SCO Pulls The Plug On Sequent

The vendor revokes the IBM division's right to license its Unix System V software.

Larry Greenemeier, Contributor

August 13, 2003

2 Min Read

Companies poised to renew their Dynix/ptx operating system licenses from IBM's Sequent division might now want to think again. SCO Group Wednesday terminated Sequent's right to license Unix System V software, citing, in a press release, the "improper transfer of Sequent's Unix source code and development methods into Linux."

By terminating the licensing right, SCO claims the vendor can no longer use or license the Dynix/ptx operating system.

SCO Group claims that restrictions on the use of its Unix System V source code required confidentiality that was violated when Sequent and IBM allegedly contributed "approximately 148 files of direct Sequent Unix code to the Linux 2.4 and 2.5 kernels, containing 168,276 lines of code." This contribution, SCO Group alleges, had the effect of adding to Linux NUMA (non-uniform memory access) and RCU (read-copy update) multiprocessor code that the operating system previously was lacking.

IBM in 1999 bought Sequent Computer Systems' NUMA technology in an $810 million deal and put it to work as a central component of IBM's data-warehousing strategy. NUMA is hardware and software that lets large numbers of processors operate as a single system.

In taking on Sequent, SCO Group is casting a wider net to catch companies it believes have written programs derived from the Unix System V source code and contributed those programs to the Linux kernel, says Laura DiDio, a Yankee Group senior analyst. This move targets another of IBM's Unix technologies--SCO in mid-June revoked IBM's right to license AIX--and "strikes at the heart of the data center" more than if SCO was to target Linux vendors such as Red Hat Inc. or SuSE Linux.

Still, "a lot of people will look at this and simply shrug their shoulders and go about their business," DiDio says, adding that she doesn't envision any company tearing out its AIX or Dynix/ptx systems as a result of SCO Group's actions. What's more significant is the trail of liability that SCO Group is creating. By launching a press release campaign against IBM, in addition to a $3 billion lawsuit, SCO is trying to set itself up for "a very big payday," she says.

IBM doesn't appear to feel any more threatened by SCO Group's latest license cancellation than it was when SCO cancelled IBM's right to license AIX. Specific to Dynix/ptx, "SCO has not shown us any evidence that we've violated our agreement with them," says Trink Guarino, an IBM spokeswoman. Guarino also points out that IBM stopped selling the Unix-based hardware and software last year and has since been migrating customers to newer platforms.

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