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February 15, 2004

The Emperor Norton of the Great SCO War

Posted by Mike on February 15, 2004 3:05 PM

This is another one of those "shoulda been a blogmark," but it cheered me immensely to remember the special madness you find out there in Linuxland sometimes. In this case, it's an Open Letter to Darl McBride, CEO of The SCO Group from someone who's worked on the Linux kernel.

The SCO issue, if you're at all curious about the ins and outs of the Unix world, has been with us for about a year now [Enterprise Unix Roundup roundup of relevant columns: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] and it's had the miraculous effect of actually eclipsing Microsoft as the object of maximum loathing in the Linux world.

The letter pleases me to no end because, as near as I can figure, the guy writing the open letter has no authority to speak for anyone at all. He's just adopted a Royal We (as opposed to my editorial "we" in each week's EUR, which actually seems to keep me sounding reasonable) and laid out "terms" by which the CEO of SCO can save himself from, I don't know what, fiery death or something. The terms of the "truce" he's proposing don't involve him (or the community he presumes to speak for) doing anything at all except telling SCO to quit doing what it's been doing for the past year.

Open letters are part of a grand Linux tradition wherein assorted self-identified "chieftains and philosopher princes" write angry threats or condescending, self-aggrandizing blandishments, less for the benefit of the recipient than everybody else in earshot. I'm not sure if anyone can point to one of these open letters ever accomplishing anything, but they seem to provide a useful vent for energy that could be wasted making stuff and doing things.

Thankfully, he's licensed the work under a generous variant of the Creative Commons license, which gives me the freedom to reuse his work to offer a similar truce to the City of Portland, which I believe to be in violation of my airspace. I'll be sending my demands off to them on Tuesday. Provided they respect a three-block radius around my house and take my word for it when I tell them the screams the neighbors have reported mean nothing at all, they'll get off light. Otherwise, they're gonna have Us to answer to. And I think we all know we don't want to mess with Us.