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Novell hails Linux and criticises SCO

Novell officials at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo have hailed their company's commitment to Linux and criticised the SCO Group for its attempts to extract licensing fees for use of the open source platform.

Novell said its GroupWise collaboration platform will run entirely on Linux in the first half of 2004. This includes both the GroupWise client and server. The company also said its eDirectory software is being supported on the Red Hat Linux AS and SuSE Linux AG Enterprise Server 8 Linux distributions.

Novell chairman and chief executive officer Jack Messman took a not-so-veiled shot at Unix supplier SCO, which is claiming it owns the rights to Unix technologies in Linux and is therefore owed licence fees by companies such as IBM. SCO is suing IBM.

Novell sold Unix copyrights to SCO in 1995, after Novell had acquired them from AT&T. Novell in May said it never transferred the copyrights and patents of Unix System V when it sold the software to SCO.

"As you know, there is pending and threatened litigation. There have been a number of unsubstantiated claims of intellectual property violations," Messman said.

"I think that there's a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt being thrown at Linux that might be considered helpful to Unix," he said.

Red Hat has filed a complaint against SCO Group with the intention of showing that Red Hat technologies do not infringe on SCO's intellectual property and to hold SCO accountable for "unfair and deceptive actions". Red Hat said it has filed a lawsuit against SCO in US District Court for the District of Delaware.

SCO, in a prepared response to Messman's comments, said: "SCO has substantiated its claims by showing misappropriated source code to analysts, media, customers, resellers, investors and developers.

"We will continue to substantiate our claims and we look forward to proving our claims in court with Red Hat and IBM. We are seeking licensing fees from customers in order to compensate SCO for the Unix code that they are using," SCO said.

"Novell is determined to become a strong, constructive participant in open source," Messman said.

Its acquisition of Ximian means it offers desktop and management products, such as Red Carpet, which is software for updating Linux distributions; Desktop 2, a Linux desktop environment, and Evolution, which integrates e-mail, calendaring, contact management and task lists. Ximian is also leading the Mono project, an effort to provide developers with open source tools for building Microsoft .net applications that can run on Linux.

Novell has been pondering making some of its other products via open source, but is not yet ready to announce anything, Messman said.

It also plans to offer both the Evolution and GroupWise messaging systems for the time being, according to Novell. "Maybe we'll get to a universal client," eventually, said Chris Stone, Novell vice-chairman.

Additionally, Novell intends to continue offering its NetWare services for as long as customers want them, the company said.

Paul Krill writes for InfoWorld


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