They will forget SCO’s story

The SCO Group could not have started a more lopsided fight than its row with IBM. However, there are more urgent doings in White Plains (IBM HQ), such as turning good ideas into barrels of cash, something SCO hasn’t managed for the past 20 years.

Observers — apart from Microsoft and Sun, who’d love to see SCO bleed uber-competitor IBM — are begging IBM to send SCO home in a wheelbarrow. That fate is inevitable even if IBM decides against teaching this pipsqueak some manners.

SCO may indeed have a story to tell, but its chosen means of telling it is egregiously bad form. If IBM actually allowed System V code to leak into other operating systems, SCO would only need to identify the leaks. They would be removed overnight, and their removal would be accompanied by apologies and a cheque covering realistic damages. That appears to be what happened when UnixSystem Labs teamed with Novell to take the University of California, Berkeley to court, claiming that System V leaked into BSD Unix. USL/Novell proved three instances of leakage, which were promptly plugged. When it was Berkeley’s turn at the podium, it identified mountains of reverse leakage — BSD code that was stripped of BSD’s copyright text and pasted into System V. Oops. The plaintiffs quickly settled.

Open source has commercial and academic backing, freedom-obsessed lawyers, and the one key resource SCO lacks: a contingent of greybeards who are tack-sharp scholars of Unix history. They recall how GNU, the Open Software Foundation, and the public release of BSD combined to cut AT&T — and its System V successors — off at the knees. The crunchies kicked Big Bell out of the software business for good. That same gang of amateurs, much larger in numbers now and infinitely better equipped, ought to have no trouble dealing with SCO.

Put all the corporate friends of open source together, add thousands of angry and obsessive Internet sleuths going over SCO with electron microscopes, and you conclude that SCO’s future looks rather bleak.

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