Red Hat reassures Linux users, Gartner advises protection

Linux vendor Red Hat has moved to reassure its customer base that SCO’s claims against the operating system, although taken seriously by the company, are baseless.

Alex Pinchev, president of international operations at Red Hat, said the company is receiving questions about the matter from customers.

“As the leader in the marketplace, Red Hat takes SCO’s allegations very seriously,” Pinchev said. “SCO has produced no data to back up its claims. We don’t believe SCO and just don’t see a case.”

Pinchev said Red Hat has gone to great lengths to check the Linux source code and does not see how any of it could have been “stolen”.

“Red Hat and its partners including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Oracle, and Sun have an army of lawyers and will not be threatened by SCO,” Pinchev said.

Research firm Gartner has also made public its opinion of the case by stating that companies using Linux shouldn't take the matter lightly.

The possibility that SCO will act on its warning that it may sue Linux users is remote, but companies should nonetheless take steps to protect themselves, Gartner analyst George Weiss wrote in a research note.

Gartner's recommendations for companies using Linux include:

  • Minimising the use of Linux in "complex, mission-critical systems" until the dust clears on the validity of SCO's claims.
  • Securing a "comprehensive" support contract that covers pre-installation, configuration testing and operating-system certification for large Linux deployments on platforms from major vendors, such as HP, IBM, Sun and Dell.
  • Having the IS and legal departments examine closely any Linux or open-source software before adopting it, with a focus on where it came from and how it was put together.

Weiss points out that SCO is unlikely to pull back from its legal threats, and that a settlement between SCO and IBM wouldn't insulate Linux users from lawsuits.

Speculation as to the various motives for the SCO lawsuit are, for the most part, financially related. According to Weiss, SCO investors could win big if IBM decides to solve the matter by buying the company, and SCO could boost its revenue stream with additional royalties from Linux users, if it triumphs in court.

Mark de Visser, vice president of marketing at Red Hat, while in Australia last week, said SCO’s motives for attacking Linux are unclear.

“Is it most inappropriate of SCO to threaten Red Hat and the wider Linux community in this way,” de Visser said. “We will do everything to protect our customers.”

Both Pinchev and de Visser disagree with claims that users need to take evasive action with Linux.

-- with Juan Carlos Perez

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