While the technology world focused on the SCO and Linux fiasco over the last few months, I sat quietly on the sidelines waiting for a development that would actually spur me to action. So much has been written already that I feel like there isn’t much else to say about it. Still, I’ll feel remiss if I don’t address it at some point, so here’s my point of view on the whole mess: yawn. Thanks for all the entertainment and the drama, SCO, but I’ve got work to do and I’ve already figured out how to do it regardless of what happens. And I don’t need SCO to do it.
Like many of you working in real IT, I’m waiting for something definitive before I make any kind of move with my Linux boxes. In the end, SCO’s aggressive legal action will result in little but ill will among IT folks, because frankly, if I’m ordered to remove Linux from my IT shop with a gun to my head, I’ll just roll out FreeBSD and leverage the built-in Linux Binary Compatibility. I’ve had the discussions with my staff already, and they don’t seem all that concerned about going that route over a weekend or two and we’re up and running on FreeBSD. If there’s any resistance to FreeBSD in our application stack Oracle 8i, for example we’ll just install Solaris for x86 and never look back. The SCO Linux battle is really about ideology (and I have my own convictions) but in the end, my job is pretty simple: keep the IT shop running. I’ll save my political fervour for gubernatorial recall elections, thank you very much.
There is one key point that has been missed in the whole discussion: IT’s love of Linux is not about Linux as much as it’s about the Unix worldview. The sysadmins I know revel in the imperative thrill of the commandline and could care less from a purely practical standpoint whether it comes from FreeBSD, Solaris, or Linux. Linux just happens to be an incredible manifestation of the Unix ethos. If SCO was suing the Free Software Foundation to stop the distribution of FreeBSD, I would be protesting in the streets, but for now, I’m pretty agnostic.
The history of Unix licensing is interesting in an academic way, and the twists and turns of the Unix family tree run throughout the SCO-Unix issue. But my primary concern is simple: will I continue to have access to a low-cost Unix or Unix-like OS that runs on commodity hardware? With FreeBSD, the answer is obvious and the GNU compiler runs on just about anything, so you can still utilise the open source software stack (Perl, Apache, Python, MySQL) you’ve grown to love. SCO, you might be able to pry Linux from the cold dead fingers on one hand, but with the other, I’ll be typing “./configure; make; make install” on a system with an unchallenged and unquestionably legal operating system. Sure, I would miss Linux and curse the bandits who negated the work of my open source heroes, but I’m not fretting over how quickly Apache will compile or run on an Intel-based server running FreeBSD. I just don’t have time for legal shenanigans I’ve got an IT shop to run here.