Linus on SCO, Microsoft

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Linux founder Linus Torvalds and various executives spoke out on the future of Linux, ongoing litigation with the SCO Group and dealings with Microsoft at a mini Linux conference in Vegas.

On the question of the ongoing legal wars between the SCO Group and Linux, Torvalds declined to comment. But Linux president John Hall, otherwise known as maddog, said “Linux is an operation system of the world and not necessarily under the laws of one specific country”.

“This is a lawsuit full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” said Larry Augustin, chairman of VA Software. “I think the impact on [customers] is virtually nothing. As an end-user, I would be saying I am not affected. This lawsuit doesn't mean anything to me.”

Similarly Red Hat's VP of channel sales and development, Michael Evans, said “the industry in the last 10 years has gotten beyond things of this ilk before”.

The executives were speaking at a panel discussion conference hosted by Computer Associates as part of its annual conference CA World in Las Vegas. Linux executives and devotees to the open source movement also spoke out on Microsoft's competitive behaviour and encouraged solution providers to put Linux on the table to their customers.

Evans said “[Red Hat is] seeing changes in Microsoft's competitive behaviour in accounts, trying to block accounts. But SCO, NetWare and Microsoft solution providers around the world are jumping on the Linux train”.

Hall/maddog agreed: “It's the first time Microsoft has experienced competition from a competitors they really don't know how to address”. Maddog said this can be seen in how the software behemoth dealt with the issue of open source, offering a shared source model.

Under the model, Maddog said, they offered to share code with only a select group of “best customers”. “Would they share it with Larry Ellison, or Scott McNealy? They are trying to go against something they can't understand or embrace.” Maddog added that Linux benefited from changes Microsoft made to its licensing program. “The best thing to happen to Linux recently is Microsoft's insistence on new enterprise licensing which is driving customers to Linux marketplace.”

CA revealed results of a recent poll of its enterprise customers on the value proposition of Linux. The poll, which involved 2,500 corporate customers globally, found Linux's ability to lower total cost of ownership is not its most popular feature as previously believed.

The poll found that 95 percent of customers rate reliability of Linux as it's most attractive feature to their business. Acquisition cost was the next most popular choice at 89 percent, followed closely by performance at 88 percent.

Sam Greenblatt, senior vice president and chief architect of the Linux

technology group at CA, expressed surprise at the result. “Everybody at CA believed the number one value for Linux would be total cost of ownership,” he told the assembled media.

Siobhan Chapman travelled to CA World 2003 in Las Vegas as a guest of Computer Associates.

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