Ever since the SCO story first broke, a lot of developers have expressed the opinion that if you looked under SCO's hood, you'd likely find some GPL code.
I recently saw a message posted on another site where someone mentioned a specific case where the evidence indicated to him this may indeed have happened. I contacted the writer, Roberto J. Dohnert, a programmer who is the CTO and head consultant for a consulting firm in NC, and whose name I recognized from other things he's written (he's the programmer who figured out that SCO had to be talking about SMP long before SCO told us) and asked him if he'd be willing to write for Groklaw exactly what he found and what his suspicions are.
He had pulled the datasheets for SCO UnixWare 7.1.3 and the datasheets for SuSE Enterprise Server 8, and he noticed that new device drivers in UnixWare matched UnitedLinux, version numbers and all. I asked him to elaborate. He graciously agreed. Here's what he did and what he found and what he suspects:
Comparing SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8
with UnixWare 7.1.3
By Roberto J. Dohnert
"In July, my company was asked to do a comparison between UnixWare 7.1.3 and Red Hat Linux 9 and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8. The client was taking SCO's threat to heart and asked for the comparison in an effort to affect a migration to the UnixWare platform; they thought it was a safe way to dismiss any legal action that might have been directed at them by SCO.
"During the testing and performance evaluation, I discovered that while Red Hat Linux 9 and UnixWare 7.1.3 were as different as night and day, I found the performance ratio and feature set between UnixWare 7.1.3 and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 disturbingly similar so I investigated further. The information I did gather was done through the use of datasheets available from the vendors websites. I was unable to do a source comparison because at this time I am not a Source Licensee by the SCO Group.
"The distributions used were UnixWare 7.1.3 Enterprise Edition and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 (SLES 8) based on UnitedLinux. UnitedLinux is a direct offset of the SuSE Linux kernel and SuSE provides all the kernel packages. I found that several open source packages that are on UnixWare are also on SLES 8. The inclusion of such packages may seem commonplace to some but to me it struck me as odd in regards to the version numbers. The version numbers of all the packages are exactly the same. It struck me as odd because even in the Linux world, most distributions ship with different version numbers of software packages. Below is a detailed list of the packages:
"Java 1.3.1 -04
"Squid Proxy Server 2.4 Stable 7
"On Red Hat 9 the package list for some of the same software is:
"Higher versions of the software were available at the time SCO developed UnixWare 7.1.3. My question was, if SCO wishes to be known as cutting edge, why would they mimic the package list of UnitedLinux instead ? Another thing I found odd was the performance and feature set of kernel level functions. Anyone who uses a SuSE Linux distribution knows the difference between SuSE and other distributions of Linux, both in performance and functionality.
"An example would be APM and ACPI (Advanced Power Management) and (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface). Under SuSE Linux APM and ACPI are turned off by default, You have to enable these functions to activate in the boot process.
"On one of my test machines, a Dell PowerEdge Server, I have to enable APM and ACPI or else 30 minutes into a session the machine locks up. With Red Hat 9 they are turned on by default. With UnixWare 7.1.3, I have to enable these functions to activate in the boot process same as with SuSE or the same result occurs. UnixWare before version 7.1.3 had no, or was lacking, device support for many devices. Upon the new release, it has many new drivers for both USB 1 and USB 2, support for the Xeon processor, PCI-X support, HotPlug PCI, Memory. I have noticed USB devices that don't work with SLES 8, do not work with UnixWare 7.1.3, but under Red Hat Linux they work flawlessly. Also, many of the new device drivers have been working in Linux long before they were available for UnixWare.
"These device drivers were not available on UnixWare until SCO joined UnitedLinux. Many of the quirks that SLES 8 has can be found in UnixWare. SCO has long claimed that UnixWare can scale up to as high as 64 CPU's yet they officially support up to 8 CPU's. The only major difference is the desktops; UnixWare still uses CDE and Panorama while SuSE uses KDE.
"It is my belief and opinion that SCO has indeed borrowed engineering concepts and methods from their association with UnitedLinux. Many of these new features and the remarkable similarity with SLES 8 did not occur until after they started to participate in UnitedLinux and since these features were available to SuSE customers before SCO's involvement I am inclined to believe that SCO's engineering team has been influenced or tainted by the Linux development process. I cannot say if UnixWare 7.1.3 or SLES 8 share common code; as I said I am not a source licensee. I feel these issues need to be investigated further."
If Roberto is right, and an investigation showed common code, then UnixWare 7.1.3 just joined the free world and is now GPLd, and we'd have SCO to thank. Ah! Sweet irony! It just couldn't get any sweeter than that. And the beauty part about lawsuits is: you get to do an investigation. Now, SCO, what was it you were saying about stolen concepts and methods?