SCO Still Providing Linux Source Under GPL

Legal FUD or no legal FUD, SCO makes free source code available where it counts.

On May 12, The SCO Group sent a letter to commercial Linux customers announcing "the suspension of our own Linux-related activities". On May 14, SCO announced they are ceasing to sell Linux.

However, SCO is still, as of this writing (May 22), providing Linux source code. When I wrote the review of SCO Linux 4 (see the June 2003 issue of Linux Journal, page 78), SCO provided me with a temporary account on their update service so I could review it. I still have a test computer with SCO Linux installed on it, and I used apt-get to download the Linux kernel from the SCO apt server (linuxupdate.sco.com). I downloaded and installed the "kernel-source#2.4.19.SuSE-106@i586_2.4.19.SuSE-106_i586.rpm" package.

The Linux kernel is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

SCO has stated, "SCO continues to honor our contractual relationships with customers; and will continue to support our Linux customers."

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Steve Hasting first used UNIX on actual paper teletypes. He enjoys bicycling, music, petting his cat and making his Linux computers do new things.

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Re: SCO Still Providing Linux Source Under GPL

gotvim's picture

I'm really confused here? What does this little article have to do with LJ? Is LJ owned or partnered in some way with SCO? It seems this article is a simple SCO blurb and nothing close to an informative article I'd usually find on LJ?

LJ, Please comment on this.

Thank You

Linux for Springbreak

Anonymous's picture

Jepp - that is it 8-) spring-break

SCO Commited Copyright Infringement

Anonymous's picture

SCO has actually claimed that the the linux kernel as they distributed it is NOT properly licenced under the GPL.

They claim that IBM had no authority to mix their Unix code with the linux kernel and therefore that the resulting work is not actually GPL'd. See here for details of this claim. They are actually correct as regards IBM's original creation of this mix, assuming (big assumption) that their claim is actually true.

The problem of this is that the GPL requires SCO, when they distribute either modified sources (GPL 2b) or object code (GPL 3), to place the work "as a whole" under the GPL, regardless of any licencing issues prior. Thus it is no defense, as they imply per the above link, to claim to have received an improperly licenced work. Just as they claim the creation and distribution of a mix of linux and SCO-owned unix violates their copyrights as the owner of the unix portions, so to does THEIR distribution of the same code constitute copyright infringement of the GPL'd portions of the kernel.

In order to win their lawsuit against IBM for creating the linux/unix mix, they have to prove their own infringement by distributing the same without licence. It really doesn't matter whether this infringement was "knowing". Moreover, since they continue to distribute this allegedly improperly licenced linux/unix mix, one can only conclude that they are now doing so knowingly and wilfully, which differentiates them from everybody else who doesn't believe their claims and can't even evaluate their claims because SCO refuses to make public the evidence.

The other possiblitly is that because the GPL says that the act of distribution constitutes agreement, this will be enforced and IBM will have the affirmative defense of explicit authorization after the fact. This would prove that the GPL is "viral" at least for organizations that ship GPL code without knowing what is in it. Then again, selling code without inspecting it carefully under terms written by somebody else that surrender certain IP rights is probably not something that you should ever do if you don't want to give up your IP rights.

Re: SCO Commited Copyright Infringement

gotvim's picture

I'm really confused here? What does this little article have to do with LJ? Is LJ owned or partnered in some way with SCO? It seems this article is a simple SCO blurb and nothing close to an informative article I'd usually find on LJ?

LJ, Please comment on this.

Thank You

SCO even more stupidly funny

Anonymous's picture

I also presume since the original terms of sale were unchanged, each and every SCO customer has a valid GPL licensed distribution that allows them to further redistribute! I suppose the worst case scenareo is one where every Linux distributor and user would then have to have a derived GNU/Linux system they could trace back to an original SCO customer?!

Re: SCO Still Providing Linux Source Under GPL

Anonymous's picture

As long as they distribute compiled software that is GPL/LGPL, the source is up for grabs for up to 3 years from the time they distributed it to you. Any compiled software that is GPL/LGPL that they sold which includes the source, they don't have to redistribute that, but if they provide updates to the program (in compiled form), then you have to right to get a copy of the source (for the updated parts) up to a minimum of 3 years from the time you got the updates.

3. b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

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