OSS vents spleen at SCO

New Zealand open source advocates have attacked legal action in the US which has thrown the Linux market into confusion.

SCO Group is taking a $US1 billion suit against IBM for allegedly making Unix code available as open source through contributions to Linux. It has also issued a threat against what it terms "commercial Linux users", saying that "legal liability may extend" to them. And it has withdrawn from the Linux market, suspending sales of its distribution of an OS built around the Linux kernel.

The New Zealand Open Source Society (NZOSS) "considers the action dishonest and unethical".

Chairman Peter Harrison says SCO has produced no evidence to back up the claims. The society's view is that if SCO has a complaint against use of its intellectual property in Linux, it should declare where the infringement is to give the community the opportunity to correct the infringement and minimise SCO's loss.

SCO has so far refused to indicate where the alleged intellectual property infringement lies, for fear of it being removed from the Linux kernel before the trial.

Despite the legal rumblings from SCO, Harrison doesn't expect the case to have any effect on local Linux developers.

New Zealand developer Paul Manias, who heads Rocklyte Systems, a company that recently released a commercial operating system using the Linux kernel, says Linux's reputation, rather than the pockets of Linux developers and users, stands to suffer through the action.

The free BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) variants such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD are not affected by the SCO lawsuit. FreeBSD forms the basis of Darwin, the underlying operating system for Apple Macintosh OS X.

Manias says that Rocklyte Systems "already has strong plans to make a strong move to a BSD kernel within the next two years". He adds that "[if] SCO were to win, a move to BSD would be accelerated".

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