SCO Round-Up

SCO is charging companies a licencing fee for using Linux – despite the fact that they don’t offer a distribution of the open source operating system, but instead claim ownership over part of the code used in the kernel.

  • Last week SCO claimed that Computer Associates (CA) had bought a “Linux IP Licence”. This would have been a big win for SCO had it been true: instead CA had actually bought some UnixWare licences from the Canopy Group.
  • Midweek, SCO announced legal action against companies using Linux in their business or websites — these were AutoZone, and Daimler-Chrysler.
  • A leaked memo from SCO stated that they’d considered taking action against Bank of America, whilst another leaked memo refers to a much larger amount of funding from Microsoft than previously thought: US$86 million
  • The the court in Nevada where SCO are pursing their legal claims runs its website on a Linux server. They do not possess a licence.
  • The Judge in the case has now ordered SCO to provide the disputed source code. Part of SCO’s tactic has been to not identify the code portion – as soon as the kernel developers know which part they are laying claim to, the kernel will be rewritten (probably over night) and SCO will have no further claim.
  • SCO lost US$2.25 million in the quarter ending 31st January, against an estimated income of US$20,000 in Linux IP Licenses.

The key reason we bring you news in this area is because Linux is a fundamental part of many of the devices that Digital Lifestyles readers use now, or will use in the future: the Linux kernel has been extremely successful as an embedded operating system in consumer devices.

The majority of set-top boxes use a Linux kernel as their operating system, Linux is the core of many phones and PDAs, and PVRs (and PVR-capable cards) are increasingly either Linux-based or feature extensive Linux support. Even your G5 Macintosh running OSX has more than a whiff of the penguin about it, just under that Aqua look and feel. This is because other operating systems are often too flabby to function on the limited hardware available or licensing another operating system can just be too expensive.

If SCO are successful in their legal claim it will push up the cost of licencing the kernel for use in embedded devices.

The Halloween X Memo – Microsoft Funding

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?