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jdavidb (1361)

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J. David Blackstone has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering and nine years of experience at a wireless telecommunications company, where he learned Perl and never looked back. J. David has an advantage in that he works really hard, he has a passion for writing good software, and he knows many of the world's best Perl programmers.

Journal of jdavidb (1361)

Wednesday March 03, 2004
08:59 AM

AutoZone under fire

[ #17739 ]

I sent the following to my father, brother, and fiance this morning. We buy a lot of stuff at AutoZone. I didn't even know they were using Linux. I'll be sure to keep giving them my business.

In spite of this whole mess, I still believe the SCO issue will be resolved and result in the complete death of SCO and the nullification of all its claims. Unfortunately they may be able to receive a lot of protection money before that time, and a lot of good companies and people will suffer. Eventually, though, it will be proven that they don't have a legal leg to stand on, even under our messed up "intellectual property" system.

SCO UNIX is suing AutoZone on completely trumped up charges. SCO claims to be the copyright holder to the UNIX operating system. (Actually this claim is dubious, and Novell is the true copyright holder of UNIX.) SCO is run by a bunch of morons who can't tell the difference between Linux being a _clone_ of UNIX, and Linux being a _copy_ of UNIX. They claim that Linux contains parts of the source code to the UNIX operating system, which it does not, so they have been claiming for the last year now that they are owed royalties wherever Linux is used.

They have been blowing smoke all this time, threatening to sue people, and extorting money. Several large companies that don't know enough to refute SCO's claims have paid their exhorbitant license fees. All this time several people have been demanding that SCO put up or shut up; they have not been able to identify the lines of code in Linux that they claim come from UNIX, they have not been able to prove that they and not Novell own the UNIX copyright, and they have not actually sued anyone for running Linux without a license. Now they are actively going after a company that has done nothing wrong.

This is serious. People are trying to fight this in court but most companies aren't going to be able to respond to litigation, they will just pay the racket. The right to use this program, which is not at all a copy of UNIX, will be taken away from everybody. This program represents the hard work of thousands of people and companies like IBM. If SCO wins the right to claim ownership of Linux, it will be like Macintosh being able to claim ownership of Microsoft Windows since it is also a clone. Unfortunately judges aren't always technically competent and can't necessarily understand the difference.

SCO UNIX is a dying product and a dying company. Hardly anyone uses their version of UNIX anymore, although it was the first widely available version that ran on regular home and office PCs. Most people instead use Sun's Solaris or IBM's AIX. They aren't making any money anymore, so the owners of the company have decided to try to milk this supposed "intellectual property" for all its worth.

The scary thing is the threat to freedom. Free software isn't about the price; it's about the freedom for people to use and modify software any way they like. There are wonderful things going on in the world because of it that I could talk about forever. Linux is a piece of intellectual property owned primarily by one man, Linus Torvalds. If SCO gets ownership it will be a case of a company being able to steal the intellectual property and hard work of a man, just because they are a company. The rights of private people to produce intellectual property like the corporations will be threatened. We're looking at the possibility of a world where only "official software companies" are allowed to produce software, where only "official news agencies" are allowed to report the news, where only "official movie makers" are allowed to make movies, and where only "official publishing companies" are allowed to publish books. Far too many people seem to have the idea that rights like these only apply to companies engaged in those businesses, instead of any individual who'd like to join in and compete. This kind of viewpoint entrenches the existing companies in each field and makes it harder if not impossible for individuals to have successful new startups that challenge and improve the way things are done.

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  • SCO UNIX is a dying product. Seriously, I use it quite often at my current job (I'm leaving it, thankfully), and I can testify: it's not dying. It's dead and it smells pretty bad. For example it's bundled with perl 5.004_04, and the rest is just as recent. OpenUNIX (aka UnixWare) is the most horrible OS I've ever used -- unmanageable, confusing, substandard, full of bugs, unstable (needs at least one reboot per day), slow, with poor hardware support, with poor documentation, etc. etc. I hate it.