But who's counting when you're having fun?
That's very thoughtful, doing it before October 15, because the price goes up after that, and they don't want you to miss the special price. They also claim they have signed up another license customer, but, shush, it's a deep, dark, hush-hush secret who that entity might be. It's for them to know and you to find out:
"Stowell declined to reveal the identity of the new customer or say how many other customers SCO may have signed up, but he did say that almost all of the company's 100 sales representatives are now spending time selling the Linux license, and that SCO is readying thousands of invoices that it plans to send to Linux users worldwide before Oct. 15, when the per-processor price of an IP License for Linux will double to $1,400.
"'Over the last month or so, employees in our company have been doing research on various companies using Linux, and that's what they've based who they would send invoices to,' said Stowell.
"Commercial organizations using a 2.4 or later version of the Linux kernel in the United States will be the first to receive invoices. 'For the most part, these are big business types of customers,' said Stowell. 'Initially it will start in the U.S., and will make its way internationally.'"
LinuxWorld says the invoices will be "threatening court action if the users fail to pay." SCO, I've decided, is like an abusive husband who drinks. The next day, he forgets all about every horrible thing he did, is nice as he can be for a bit, and then he does it all over again. It's not wise to believe what someone like that promises. Or have any dealings with them at all, actually, if you have any self-esteem.
To tell you the truth, I hate to keep reporting this stuff, because it seems once a month they make this type of announcement. This month it's: "Blake Stowell, director of public relations at SCO, estimates that roughly 2.5 million servers are running Linux based on the 2.4 kernel, and all of the owners of these servers could face billing from SCO. " And then it seems like the stock shoots up again, and then somebody sells some more stock, according to a preset plan, of course, and then it calms down a bit, and then the following month, it starts again. But then, I could be mistaken, not being an expert in this field.
SCO's man in Australia, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, tells us that it is not a pump and dump. So that's that. Here's what he said at the Australian Unix Users Group (AUUG) annual conference in Sydney, Australia:
"'This is not a stock 'pumping' exercise, rather, SCO feels it has no choice [but] to sue, having tried to resolve the IP issues without the use of litigation,' he said."
So you cynics better just quit it. It's official. It's not a stock pumping exercise. There is a funny report from Greg Lehey on Martin Pool's blog on watching O'Shaughnessy's face as Greg did a show and tell on the code and demonstrated what he believes to be its actual origins. However, O'Shaughnessy is a true believer, and facts momentarily confuse but do not alter the core beliefs of true believers, and thus he went on to say, despite all the facts in evidence:
" 'This IP battle is only one part of SCO's business and is an add-on component. The core of SCO's business is profitable,' he said. . . .SCO owns the Unix operating system and we have found significant Unix code in Linux."
Huh? What was that about profitable? Run that past me one more time, because I have been reading quarterlies and things like that all day. A more detailed version of what Lehey said about the code is here. Con Zymaris, CEO of services provider Cybersource and convenor of business lobby Open Source Victoria, also then spoke to the issue of copyright, to which true believer O'Shaughnessy said:
" 'Kieran O'Shaughnessy, managing director of SCO Group in Australia, said he could not answer any 'technical' or 'legalistic' questions about the examples of code.
" 'But Linux is an unauthorised derivative of Unix and there is significant Unix code in Linux ... some 1,000,000 lines,' he said.
"Asked whether he thought the media attention surrounding SCO's IBM lawsuit and threats to commercial Unix users would hamstring open source, O'Shaughnessy said it was not SCO's intention to damage the open source industry.
"He denied that SCO was a dying company and that SCO had threatened personal users of Linux with lawsuits, as had been widely reported in the media."
Speaking of a million lines of code, you might find it interesting to follow Martin's math, on the same page as Lehey's report, but at the very bottom of the page. He points out that Linux and UNIX don't have much in common, and if you subtract everything, and, well, let him tell it:
"Cutting out the bits of code that don't exist in SCO, while still giving them the benefit of the doubt, I get rather less than a million lines of code. Perhaps 500,000, depending on how you cut it.
"I just don't think there *are* a million lines of common functionality between Linux and SCO. If I was starting from scratch to write something like Linux, and I had carte blanch to copy from SCO then I don't think there are a million lines I'd be able to use. (And this is to say nothing of SCO's notoriously bad code quality, which made Linux such a pleasant change years ago.)
"You could do this more rigorously by going through SCO's feature list and picking out the particular files in Linux that match: a driver for this IDE chip and that SCSI card and so on. It's more work than I care to put into it at the moment, and I'd lay money that you won't get to a million lines."
He goes on to question the actual monetary worth of their code. No way to arrive at a sum certain before the trial, though, because Mr. O'Shaughnessy says,"It is not in our interests to release key evidence before the trial."
That's the thing about logic and true believers. You can talk all day and present evidence to the max, and it doesn't even dent their consciousness. They walk away exactly the same as they started.
I noted that the article on LinuxWorld mentions: "Also present in the audience was IBM Australia and New Zealand Linux business manager Geoff Lawrence who declined to comment." Those IBM dudes are way cool.
AntiFUD is an important part of this battle, which is why IBM is launching an advertising campaign about Linux. But legally they're like circling sharks. Not a sound. Just water rippling ever so slightly on the surface, a brief glimpse of a fin, as they slowly circle. Until it's time to lunge.