Well, it's official. Reuters is reporting that China is saying on a government web site that the government will financially support Linux development:
"The Chinese government plans to throw its financial weight behind Linux-based computer systems that could rival Microsoft Corp's Windows in one of the world's fastest-growing technology markets, an official said on Wednesday. . . .
"China's information technology market is growing at 20 percent a year, with software sales expected to reach $30.5 billion in 2005, according to research house International Data Corp."
Oddly enough, Gartner's George Weiss says that Linux will soon dominate the US Unix space, and pretty much everything else, despite SCO:
"Gartner expects the [SCO] suit to have little affect on the adoption of Linux worldwide. 'Linux is expected to be the predominant, or near predominant, operating system in the Unix space, and one of the major operating systems in most enterprises by 2006,' Weiss said."
Of course, there will be what Intel's Andy Grove calls "friction" during the transition.
Grove gave a keynote address at the recent Business Software Alliance's Global Tech Summit, and he warned in stark language that the US needs to develop public policy regarding IT in a number of key areas, and he specifially warned about the drag on the economy of patent litigation:
"There is another friction issue which has to do with intellectual property that we should talk a great deal about. And the trends here are not particularly favorable to our increased productivity. The number of software patents issued has skyrocketed in recent years. The number of patent software patents in the backlog according to the head of the patent office are expected to reach a million items. This leads to terribly increased litigation. Let me call your attention to this chart, which shows the actual judgments rendered in software intellectual software cases over a 15 or so year period of time. So what you see is 5 million to four billion dollars change over the 15 year period of time. A large portion of the software talent and managerial talent in this country is associated with issues of this sort representing another element of friction. . . .
"When it comes to friction, raise the hurdle for litigation so that we don't get involved in a litigation wave and make the patent office more discriminating and more expeditious in evaluating filed cases."
He cited China as a good example for the US to follow, in the sense that at least they have a public policy on IT issues. You can read his remarks here
Speaking of friction, LinuxWorld has a snip of an interview with Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and author of "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Investor's Business Daily. He was asked why is Linux disruptive? Here is his answer:
"Christensen: Linux... signals the beginning of commoditization. In the past, popular operating systems have been proprietary and interdependent.
"IBD: Should Microsoft be worried about Linux?
"Christensen: Linux is very disruptive to Microsoft. To their credit, Microsoft has a bunch of disruptive attacks of their own under way."
I wonder if IBM will be asking Mr. Christensen exactly what he means by that remark.
So, the graph is plain, and Linux is ascending, no matter what. Somebody tried to sell a SCO UnixWare license on eBay, but there were no bids.
Of course, Darl McBride, still firmly in the rear of the IT caboose and facing nostalgically backwards, sees the world differently. He would like Unix to prevail, specifically the version of Unix his company bought, regardless of what the rest of us want, and he warns that there is no free lunch and no free Linux, according to a press release about the address he plans to give to the Enterprise IT Week/Computer Digital Expo (CDXPO) conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, November 18. Looks like he didn't get invited to the larger COMDEX conference, which will be going on around the same time, also in Las Vegas. I can't believe McBride actually wants to return to Las Vegas, the scene of the SCOForum debacle. Here's a chunk of the release:
"In his address titled 'There's No Free Lunch -- Or Free Linux,' McBride will present his perspectives on the prospects of free industries, SCO's suit against IBM, and why intellectual property must be protected in a digital age.
"'The Internet created -- and creatively destroyed -- great wealth. It also created a culture legitimizing intellectual property theft,' said McBride. 'When you defend intellectual property, you speak an unpleasant truth. People don't like to hear unpleasant truths. The alternative to this fight, however, is the death of an industry and thousands of jobs lost.'
"McBride will also explore how the information technology industry - software, hardware, networking and services -- depends on money passing from one hand to another, asserting that the livelihood of engineers and developers rests on paid models, even as those developers donate time to free projects such as Linux. McBride will lay out his assertion that without paid software, there would be little or no free software. At the conclusion of his keynote, McBride will be available for media questions."
So, SCO contemplates its own death. What a refreshing blast of reality from Utah.
This announcement isn't getting the usual amount of play from the mainstream media, perhaps because it's idiotic on its face, and what coverage it is getting shows puzzled headline writers in a creative knot, as can be seen in The Age's headline: "SCO to argue that free software cannot exist in a vacuum."
Well, what can?
I wasn't aware that McBride was scientifically inclined. Maybe he found those physicists hidden somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, with the missing MIT mathematicians, and they instructed him on the scientific principles of vacuums. But, scientifically or economically likely or not, I could have sworn there already is a free Linux, and nobody paid for it to happen, either. Furthermore, it hadn't a care in the world until crazed commercial software companies showed up drooling. I therefore conclude that Mr. McBride has misdiagnosed the problem and that his economic views may safely be ignored.
What he might be thinking of, aside from the usual rant about having to pay for Linux training, blah blah, is the Business Software Alliance's concept of software's role in the economy. If you go to the BSA site, you will find considerable efforts to persuade not only gentle readers who might show up but recalcitrant countries, who don't view copyright as being the highest need on their list of priorities, that the economy depends on protecting intellectual property. Here is their self-portrait from their most recent press release:
"The Business Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the foremost organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world. BSA is the voice of the world's commercial software industry and its hardware partners before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members represent one of the fastest growing industries in the world. BSA programs foster technology innovation through education and policy initiatives that promote copyright protection, cyber security, trade and e-commerce. BSA members include Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Avid, Bentley Systems, Borland, Cisco Systems, CNC Software/Mastercam, Entrust, HP, IBM, Intel, Internet Security Systems, Intuit, Macromedia, Microsoft, Network Associates, Novell, PeopleSoft, RSA Security, Sybase and Symantec."
The BSA had a press release in December of 2000 entitled "Copyrights Are the Driving Force of the Information Economy", which you can read here:
"Robert Holleyman, President and CEO of the Business Software Alliance, made the following comments as the International Intellectual Property Alliance’s (IIPA) study was released. The 2000 study reaffirmed that the U.S. copyright industries continue to be one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy. High Tech, including software and hardware products, continues to enlarge its part of these industries dependent upon copyrights for their business models.
“It is clear that intellectual capital is a vital part of our nation’s economy. As our economy moves from an industrial base to one of information, intellectual property’s supporting role will only grow. This report is positive proof that it is in the country’s interest to preserve and protect copyrights even as distribution moves to the Internet. According to a recent survey of the BSA’s leading high tech CEOs, only twelve percent of all software is distributed online today, and in five years that number will expand significantly to at least 66 percent.
“Employment opportunities, foreign sales and revenues in general, are all up in the copyright industries. America’s strength is its ingenuity, creativity and ability to innovate—this is intellectual property and it is the reason why we are the leaders of the expanded economy.”
That was 2000. In April of this year, there was another release saying that IP is needed to jumpstart the economy. They did a study, so they know. Trust them. They're experts:
"New Economic Impact Study Details Benefits of Strong Copyright Protection
"Washington, DC (April 2, 2003) -- Increased copyright protection for software could help jumpstart the world's stagnant and struggling economies by creating new jobs and business opportunities that would generate billions of dollars in new spending and tax revenues, according to an economic impact study by IDC that was released today by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
"The study, commissioned by the BSA, assesses the impact that the information technology industry has in 57 countries around the world and the economic benefits that those countries would experience by tightening and enforcing their intellectual property laws. The countries surveyed represent 98 percent of the world's IT market."
However, there seems to be a problem with their conclusion, judging from another of their own press releases in June, saying that there has been a "significant decline" in software piracy since 1994. Um... so what happened? The economy in 1994 compared to now would be what direction on the graph, up or down? The economy has been tanking, while software piracy has been declining. Woops. Here's the release:
"New Study Reveals Significant Decline in World Software Piracy Since 1994
"Washington, DC, (Tuesday, June 3) – The global piracy rate for commercial software has decreased 10 points over the last eight years, supported by piracy declines in all regions of the world, according to the Business Software Alliance’s (BSA) eighth annual survey on global software piracy(www.bsa.org/globalstudy/). Intensified education efforts are critical to shrinking the piracy problem further, BSA said.
"BSA, the Washington, DC-based international association representing the world’s leading software publishers, today announced that the global software piracy rate declined to 39% in 2002, below its 1994 all-time high of 49%.
"Worldwide, every country except Zimbabwe has reduced its rate of piracy since 1994, the year in which the study was first commissioned. The U.S. piracy rate hit an all-time low of 23%, currently the lowest piracy rate in the world."
I think we may conclude, if we apply their level of scientific method, that copyright protection has had a depressant effect on the economy. If you really wish to be scientific, the question needs to be: whose economy? Ours? Or proprietary software companies? So when Mr. McBride gives his little speech to the handful of folks who aren't at COMDEX instead, they can have a little prophylactic information from Groklaw to protect their brains from contamination.
You can read lots of interesting information about the BSA on this page, where they list all their releases going back to 1999. For example, the BSA testified in NY on software procurement policy, asking that open source not be given preference over commercial software by governments. In the opening remarks, the spokesman said:
"As you may know, BSA represents the leading developers of software, hardware and Internet technologies. Our companies are well-known creators both of 'traditional' commercial software products as well as open source tools and services, and many of them have a significant presence in New York."
Then in June, it sent a spokesman to give testimony on federal policy and open source software before the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where it represented itself similarly:
"BSA represents the world's leading commercial developers of software, hardware, and Internet technologies. Many of our members provide both commercial and open source products, as you have heard today. As you know, development models and distribution models in our industry are constantly evolving. That is not new for us. We are an industry that is accustomed to change and welcomes it. Our members have responded to the growth in open source development in a number of different ways, based upon their specific circumstances and business models. But while each company has its own approach to the issue of open source development, there is one area in which they are in complete agreement.
"And that is in their belief that governments should not try to influence the development of the marketplace towards one method of software development or another, and that government procurement policies should remain neutral with respect to the method of software development. This consensus is reflected in BSA's 'Principles for Software Innovation,' which were adopted by our members last year. The principles reflect four important conclusions:
"-- Governments should select software on its merits, not simply the model of its development.
" -- Government-funded research should be available to all.
" -- Neutral standards should be promoted.
" -- Strong intellectual property protection, consistent with these principles of neutrality, must be maintained."
Does that sound to you like the BSA represents open source? If it got elected, I want a recount.
Why all this talk about the BSA? Two reasons. First, Novell and IBM are members. They surely have the capacity to influence BSA policy in a more enlightened direction. After all, if China, the US, and the whole world ends up going Linux, who will the BSA represent then? They need to keep up with the tidal wave that is happening in the software world. Besides, the economy needs a boost, fellas. A Red Hat representative yesterday mentioned, specifically with regard to Novell, "users would have to decide for themselves whether they would be comfortable with a company which offered both proprietary and open source solutions side-by-side." That isn't just competition talking. It's a real question, particularly when you think back to the Caldera mess and what it has led to.
And the second reason I mention the BSA is because a SCO director, R. Duff Thompson, who is also on the board of old SCO, now Tarentella, turns out to be a past president of the BSA. More on Mr. Thompson another day.
SCO, continuing its pattern of imitation, has filed its own Motion to Compel Discovery in the IBM lawsuit. This whole discovery dance is quite interesting, because SCO appears to be holding no proof of its charges against IBM, or so little and unconvincing proof it doesn't want to reveal to the judge, IBM and the world what it is they think they have, until after IBM shows them the answers to their discovery requests. They must think if they can just get IBM to go first, they will find something to keep their case alive. The motion isn't available yet online, but no doubt it will be soon. If you go to look at who sent the other side interrogatories first, you will see that IBM sent theirs first (June 13), by a couple of weeks (SCO June 24). That will make it hard for SCO to argue that IBM should go first.
Here is what is up on the court list:
11/4/03 66 Motion by SCO Grp to Compel Discovery [Entry date 11/05/03]
11/4/03 67 Memorandum by SCO Grp in support of motion to Compel Discovery [Entry date 11/05/03]