On SCO, Linux and What Will Happen When the exFAT Lady Sings

Well it’s been over a week since the landmark ruling came down in the Novell v. SCO case, but the reverberations are still being felt throughout the blogosphere.

On Slashdot, as well as on LinuxToday, and on Digg — not just once, but twice) — and beyond, the post-ruling ruminations just keep coming.

Linux Girl was down at the Tipsy Tux Tavern when the news broke, so she had plenty of opportunity to sample the reactions of a diverse group of Linux bloggers there — not to mention more than her fair share of Fuzzy Penguins.

‘It Sickens Me’

“It’s nice to see that the federal court system is finally getting around to dealing with one of the fundamental issues of a seven-year-old lawsuit,” Slashdot blogger Josh Ulmer began. “It would be even better if the system was better-equipped to handle the case in the first place, and the pipe dream of a quick and definitive resolution.”

The case “has employed enough lawyers in the last seven years to feed a small country of sharks, and it sickens me to think of the money SCO has wasted — IBM and Novell have essentially been forced to follow suit,” Ulmer added.

“Well, Darl McBride is tenacious,” Slashdot blogger David Masover pointed out. “He’ll probably be back, but hopefully not with this particular bit of trolling.”

‘A Waste of Our Judicial System’

Indeed, “if there is justice, Darl McBride will be forced to pay for everything personally,” Ulmer asserted. “I wish there was grounds for a class-action countersuit of putting up with this nonsense for the better part of a decade.

“While it has provided some awesome opportunities for entertainment and public enlightenment as to OSS — between IBM’s legendary provision of discovery and realizing how many big companies actually use OSS — in the end, it’s a waste of our judicial system, and the perfect example of a litigation-happy society,” Ulmer concluded.

Of course, “SCO still has some suits to wrap up before they will be permitted to cease to exist,” Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza pointed out. “Since SCO has been shown to never have owned any Unix copyrights, there’s nothing to be gained by taking them over at this point; they own absolutely nothing of value, since the Unix copyright claim was separated from the rest of SCO.”

‘Nothing Left of SCO’

In fact, “SCO’s web server/services business Tarantella became part of Sun and thus is now owned by Oracle, so there’s nothing left of SCO at this point except some lawsuits,” Espinoza said.

“Microsoft’s bankrolling of SCO has succeeded brilliantly where a direct attack would have failed, but in the end, it has fallen far short of giving Windows sufficient time to become competitive,” he concluded. “Some physicists believe that the world will end first, anyway… “

Most likely, “they will fight the last battles and then appeal,” Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack predicted. “The thing is, this never really mattered to Linux since there is no Unix in Linux.”

‘This Tragedy Will Go On’

Still, “it is not over until the fat lady sings,” blogger Robert Pogson quipped. “SCOG still has options, and since their lawyers in bankruptcy are being paid and their lawyers in extortion are being paid, this tragedy will go on until some court has the spine to say, ‘NO MORE!'”

The case should have been thrown out in the preliminary stages, but instead “judges have bent over backwards to give SCOG seven years of rope,” Pogson asserted. “We even have a judge, appointed as a trustee, aiding and abetting this go-for-broke scheme.

“It is sad to see so many smart, educated, skilled people with so little moral compass,” he added. “SCOG has exploited this turpitude at every turn.”

‘The Forces of Evil’

Looking ahead, “as long as there is any wiggle room, the forces of evil will keep sending SCOG enough money to keep going,” Pogson predicted. “Imagine another appeal to the 10th Circuit, shenanigans with the international arbitration and the bankruptcy court could unstay SCOG v IBM and appeals through a couple of layers from that.”

All the while, however, “there is no sign of any repercussion at all to the instigators,” he concluded. “As long as there is a penny to be made or an ounce of FUD to be spread, it will go on. It just will not end until evil is behind bars.”

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet, however, had a different interpretation.

‘The Fat Lady Is at Denny’s’

“The fat lady has not only sung, but left the building and is at the Denny’s down the street,” hairyfeet told LinuxInsider. “All that is left is to carve up the corpse and call it a day.”

Yet all the FUD surrounding the case may have caused the Linux community to miss the forest for the trees, hairyfeet said.

Specifically, “I’m talking about the hidden ‘gotcha’ that is about to sneak up and bite Linux right in the tushy: exFAT.”

‘FAT32 Is No Longer Suitable’

exFAT has begun to appear even “in the flash sticks at my local Big Lots,” hairyfeet noted, and Windows 7 also has native exFAT support.

“As everyone knows, FAT32 has already gotten TomTom in trouble because of patents, and exFAT has even more patents behind it and is pretty locked up tight,” he explained. “What are Linux users gonna do when NO cell phones, PMPs, flash drives, pretty much all mobile devices, will hook up to their OS?

“As far as I’ve seen there has been NO initiative on the part of Linux developers or the FSF to come up with a new patent-free file system suitable for large SS storage devices, and FAT32 is simply no longer suitable for the task,” he added. “Not to mention there has been no test of whether the published ‘workaround’ for Microsoft’s patents on FAT32 will actually stand up in court or not.”

‘A Semi Is Bearing Down’

In other words, “all this squabbling over a waste of space like McBride or whether binary blobs should be allowed is just arguing over what color the road is while a semi is bearing down on you!” hairyfeet warned.

“Everybody thinks it is the big things that get you — the giant battle between one team vs. another — when in reality most battles end with a whimper, with a competitor slowly dying out,” he added.

“The future will have nothing at all to do with SCO; the future is mobile, and I predict that in less than three years all mobile devices will come with exFAT as default,” hairyfeet concluded. Windows 8, meanwhile, “will drop support for FAT32, which will leave Linux out in the cold.”


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