The Never-Ending Story

Posted on March 31, 2010

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SCO Group’s assault on (among many things) the Linux kernel, has officially been put out of its long-standing misery. SCO does not own the Unix copyrights that it alleged, without any base, were infringed by Linux; most observers have already long since known this.

As I learn this, I realise now that have been laughing along to this saga since 2003! Whether it was the gems that cascaded from the mouth of recently fired CEO of SCO, Darl McBride (claiming to own C++, and alternately claiming there was or was not any Unix code in Linux), or the organisation’s Kafkaesque legal approach (“there is infringing code in Linux, but we’re not telling you where it is”), or the charming decision to sue their customers, I have never been short of a chuckle or a jaw-drop.

For us lovers of irony, there was the additional sweetness of light having been shined upon the activities of the closed-development company, when it was revealed that their own past usage of the Linux kernel in their own products was, at best, dubious. The whole sorry mess brought the SCO Group crashing down into bankruptcy.

My favourite lesson to take from all of this — which I already learned long ago, although it is always worth reiterating — is this: it is the demonstration of yet another aspect of a free and open process of development (open in the genuine sense of unfettered access to all), that is superior to traditional closed processes. I am pleased to see it being defended from grubby, cynical, feckless thugs.

But while it may have been a just outcome, I think we must always remember that SCO was surely just a pawn in a much bigger game. Vastly larger and more competent groups — governments and multi-billion dollar corporations — continue to fight over these issues of freedom and openness in the digital world.

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