CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Week in review: SCO shows the code

The legal battle over Linux escalates, with the company revealing controversial code that it says was pilfered, but skeptics remain unconvinced.

The SCO Group's legal battle over Linux escalated as the company revealed some of the controversial code that it says was pilfered, but some skeptics remained unconvinced.

The surprise feature attraction at the SCO Forum in Las Vegas was a presentation of slides of Linux code that the company claimed has been literally copied from Unix. Much of the Unix code in the slides was obscured because the company wants to protect its intellectual property, but SCO allowed people who wanted to see a more extensive side-by-side comparison during the conference to do so if they signed a nondisclosure agreement.

SCO offered customers, partners and the merely curious the chance to view the code for themselves, as long as they signed a nondisclosure agreement. Companies involved in litigation traditionally keep such information under wraps in order not to tip their legal hand, but SCO said it decided to display the code because its critics were charging that it didn't have a case.

However, as pictures of contested Linux code made their way around the Web, open-source enthusiasts scoffed at SCO claims that the code shows the company has legal rights over parts of the popular operating system. On chat boards devoted to the OS, Linux supporters roundly condemned SCO, saying some of the code displayed actually dates from the 1970s and is covered under a BSD license that allows the sharing of the code.

"Are these their best examples?" open-source leader and well-known Debian developer Bruce Perens asked during an interview with CNET News.com on Wednesday. "Their examples are bogus."

SCO has rattled Linux users by suing IBM, claiming that the company inserted unauthorized code from SCO's Unix into Linux. SCO has also sent letters to corporations that use Linux systems, warning them that they may be violating copyright laws by using the increasingly popular operating system.

Worms' double whammy
A "good" Internet worm and a new malicious mass-mailing computer virus created an enormous amount of network traffic, slowing some corporate systems. The Internet worm--called MSBlast.D, W32.Welchia or W32/Nachi--started compromising computers Monday and has overwhelmed some corporate networks with its aggressive scans for vulnerable hosts.

Despite the apparent lack of malicious intent, the worm still sends a great deal of unwanted traffic, as it tries to spread to other computers. In addition, if several computers download the patch from Microsoft at the same time, it could slow network performance.

Meanwhile, a new variant of the mass-mailing Sobig virus, called W32/SoBig.F, took off on Tuesday, swamping many companies' mail servers and gaining the distinction of being the biggest virus to date.

Sobig.F, like previous variants of the virus, forges the source address of every e-mail it sends, using addresses culled from the Windows address book or found in cached Web pages. When e-mail gateways detect a message with a virus attached, they typically dispatch a warning about the infection to the sender. In the case of Sobig.F, the response is sent to a person that most likely hasn't been infected.

The double whammy caused problems on some corporate networks but not for the Internet at large. America Online said it scanned 40 million e-mail attachments on Wednesday--about four times the average daily volume--and found more than 23 million copies of the Sobig.F virus. VeriSign said it was able to measure the effects of the Sobig virus and estimated that at least 100,000 computers on the Internet had been infected by the virus.

Mixed messages
The Federal Communications Commission agreed to lift restrictions that have barred AOL Time Warner from offering advanced instant messaging services including videoconferencing. FCC commissioners voted to drop the restriction, which was imposed by the commission when it approved the merger between AOL and Time Warner in January 2001.

The ruling by the FCC said that AOL Time Warner offered compelling evidence that competition with Microsoft and Yahoo was alive and well and that allowing AOL to offer "advanced instant messaging-based high-speed video services" would offer a third alternative to MSN's and Yahoo's video streaming services and "accelerate the pace of innovation for IM services."

For its part, Microsoft is forcing people to upgrade to newer versions of its instant messenger application and is shutting its doors to third-party IM products such as Trillian. As of Oct. 15, users of Microsoft's free Web-based MSN Messenger and its Windows XP-based Windows Messenger will need to upgrade their software to a newer version or be shut out of the service.

Oct. 15 also will mark the deadline for Trillian support for MSN Messenger. Trillian is software that integrates multiple IM clients into a common interface. Though it doesn't enable IM services to communicate directly with one another, it lets people view all of their buddy lists from various services under one window.

Net disharmony
An anonymous California computer user went to court to challenge the recording industry's file-trading subpoenas, charging that they are unconstitutional and violate her right to privacy. The legal motion is the first from an individual whose personal information has been subpoenaed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in recent months.

The RIAA has used court orders to try to identify more than 1,000 computer users that it alleges have been offering copyrighted songs on file-trading networks. It plans to use the information gained to file copyright lawsuits against the individuals.

The recording industry's legal efforts may be putting a dent in file swapping. A new report says online file swapping started dropping in May, shortly after the RIAA publicly hinted that it may go after individual file swappers. The number of households acquiring music fell from a high of 14.5 million in April to 12.7 million in May, and to 10.4 million in June, according to NPD.

NPD defined music acquisition as obtaining songs through paid sites, ripping CDs, and file-swapping sites. Of the three categories, file swapping accounted for about two-thirds of all music acquired during the three months.

Also of note
Intel raised its financial outlook for the third quarter, citing better-than-expected PC chip sales...Apple Computer started shipping two models of its Power Mac G5, with a dual-processor version of the desktop computer set to ship this month...Some companies have expressed concern that their affiliates are infringing their trademarks in keyword-search advertising...A power outage in eBay's Web-hosting facility crippled the Web-auction service for nearly three hours.