back to article SCO's last arguments in 'Who owns Linux?' case vs. IBM knocked out

The end of the near-immortal “Who owns Unix?” case looks to be near after a US judge knocked out the two remaining arguments with which the SCO group hoped to attack IBM. As we reported on Tuesday, Judge David Nuffer of the US District court found against SCO's attempt to work a breach of contract angle in its long-running …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The end [..] looks to be near"

    This is a case of "I'll believe it when I see the body".

    The cancerous, leeching parasite has dragged itself back from the brink way too many times for me to trust this at face value.

    If the Lizard Men are controlling the White House, they're doing it from SCO HQ.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: "The end [..] looks to be near"

      This UserFriendly strip already predicted the end was near:

      Nine. Years. Ago.

      1. hplasm

        Re: "The end [..] looks to be near"


    2. Ole Juul

      Re: "The end [..] looks to be near"

      This is a case of "I'll believe it when I see the body".

      The problem is that we're looking at the body. It's the stink that won't go away.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The end [..] looks to be near"

      I hate zombies in video games. They are hard to kill, and usually require some special limited ammo, or other game mechanic.

      Killing zombies is too much like hard work, and removes the satisfaction of the kill and having the enemy stay down.

      Sorry, I know my gripe is only tangentially related to SCO.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: "The end [..] looks to be near"

      Who told you that the body will not be reanimated with some more money from Leisure Suit Larry?

  2. Adam 52 Silver badge

    How much must this have cost IBM?Anyone not a massive multi national would have had to give up long ago.

    Unfortunately a feature of Courts the world over all the way from the ECHR to Smalleville magistrates, costs of thousands to defend a $50 fine and multi-millions to defend a $1,000,000 suit, and therefore no justice.

    1. asdf

      sunk costs

      Well considering they pay much of their counsel whether they are in court or not it's probably not as much more than one would think.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IBM has profited as well

      They've made plenty of money off Linux as well in various ways, and they gained a bit of respect from the Linux community which probably aided in that.

      Remember, back in the 80s and early 90s IBM was the big evil company so they needed something like this to help repair their image amongst the rank and file IT people (some of whom eventually get promoted to the big chair and make multi million dollar purchase decisions) It wasn't until the mid 90s that Microsoft took the 'evil' crown away from them. Now it is held by either Apple, Google or Facebook, depending on who you ask and what day of the week it is, though with their Windows 10 forced upgrades Microsoft is trying hard for a comeback!

      1. normal1

        Re: IBM has profited as well

        As did Caldera Linux; before naming themselves "The SCO Group" to confuse people between Caldera Linux, a Linux company and The Santa Cruise Organization who actually owned some ancient code, and had no connection to "The SCO Group".....


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't you mean IBM vs Microsoft proxy (SCO).

    MS's involvement in SCO is well documented.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Worth keeping in mind if someone again tries to sell you the fact that MS has suddenly gone all cuddly and Open Sourcy and things.





    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Microsoft's historic interest is well documented - there is little evidence that they are still interested.

      Given the age of the case its rather like criticising a teenage for sleeping with the local bike now that they are in their late 20's. And cherry picking MS from all the other teenagers seems a little selective

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You naive fool! Pay attention to the anonymous MS haters, it's clear they don't have an agenda of their own and definitely aren't saying this shit to distract from other, dodgier businesses that are in the ascendant........

  4. Tom 7 Silver badge

    If Edvard Munch was alive today

    I would be buying artist paint futures.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Good fsking gawdess ...

    ... Will this ancient money-waster never die?

    The sad part is that the original SCO is getting a bad name for no good reason.

  6. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Surely, it's now over.

    It must be getting to the point where the bankruptcy administrators realize that continuing will end up costing them more, without any prospect of generating any value.

    As I understand it, it is only the possibility of winning some money from IBM that is keeping the remains of SCO only half-dead. If all that is left is the IBM counter claims, then there are serious costs and potential losses, but no potential gains in keeping the company in it's zombie state. They should just accept their losses, and finally wind SCO up.

    Hopefully very shortly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely, it's now over.

      It must be getting to the point where the bankruptcy administrators realize that continuing will end up costing them more, without any prospect of generating any value.

      As long as somewhere, someone or something is paying it's an easy job with little stress. Clearly, someone wants to keep that one going as long as possible (as do the lawyers).

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Tortious interference claims ..

    'SCO's allegations of "indirect interference" are untenable as a matter of law, and each of the entities with whom IBM allegedly "directly interfered" has testified that no such interference occurred or, in any event, that they did not change their relationships with SCO as a result of any IBM conduct.'

    'SCO accuses IBM of abandoning Project Monterey (a venture between IBM and The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc., not SCO), only to misappropriate source code to which IBM was given access during the project.

    In fact, IBM did not abandon Project Monterey; Santa Cruz did. Rather than meet its obligations on the project, Santa Cruz sold the very Unix assets involved in the project to a Linux company called Caldera Systems, which later changed its name to The SCO Group, Inc' ref

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Tortious interference claims ..

      It's quite amazing how often SCO lied during the case, how inconsistent the lies were and how no court did anything about it. In fairness most of the case was fought with PR lies outside the courts but at heart the entire affair was high level blackmail and the legal system failed everyone but the blackmailers.

    2. Mike Pellatt

      Re: Tortious interference claims ..

      Thanks for your ref. Now, that's interesting. The post has an insert headed "Update: 2014". Groklaw "closed" on 20th August 2013. All I had been aware of happening since then was updates to the various timelines (pretty much SCO vs IBM) and 2 or 3 new "news picks".

      And those news picks have some PJ comments too, so it's not just Mathfox.

  8. Denarius Silver badge

    weird thing is...

    for the first time, one wants IBM to win. Truly something from the Twilight Zone. Now if someone could resurrect Deep Space Nine instead of that 1960s sitcom thing in space.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: weird thing is...

      First, nobody really wins except the lawyers. Second, I consumed DS9 in its entirety mainly so I could stop being curious and really forget about it. It worked, but taking that approach cost me dearly.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: weird thing is...

        "First, nobody really wins except the lawyers."


        SCO sued IBM, hoping to use the lawsuits to get IBM to pony up the cash to buy them out and make SCO go away.

        Bad move. IBM does not forgive, it does not forget, it will crush you.

        One of the main things that keeps this farce moving forward is that as soon as SCO's last lawsuit is closed, it's IBM's turn.

        And after IBM has had it's turn, there will be a tasteful plaque mounted on the wall in the main reception center.

        Mounted on the plaque will be the castrated, broken, charred, mutilated corpse of SCO, with the inscription:

        "Fuck with with us, and this will be you."

        So as long as SCO can keep the day of reckoning just one more day further away, no matter the cost or humiliation to do so, they will.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: weird thing is...

          > Mounted on the plaque will be the castrated, broken, charred, mutilated corpse of SCO

          There is a good reason why the collective term for IBM lawyers is "the Nazgul"..

        2. Uncle Ron

          Re: weird thing is...

          There -is- no SCO. There is only the lawsuit.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: weird thing is...

          "IBM does not forgive, it does not forget, it will crush you"

          MSFT might do well to remember this, or not. I grew up with IBM being the bad egg (70s and early 80s) and it pains me a little to be on their side, but I really do hope that in a just future, they inflict payback on MSFT.

  9. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    "SCO code" in Linux?

    Employees of IBM wrote design documents. Different employees of IBM coded the designs into AIX*. Yet more employees of IBM coded the designs into Linux. According to TSG*, adding code to AIX makes that code property of TSG and therefore TSG own the unrelated code that performs the same function in Linux.

    There is also STREAMS (Unix networking - almost everyone uses the BSD flavour instead), which was contributed for the Linux kernel by Caldera (now Tarantella?). The kernel maintainers rejected the contribution because it was slower than the existing networking code. Caldera distributed their own version of Linux with STREAMS, with a GPL license. According to TSG, Linux users need to buy another licence for STREAMS code they could use for free but have not bothered to download.

    *TSG: The SCO Group - not The Santa Cruz Operation.

    *AIX: IBM's OS which historically is descended from AT&T->USL->Novell Unix.

    Although TSG claim to have bought the copyright to Unix source code, they lost that argument in court years ago because Novell never sold it to them, and when TSG phoned up random employees at Novell, none of them accidently hinted that the copyrights might have transferred. TSG actually bought the right to collect license fees on behalf of Novell (now bought out by Attachmate). TSG were supposed to send 100% of Novell's license fees to Novell, and Novell would pay TSG a commission. TSG stopped handing over Novell's money and spent in on suing Novell's customers. TSG did not buy the right to sue over Unix copyrights, and were instructed to stop by Novell. Again, the courts found in Novell's favour and TSG immediately filed for protection from its creditors (chapter 11 bankruptcy).

    TSG is now run by a bankruptcy court who have done an excellent job of converting TSG's assets into bankruptcy documents. The bankruptcy court sold something to a company who think they bought TSG's Unix source code. I am sure that court will happily sell similar blank disks to anyone fool enough to give them money.

    1. John Geek

      Re: "SCO code" in Linux?

      re: AIX.... AIX was originally built from 4.2BSD with a mashup of AT&T System V stuff, and has no USL/Novell Unix in it whatsoever as far as I know.

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: "SCO code" in Linux?

        I could swear it was the other way around - Sys V base with BSD bits mashed in. Wikipedia article seems to concur.

        "AIX Version 1, introduced in 1986 for the IBM 6150 RT workstation, was based on UNIX System V Releases 1 and 2. In developing AIX, IBM and Interactive Systems Corporation (whom IBM contracted) also incorporated source code from 4.2 and 4.3 BSD UNIX."

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "SCO code" in Linux?

        AIX was originally built from 4.2BSD with a mashup of AT&T System V stuff, and has no USL/Novell Unix in it whatsoever as far as I know.

        It's more complicated than that, since there are four different AIXes:

        - AIX 1 and 2 for the RT, created by IBM and ISC, was based on SVR2 with some additions from 4.2BSD, running on top of the RT's VRM microkernel. ISC had earlier ported System III to the PC (PC/IX).

        - AIX 1 for the PS/2, created by Locus under contract to IBM. If memory serves, AIX for PS/2 was also primarily an SVR2 derivative.

        - AIX/370 for the mainframe. Also developed by Locus, and similar to AIX for the PS/2.

        - AIX 3 et seq. for RIOS / POWER / PPC machines. IBM kernel (pageable, modular, unified virtual storage mangagement; not much like the SysV or BSD kernels). Userland a mix of SVR4 and BSD with numerous IBM idiosyncrasies, such as the XCOFF object format and IBM's shared-object mechanism, the ODM, and SMIT.

        USL didn't split off from Bell Labs until 1989, according to Wikipedia, by which time AIX 3 was already under development. So, yeah, no USL influence per se - they have a common ancestor in SysV, but that's it. And Novell didn't acquire USL until '93.

        (Now, of course, we at Micro Focus own Novell. So as far as I can tell, we own the copyrights to the former-USL source code. Novell gave the UNIX trademark to The Open Group.)

        That said, there was Project Monterey between IBM and SCO (and Sequent and Intel and maybe some others), which could have introduced some later USL-owned code into AIX 5L. That wasn't until circa 2000, though - long after the original AIXes were developed.

        1. Richard Plinston

          Re: "SCO code" in Linux?

          > (Now, of course, we at Micro Focus own Novell. So as far as I can tell, we own the copyrights to the former-USL source code.

          Micro Focus may well own whatever copyrights that exist and are protectable that were owned by USL and/or Novell, but that may be not very much.

          Some early code was left unregistered when registration was required, at least one codebase (v32) was made public domain, some code may belong to BSD or other contributors or licensors.

    2. Richard Plinston

      Re: "SCO code" in Linux?

      > Novell never sold it to them

      What was never investigated was whether Novell actually held any protected copyrights to the source code at all.

      Due to various actions or inactions some copyrights on some versions of Unix source code may have been lost and/or put into the public domain. In addition there have been many contributions to Unix and to various implementations where the contributor retained copyright and gave a licence to AT&T, USL and its successors. Novell did not sell any copyrights to source code (as specified in the sales documents) because it could not demonstrate that it owned any.

    3. PhilBuk

      Re: "SCO code" in Linux?

      Bollocks - Streams were introduced by AT&T into their version of Unix. SCO were extending a system that originally started out as Xenix.


      1. Robert Halloran

        Re: "SCO code" in Linux?

        STREAMS were introduced as an abstraction layer for networking in the later SysV versions back when AT&T was sure the ISO protocol stack would end up on top and this cobbled-together TCP/IP thing was just a stopgap [ remember, telco, of *course* ISO standards trump others, right? ]. And yes, I was *at* AT&T Labs mid-80s and remember the damfool thing coming in.

        As of the Unix System Labs venture, Novell had access to the full SysV codebase and whatever they licensed to then-Santa Cruz Operation would have been based on it and not the older V7-based Xenix. Recall your history, there were any number of companies offering pure-play UNIX on Intel in the late 80s.

    4. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: "SCO code" in Linux?

      "Yet more employees of IBM coded the designs into Linux."

      Highly unlikely. The IBM Linux team was drastically isolated from the rest of the IBM company to protect IBM crown jewels against any risk of contamination by GPL-infected code. They were in Beaverton, Oregon, for heaven's sake and were formerly known as Sequent Computer Systems. Very few people in IBM even knew how to get to Oregon.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The end of the near-immortal "

    I read that as near-immoral.

  11. Graham Marsden
    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Why...

      Because it's a vampire?

      And definitely not a black ribbonner

      1. Adze

        Re: Why...

        Upvote for Pratchett reference.

  12. Alistair

    The SCO Group - > TSG

    A blatant demonstration of what is horribly wrong in both patent and corporate bankruptcy laws.

    Thats Some Gall you have there.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Back in the day SCO had a Unix version that just worked. At the time any version of Linux only just worked if at all.

    Drivers for both were a problem because a lot of H/W vendors were only interested in Windows and Netware. OTOH because this was still dumb terminal time there was SCO specific H/W such as multiple serial interface cards.

    They were competing with free-as-in-beer for unsupported Linux and not-free-but-probably-not-as-expensive for Linux with support contracts. They were also, in the long run, competing with Windows for the Intel server market.

    If SCO had had any nous they could have cut prices, paid H/W vendors to develop drivers and tried harder to get application developers on their side. At one time they did have a free as in beer offer for developers which included all the development extras supporting only a couple of users or so but the licence was only supposed to be for 6 months IIRC (although it didn't self-destruct) and I don't think the offer ran for very long. Maybe they didn't think Linux was going to get good enough.

    I doubt that even if they'd done more they could have strangled Linux at birth or even retained their overwhelming Unix market share but they could have remained viable and maybe kept some server market share away from Windows as well. But they didn't do enough make it worth while for ISVs to continue using the platform and that's what killed them.

    Meanwhile Linux improved to the point of just working and attracted ISVs.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      They also worked in that wonderful mini-computer pricing model, that only a former mainframe customer or cable company exec could love.

      We had SCO because it was (in the late 80s) the only way of getting more than 640K or 30Mb on a PC and we had to log a lot of data. Order a C compiler for $$$, when you install it you discover you don't have a pre-processor. Oh you want the software development add-on for the compiler ? That's more $$$$

      Even more bizarrely we also had Kodak unix for PCs.

      1. Mike Pellatt

        Kodak - ex-Interactive Unix. The only "other" Unix on 80386 in the mid-80s.

        1. John Geek

          I remember Microport Unix for 286 and 386 from that era. This competed with Xenix, pre-SCO.

        2. Richard Plinston

          > The only "other" Unix on 80386 in the mid-80s.

          In the mid-80 I used ICLs DRS/NX on 80286 and 80386. I also had SCO Open Server (derived from Xenix) and Unixware (ex USL/Novell) free developer editions on 386 and 486.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Other options, back in the day.

            Mark Williams Company's "Coherent".

            Best non-UNIX[tm] *nix that existed in that time-frame, IMNEHO.

      2. normal1

        Current bunch suing IBM is not SCO...

        "The SCO Group" is actually Caldera Linux renamed to confuse itself with The Santa Cruise Organization.

        1. alg2

          Re: Current bunch suing IBM is not SCO...

          To find the root of all this patent/copyright trolling, don't look at SCO, look at the names behind it. It's all a bunch of greedy religious political zealots (mostly from the state of Utah), who think that open source is evil, and is a sign of anti-capitalist communism. They also thought that they could make billions by blackmailing the world into paying them royalties for anything that resembles Unix.

    2. JoeF

      "Back in the day SCO had a Unix version that just worked. At the time any version of Linux only just worked if at all."

      Hmm, no. I tried to use SCO Unix back in 1993. In particular, I tried to get gcc compiled on it. It gave me lots and lots of headaches.

      Then I discovered Linux, version 0.12. I downloaded the SLS distro. It already had gcc, and the ultimate goal, compiling and running my program (which was running fine on HP-UX, SunOS, Solaris), was done in no time at all.

      1. JQW

        I worked with SCO Unix (and Xenix) back in those days too.

        Every few months we put on a training course for the OS we sold, and one module involved setting up an SMTP server to communicate with an external system, in our case the office's hack SCO box we used for generic support.

        Despite our best efforts, the antiquated version of sendmail supplied by SCO Unix simply refused to work properly, and most E-mails from that part of the course got lost.

        So for one course I downloaded Slackware Linux and whacked it onto one of the training rooms spare DOS PCs using UMSDOS. When used on the course it worked flawlessly.

        1. jake Silver badge


          "I downloaded Slackware Linux ... it worked flawlessly."

          Still does ;-)

  14. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    SCO quality

    SCO's overall strategy and the quality of its products, it's suggested, did it more damage than its rivals.

    I had to admin a SCO Unix box for a couple of years. Total horror show.

    Our CEO insisted on buying it to run some software package he wanted. Every time he forgot or mistyped his password (i.e. every time he used the damned thing) it locked him out and I had to trek over to the building he was in to unlock his account, which could only be done from the console. There was no way to disable the lockout mechanism, or increase the number of attempts to allow for his cack handed typing.

    Fortunately the board decide we could dispense with his services, so we dispensed with the SCO box as well.

  15. TeeCee Gold badge

    .....SCO can't put a dollar figure on its losses....

    Like that fucking matters. Whatever they were, they must be peanuts compared to what they owe their lawyers by now.

    1. Mike Pellatt

      The trustee (sic) in bankruptcy and his cohorts made sure they bled the corpse dry. There was a few million kicking around that they sucked out. The accounts are there on Groklaw.

      It was the sundry creditors who got screwed most of all. Including the local pizza place.

    2. Robert Halloran

      They made a deal with Boies Schiller for a flat-fee payment to take this zombie case through final appeals, with a cut of whatever payout they made from IBM. Then they lost the IBM & Novell suits and filed bankruptcy before the countersuits could empty the bank accounts. I'm sure the law firm saw the writing on the wall at the time; at this point I'm guessing what little work they're doing is being handled by interns.


    Bloody Hell!


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Who owns Linux?" or "Who owns Unix?"

    The headline doesn't match the preamble, and the difference is very important!

  18. -tim

    When will it end?

    It turns out that a number of developers are in a legal limbo because they singed the Sys V source code NDA and as a result they can't provide patches into Linux or many of the BSD systems.

    It would be nice for this to end so that can be clarified. I'm starting to wonder if California employment law regarding non-competition couldn't be used to end it for all time.

  19. jake Silver badge

    @misc. folks talking about Xenix ...

    "Wasn't Xenix a Microsoft OS?"

    No. Xenix was actually licensed by Microsoft from AT&T in the late 1970s. From what I remember it was the standard PDP11 Version 7 Unix source code, un-modified by Microsoft. SCO ported it to the IBM PC's 8086/8088 architecture in roughly 1983. Most of us yawned ... although looking back, it was a pretty good hack by SCO[1]!

    Before SCO's port was released, there was a TRS-68000 version, a Zilog Z8001 port, and an Altos 8086 version (not necessarily in that order). Microsoft didn't write any of them, rather the third-party companies in question did the coding. Seems to me I once saw an Apple Lisa running Xenix, not certain who did that port. Can anyone jog my memory?

    For more on my take on *real* SCO, see these posts:

    1. Richard Plinston

      Re: @misc. folks talking about Xenix ...

      >> "Wasn't Xenix a Microsoft OS?"

      > No. Xenix was actually ...

      Originally it was sold as "Microsoft Xenix"*. SCO may have done the work but Microsoft paid them to do it. So it was "a Microsoft OS". Later, Microsoft sold it to SCO at which point it became SCO Xenix, was updated to System III as SCO UNIX and then was renamed SCO Open Server.

      *Byte October 1983 (the UNIX isuuse) p151 has a Microsoft advert for MS-DOS and Xenix. (p475 has a Microsoft advert for their mouse).

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: @misc. folks talking about Xenix ...

        "SCO may have done the work but Microsoft paid them to do it."

        No. SCO paid MS to have access to the source that MS licensed from MaBell.

        Microsoft tried to make it their own after it actually started being used by all and sundry, but MS never actually did any coding on/for Xenix. All MS did was use a resale license for MaBell's code.

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