SCO’s litigation against IBM and other companies over the use ofLinux has led many in the open-source community to consider the softwarecompany an enemy.
But recently SCO has been attempting to clarify its position on theissue, noting that it not only uses open source in its products but also has contributed to open source in the past and will continue to do so.
“Many people think we hate open source, that we want to crush it,” saidthe company’s CEO, Darl McBride, in a LinuxInsider interview. “That’ssimply not true.”
The open-source community, however, may be reluctant to shift its opinion. “They’ve created a lot of bad feelings,” Gartner analyst George Weiss told LinuxInsider. “Even if they try to differentiate between open source and Linux, those bad feelings will still exist.”
Several SCO products have open-source components, such as the open-source tools that are part of its OpenServer. OpenServer includes a Mozilla browser in addition to Netscape Communicator. It also offers Samba as a network services option.
The company offers the Open Source Tool Kit, or OSTK, an updatedand supported release for some open source tools for several UnixWareversions.
The addition of open source is largely a result of customer requests, SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell told LinuxInsider.
“Customers are interested in having both proprietary and open-source options in the products,” he said.
In a nod toward SCO’s ongoing lawsuits, Stowell added that the company views open source as “a good thing,” as long as the code used is not part of a company’s proprietary license, and does not include proprietary software.
Stowell noted that SCO engineers have made several contributions to open source in the past.
More recently, some of the company’s developers have been trying to contribute to Samba, a free open-source software suite that provides file and print services to SMB/CIFS clients. Samba is freely available under the GNU General Public License.
There has been some difficulty with certain open-source groups, Stowell admitted, because of SCO’s lawsuits. He said that the leaders at some open-source projects have been hesitant to accept SCO contributions because they thought it would spark animosity in the community toward those projects.
“Frankly, there’s been confusion about our stance on open source,” said Stowell. “Many people think that because we’re part of this Linux dispute, we’ve declared war on open source itself. But that simply isn’tthe case.”
Although some of its engineers are still actively working on open-source projects, the company made more contributions in the community in the past than it does so now, Stowell said. He added that it is likely the company will continue to contribute to open source, but he considered it unlikely that company engineers would return to previous contribution levels.
Many in the open-source community feel that hostility toward SCO will persist.
SCO’s reputation was dented further inMarch when it followed through on threats to file lawsuits againstcorporate Linux users, targeting DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone during itsfirst salvo. Many in the community flooded online bulletin boards withvehement anti-SCO messages about the action.
Although SCO’s litigation has not alienated every open-source advocate, the company will still have difficulty in generating positive feelings in the larger community. “They’ve lost quite a bit of goodwill,” Gartner’s Weiss said. “Whether they can come back from that remains to be seen.”