Alas, Groklaw, We Hardly Knew Ye

Here in the world of technology, it’s an everyday occurrence to see new companies and organizations spring up out of nowhere and begin to play an active role.

What’s far less common, however, is to see one disappear — particularly one that has been an extremely productive and well-respected part of the community for years upon years.

That, however, is essentially what happened a week ago, if a blog post over at Groklaw is anything to go by.

“I have decided that Groklaw will stop publishing new articles on our anniversary, May 16,” wrote founder Pamela Jones.

“I know a lot of you will be unhappy to hear it, so let me briefly explain, because my decision is made and it’s firm,” Jones added. “In a simple sentence, the reason is this: the crisis SCO initiated over Linux is over, and Linux won. SCO as we knew it is no more.”

‘Say It Ain’t So’

Now, if Microsoft itself announced plans to scrap Windows and embrace Linux instead, it could scarcely have shocked more people. In fact, ever since the news broke, widespread laments have been echoing throughout the hills and dales of the Linux blogosphere.

“Say it ain’t so,” wrote Cypher3c among the 600-plus comments on Jones’ post, for example. “The war on linux continues, and we need more people like you to report on it.”

Similarly, “Gasp! Choke. Sob,” echoed Crocodile Dundee.

“A winter for truth.Who will light the dark places?The fight not over,” Dundee added.

More pragmatically, “where’s the fork?” asked an anonymous reader. “Like all good FLOSS projects, when the old leaders need to stop and don’t want to give up the name (in this case that’s a very good thing), we fork and continue on.”

‘A Great Service’

Similar sentiments could be heard on Slashdot, on LXer, on LWN and beyond, so Linux Girl knew it was time to conduct a small poll of her own.

“I have had Groklaw in my bookmarks ever since SCOG induced fear in the world by suing people over use of Linux,” blogger Robert Pogson began. “Until they became specific (by court order) and Groklaw picked apart all their ‘evidence’ and dug up the truth, the world of IT was shaken in its confidence in Linux.”

It’s “sad that so many $millions have been wasted and so much FUD has taken so long to dispel, but SCOG is bankrupt and assets sold off,” Pogson added. “It is a sad commentary on the US legal system that such scum can use legal extortion to tax real innovation.”

Jones, then, “has done the world a great service, and the body of work in her writing, legal documents and comments from thousands of followers and critics will live on as an important lifelong contribution,” Pogson concluded.

‘Constant Personal Attacks’

“Groklaw will be missed, but I can see how she would find the constant personal attacks tiring,” consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack pointed out.

Indeed, a few of those attacks could be seen even in the past few days over at LWN, Linux Girl can’t help but point out.

The best thing about the site, in fact, “was the fact checking that had a tendency to shatter FUD,” Mack noted. “That’s something I wish professional journalists would spend more time doing.”

‘Microsoft, the Real Enemy’

Either way, “it would be nice if some people with legal backgrounds got together and put up a similar site or took over Groklaw,” Mack suggested, echoing the “fork” idea from the comments on Jones’ post.

Similarly: “SCO was never really about SCO; their effort was funded by Microsoft, the real enemy,” Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza pointed out. “Groklaw ought to stick around as long as Microsoft is addicted to dirty tricks.”

Was that view unanimous? Well, is anything ever unanimous in the Linux blogosphere?

To wit: “Good riddance, I say,” Slashdot blogger hairyfeet opined. “Groklaw frankly became ‘Boycott Novell’ in that EVERYTHING had to be an evil plot from Redmond.”

‘Mission Accomplished? You Betcha!’

For most, however, the end of Groklaw is the end of an era.

“Who knew when the whole SCO vs Linux+World saga started that it would take almost a decade?” noted Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site.

“Pamela Jones is, of course, right — the battle is won,” Hudson agreed. “SCO has been bled to death in bankruptcy court by its own lawyers, and it’s telling that the second highest bid in the court-ordered auction of most of their assets was only (US)$16.”

As for Linux, “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” Hudson quipped. “Eight years of legal threats, interminable courtroom action costing tens of millions of dollars, for what? Linux is now dominating sales of a market that didn’t even exist when it all started: smartphones.

“It’s the No. 2 tablet OS, and next year, when HP installs their linux-based webOS on every desktop and laptop they sell, all those dual-boot systems will make linux’s share of the desktop market zoom from nothing to No. 2,” Hudson predicted. “Mission accomplished? You betcha!”

‘It Hasn’t Been an Easy Road’

Jones’ consistent reporting, meanwhile, “has established her as one of the luminaries of open source, but it hasn’t been an easy road,” Hudson noted.

The aforementioned personal attacks, specifically, have made the path a rocky one, she added.

“In a field dominated by male programmers, she is neither, and many refused to believe that a grandmother could do what she did,” Hudson explained. “Some of them still claim she was a team of IBM-funded lawyers, not a ‘mere paralegal’ working independently. Why? ‘If you can’t attack the message, attack the messenger.'”

In any case, while “many of us are going to miss the reports on Groklaw, PJ also wrote, ‘I have … a project I’ve wanted to get to for a long time’,” Hudson noted. “I can’t imagine how she’s going to top her first act, but I’ll sure be waiting to find out.”

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