My pal Dee-Ann LeBlanc has posted a really good set of links on her O’Reilly weblog all about the SCO vs. Linux community, IBM, etc etc case. Well worth checking out if you have any interest in this weird and oft-inane legal battle.
My perspective on the issue? I believe it’s basically SCO grasping at straws. I was involved with the release of 4.4 BSD (the Berkeley Software Distribution of Unix) and can tell you that we went through extraordinary efforts to ensure that we rewrote every command and kernel module to have them free and clear of the then-restrictive AT&T license. This meant that no-one who had access to AT&T source (System V or SVID) was involved, so we ‘black boxed’ everything. My contribution? I rewrote hunt the wumpus in the games section. Ah, the glory days. 🙂
But as Linux has become more popular it’s no surprise that people have popped out of the woodwork to try and glom onto credit. There’s SCO, obviously, but just as surprisingly, the GNU crowd, led by the brilliant but eccentric Richard Stallman, has also claimed that it should be “GNU/Linux” not just “Linux”, to reflect the significant contribution that GNU software has made. I agree that GNU has done some wonderful work, esp. the compiler suite, but it makes me think of the stickers on the windows of cars about what percentage of content originated in what country. If a typical modern Red Hat Linux distro had a similar sticker, I can’t imagine that it’d list more than about 10% GNU, if that much…
I’m clear about this: if I couldn’t have Mac OS X, which to me is a gorgeous blend of (BSD-based) Unix with the brilliance of the Macintosh “Aqua” interface, I’d be running Red Hat on my desktop system 24×7 instead. And SCO? They had their chance with Caldera and blew it. So it’s time for them to just … fade away.