Users and suppliers at LinuxWorld have voiced their support of Red Hat's move this week to fight The SCO Group's legal assault on Linux, but admitted they were not too worried about SCO's escalating legal campaign anyway.
"I think it's good what Red Hat's doing," said Jeffrey Baum, a systems administrator at San Francisco-based Banc of America Securities. "IBM and everyone else should join forces. They need to fight these guys tooth and nail ... to stop SCO's illegitimate attempt to hold people hostage."
Banc of America Securities runs Linux for firewalls, mail servers, logging and file transfer protocol servers, along with some MySQL database uses.
An IT architect at a US construction equipment manufacturing company, who asked not to be named, said Red Hat's effort to try and stop SCO's public attacks on Linux is "not going to add any comfort" for users. His company continues to use Linux, he said, and is not in any kind of holding pattern while the IBM-SCO case proceeds.
Even if SCO were to prevail in its legal claims, he said, using Linux is still the right choice. "If we end up having to pay, depending on what it is, we're still saving money. Whether or not Red Hat does anything, it doesn't matter."
Another Linux user, a systems administrator at a financial services company who also asked not to be named, said his company uses Linux in almost every part of its business but is unmoved by the legal fight. "It doesn't affect me at all," he said. "It's a desperate action by desperate men."
Several key Linux suppliers applauded Red Hat's stance.
SuSE Linux chief executive officer Richard Seibt his company "fully supports this action" by Red Hat.
The company backed a similar effort in Germany earlier this year when a German Linux association successfully went to court to stop SCO from making unsubstantiated claims about Linux and any alleged code theft, Seibt said. SuSE is now looking at whether it will officially join Red Hat's battle against SCO's claims in the US.
Because SuSE and SCO are two of the four partners in the UnitedLinux effort to create a standardised Linux operating system for enterprise computing, Seibt said his customers are protected by a cross-licensing agreement with SCO.
"By buying our products, they are already indemnified because we have this cross-licensing in place," he said.
Samuel Greenblatt, chief architect of the Linux Technology Group at Computer Associates International, said his company is continuing "full steam ahead" in offering its Linux products to customers.
"We do not believe that the SCO lawsuit has any significance to us or our users," Greenblatt said. "It's an issue between IBM and SCO."
Customers are not slowing their deployments of Linux any more than Microsoft users when 14 states sued Microsoft for monopolistic practices in recent years, Greenblatt added. "It's not going to be a showstopper, but it is getting to be an irritant," he said of the SCO attacks.
Mike Balma, a Linux business strategist at Hewlett-Packard, said his company is evaluating Red Hat's actions this week. "We're clearly continuing to sell and support Linux. We're going ahead."
Analyst Bill Claybrook at Aberdeen Group said Red Hat's actions may make users feel better, but were unlikely to change the overall legal landscape for now.
"It gives users the impression that companies are going to fight back instead of letting SCO beat them over the head with all these phony-baloney charges," he said. "They're trying to destroy the Linux business even before it's been proven that they have a case."
On Monday, Red Hat fired back at SCO's claims that some of its Unix intellectual property was provided illegally to the open-source Linux community by IBM. Red Hat filed a formal complaint in an effort to show that it has not infringed on SCO's intellectual property.
Red Hat said it hoped to hold SCO accountable for "unfair and deceptive" actions, and is creating a $1m Open Source Now Fund to pay for legal expenses associated with any infringement claims brought by SCO against companies using Linux.
SCO threatened corporate Linux users with copyright infringement lawsuits unless they license SCO's UnixWare technology - at $699 per server CPU. That price will rise in October to $1,399 per CPU.
The legal back-and-forth began in March, when SCO filed a $1bn lawsuit against IBM. That suit was later amended into a legal claim of at least $3bn.
Todd R Weiss writes for Computerworld