SCO readies new Linux licensing program

SCO readies new Linux licensing program

The SCO Group Inc. is preparing a new Linux licensing program that it claims will allow users of the open-source operating system to run Linux without fear of litigation.

The program will be announced "within the next month or so", according to SCO spokesman, Blake Stowell, but yesterday the company announced a "precursor" to this program.

In March, SCO launched a $US1 billion lawsuit against IBM, charging Big Blue with breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. At the heart of SCO's complaint are allegations that IBM attempted to destroy the economic value of Unix in order to benefit its Linux services business, and that it inappropriately contributed source code to the Linux kernel.

Since then, SCO has warned Linux users that they could be held liable for inappropriately using SCO's intellectual property and boosted its claim for damages against IBM to more than $US3 billion. In June the company announced that it had terminated IBM's Unix license, originally obtained in 1985 from AT&T Corp., but subsequently transferred to SCO.

IBM has denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

Stowell declined to provide specific details of SCO's new licensing program.

He said: "We're working on some details to try and create some kind of a licensing program for Linux users to be able to run Linux legally."

A statement announcing the event said that SCO executives would provide details on "opportunities for Linux customers".

That does not bode well for Linux users, according to one analyst.

"Opportunities for Linux customers jumped out at me," Illuminata analyst, Gordon Haff, said. "Opportunities are rarely good news."

While the majority of Linux customers probably would not participate in a SCO licensing program, Haff predicted some companies might be willing to pay SCO for the security of knowing they would not be sued.

SCO is "hoping that even if 99 per cent of Linux customers laugh in their face, that there will be sufficient large companies who, for what is presumably going to be a relative drop in the bucket of their IT budgets, can potentially eliminate a cloud over their heads," he said.

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