IBM exec: 'Forces' at work against Linux

A "set of forces" is attempting to derail Linux, a Big Blue exec tells conference-goers, hinting that Microsoft and SCO Group are among those responsible.
Written by Andrew Colley, Contributor
An IBM executive has claimed that a "set of forces" is attempting to derail Linux, and hinted that Microsoft and SCO Group are among those responsible.

Al Zollar, a general manager of sales for IBM eServer iSeries, told delegates attending the company's Asia Pacific Strategic Planning Conference in Queensland, Australia, on Tuesday that a "set of forces" was attempting to stymie adoption of the open-source operating system.

"They're mostly located in Redmond, although they have recruited a few allies," said Zollar. Microsoft has its headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

Zollar then indicated that SCO was part of the alliance. The company, based in Lindon, Utah, has made intellectual property claims to certain code contained in some versions of Linux and is maneuvering to gather license fees from commercial applications of the operating system.

The Linux license program is the latest event arising out of a high-profile legal dispute between SCO and IBM over Linux code. SCO claims that it has intellectual property rights over portions of Unix code that Big Blue, among others, misappropriated and incorporated into Linux source code. The company alleges that the code was lifted directly from a version of Unix System V, over which it has registered copyright.

IBM did not take the opportunity to elaborate on Zollar's statement.

Some industry analysts and open-source proponents claim that the SCO legal dispute is a deliberate move to create uncertainty over the intellectual property rights as applied to software applications developed in collaboration.

Many Linux fans unhappy with SCO's actions have suggested Microsoft is behind the attack on the open-source software. Although Microsoft announced it had signed a deal for a new Unix license from SCO in May, it said it had done so only in response to SCO's licensing request. The software giant has denied other involvement in SCO's legal actions. SCO, meanwhile, has said its plan is based on its own intellectual property, not on prompting from Microsoft.

IBM has made clear its belief in the importance of Linux to its products and server strategy.

The company, based in Armonk, N.Y., said Tuesday that it had witnessed 600 percent growth in the implementation of Linux in its iSeries midrange server line throughout the Asia Pacific region. However, Big Blue added that the operating system is not yet being used for core applications.

Zollar said Linux progress in the enterprise market was unstoppable, and he described SCO's claims as "silly."

ZDNet Australia's Andrew Colley reported from Sydney. CNET News.com's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

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