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Collateral Damage

In case you're not up on the particulars, SCO is charging IBM with (among other things) breach of contract for allegedly exposing the proprietary Unix source code it licenses from SCO to the open-source community as part of its development of an enterprise-class Linux. SCO claims Linux could never have reached "Unix performance standards" without the misappropriation of its code by IBM.

It's unclear whether SCO has a legitimate beef; IBM, of course, says it has done nothing wrong. Regardless, SCO appears to be hacking off its nose to spite its face.

That's because SCO is a principal in UnitedLinux, an alliance that's crafting an alternative to Red Hat's Linux distribution. As such, SCO's future is tied to hooking enterprises on Linux, not so much to reigniting its legacy Unix business. Yet by litigating against IBM's alleged contributions to the open-source community, SCO is alienating UnitedLinux partners SuSE, TurboLinux and Conectiva, as well as Linux integrators and customers. "I can't describe the amount of bad feeling this is generating in the Linux community," Anthony Awtrey, vice president of integration at Linux solution provider IDEAL Technology, told CRN shortly after the suit was announced last month. "Unless SuSE dissociates themselves from this fiasco, UnitedLinux is dead."

For its part, SCO maintains that the lawsuit isn't about Linux and the open-source community, that it's about IBM's misuse of SCO's intellectual property. But that's like suing your neighbor for a zoning infringement, then wondering why his kids and friends won't talk to you anymore. If you're SCO, at some point you have to ask yourself: Is this action worth the ill will?

Too Many Questions