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AIX users unruffled by IBM/SCO scuffle

Corporate users of IBM's AIX version of the Unix operating system appear unperturbed by SCO Group's threat to revoke IBM's AIX distribution licence.

Ken Ebbe, president of Chicago-based IBM user group Share, said he saw the legal issues between SCO and IBM as separate from users' day-to-day IT concerns.

"My perspective is that we get AIX from IBM, and we consider the licensing issues to be IBM's problem," he said. "The lawyers will sort it all out."

"It's hard for me to understand how the case could affect us," said the enterprise architecture manager for a global food retailer who requested anonymity. The manager added that if IBM were to lose the case, her company would watch to see whether IBM subsequently changed its product road maps and then determine how that would affect the company's infrastructure.

Meanwhile, IBM rival Sun Microsystems wasted no time in unveiling an advertising campaign to encourage corporate AIX users to start worrying about the IBM/SCO legal fight. The ads offer free two-day assessments to customers looking to migrate from AIX to Solaris.

Nancy Weintraub, director of competitive intelligence at Sun, said the motivation for the ad campaign is "to help customers who are concerned".

"It really depends on who you're talking to in an organisation," she said, adding that legal officials inside companies are often more worried than IT officials about the implications of the SCO action.

Sun also reaffirmed to its customers and partners "that it has licensing rights to Unix code" and is not facing the kinds of legal issues SCO is pursuing against IBM.

In March, SCO sued IBM for $1bn, alleging that IBM misappropriated SCO Unix trade secrets by putting some of the code into Linux.

In the lawsuit, SCO gave IBM 100 days' notice, as required under the licensing agreement, saying it would terminate IBM's AIX licence if the company didn't resolve alleged violations.

That 100-day deadline was reached last week, and SCO is maintaining its position that AIX is an "unauthorised derivative" of SCO's protected System V Unix code. SCO has since amended its complaint to ask for a permanent injunction against future AIX sales and has increased the damages it is seeking from IBM to more than $3bn.

Trink Guarino, a spokeswoman for IBM's systems group, said IBM remained confident that it was on firm legal ground. "As we have claimed all along, our licence is irrevocable, it's perpetual, and it can't be terminated," she said. "We are standing by that position."

Todd R Weiss writes for Computerworld


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