The war of words between The SCO Group Inc. and the Linux community escalated this week in a flurry of open letters, the latest from Linux creator Linus Torvalds.
In a letter dated Tuesday, the maintainer of the Linux kernel dismissed an offer from SCO Chief Executive Officer Darl McBride to negotiate the dispute with the open-source community. "There doesn't seem to be anything to negotiate about. SCO has yet to show any infringing IP (intellectual property) in the open-source domain," Torvalds wrote.
Torvalds also had a few sarcastic words for the Lindon, Utah-based SCO, noting that it is ironic that SCO acquired much of its capital from an initial public offering based on a Linux business model. "We have to sadly decline taking business model advice from a company that seems to have squandered all of its money ... and now seems to play the U.S. legal system like a lottery," he wrote
SCO, which previously operated under the name Caldera Systems Inc., once operated as a Linux distributor. The company has seen its status in the open-source community plummet over the last year, however, as its anti-Linux rhetoric has increased. In March, the company sued IBM Corp., claiming that IBM illegally contributed code to Linux. Since then, SCO has alleged that Linux contains a number of copyright and other intellectual property violations, and it has demanded that Linux users pay it a $700 per processor licensing fee to bring their systems in compliance.
These charges led to lawsuits from both Red Hat Inc. and IBM, and appear to have inspired a number of denial of service attacks on SCO's Web site.
On Tuesday, McBride issued an open letter calling on the open-source community to help the industry police crimes like the denial of service attacks and to "follow the rules and procedures that govern mainstream society," and said that his company is "open to ideas of working with the Open Source community to monetize software technology and its underlying intellectual property for all contributors."
McBride's letter was quickly followed by a reply signed by open-source advocates Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens blasting the SCO letter, calling it a "farrago of falsehoods, half-truths, evasions, slanders, and misrepresentations."
In an interview, Raymond dismissed McBride's offer of negotiation. "I don't think there's any sincere offer in this letter. I think it's just posturing," he said. Raymond reiterated Torvalds' demand that SCO back up its claims by identifying the allegedly infringing Linux code. "Show us the problem and we'll fix it," Raymond said.
SCO has offered to reveal its code, but only under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), something that open-source developers like Torvalds and Raymond have refused to sign, saying that such an agreement runs counter to open-source principles and could restrict their ability to write open-source code. "We can't have people signing NDAs because in the future they might be working on the Linux kernel and, in general, signing NDAs is against our values," Raymond said.
The Perens/Raymond letter can be found at http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/mcbride2.html
Torvalds' letter says:
Open letter to Darl McBride -- please grow up.
Thank you so much for your letter.