Feeds

SCO moves to limit Smoking Gun Memo damage

Don't look at the date

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.