Feeds

SCO moves to limit Smoking Gun Memo damage

Don't look at the date

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Mobile application security vulnerability report

SCO has moved to limit the fall-out from a recently unsealed memo, in which incoming Caldera boss Darl McBride was told that the company had no copyright claims on the Linux kernel. The memo said an audit had looked for, but failed to find a "smoking gun". A week later Caldera renamed itself The SCO Group, and three months later hired lawyer David Boies to lead a legal campaign based on its IP claims.

In effect, today's turn of events - in which SCO countered a pro-IBM memo with a pro-SCO memo - reprises an exchange between IBM and SCO lawyers played out last September when the sealed documents were referred to in court. This time we are able to see what they're talking about.

Today's memo is authored by Bob Swartz, whose work is summarized in the "No Smoking Gun" memo. Swartz conducted an analysis of Red Hat Linux 5.2 and compared it to UnixWare and OpenServer code. His conclusions are at odds with the NSG memo we reported yesterday.

Swartz himself draws three conclusions.

"First, many portions of Linux were clearly written with access to a copy of Unix sources," he writes. "Second there is some code where Linux is line for line identical to Unix…. Thirdly, there are also portions of the programs which appear to have been rewritten, perhaps for the purposes of obfuscating that the code is essentially the same."

SCO drew attention to the third point in a briefing issued to the press today. So was there smoke after all?

Alas, Swartz's own memo is dated October 4, 1999, almost three years earlier before the 'No Smoking Gun' summary of his work provided to McBride.

Summarizing Swartz's study in 2002, Michael Davidson wrote -

"Most of this work was automated using tools which were designed to to [sic] fuzzy matching and ignore trivial differences in formatting and spelling)."

Throw both memos into a time machine, which would reverse the dates, and the picture would look very different. Alas time machines are not permitted in US courts. As it is, we must assume that either SCO/Caldera revised its opinion, and after checking the lookalike code found it had no rights to make copyright claims, or that Michael Davidson misreported it entirely in 2002.

"There is, indeed, a lot of code that is common between UNIX and Linux (all of the X Window system for example) but invariably it turned out that the common code was something that both we (SCO) and the Linux community had obtained (legitimately) from a third party," Davidson wrote.

Which is more likely? ®

Related stories

SCO knew Linux doesn't infringe - memo
Novell versus SCO will go to court
SCO watches Q2 revenue and loss shrink
Sun acquires oldSCO for $25m
Insiders reveal SCO's Monterey disarray

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.