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Slime for sale


By Scott Bradner


I've seen a number of theories about just what the heck SCO is trying to accomplish in deciding to sue IBM for a billion dollars, but collecting a billion dollars is not one of the believable theories.


The plot so far has SCO deciding to sue IBM for unfair competition and breach of contract.  SCO said that: "IBM made concentrated efforts to improperly destroy the economic value of Unix, particularly Unix on Intel, to benefit IBM's new Linux services business." As an aside, having tried to use SCO's Unix in the past I'm not sure how IBM could do a more effective job of destroying the economic value of SCO Unix than SCO has been doing on their own.  SCO says that, while doing research to support the suite, they found a number of places where SCO secret software code was used in Linux and they, at least in part, blame IBM for the code being there.  SCO says they will cancel IBM's Unix license, which IBM needs in order to ship its version of Unix called AIX, the middle of June because of the violations.  Then, in spite of claiming that they are not out to destroy Linux, SCO sent mail to 1500 corporate users of Linux strongly hinting that SCO might come after them next.


Considering it had a market cap of only $12 million or so when it filed the suite, SCO is, at best, showed considerable chutzpa in asking for a billion dollars.  I expect that the amount was chosen merely to attract attention.  There is no rational way that, without IBM's alleged activities, to imagine that SCO would be 80 times its current size -- considering the products that SCO is trying to sell and its track record of non-success.


The most believable theory is that SCO is trying to get IBM to buy the company.  This theory seems to be shared by many folk on Wall Street since the stock value has quintupled since the suite was filed.  Following this theory, the warning letters were merely a way to increase pressure on IBM.  Sort of like a vandal spray paining obscene graffiti on the homes of the members of the board of directors of a hated corporation. 


But this graffiti is more like spraying acid, it is a callous effort to threaten destruction of Linux as a bargaining ploy.  One has little reason these days to respect corporate executives so this type of behavior should come as no surprise but that does not keep one from feeling disgusted. 


I expect that SCO will succeed in at least part of their objective.  Someone will pay off the slime, it's cheaper than fighting the case.  And that makes me both sad and mad.


disclaimer:  Folk at the Harvard biology department grow slime, but the University does not then bribe the slime nor has the University expressed an opinion on this case.