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SCO actions prompt Linux warning

Analyst firm Gartner tells customers to minimize use of Linux on vital systems because of questions resulting from SCO Group's warnings about legal liability.

Analyst firm Gartner has recommended that customers minimize their use of Linux on important systems because of questions resulting from SCO Group's warnings about legal liability.

"Although Gartner has reservations on the merits of (SCO's claims), don't take them lightly," Gartner analyst George Weiss advised in a May note. "Minimize Linux in complex, mission-critical systems until the merits of SCO's claims or any resulting judgments become clear."

Two weeks ago, SCO sent 1,500 letters to the world's largest companies, warning that they could face legal action for using Linux, which SCO says includes its own proprietary source code that was copied from Unix. The move grew out of a $1 billion lawsuit against IBM that alleges Big Blue broke its contract with SCO by misappropriating trade secrets that it moved from Unix into Linux.

Novell, which bought Unix copyrights and patents from its original owner, AT&T, has disputed SCO's Unix intellectual property ownership.

Regardless of Gartner's advice, SCO's letters aren't having an effect, said Joe Eckert, a spokesman for Linux seller SuSE, whose business relationship with SCO is on the rocks.

"We've not seen a single hesitation from customers--just look at Munich," he said, referring to a decision by the German city government to install Linux on 14,000 desktop computers. SuSE's customers "simply do not believe that SCO, even if it has a case, will impact them--Linux is simply an inevitability."

In the advisory, Gartner's Weiss said he believes SCO's actions could be motivated in part by a desire to be acquired, which could let "SCO investors...exit with good returns," a motivation that SCO has denied.