SGI code review contradicts SCO’s Linux claims

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6 October 2003 Workstation supplier SGI claims that its examination of the Linux kernel has found only “trivial” segments of code that “may arguably be related” to SCO Group’s System V Unix operating system.

The disclosure follows the publication of a letter from SGI roundly rejecting SCO’s claims that SGI’s donation to Linux of the Extensible File System (XFS) component of Irix, its System V-based Unix, in any way breached SGI’s Unix licensing agreement with SCO.

Earlier, SCO had threatened to terminate SGI’s Unix licence for its “inappropriate” donation of XFS, which, it claimed represented a derivative work of System V, a claim dismissed by SGI.


SGI’s code review was carried out in September using open source software guru Eric Raymond’s Comparator tool. This was used to compare release 4.1 of System V with Linux kernel 2.4.21, which SCO claims is riddled with code that infringes on its intellectual property.

“Our review was focused on the code we contributed to Linux; however, we did run the Comparator code on the Linux 2.4.21 kernel. The process involves using subjective judgement to review similarities identified by the tool,” Greg Estes, vice president of corporate marketing at SGI, told InfoWorld.

This review followed an earlier examination that brought to light three “brief fragments” of code that SGI had contributed to the Linux kernel, which matched System V code. These fragments amounted to some 200 lines of code and were expunged from the next Linux kernel release in August.

But SCO Group spokesman Blake Stowell was not satisfied. Any SCO code found in Linux was “not trivial”, he said, although it is still unclear whether the overlap definitely involved SCO’s intellectual property or whether it was code already in the public domain and therefore legitimately incorporated into the Linux kernel.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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