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McBride: Don't blame us, blame IBM

SCO Group CEO Darl McBride predicted doom for the GPL and that Linux's days as a free OS were numbered during a keynote presentation Tuesday.

LAS VEGAS -- During a keynote address Tuesday at the Enterprise IT Week conference, SCO Group Inc. CEO Darl McBride told attendees that the General Public License that governs Linux and open source software will not survive -- and that the blame for that lies with IBM.

SCO filed suit against IBM in March, claiming that the computing giant had improperly donated Unix System V code to Linux. Unix System V code is owned by SCO and licensed by IBM. In a countersuit filed in August, IBM's primary defense, McBride said, was "putting the GPL between IBM and SCO."

"There is no doubt that the GPL is at risk right now, but we are not the ones that put it there. It was IBM. They put it in the line of fire," said McBride, adding that he was "thrilled" that IBM pulled the GPL into the legal discussion, because it's unlikely to survive his company's legal challenge.

McBride said that other flavors of Unix, like IBM's AIX, Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris operating systems, are derivative code. "It's true that there are a whole bunch of Unix versions out there, but we own the trunk of the tree," McBride said.

McBride added that it is not SCO's intention to harm Linux or the open source community. Instead, he's defending SCO's most valuable asset -- its Unix code -- and the investments of SCO shareholders and customers.

"We think there's a lot of merit to the open source environment," he said. "For Linux to be able to move forward, there needs to be appropriate checks and balances in the open source process. We think there's a way for all of us to coexist peacefully." McBride predicted that Linux's days as a free operating system are numbered.

In a press conference that followed, McBride rejected speculation that Microsoft was largely responsible for the sizable financial infusion SCO announced on Oct. 17 and is pulling the strings behind SCO's legal efforts in hopes of weakening the competitive threat Linux poses to the Windows operating system.

BayStar Capital, a venture capital firm, invested $50 million in SCO, and McBride at the time said he would devote a portion of the money to the company's legal war chest, to fight intellectual property infringements.

McBride confirmed that Microsoft has licensed SCO's intellectual property -- meaning Redmond can legally use SCO's Unix code to create more back-end ties between Windows and Unix or Linux -- but that's where the relationship ends, he said.

"The conspiracy theorists are out there but, with respect to what we're doing in the marketplace, we're not associated with Microsoft," McBride said.

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