Monday, November 20, 2006

Salt Lake Tribune - IBM's Sutor: 'open source' is not at risk

I hope you brought your might need a grain or two to make it through this article. Bob Mims begins with a comment or two by IBM's Bob Sutor:

"In the mythical land of "Open Source," an egalitarian, global network of software developers sacrificially contribute programming code to the greater good.

But in today's real world, open source minds and corporate technology giants are finding they need each other to survive and thrive, says Bob Sutor, IBM vice president of Open Standards and Open Source.

We've shown that we can have proprietary software with Linux running on top," Sutor said. "We can have both. There's no religion here; it's just what makes good business sense for us and the open source community."

Well, in the "real world" of Bob Sutor, there appears to be software that the Kernel (Linux) runs on top of...I suppose IBM may have created a bootloader or now-ubiquitous BIOS that I haven't heard of. That's really just me picking a nit, but the other Bob (Mims, the article's author) then proceeds with some more serious misunderstandings...or maybe FUD.

As a follow-up comment to one about IBM contributing various code to open-source projects, Mr. Mims says:

"SCO contends IBM illegally contributed bits of its proprietary Unix code to Linux. IBM denies the allegation, saying it only released applications it already owned, or had been made open source previously."

Well, actually, no. SCO doesn't contend that, although it once did...or didn't...depends on what day, month, and year you're talking about. SCO currently contends that IBM illegally contributed bits of IBM's own to Linux, but that any code developed by anyone anywhere that at one point touched code that SCO purports to own (ownership that Novell disagrees with, by the way...Novell says they never gave SCO the rights it says it has) belongs to SCO.

I know that's hard to make sense of, but it's just about the shortest way to say what the actual issue is in front of the courts (as of today, anyway).

Next, we come to another issue that is usually carefully kept seperate from SCO's litigation:

"Microsoft has been a prime funding source for SCO, but earlier this month stunned open-sourcers by announcing a development pact for Novell's Suse-brand of Linux.

IBM is watching the apparent about-face with interest - and skepticism."

There's just a tiny bit of spin in there. Microsoft did indeed stun "open-sourcers" by announcing a deal with Novell. You might go so far as to say they were momentarily speechless. You might also say that when they found their voices, it wasn't to laud any apparent "about-face", but rather to condemn a blatant attempt to fracture the development efforts of every open-source project simultaneously with threats of patent litigation.

If Bob Sutor of IBM really said that IBM is watching Microsoft's actions with interest, then I would very much like to know what they find interesting. I'd like a chance to make it clear that people in the open source community may share the skepticism (multiplied a million-fold, maybe), but not the interest.

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