The possibility that the SCO will sue Linux users may be remote, but companies should still take steps to protect themselves, Gartner analyst George Weiss has warned.
SCO sued IBM in March for $1bn, alleging IBM misappropriated and misused SCO's Unix intellectual property to benefit IBM's Linux business.
SCO executives have further stated that the company has evidence that Unix code it owns has been copied into the Linux kernel as well as into Linux software outside the kernel.
Gartner's recommendations for companies using Linux included:
- Minimising the use of Linux in "complex, mission-critical systems" until the dust clears on the validity of SCO's claims
- Securing a "comprehensive" support contract that covers pre-installation, configuration testing and operating-system certification for large Linux deployments on platforms from major suppliers, such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Dell
- Having the IS and legal departments examine closely any Linux or open-source software before adopting it, with a focus on where it came from and how it was put together.
Weiss added that SCO was unlikely to pull back from its legal threats, and that a settlement between SCO and IBM would not insulate Linux users from lawsuits.
He speculated on various motivations for SCO's lawsuit:
- SCO investors could win big if IBM decides to solve the matter by buying the company
- SCO could boost its revenue stream with additional royalties from Linux users, if it triumphs in court
- SCO's Linux business, which it exited last week, was trailing competitors such as Red Hat and SuSE Linux, and its Unix business represents a small fraction of the market.
Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service