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Friday, August 22, 2003
An Open Letter to Darl McBride
Late yesterday. I learned that you have charged that your company is the victim of an insidious conspiracy masterminded by IBM. You have urged the press and public to believe that the Open Source Initiative and the Free Software Foundation and Red Hat and Novell and various Linux enthusiasts are up in arms not because of beliefs or interests of their own, but because little gray men from Armonk have put them up to it. Bwahahaha! Fire up the orbital mind-control lasers!
Very few things could possibly illustrate the brain-boggling disconnect between SCO and reality with more clarity than hearing you complain about how persecuted your company is. You opened this ball on 6 March by accusing the open-source community of criminality and incompetence as a way to set up a lawsuit against IBM. You have since tried to seize control of our volunteer work for your company's exclusive gain, and your lawyers have announced the intention to destroy not just the GPL but all the open-source licenses on which our community is built. It's beyond me how can have the gall to talk as though we need funding or marching orders from IBM to mobilize against you. IBM couldn't stop us from mobilizing!
I'm not sure which possibility is more pathetic — that the CEO of SCO is lying through his teeth for tactical reasons, or that you genuinely aren't capable of recognizing honest outrage when you see it. To a manipulator, all behaviors are manipulation. To a conspirator, all opposition is conspiracy. Is that you? Have you truly forgotten that people might make common cause out of integrity, ethical considerations, or simple self-defense? Has the reality you inhabit truly become so cramped and ugly?
I'm in at least semi-regular communication with most of the people and organizations who are causing you problems right now. The only conspiracy among us is the common interest in preventing the open-source community from being destroyed by SCO's greed and desperation. (And we think it's a perfect sign of that desperation that at SCOforum you ‘proved’ your relevance by bragging about the amount of press coverage SCO generates. Last I checked, companies demonstrated relevance by showing products, not press clippings.)
Yes, one of the parties I talk with is, in fact, IBM. And you know what? They're smarter than you. One of the many things they understand that you do not is that in the kind of confrontation SCO and IBM are having, independent but willing allies are far better value than lackeys and sock puppets. Allies, you see, have initiative and flexibility. The time it takes a lackey to check with HQ for orders is time an ally can spend thinking up ways to make your life complicated that HQ would be too nervous to use. Go on, try to imagine an IBM lawyer approving this letter.
The very best kind of ally is one who comes to one's side for powerful reasons of his or her own. For principle. For his or her friends and people. For the future. IBM has a lot of allies of that kind now. It's an alliance you drove together with your arrogance, your overreaching, your insults, and your threats.
And now you cap it all with this paranoid ranting. It's classic, truly classic. Was this what you wanted out of life, to end up imitating the doomed villain in a cheesy B movie? Tell me, does that dark helmet fit comfortably? Are all the minions cringing in proper form? "No, Mr. Torvalds, I expect you to die!" I'd ask if you'd found the right sort of isolated wasteland for your citadel of dread yet, but that would be a silly question; you're in Utah, after all.
It doesn't have to be this way. Sanity can still prevail. Here's the message that Jeff Gerhardt read at SCOforum again:
Linus Torvalds is backing me on this, and our other chieftains and philosopher-princes will as well. Show us the overlaps. If your code has been inserted in our work, we'll remove it — not because you've threatened us but because that's the right thing to do, whether the patches came from IBM or anywhere else. Then you can call off your lawyers and everyone will get to go home happy.
Take that offer while you still can, Mr. McBride. So far your so-called ‘evidence’ is crap; you'd better climb down off your high horse before we shoot that sucker entirely out from under you. How you finish the contract fight you picked with IBM is your problem. As the president of OSI, defending the community of open-source hackers against predators and carpetbaggers is mine — and if you don't stop trying to destroy Linux and everything else we've worked for I guarantee you won't like what our alliance is cooking up next.
And in case it's not pellucidly clear by now, not one single solitary damn thing I have said or published since 6 March (or at any time previously for that matter) has been at IBM's behest. I'm very much afraid it's all been me, acting to serve my people the best way I know how. IBM doesn't have what it would take to buy me away from that job and neither do you. I'm not saying I don't have a price — but it ain't counted in money, so I won't even bother being insulted by your suggestion.
You have a choice. Peel off that dark helmet and deal with us like a reasonable human being, or continue down a path that could be bad trouble for us but will be utter ruin — quite possibly including jail time on fraud, intellectual-property theft, barratry, and stock-manipulation charges — for you and the rest of SCO's top management. You have my email, you can have my phone if you want it, and you have my word of honor that you'll get a fair hearing for any truths you have to offer.
Eric S. Raymond
President, Open Source Initiative
Friday, 20 August 2003
posted by Eric at 10:04 AM