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SCO Group Eases Its Customers' Worries

The company issued a letter stating that SCO Linux customers aren't liable for any actions SCO Group takes against the Linux community.

A lot of Linux users are keeping a watchful eye on SCO Group's lawsuit against IBM and wondering what it means for them. For many Linux users, that question may not be answerable in the immediate future. SCO Group's allegations that IBM violated its Unix licensing by feeding Unix source code to the Linux community could threaten companies that have gotten comfortable with the open-source operating system.

But SCO customers don't have to worry. SCO Group has assured its Linux customers that any company that's paying for Linux software and services from SCO Group is already paying for SCO's intellectual property.

That was good news for Cendant Corp., which five years ago made a bold move to begin offering Linux-based property-management software to the hotels it owns. Back then, Cendant was proposing to entrust the heart of its hotel systems—software that handles check-in/out, reservations, receipts, and guest histories—to an operating system largely unproven in enterprise environments. The gamble paid off for Cendant. Today, 60% of Cendant's 7,000 hotels run their property management applications on an open-source application from Hotel Software Systems Ltd. That software runs atop a Linux distribution from SCO Group.

"I asked [SCO] what that meant to me," says David Chugg, Cendant's senior director of hotel solutions. Chugg says his company's lawyers were very interested in Cendant's liability when they first learned of SCO Group's multibillion-dollar lawsuit against IBM. "Our chief general counsel's a tech-savvy guy, and he knew we have 3,700 Linux installations out there," Chugg says. "My explanation to him was that we're in the best position we could be in now. We're in the camp of the company that's brought the allegations."

Indeed, SCO Group issued a letter, which was posted on its Web site and sent to many of its customers, stating that SCO Linux customers are not liable for any actions SCO Group takes against the Linux community. The same can't be said for Linux purchased from other vendors, a SCO Group spokesman says.

Says Chugg, "I'd be more concerned if I was a Red Hat customer."

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