Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

SCO has offered to document its far-reaching infringement claims against Linux for independent experts. The creator of Linux wants someone believable on the panel.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds has suggested Damage Studios cofounder and former Slashdot editor Chris DiBona for membership on the panel of experts to which SCO executive Chris Sontag has offered to reveal evidence of copying code from SCO UnixWare to Linux.

Appointing a believable panel would be difficult, Torvalds said in an e-mail interview. "I suspect the people I'd like to see are not people SCO would care for or [who] would be able to sign an NDA on it. The thing I would want is somebody who is able to actually trace things back in time to be able to make a judgment of whether it came from UnixWare or from Linux. Somebody who is technical enough and has enough background in the kernel that he can follow it down without going mad", he said.

However, Torvalds did suggest DiBona as one possible candidate, along with suggestions to consider "the crowd around Tim O'Reilly" or "any journalist who is technically competent".

DiBona said in an e-mail interview that he is willing to look at SCO's evidence, and he does not have any legal "taint" from previous development work that would make him unable to do so. As an experienced programmer with a background in regression testing and security software, DiBona says he would have to consider the possibility that similar code could be evidence of convergence, not infringement.

"In millions upon millions of lines of code, you can likely expect that in two completely different codebases with much of the same desired outcome (OS, printer driver, whatever) you'll find similar code segments", he said.

Torvalds cited a linux-kernel mailing list (lkml) posting from Christoph Hellwig, a former employee at SCO, then called Caldera. Hellwig points out the impracticality of actually getting copied code from UnixWare accepted by the tough critics on the mailing list. "The kernel internals are so different that you'd need a big glue layer to actually make it work and you can guess how that would be ripped apart in a usual lkml review", Hellwig wrote.

Don Marti is Editor in Chief of Linux Journal.

______________________

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Unix administration philosophy is now on Windows 2003 server

Anonymous's picture

Microsoft is now doing roadshows to promote their new Windows 2003 server. The way I see its key features are:

1) *Every* administrative task can be done *without* the GUI tools.
2) About 60 new CLI commands now can be used either on local shell or telnet.
3) All administrative tasks now can be made with user writen scripts.
4) All security settings are *safe* or *closed* by default.
5) Their new web server was rewrited from scratch.

I dont know what you guys think, but, since the above just describes a regular-any-flavour-unix-like server, I am pretty sure WE WIN !!!!!!!!!

Going a little far I can risk say that MS has finally bended to what market wants and abandoned that stupid idea of server administration they have sold since NT launch.

Of course they do their best to dont let their users see this "catch"
and the SCO move is just for FUD ...

Microsoft and SCO

Anonymous's picture

Microsoft has stepped into the issue to provide SCO with a seemingly legitimate source of financial backing for its court case and to make it look like the old UNIX source code still has value and is worth defending. I'd say SCO is the pawn here. Microsoft is terrified of the open source movement, as are most traditional software vendors. You can now find quality software to do anything you want on almost any platform for free. How do you sell software in this new world? You can't, unless it's just a CD, manual and pretty box for about $50 max. Open source will transform the software industry into a service industry, and many traditional software companies are going to find their crappy code/intellectual property totally worthless. Revolutions are never pretty, and this one is going to be particularly bloody.

Re: Microsoft and SCO

Anonymous's picture

It is amazing to me how many people want to blame Microsoft for this mess because they (MS) licensed Unix. What would you have MS do? Stand up to SCO? For what reason? MS has been very outspoken on "intellectual property" so it stands to reason that they would pay to license from SCO. They are practicing what they preach. Where is the crime in that?

If you want to be paranoid, here is a real reason: MS *is* quietly embracing open-source! Take a look at what they are doing with .NET. Even Sun's Java isn't open-source (surprised, aren't ya?). MS is moving to open-source and Sun isn't. Now there is a reason to be worried. MS once said the Internet was a fad. Now they own 95% of the browsers out there. Does anyone else see a trend here or is your paranoid jealousy blinding you? Put your unfounded loyalties aside and look at the facts.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

One problem that I see is whether an acceptable NDA can be crafted, or even should be.

Whether the allegation is true or not, anyone who signs an NDA will greatly hamper their future ability to touch any code in any area that they have perused under the NDA.

And consider, if the allegation proves unfounded, SCO has shown that they will aggressively assert infringement that may not be verifiable. Can they be trusted to not make similar assertions against whoever signs such an NDA?

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

In my opinion if there are any portions of code what are really tainted by copying code from the SCO Unix, they (SCO) must reveal this information to all the Linux developers. It could be a mistake to accept any NDA in this case. The Open Source development is based on different philosophy than "patent right" and "intellectual property" fiddling of big corporations. Why not to force SCO to accept our principles? They are going to drag IBM and end users to court in order to boost their shares value and make FUD against Linux etc. but the real defendant in this lawsuit is the community of developers, not a single person nor IBM. They are going to force us to accept their principle of thinking (i.e. closed information circulation, NDAs and dealing with legal problems behind closed doors) and we are defeated just when we accept their batterfield.

Is there any method of opening this issue to the public?

Please remember that software patents are generally not valid in many countries in Europe so if SCO wants later to sue about their patents violation - this should be treated as an international dispute.

Should there are really tainted portions of code, why not to rewrite them?

Is it possible to fire a counter-lawsuit against SCO about their unfair market behaviour? (bullying end users using false statements)? Using such methods of fighting competitors is forbidden in my country.

I may be wrong in my opinions stated here since I live in Eastern Europe and I'm a programmer, not a lawyer, so I may be not aware of the American legal system details.

A.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

how can we be sure of the oposite? that SCO took Linux code, add it to UnixWare, and then claimed that it was their own? they should have the code patented before it appeared on Linux ...

Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

Linux creator Linus Torvalds

If it were Algore in linux journal news, would he be credited as Internet creator Algore?

Besides the kernel, what gnu applications has Linus created?

Wouldn't it be accurate to say something like: Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, instead of the inaccurate statement made by linux journal? Or how about Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds?

The current "Linux" title is attributed these days to the kernel, and the gnu applications, and possibly/probably additional applications, that make up an entire "Linux" distribution or release.

To perpetuate the myth that Linus Torvalds created Linux as it is known today, is to shortchange another talented and gifted individual, the man whose efforts combined with Linus Torvalds efforts, and along with the tens of thousands of additional particpants, helped maked "Linux" what it is today.

Without Gnu, and the GPL, Linux would be but a gleam in the eye of Linus Torvalds.

And with the coming drm in the kernel thanks to marching orders from Linus' employer Transmeta, it will be an even more striking contrast in the future between the two men. One who created the linux kernel and allowed drm to pollute it, and one who created Gnu and the GPL, and who is fighting valiantly on to save Gnu/linux and all computer users from the anti-gpl, and pro-drm forces.

A more striking contrast there could not be. Richard Stallman is as much a creator of "Linux" as Linus Torvalds is.

For Linux Journal to perpetuate the inaccuracy is shocking.

SHOCKING.

~~~~~~~
ONLC

Re: Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

except this article and this whole SCO vs IBM thing IS about the kernel, which was NOT created by RMS. RMS made the GNU code which is used in conjunction with the Linux kernel to get a "GNU/Linux OS"

Re: Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

Yes, since there's a few [anchient] things from the GNU foundation in there (like EMACS, which I never -ever- use...), we should call it GNU/Linux... Since I have Sun openOffice, it should be Sun/GNU/Linux. Hmm but Shost-script is from Alladin... Alladin/Sun/GNU/Linux... SAPDB is from SAP AG... The kernal and JFS has some things from IBM. Let's not forget SGI's FAM... Redhat/IBM/Intel/Alladin/SGI/Sun/GNU/Linux... should we put everyone's name in there who has ever contributed a line of Code?

Or are we doing it by licenses?
GNU/BSD/SISSL/Etc./Linux ?
not much better.

GCC is ok, emacs is ok, "ls", etc. is ok, but we wouldn't be "lost" without them - expecially since we could use BSD "ls", etc. with Linux the Kernel.

(BTW... they said "linux" creater to mean that he only created the kernel which is how RMS seems to like it...)

The comments on DRM are just silly.

-- Thank you, drive through

Re: Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

If you asked RMS, he'd say that he had nothing to do with the creation of Linux. He works on GNU and Hurd.
He's trying to get people to refer to the kernel as 'Linux' and the OS as 'GNU/Linux', and you're complaining, on his behalf, about somebody labeling it the way he likes it.
Ironic.

Re: Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

Linus is the Linux creator.
Assume you have a Linux box in front of you running XFree86, bash, KDE or Gnome, mozilla, openoffice.org, and whatever other open source applications you want to run. The only difference between this box, and one running openbsd, netbsd, or openbsd is the kernel. The GNU tools and open source fit over a wide range of kernels. The only thing about your installation uniquely Linux is the kernel.
That doesn't mean Linus wrote every tool necessary to make a functional OS, but he did father the kernel, and the kernel's name is Linux. Referring to the whole package as Linux is really just a synecdoche (similar to referring to your car as your "wheels").

Mike

Re: Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

Richard? Is this you?

Re: Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

The Gnu Project would have us refer to "Linux" as "Gnu/Linux" because technically only the kernel is actually called "Linux".

Secondly, Linus IS the creator of the Linux kernel.

Based on the above, the Linux Journal headline is correct.

If the headline said "Gnu/Linux creator..." that would be factually incorrect.

You can't have your cake and eat it.

Re: Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

The article doesn't specify linux kernel. It's using the generic term for linux, which is not limited to the kernel in virtually all references to it. You know it, and we all know it.

Looks like someone else has been eating too much cake.

Or just being disingenuous

Re: Linux creator?

Anonymous's picture

Linus is the creator and original project-wrangler (for the contributed stuff) of the Linux kernel. The suit is alleging SCO's proprietary IP went into the kernel. So we're only talking about Linux here, and RMS would agree.

Have cake. Eat cake. Get over thyself.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

I know nothing of Unix, if it doesn't mean Linux. Is there emacs editor in Unix?

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

i think lawrence lessig should be involved in this.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

Without going into SF scenarios at all:

- at this time it's only a spoken word that Microsoft has licensed the source code of Unix from SCO and THERE IS @ this time no Patent #
-SCO and mICROSOFT are just backing up each other

Maybe the undocumented SCO's idea of UNIX code that has gotten into LINUX kernel came at mICROSOFT's "suggestion".

Why not ? No proof yet, but I'd say it's not impossible at all.

It's a fierce battle out there and companies threatened by LINUX success (as mICROSOFT admitted already) would do ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING to stop LINUX !

zezymonus

Re: Torvalds Suggests ... breath mint/candy

Anonymous's picture

Not to put too weird a spin on things here, but am I the only one here with the vague memory of Microsoft teaming up with Radio Shack in the early 80s to produce what at the time claimed to be the most popular Unix on the market - "SCO Unix?"

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

this is just a dodge to hide microsoft funneling money int SCO to pay for its legal fees. Check it out.. at this time SCO et al has NO patents to lisence. NOT ONE. Th patents attributable to unix(att) still belong to Novell. Al they sold caldera was the source code. the other patent of not belongs to x systems. In fact, SCO doesnt even own the brand name UNIX.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

I'm sure this is rather irrelevant to it all, but I'm just a noob. I still have an opinion though... I see it this way, ok, SCO is getting all whiny over something such as having their code in linux, I rememebr when SCO took over caldera, was it not their sole bragging right that they have some of the "Top linux manufacturers in the open source world..." playing in their field? Now they wanna ***** about it? If you ask me (merely a layman here), SCO doesnt even try to run on my hardware, while redhat does, as well as mandrake, slackware, and ark linux (latest distro's of course) now to me that just shows where the real love for the users is. Like I said though completely worthless post, I just had to get that out.
Don't give up the good fight folks, and remember... Live free or die.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

SCO didn't buy Caldera.

Caldera bought all of the original SCO's Unix IP, including their UnixWare operating system (and got all of SCO's licensing contracts, like the one with IBM). The original SCO changed their name to something else (don't remember what off the top of my head).

Then Caldera, having been soundly beaten in the Linux distro market, decided to change their name to SCO Group (most people just call them SCO or SCO Caldera), probably to shed the muddied Caldera name.

It's worth noting that SCO Group says that Linux could not have done things like get SMP support without help from someone (implying that IBM did it, and did it by using code licensed from SCO in Linux), when in reality it was Caldera (now SCO Group) who gave Alan Cox an SMP system so that he could get SMP for Linux working.

What's more, SCO Group's UnixWare OS only supports something like 2 CPUs. This, and the fact that no one ever considered SCO Group experts in SMP (got a system with lots of CPUs in need of an OS? SCO Group wouldn't even be on the list of companies to look at), defeats their claims that Linux couldn't have gotten SMP support without somebody (again, implying IBM) illegally putting SCO Group's IP in Linux.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

What if SCO took Caldera Linux code and put it in UNIXWARE. Then when the two are compared it would look as if Linux had copied SCO. Since SCO wasn't open source, how could you prove who copied who ?

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

Lets call a spade a spade. The reason there probably isn't any source code from SCO in the kernel code is that it's not very good code, some of it very ancient and fusty, done with older programming techniques and by people who have long since ceased to care anything about it.

What a crock of *****, SCO should be bought up by IBM, and fired en masse. Then IBM would have full control of that code and it could be incorporated as needed.

Chris Sontag = chief weasel...

Bahhhh.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

This is appears exactly what SCO wants, to be bought out for a nice lump sum. Why would IBM want control of useless old code? SCO are doomed and they know it, this is a last ditch attempt to make some cash. Very sad.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

Useless old code?

Without that "Useless Old Code", there would be no *BSD/Linux

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

How about some people who are not Linux people, but who have experience with Unix and who are trustworthy. People like Kirk McKusick who went through this with the AT&T vs BSD lawsuite or Rob Pike who used to do Unix and Plan 9 at Bell Labs or an academic like Andrew Tanenbaum. Think outside the Linux box to people who have a great deal of software experience with Unix and Unix-like operating systems and who are trustworthy.

Agreed; add Larry Wall and John Lions

Anonymous's picture

Good suggestions, especialy, imho, Pike.

For my 2c: The panel needs Pike and Lions as people familiar with the development of the UNIX Kernel, Larry as "one of those guys around Tim O'Reilly" who would be a great archaeologist and glue-maker. If Larry can't, then someone else from the Perl development community who's an accomplished and community-trusted programmer but not in the open-source-or-bust crowd: e.g. Damian Conway or Sriram Srinivasan.

Having more key academics is another good idea, but I'm not qualified to suggest names.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

Yes...we definately should get all three of those people on the panel. We should also have IBM's top code-researchers on it. And some independant AIX geeks. AT&T and Novell reps. BSD coders.

But that is absolutely, in no way, ever even mistakable for an argument against having "Linux people" on the panel. We need all the folks I mention above, *and* we need Linux gurus. What are you, crazy? No "Linux people" on a panel trying to research LINUX CODE?

What a stupid plan. Those people are necessary because they are familiar with the code in question. How is that not outrageously obvious?

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

No, we should not get IBM top code researchers involved, nor top Linux people involved. The issue here is about "Intellectual Property" "contamination". SCO not only alleges violation of copyright but also of the trade secrets stored in the code. By viewing the alleged code violations, the threat of future lawsuits based on "leaks" from those who viewed SCO code and secrets is increased. You want trustworthy third parties involved here. The great thing about open source software is that the history of the code is available to anyone. You can research who/where/when patches came from and trace the history of the code, without having to have been directly involved.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

RJDohnert's picture

We need somebody who has experience with Linux because it will ultimately come down to it. I doubt SCO will show it to DiBona because whats to say he doesnt violate the NDA and run back and tell Linus.

Re: Torvalds Suggests DiBona for SCO Panel

Anonymous's picture

I'm actually fine with signing an NDA with SCO with the provision that I can reasonably report my findings.

Chris

Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

dmarti's picture

SCO is now claiming to have licensed a patent to Microsoft. However, when I asked SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell for the patent number, he replied, "Our confidentiality agreements with MS don't allow us to disclose this. When you checked earlier, you may have not checked under AT&T, Unix Systems Laboratories, or Novell, which is where some of the patents may be listed."

A March patent search of all three of the above companies, plus "The Santa Cruz Operation" and "Caldera Systems" showed that today's SCO (once Caldera) had no patents at that time.

In addition, SCO's 10-K filing with the SEC mentions copyrights and trade secrets, but
not patents.

Where's the patent?

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

Anonymous's picture

May BE SCO is in bed with microshaft and is attacking linux on behaf of microshaft

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

Anonymous's picture

Consider this...

SCO (Caldera) produces SCO Linux, which it has been distributing for some time. As a distributor of LINUX, SCO agreed to the terms of GPL. Now, let's assume that SCO's claim that LINUX contains SCO Patented technology, then surely being both owner of such technology and including it in it's own distribution of LINUX, surely has forfeited any proprietary claim to what it itself put into Open Source.

Now, if this same technology has been placed into Open Source, and by inclusion in LINUX, is under GPL, can SCO offer it under license for a fee to MS? If it can, surely it must do so under terms of GPL. Therefore, if MS were to use any such licensed technology, would it not require MS to adhere to the GPL and by default, place all of WINDOWS under terms of GPL and therefore OPEN SOURCE?

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

vonbrand's picture

So SCO licensed the code to _Linux_ under the GPL. It can however license it elsewhere under different terms.

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

Anonymous's picture

Can OS code be decompiled ?

Can't we trace what's inside it?

Aren't there any honest SCO employees? There must be one engineer or developer who has the guts to do the right thing and expose SCO.

They are UNIX people for chrissake. I thought UNIX people were different from the greedy shits at Redmond.

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

Anonymous's picture

The problem is, most of the unix people are weeded out by now. Look at the history of all the buyouts and how SCO came into possession of the rights to unix. Basically, a lot of the unix people were weeded out, or they retired (remember it was started in the late 70s), and basically it just edged its way more and more into the territory of the marketting people and just people who are in it for the money, and don't care about much else.

So they used to be different, now they might as well be the same.

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

Anonymous's picture

Unfortunately, you can't really nail MS on this. At worst, the code would be offered under a dual licensing scheme, and MS would have accepted the terms of the non-GPL license.

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

Anonymous's picture

"Now, if this same technology has been placed into Open Source, and by inclusion in LINUX, is under GPL, can SCO offer it under license for a fee to MS? If it can, surely it must do so under terms of GPL. Therefore, if MS were to use any such licensed technology, would it not require MS to adhere to the GPL and by default, place all of WINDOWS under terms of GPL and therefore OPEN SOURCE?"

My own take is: I don't think so. Although, that said, I'm not a lawyer. But, the way I look at it is:

SCO/Caldera when they distributed their own flavour of linux, being vendors of any product, they should know exactly what they're selling, including the various licences involved, and the act of actually selling the product indicates that they have accepted the source of that product and the licences attached.

That means they were happy to participate in redistributing the code in question under the licences, i.e. GPL.

Now, if that code DID actually originate from SCO (I'm by no means saying that this is the case, I'm just exploring a possibility), then that code is originally licenced under whatever licence SCO released it under. That would mean that they then accepted the redistribution of it under GPL, but only that piece is under GPL, and the original code's licence remains unchanged.

I.e. In this case, there are now two identical but seperate entities, the GPLed code, and the SCO licenced code. (Remember I'm just exploring a possibility here, nothing in this posting is admitting that the code is originally SCO's or that it isn't) So SCO's selling a unixware patent involving SCO's code, the one NOT released under the GPL, therefore it would be closed source - it's not a derivative of the GPLed code.

There's also the question, which up to the courts to decide, if the GPL version is even allowed to exist - i.e. if it was actually stolen, and then released under the GPL, then would it be valid? (i.e. the authors of the code should be the ones to choose what licence the code is released under).

Also, even if the unixware WAS to be released under GPL, Microsoft could release that under GPL, and have the same developer, who'd then have a knowledge of the standards used in unix, develop a similar area in microsoft, adhering to the standards but not using code. That'd be their loophole.

In reply to "can SCO offer it under a license for a fee to MS" of the GPL is that you can charge whatever you want for the GPLed product, just so long as the source is provided when they receive it. But it's not GPLed so this is a moot point really.

And with all that said, I think I should point out that this comes with a HUGE DISCLAIMER that I am not a lawyer or solicitor, and I'm not saying that SCO is right or wrong in that matter.

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

Anonymous's picture

Click on "Reply To This" if you want to read the rest of the comment -- the URL is malformed.

Re: Microsoft licenses a SCO patent? What patent?

Anonymous's picture

IBM has sequencing software used for DNA analysis. This code can be used to identify strings in the Linus source code with strings in Linux or Caldera 3.1.1, no longer posted by Caldera.

White Paper
Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI

Linux has become a key foundation for supporting today's rapidly growing IT environments. Linux is being used to deploy business applications and databases, trading on its reputation as a low-cost operating environment. For many IT organizations, Linux is a mainstay for deploying Web servers and has evolved from handling basic file, print, and utility workloads to running mission-critical applications and databases, physically, virtually, and in the cloud. As Linux grows in importance in terms of value to the business, managing Linux environments to high standards of service quality — availability, security, and performance — becomes an essential requirement for business success.

Learn More

Sponsored by Red Hat

White Paper
Private PaaS for the Agile Enterprise

If you already use virtualized infrastructure, you are well on your way to leveraging the power of the cloud. Virtualization offers the promise of limitless resources, but how do you manage that scalability when your DevOps team doesn’t scale? In today’s hypercompetitive markets, fast results can make a difference between leading the pack vs. obsolescence. Organizations need more benefits from cloud computing than just raw resources. They need agility, flexibility, convenience, ROI, and control.

Stackato private Platform-as-a-Service technology from ActiveState extends your private cloud infrastructure by creating a private PaaS to provide on-demand availability, flexibility, control, and ultimately, faster time-to-market for your enterprise.

Learn More

Sponsored by ActiveState