SCO puts disputed code in the spotlight

Technology launches take second place at SCO's confab to a defense of the legal battles against Linux, as the company displays the lines of code it says were copied from its Unix.

3 min read
LAS VEGAS--SCO Group's legal battles against Linux took center stage at the company's partner and customer conference, as executives displayed lines of disputed code and vowed to continue their fight.

The Lindon, Utah-based company 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 with Linux systems, warning them that they may be violating copyright laws by using the increasingly popular operating system.

During the first two hours of a morning keynote session at SCO Forum here Monday, CEO Darl McBride outlined the company's legal strategy and tried to convince SCO partners and customers that it is fighting the good fight.

"We're fighting for the right in the industry to be able to make a living selling software," McBride told the audience. He compared this right to the ability "to send your children to college" and "to buy a second home."

McBride said that pattern-recognition experts SCO hired have ferreted out a slew of infringing code in Linux.

"They have found already a mountain of code," he said. "The DNA of Linux is coming from Unix."

McBride's message was reinforced by comments from Chris Sontag, head of the company's SCOsource effort to extract more revenue from its Unix intellectual property, and attorney Mark Heise, one of the Boies, Schiller & Flexner partners who is working on SCO's intellectual property case.

Sontag said the inclusion of its Unix code in Linux has enabled the open-source operating system to attain world-class status among big customers.

"I can understand one or two lines being in common," said Sontag, who is charged with maintaining the company's intellectual property rights surrounding Unix. "But when you're talking about this level of variables being the same?the comment sections all being the same, it's problematic."

Sontag then showed, in a series of slides, Linux code that he claimed has been literally copied from Unix. He said numerous comments, unusual spellings and typographical errors had also been copied directly into Linux.

Much of the Unix code in the slides was obscured, because the company wants to keep its intellectual property under wraps, but SCO is allowing people who want to see a more extensive side-by-side comparison during the conference to do so if they sign a nondisclosure agreement.

Sontag also said thousands of lines of Unix have made their way into Linux in the form of derivative works that should have been bound by SCO licensing agreements that require licensees to keep the code secret. The company said several enterprise features of Linux--the NUMA (nonuniform memory access), RCU (read-copy update), SMP (symmetrical multiprocessing), schedulers, JFS (journal file system) and XFS (extended file system) portions--all include copied code. The company broke out the number of lines of code that had been directly copied from each. It said, for example, that more than 829,000 lines of SMP code had been duplicated in Linux.

"A number of entities have violated contracts and contributed inappropriate content into Linux," Sontag said.

Upcoming products
The company spent so much time at the conference discussing its legal battles over Linux that its product plans took second billing. During a later keynote session Monday, Erik Hughes, SCO's director of product management, outlined SCO's upcoming products.

The company introduced portions of SCOx, the company's Web services initiative announced in April. The launch included SCOx WebFace Solution Suite, which is designed to allow developers and customers to easily make their applications and services Web-enabled and some application programming interfaces (APIs) that will let partners and customers build on the system.

Other software launches Monday were UnixWare Office Mail Server 2.0, messaging and collaboration software that aims to compete with Microsoft Exchange, and SCO Authentication 2.1 for Microsoft Active Directory, designed to easily share user identities across Unix and Windows environments.

The SCO Forum crowd applauded when SCO executives announced that an upcoming version of its OpenServer--code-named Legend--will support the latest releases of Java; include new hardware support, such as universal serial bus (USB) printer drivers; contain expanded security features; and provide better compatibility with Microsoft Windows through version 3 of Samba, which is developed by an open-source group. The OpenServer update is scheduled to debut in the fourth quarter of next year.

SCO plans to go into further detail about those products and others during upcoming sessions at the conference, which runs through Tuesday.