If IBM wants to buy The SCO Group and end its ongoing Unix licensing assault on Linux, CEO Darl McBride is apparently all ears.
"If there's a way of resolving this that is positive, then we can get back out to business and everybody is good to go, then I'm fine with that," McBride said. "If that's one of the outcomes of this, then so be it."
McBride's comments came in reaction to a report from Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler, who claimed IBM or an IBM-led consortium will likely "pay off SCO" or buy the company to "make the problem go away."
Such possible scenarios have been circulating ever since SCO filed suit against IBM in March for $US1 billion, alleging that some of SCO's protected Unix source code has illegally made its way into Linux.
Now McBride himself has confirmed such possibilities.
"I'm not trying to screw up the Linux business," he said. "I'm trying to take care of the shareholders, employees and people who have been having their rights trampled on."
Asked why SCO has suddenly started looking at these issues now, after years of declining revenues at his company and the increasing popularity of Linux, McBride said SCO had few options in the late 1990s as Linux began surfacing in the business computing world. "Even if you potentially had a problem (with concerns about Unix code in Linux back then), what are you going to do?" McBride asked. "Sue Linus Torvalds? And get what?"
SCO saw its revenue go from $US200 million in 1999 to $US60 million this year "due primarily to the onslaught of Linux in the marketplace," he said. "The notion that we're going to sit back and let the Linux steamroller go over us at our expense, at the shareholders' expense, makes zero sense to me."
Since January, though, SCO has realised that its real long-term value comes from its Unix heritage, history and holdings, he said. That's why SCO is suing IBM and why the company has warned all commercial Linux users that they could be legal targets.
McBride said his company will open samples of its contested code to interested parties next week under non-disclosure agreements so SCO can prove its points. The open-source community, however, won't be given an opportunity to remove any offending code and replace it with new material, he said. Instead, damages will continue to be sought.
"It's sort of like somebody stealing your car, and you hunt them down and you find them, and they say you can have your car back, but there's no penalty for that," McBride said. "If there's no penalty for stealing property, then where are we?"
McBride also reacted harshly to comments earlier this week from software vendor Novell, which has challenged SCO's alleged Unix ownership rights.
Novell, which had previously bought the Unix systems business of AT&T, owned Unix until it broke it into four parts and sold them in 1994 and 1995. One of those deals was with the former Santa Cruz Operation, which was bought by Caldera International and later became The SCO Group.