SCO threatens to yank SGI’s Unix license

Customers say The SCO Group’s threat against Silion Graphics to terminate its license to Unix System V will have little if any effect on their businesses.

SCO’s complaint against SGI for contributing its XFS journaling file system to the Linux community was revealed in SGI’s annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week. In it, SGI says, “We recently received a notice from [the] SCO Group stating its intention to terminate our fully paid license to certain UNIX-related code, under which we distribute our IRIX operating system, on the basis that we have breached the terms of such license.”

The action against SGI is just another indication that SCO is broadening its complaint against the open source community. Earlier this year, SGI initiated a US$3 billion lawsuit against IBM for alleged misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract.

On August 13, SCO sent a letter to SGI in which the company warns it will terminate SGI’s license to Unix System V on October 14, thus invalidating SGI’s rights to distribute IRIX and XFS. In 1999, SGI contributed XFS, which supports large file sizes, to the open source community to increase Linux’s scalability.

An SGI spokesman says that SCO’s allegations are without merit and that their license cannot be terminated.

SGI users appear unconcerned.

“I think that the way SCO is going about it is ethically and morally wrong,” says Avi Bercovich, director of a graphics design company in Amsterdam. “It wouldn’t impact my purchasing or deploying of SGI hardware. If anything, I would buy double the SGI gear I need just to spite SCO.” Bercovich’s business uses a variety of SGI IRIX workstations for its graphics work.

At the SCO Forum in August and in an Open Letter to the Open Source Community, SCO identified code it said SGI had contributed to Linux. In a letter posted on SGI’s open source development site, Rich Altmaier, vice president of software at SGI says the company has since removed the code from its Linux Web site and released patches that replace the code SCO said was offending.

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