Friday, September 14, 2007

Snoopy-dancing on SCO's Grave

I just got the news of SCO's passing - well, ok filing chapter 11 bankruptcy under the guise of "protect its assets during this time." One can't help but think that they see the writing on the wall and are doing this in anticipation of a slew of lawsuits. A lot of people have lost money on SCO and might consider their statements over the last 4 years to have been, shall we say, less than fact-based. That and the fact that they've bled cash for years and can no longer sustain their current loss rate.

This is an important day, and it's a time to reflect on the actual fallout from the case. One thing we must keep in mind is that the actual case SCO brought forward in court was far different from the case they fought in the press. Their press statements for over a year were all bravado about how Linux infringed on their IP and they might have to sue all Linux customers... or some such. Recall how some Linux users actually bought a SCO license, including Sun. If Sun were ever to meet this issue head on and describe why they helped fund SCO's war chest, now might be the time to do it. And, of course, you can't discuss this issue without also bringing in David Boyes, Microsoft, IBM, Novell, the BayStar Capital fiasco, Sun, Groklaw, Pamela Jones, Maureen O'Gara, Darl McBride. Shoot, I could write a 5-act play with all that stuff :)

The number of personalities involved is truly epic - but was the end result so epic? Well, I tend to think so, for precisely the same reasons that others think it wasn't epic. It was epic because nothing happened. It was epic because it showed 2 things: 1. Linux customer adoption would continue with or without SCO's support and 2. Linux != open source. For the former, we may never know in real $$$ whether or how many companies refrained from using Linux as a result of this series of lawsuits. For the latter, we saw many many more open source technologies rise in prominence even when the SCO litigation may have been in doubt in the minds of some.

So I will think about what has transpired, read Pamela's (deserved) gloating on groklaw, and wonder if others will follow in SCO's footsteps. I can't imagine that this is the last litigation we'll see of a successful open source project. In fact, I can see the success of various open source projects making them large targets. One thing is clear - whoever sues next will glean much from this episode.

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