Linus and Darl Tell Different Stories: Who Is Telling the Truth?

Friday, April 02 2004 @ 06:26 PM EST

Contributed by: PJ

I'll bet you thought the article yesterday by eWeek's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols was an April Fool's joke, didn't you? Especially the part where in his interview with McBride and Sontag, McBride said that Linus didn't want to see the allegedly infringing code because he was afraid of becoming "tainted":

"McBride: I talked to Linus [Torvalds] in an e-mail exchange last summer, and I told him I was willing to show him the code. But he said he didn't want to see it because he didn't want to be tainted by it. So, there's this attitude of we want to show it, but we don't see it."

Today, Linus states unequivocably that he did want to see the code, but they required an onerous NDA:

"'Real life happens to be different,' Torvalds said. 'My e-mail to Darl on May 30 of last year states: "I would also like to know exactly what it is you allege is problematic in the kernel, but judging by the press reports I don't think you'll answer me on that. Maybe you _can_ answer the confusion about me personally, though."

"To which, according to Torvalds, Darl answered: 'I understand your unwillingness to go under NDA on the code side of things, so I guess that side will just have to play itself out.'

"'In other words,' Torvalds said, 'there is no code taint that I'd be afraid of, since no such tainted code exists in the kernel. There is only the issue of SCO's NDA. And, at least back then, Darl was aware of the issue, so this is not a question of misunderstanding. It's a question of Darl knowingly misrepresenting the truth.'"

Once again, it's SCO telling one story and the free/open source world telling another. Who is telling the truth?

Linus is, silly. How can we be sure? All I had to do was visit Groklaw's Quote Database, search the "Person List" for McBride, then search for keyword "NDA" and up pops this Paula Rooney article from last June, entitled "Torvalds Says SCO Won't Give Him Peek At Code Without NDA" and here is what it reported:

"The SCO Group has shown off a few hundred lines of Linux code that allegedly violates its rights to Unix but won't allow Linus Torvalds--the father of Linux--to take a peek without signing a non-disclosure agreement.

"In an e-mail response to CRN, Torvalds, the founder of Linux and top engineer on the open-source project, said he asked SCO's top executive about viewing the code but was not granted absolution from a legal agreement that would prevent him talking publicly about it.

"'I've not seen the code, and clearly I can't sign an NDA for it,' said Torvalds. 'I did ask [SCO CEO] Darl McBride to show it to me but didn't expect them to make it available. They didn't.'"

Are you surprised that Linus is telling the truth here and McBride isn't? Then you need to read Groklaw more often. Just last week, we brought to your attention that Linus told Information Week that open source keeps you honest.

We could use a few more volunteers to keep the QDB up-to-date. I'm thinking it might come in handy for IBM and Red Hat and everyone at trial, when certain folks are on the stand telling stories.