Open Letter to Jack Powers, Conference Chairman, Enterprise IT Week

by Don Marti

Dear Mr. Powers,

I see that you are scheduled to moderate a discussion at the Enterprise IT Week conference after Darl McBride speaks. Although there may be an interesting debate over the merits of free and proprietary software development models, Mr. McBride is hardly a strong representative of the proprietary side.

As Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn said about King Henry VIII, "S'pose he opened his mouth -- what then? If he didn't shut it up powerful quick he'd lose a lie every time."

Lie: The Berkeley Packet Filter code in Linux is "obfuscated" SCO code.

Fact: Jay Schulist, who never had access to SCO code, implemented it from scratch.


Lie: SCO's 2002 UNIX source release was "non-commercial".

Fact: "The text of the letter, sent January 23, 2002, by Bill Broderick, Director of Licensing Services for Caldera [now SCO], in fact makes no mention of "non-commercial use" restrictions, does not include the words "non-commercial use" anywhere and specifically mentions "32-bit 32V Unix" as well as the 16-bit versions."


Lie: SCO's expert witnesses are "MIT Mathematicians".

Fact: "The SCO Group of Utah has had to backtrack after saying that MIT mathematicians verified its claims that Linux, the center of the popular and freely-available GNU/Linux operating system, is an illegal knock-off."


Lie: SCO owns all rights to UNIX concepts and methods.

Fact: McBride cited parts of IBM's UNIX license out of context. The license also includes this text:

Nothing in this agreement shall prevent LICENSEE from developing or marketing products or services employing ideas, concepts, know-how or techniques relating to data processing embodied in SOFTWARE PRODUCTS subject to this Agreement, provided that LICENSEE shall not copy any code from such SOFTWARE PRODUCTS into any such product or in connection with such service and employees of LICENSEE shall not refer to the physical documents and materials comprising SOFTWARE PRODUCTS subject to this agreement when they are developing any such products or service or providing any such service.


Fact: "Obviously Linux owes its heritage to UNIX, but not its code."

Lie: "We would not, nor will not, make such a claim."



As is clear from the growing torrent of corporate purchase orders and investments flowing to Linux, Mr. McBride's outlandish claims are completely outside the mainstream of the IT industry. Mr. McBride's legal shenanigans have little to do with real-world software development and everything to do with making a quick exit from a failed company.

I would like to encourage you to read some of the background information on Mr. McBride's scheme located at and Both sites have extensive links to SEC filings, court papers and other primary sources.

If you would like a demonstration of how unlikely we in mainstream IT believe Mr. McBride is to succeed in his shakedown, I offer to walk on stage and sell you a copy of Linux for one dollar and give you a signed receipt, in front of Mr. McBride. Please let me know if you're interested.

Don Marti is Editor in Chief of Linux Journal.

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