There was a lot of news in the FOSS world last week, and it seems fair to say that the overall atmosphere was positive.
First, following the widespread outcry that followed IBM and Canonical’s release of a Microsoft-free desktop package in Africa last month, the two companies announced last week that a similar offering is now available for companies in the U.S. as well.
Woohoo! Maybe IBM *is* Linux’s friend after all!
With news like that, it’s no wonder Linus was inspired to pose for this photo… giddy with glee, no doubt!
Sure, ya, you go, Windows 7! Ha.
‘Find an Honest Job This Time’
Then, from the ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead department, came word that SCO has fired its wildly litigious CEO Darl McBride.
Layoffs are also planned, and it sounds like at least some of the litigation will continue. Nevertheless, a collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout the blogosphere before the ink on the story had even dried.
“Good-bye Darl McBride, it was fun while it lasted,” wrote Carla Schroder in a blog post on Linux Today, for example. “Well, no, actually it wasn’t fun at all. I wish you well, and hope you find an honest job this time.”
McBride’s Next Job
To which John Helms added: “Here’s hoping his next job is one of the following:
“Being paid $1.25 an hour to stand in line for lobbyists. Working the late shift at 7/11. Washing cars down at ‘Big Bob’s Rusty Iron’ used car lot. Wearing a tight short skirt, spiked high heels, a wig, and … waving at passing cars.”
Further, “my greatest pleasure over the last several years was the moment I was able to advise a customer to dump their old SCO server and move to Linux,” Helms added. “They did. :)”
‘SCO Is Still Around?!’
“How’s that strategy workin’ for ya’ Darl?” quipped spiritom, for example.
“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” added 4DFX.
And then, “Wait, SCO is still around?!” chimed in blitzwing85, expressing another commonly heard sentiment.
With so much pent-up passion on the matter finally being released, Linux Girl couldn’t resist digging a little deeper.
‘A Good Start’
“Darl being fired is a good start,” Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told LinuxInsider. “I just wonder if he will stay true to past form and sue his former employer.
“I also wonder how much longer it will take the trustee to realize the rest of the lawsuit has no future,” Mack added.
“Anyone can do McBride’s job: deny the obvious, and claim title to everything,” said Slashdot blogger drinkypoo.
“Perhaps the two people assuming his duties can trade them off on a monthly basis to keep the job(s) from becoming stale,” drinkypoo told LinuxInsider.
‘Leave Us Alone’
“I wish this guy would run away to someplace far away and leave us alone,” blogger Robert Pogson agreed. “He keeps coming back with frivolous legal actions, looking for a pot of gold.”
McBride “had not sufficient evidence of anything,” Pogson told LinuxInsider. “Even after millions of dollars worth of discovery and spilling code for AIX, he had nothing in SCOG v IBM.”
Caldera had an excellent distro in 2001, Pogson noted — “my first,” he said.
“I think Darl had some opportunity to stick with GNU /Linux and make money the old-fashioned way — by working for it — but he took the bait to make SCOG just a worm in the OS wars,” Pogson said. “By risking everything on frivolous law suits, he threw away any opportunity for SCOG to thrive.”
We may never know the real reason, Pogson added — “greed is about the best I can imagine.”
In short, “this has gone on so long, and the deep pockets of those wishing to stop GNU/Linux seem always willing to contribute more to the cause,” Pogson concluded. “I despair living long enough to see the last gavel drop.”
‘The Company Is a Corpse’
As for SCO, “the company is a corpse,” Slashdot blogger hairyfeet told LinuxInsider. “They went from being a Unix vendor to just another failed business, and all that is left is to hit the lights on their way out.”
Instead of building a business “based on products,” SCO tried to base its company on lawsuits — “which ultimately proved to be a massive failure,” hairyfeet noted. “This is the problem with a litigious society.”
Now that the company has “completely failed” in its lawsuits, there’s nothing left to do but “carve up the remains, and McBride isn’t needed for that,” he added.
‘Patents Are Hurting Innovation’
The bigger concern, however, “is the fact that Linux is sure to be infringing on patents,” hairyfeet warned. “How can I be so sure? Because the USPTO has been passing WAY too many patents — just look at FAT for an example.
“Whether you are a user of proprietary software or not, patents are hurting innovation,” hairyfeet asserted.
“Instead of helping the little guy from being run over by large corporations, it has become a situation where companies use ‘patent war chests’ to protect themselves from patent trolls, who sometimes sit on ‘submarine patents’ for years and then bash a company over the head,” he explained.
Ultimately, the system has the potential to hurt everyone, not just those in FOSS, hairyfeet added.
Need for Legal Reform
“While I’m sure that many FLOSS users are glad that McBride is gone, we should be more concerned with pushing our lawmakers to reform the byzantine maze of patents and copyrights that allow McBride to cost so much money to society,” concluded hairyfeet.
“Just think about how much money was blown in court and lawyers that could have gone on R&D and new products,” he said. “So goodbye McBride, let us try to make sure more don’t follow his footsteps.”
Indeed, if ever there was a poster child for the need for patent reform, SCO is it, Linux Girl would argue. It’s been the worst-case scenario, brought to life.
Even short of outright reform, however, the case is also an ideal illustration of why Groklaw is so important, as Linux Today’s Schroder and others rightly point out.
Maybe — just maybe — the emergence of that site will make the next SCO that comes along a little less likely to take the low litigious road and a little more likely to compete on honest technological merit instead.