Who Shot Darl McBride?

Who Shot Darl McBride?

Summary: The SCO saga has all the elements of soap opera but like the best drama, it's teaching us some unexpected lessons about the future

TOPICS: Tech Industry

But SCO's biggest problem is Darl McBride's mouth. Every time the man breathes out, the sparks of controversy burst into flame. He and his cronies have been cruising the world in search of soapboxes from which to shrilly preach their fundamentalist stance; that SCO begat Unix and Unix begat Linux and by golly it's time to honour thy grandfather. Normally, supporting your company in public is a perfectly respectable pastime, but when you're trying to build a house of cards, the last thing you should do is blow hard and wave your hands like a madman.

And with each pronouncement, the armies of opposition get more ammunition. Imagine what would have happened if SCO had filed its court case, then done a Baystar and shut the flip up. There would still be speculation, of course, but at a hundredth of today's levels. Each florid pronouncement from Darl and his henchmen has spawned a new thread in Groklaw and hundreds of nit-picking replies. Each statement provokes a scurry back through the archives for context and rebuttal: each little Darling grain is swiftly turned into a pearl. By now Groklaw's Pamela Jones has a string of the things that would make Marge Simpson jealous.

Not so good for Darl, who is currently looking down the barrel of Baystar's corporate Magnum, but the result has been great for the rest of us. We've enjoyed a free first-class education in the esoteric world of intellectual property and corporate shenanigans. This is the planet on which the major IT wars of the 21st century will be fought -- before SCO, few of us knew this, let alone had much chance of getting a map of the place. We've learned once again that the online community can inherit the traditional power of the press to battle the biggest monsters -- again, mapping out the shape of things to come.

This isn't Dallas -- it's not soap opera at all. It's reality TV. We might be watching, but we're also the actors on stage. The story without us would be very different: this sort of realisation triggers revolution.

Baystar knows all this too, and doesn't appreciate our schooling at its expense. It's almost certainly too late to fix SCO, but by killing its management and keeping the IP claims on life support, something may be retrieved -- even if it's only face, an invaluable commodity in the venture-capital community. That it would be forced to make this move in public, a sanction that is indistinguishable to SCO from the threat of a massive legal fine and the judicial removal of its officers, marks an exceptional moment in modern capitalism.

The rules of the game for future players are now ice-clear: anything you say will be taken down and analysed for thousands of hours by people with access to all the resources of the Net. You better be right, or you better keep quiet: justice, free software style. Today is the day the law went open source.

Topic: Tech Industry

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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  • Excellent article! I enjoyed the read even though I already knew all the character scripts.
  • Excellent points, though Groklaw has pretty well shot most of SCO's IP claims down in flames. The likelihood of SCO ever collecting another cent of IP licensing is minute. The best they can hope for at this point is keeping the body alive long enough to unload their stock on the unsuspecting.

    Oh, and a not-so-minor nitpick: Groklaw's Jones is Pamela, not Paula; Paula was one of Clinton's Conquests, remember?
  • SCO can't drop the products side of their business because the strongest of their (very weak) claims for $5 billion from IBM relate to the damage done (and continuing to be done) to their business by IBM's actions. That's why they have to keep the facade up of being a software company and developing real products.
  • Great article!

    BayStar now looking for a scapgoat! They threw money after SCO without doing proper DD. I never would have believed that professionals might fall for such a scam. And now they even refuse to admit it.

    But I understand that those investment whizkids don't have enough time to check places like the Yahoo SCOX board or Groklaw.

    Now they are whipping a dead horse and are looking for another rider. This may help to protect their egos. But it won't reanimate that dead horse and it definely won't go through the finish line.

    BayStar deserves it very well to lose all its money bet on SCO's scam.
  • Excellent.

    I loved the article
  • Very well written! A jewel of a summary for past and present on this case...You have a similar style to PJ and I think she(we all) wellcome any future articles...ciau
  • there is a lot of both ,god and common sense in this article.

    ..and sure the lesson is non only fr SCO and baystar, the lesson is for all that business men working as managers on a public company.
  • Excellent. I loved it.
  • Excellent Article - Microsoft was the puppeteer!!
  • Good article, but there's one more hypothesis you and BayStar should consider. The point of SCO's shtick isn't to win lawsuits, it's to have lawsuits in play. That's why they do everything possible to keep any of them from progressing toward judgment, and file more suits when the first ones start looking tatty. The purpose of the lawsuits is to generate publicity, not to win damages. The reason for the publicity is to perpetrate the illusion that SCO is a real company, with assets that are worth something -- in order that the insiders can unload their stock before the bottom inevitablly drops out. I seriously doubt that BayStar is involved in monkey business of any sort. They look to me like victims of a stock swindle. Microsoft is a side issue -- they just saw an opportunity to sucker somebody else into financing their dirty work.
  • Don't get our hopes up with titles like that! ;^)
  • Once all the dust settles and the smoke is cleared, what will happen to Unix? Will there be an ultimate showdown over who owns what? Will it become released as open source finally? Will IBM, Novell, Sun etcetera start another silly round of lawsuits amongst themselves or abandon their proprietary Unixes in favor of their own sexy new flavour Linux OSes?
  • You're a fluff idiot (lousy journalist). No one was shot. People in Iraq are being shot...not here. I like Linux though.
  • Great insight, colorfully written. Thanks for the 5 minutes of entertainment Rupert.
  • To anonymous who complained that "no one was shot": You may be too young to remember the TV nighttime soap "Dallas", where a cliffhanger ended with "J.R.", one of the real villians of the series, shot by an unknown assailant (at least four people were headed for his office to do the deed or threatening to do it, at least, each for their own reasons, and the real question was, who got there first).

    Since this is the closest thing the industry has to a soap opera (unless you count the AMD/Intel rivalry), the reference seems reasonable to me... Lighten up a bit.