Angry users ready to take on SCO over Linux licence

Industry bodies call on SCO to prove Linux 2.4 kernel breaches copyright.

Industry bodies call on SCO to prove Linux 2.4 kernel breaches copyright.

Linux users and the open source community are indignant but defiant in the face of SCO Group's attempts to force users to buy its software licences.

SCO claims the Linux 2.4 kernel contains code misappropriated from its copyright System V form of Unix. It has said it will sue any users who do not buy one of its new software licences for breach of copyright.

The move, announced last month, has sent shockwaves through the user community and some analysts believe it could have far-reaching implications for the development of open source software.

However, users and analysts have dismissed SCO's case and show few signs of caving in to its demands.

SCO is expected to reveal detailed evidence to back up its claim at its annual conference in Las Vegas later this month.

"I'm not really worried by this at all and we are still very actively promoting the use of Linux," said Don de Silva, IT director of The 1990 Trust charity, whose IT architecture is built on a Debian Linux system containing the 2.4 kernel. He is following the case closely but has no intention of buying a SCO licence.

Interim IT director Ed Darnell, another 2.4 user, said, "It's certainly not going to damage the open source community. They will simply remove the offending code and rewrite it to create a new version of Linux." He also said tracking down users would be near impossible for SCO.

The Corporate IT Forum Tif is advising its members to read up on the dispute and do the necessary due diligence but the user group's chief executive David Roberts also pointed to the lack of available evidence to back up SCO's claims.

"Users should wait and see. This does not affect anything today. It simply looks like a squabble between IBM and SCO to the user community over here. If SCO does not have the evidence to back up its claims it will be a laughing stock," he said.

The public sector, where Linux has gained ground, is likely to be heavily affected by the dispute.

One council IT manager, who asked not to be named, said SCO's licence demand was an issue for his organisation as it is in the process of implementing parts of its datacentre applications onto Linux.

"We are keeping a close eye on what is happening but it strikes me as one of those things that will drag on and on. We will, however, continue to monitor the risks involved," he said.

Linux distributors SuSe and Red Hat also doubt SCO's claims and are advising their users they have nothing to worry about. "We're telling our customers they should not even consider buying a licensing agreement with SCO," said a spokesman for SuSe.

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