This Space for Rent

Not a great fan of groklaw

A few years ago, Caldera SCO sued IBM, claiming that IBM had stolen code out of one of SCO's versions of Unix and wedged it into Linux. This little -- and possibly even valid -- lawsuit got a whole bunch of attention from the more hysterical branches of the Free Software ®™© world, who went into a full-scale defense of the team which started up as over the top, and then got worse when SCO's management went insane and converted their little lawsuit into a GREAT CRUSADE AGAINST THE COMMUNIST EVIL OF THE GPL (no, really; apparently the terms of the GPL, which can be really horrid unless you take a bit of care about interfaces and bundling are actually a COMMUNIST PLOT™ against people who, um, don't wish to follow the licensing terms for software they want to use. I'd think that if you didn't want to follow the licensing terms that the ethical thing to do would be to not use the software, but I'm just a squishy liberal and am overly concerned about such things.)

The website groklaw, which either started as a result of this lawsuit or which got a lot of fame because of this lawsuit, has been at the forefront of the mobs howling for SCO's hide. Every now or then, I see some reference to an article on that site which, invariably, states the "third-party claim X means that SCO is going to be crushed!", and, also invariably, presents the claim in the sort of fair and balanced way that you would normally expect to see on Fox.

Case in point:

This article is about a deposition where someone states the screamingly obvious; if you installed the Linux kernel personality module on Unixware, you'd get a copy of the Linux kernel. It provided a link to a fairly long pdf file (which I didn't read), but clipped a synopsis saying that, yes, if you installed the linux kernel personality module you'd get the kernel. How it is actually used, well, they're kind of vague on that, but it's presented in a manner that is quite familiar to anyone who watched the run-up to the unprovoked attack against Iraq or the excuses that people make for breaking Valerie Plame's cover as a covert CIA agent. I don't really like groklaw because of articles like this; they breathlessly say "Caldera included GPLed code!" and hope that the readership will take the insinuation and run with it. It's strikingly like the Evil Party smear campaign against Valerie Plame.

Having worked with Linux kernel personalities before, I've got a pretty good idea of just where the Linux kernel code was used; you need the kernel to get the kernel headers, which used to be needed to have a libc that you could compile against. What else would you expect? If you're going to have a linux personality, you'd like to be able to, um, do things with it, and thus you get all of the horrible warts in the build environment.

As a bonus, this article quotes an anonymous source saying that GPLed code is in the SCO kernel. No details, of course, but it's still a bit of a red herring; it sounds nice, but it doesn't have anything to do with the kernel personality code (if I was SCO and wanted to steal someone else's linux personality code, I'd take one of the BSD ones because, well, they're the only ones out there, and it's just a bonus that the Open Source®©™ evangelists have bullied the various BSDs into pulling the due credit clause from the BSD license -- now if someone wants to use something with a new BSD license, they don't have to release source or even mention where they got it from.)

I'm not a particular fan of SCO -- they lost my sympathy when they went off the rails and started frothing that the GPL was communist -- but sloppy breathless reports of nothing at all aren't likely to win any respect from me. So, no, I'm not a great fan of groklaw.