informa
/
3 min read
article

Some Puzzlement Over Why Company Bought SCO License

A small supplier to hosting companies buckles under worries about the fight over Linux's parentage.
EV1Servers.net, a division of Everyones Internet Inc., has become the first Linux user to publicly buy into The SCO Group's intellectual-property licensing plan. The maker of servers, software, and networking for Web-hosting companies confirmed Monday it bought an SCO intellectual-property site license that will let EV1Servers continue to host its customers on Linux-based servers.

SCO Group has threatened to sue companies selling and using Linux, which SCO claims was enhanced using its copyrighted Unix System V source code without SCO's permission.

Everyones Internet decided to buy the SCO license, for an undisclosed amount, so that its clients wouldn't have to worry about the growing legal battle over Linux, CEO Robert Marsh says. EV1Servers customers, mostly small and midsize Web hosts, "don't necessarily have the resources to navigate these contentious issues," he says.

Although it's unclear that EV1Servers customers could have been sued by SCO Group, since those customers are only renting space on Linux servers owned by EV1Servers, Marsh says some customers had worried about being sued because of their reliance on Linux. "We talked with customers about their concerns and what they would need" to alleviate those concerns, he says.

Marsh says he can't discuss whether Everyones Internet will be reimbursed for the SCO site license if SCO loses its lawsuit against IBM. In an amended filing Friday, SCO increased the size of its lawsuit against IBM from $3 billion to $5 billion. The suit alleges the following: that IBM misused Unix software licensed by SCO to IBM and Sequent; IBM induced, encouraged, and enabled others to misuse and misappropriate SCO's proprietary software; and IBM incorporated (and got other companies to incorporate) SCO's proprietary software into Linux open-source software offerings.

EV1Servers' more than 20,000 servers run the Red Hat Linux, Berkeley Software Distribution, or Windows operating systems. Marsh wouldn't say how many of those servers are running Red Hat.

Marsh was in San Francisco on Monday with SCO Group CEO Darl McBride attending the Software 2004 Conference. McBride was at the conference hosting a session titled "Hardball With Darl McBride."

EV1Servers' decision to buy SCO Group's site license is a clear indication that companies are giving serious thought to who owns the intellectual property used to make Linux an enterprise-class operating system, McBride says. "Companies that depend on someone who has a large Linux service operation should have a concern over the viability of that operation," he says.

At least one analyst is puzzled at Everyones Internet's move to buy SCO's license with more than a year to go before SCO and IBM square off in court. "A lot of this decision comes down to the company's management team," says Bill Claybrook, VP of Linux strategies at Harvard Research Group. "Maybe they just got tired of worrying about the problems."

Still, Claybrook says, it would take a much larger Linux user than EV1Servers to have any impact on whether other Linux users follow suit. "I don't see companies making a large run at these licenses."