Re: [SLUG] Linux & BSD

From: Andrew M Hoerter (
Date: Wed Sep 03 2003 - 18:11:50 EDT

On Wed, 3 Sep 2003, Frank Roberts - SOTL wrote:

> 1 If you owned a copy of SCO Linux [this DOES NOT say own an installed copy]
> would that make any Linux installation you owned legal as per SCO? After all
> SCO did license SCO Linux.

I'm not a lawyer (and I haven't taken enough hard drugs to be a SCO
employee), but I would guess the answer is "no". If each individual copy
in your posession isn't licensed, that would be an infringement I believe.
Much in the same way that legally owning a copy of "Trainspotting" on DVD
doesn't permit you to make an illegal copy of the VHS version (okay, maybe
that's a weird analogy, but...)

> 2. Just in case which BSD [net, free, or open] is the most like linux?

Um... none of the above? Completely separate codebase. To a varying
degree the BSD projects use some GPL'ed userland code, but the only piece
of the Linux kernel you'll find is the floating point emulation code (and
I'm not even sure of its origin offhand, perhaps Linus wrote it long ago).
Nobody would cry too much over losing that aside from people still using a
386SX and perhaps other odd architectures that lack FPU's.

In my view BSD has a much clearer legal status, since UCB and AT&T reached
a settlement regarding the BSD code in 1994. The result was a freely
distributable codebase known as 4.4BSD Lite. As I understand it part of
the settlement included an agreement that 4.4Lite-derived Unices were no
longer subject to any related legal action. Since Free, Net, and Open are
all derived from 4.4Lite, it seems they should be relatively safe.
Presumably SCO is bound by the same agreement now that the System V IP
belongs to them.

However, details of the settlement remain secret to this day, so it's hard
to say without inside knowledge of the case.

And in any event, reasonable legal principles haven't stopped SCO from
coming this far, so who's to say what they'll go after next. Nothing
would surprise me at this point.

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