Fence sitting (SCO Lawsuit)
Sat Dec 27 12:48:45 GMT 2003 Fence sitting (SCO Lawsuit)
In a recent newsgroup thread ( ql0Hb.467894$Dw6.1377342@attbi_s02), I found this:
Once again, I ask the fence-sitters: at what point do you actively DISBELIEVE SCO's claims? Surely any doubt that SCO's management are lying has to have gone now?
I have to ask: What fence?
What this is about is the refusal of people like me to join the anti-SCO rhetoric. We're supposed to hop on the wagon, come to Jesus, rally round the flag, and all that.
In some ways, these folks sound like rabid baseball fans ranting on and on about the other team and demanding that I take a side on who will win the pennant. I know nothing about baseball, and more importantly, I don't care. The analogy is imperfect because I do care about the larger issues that surround this issue, but I'm neither a SCO fan or a SCO hater: I'm just a guy who makes some of his living from the products they sell.
Here's what I "believe": SCO management looks like a bunch of incompetent boobs at this point. That could change tomorrow, or they could smear more egg on their faces. Either way, it doesn't really matter, because what matters is what happens with this lawsuit, and what REALLY matters is how it all affects Linux and open source going forward.
As to this imaginary fence, it doesn't exist. It's impossible for me to have any opinion about the validity of SCO's IP claims or about the likelihood of any particular legal strategy being successful. That's not a fence: that's simple in the dark ignorance. I don't have knowledge of Unix or Linux internals, so I wouldn't have any idea whether a piece of code was "stolen". Nor am I lawyer, so while I might hope that the anti-GPL arguments are nothing to concern anyone, I don't have the knowledge to argue the point. I do see lawyers who presumably do have the knowledge taking opposite stances, and I am very aware that politics can override law anyway, so I am not certain that the GPL is as safe as I might wish, but it's not something I can have a strong opionion on.
If you want me to say who I want to win, that's easy: I want Linux to win. Note: not SCO, not IBM, but Linux. Not win the lawsuit, but "win" in the long term. But that's just personal desire, and no matter how many people may share it, no matter how much nonsense they babble about the GPL, pump and dump schemes, etc. it doesn't matter: reality will be whatever it is. And by reality I do NOT mean any reality of who owns what code, but rather the political reality of who wins the suit, and (again much more importantly) what the longer term political effect is. That's the important reality, and if I were just half smart enough to know what that will be, I'd be rich a million times over.
From the strict and narrow viewpoint (forgetting the larger picture of what I think is right for the world), I don't care at all whether SCO wins or loses: all I care about is my clients. And that is driven primarily by a selfish desire to survive. Don't twist that out of context: I have moral considerations in those relationships, but the origin of those relationships is financial. Without the financial impetus, sure, I'd help out people in email or the newsgroups, but I sure wouldn't do as much as I do now. I'm a nice guy, yes, but the base of that is money.
In the larger view, I do believe that Open Source and Linux are the right path for the world, and I don't like those who are trying to prevent that. However, I recognize that this is a political opinion, and that there are arguments to be made for proprietary, patented, copyrighted, locked up commercial software. With regard to that, I have to revert back to my own selfish survival again: I'd rather make my living from Open Source, but I'm not going to starve because of that preference.
My hope is that Linux and Open Source end up stronger as a result of all this. As to SCO.. well, SCO doesn't matter. They will survive or not, the products will continue to be available or not. Realistically, they probably will. Realistically, I'll still be doing at least some SCO work five years from now and even longer. Busineses don't toss out working systems because of political in-fighting. Linux zealots may hate SCO, but that sort of nonsense doesn't change the reality of all the SCO systems that are out there, chugging along, doing their job. Reality is, there is no fence for those businesses.
Some of the SCO haters insist that SCO is dead. I DO NOT believe that it is a dead end product. Even if I had foreknowledge of SCO's corporate demise (and that's not sure bet at all), I still believe that the products will continue to exist for at least several more years. Certainly if their software is becoming unsupported on Unix (RealWorld, Mas90, etc.), people need to look for alternatives. Those folks need to make plans, and those plans should include evaluating whether or not to stay on SCO. But other customers have software quite firmly wedded to a SCO platform, and there's no need for them to get overly excited by any of this. Even the orphaned folk need not panic: their software works, and we could keep it working for at least several years if necessary, and sometimes much longer.
Heck, if it hadn't been for Y2K, I'd still have Xenix customers. I knew an accountant who (last I saw him, around 15 years ago or so) was running his own software on a TRS-80 Model I !!! Talk about dead end :-)
This is political. Nothing most businesses need concern themselves with.
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