Monday, April 2, 2007


I was reading Groklaw earlier today and came across an entry that brought back a lot of memories. This particular entry itemizes the relationships that SCO had and that they accuse IBM of interfering with and damaging.

At the time that SCO launched their lawsuit against IBM I was in the midst of managing Oracle's Linux Program Office and I had responsibility for Oracle's relationships with all the Linux players. We had a pretty good relationship with SCO mainly because of the work that was going on with Project Monterey, United Linux and others.

The relationship between SCO and Oracle was pretty much doomed once SCO filed their lawsuit. Contracts are interesting devices. In my mind, contracts serve two purposes - to chronicle the agreement for the future, that is, to serve as an aid for those not involved in the original negotiations so they know what was intended and as a means of enforcement once the relationship is dead.

If a relationship gets to the point that a court is needed to enforce the agreement then there is, arguably, no longer a relationship. If you don't think you need to chronicle the agreement for future generations to abide and you'll never sue the other party, then you probably don't need a contract. A lawsuit is the ultimate way of saying that one no longer cares about the relationship and the terms of the contract are more important than the relationship itself. After all, if the relationship was more important than the terms of an individual contract then there would be no lawsuit to enforce those terms.

At the time of the original lawsuit, SCO was out there trashing anything and everything associated with Linux saying that everyone was, essentially, stealing from them. They filed a number of lawsuits against a lot of companies.

The question I asked at Oracle was, "Why would anyone want to do business with them?" It was clear to me that for SCO, the terms of their contracts were more important than any relationship that led to those terms. I wasn't about to propose entering into any contracts with SCO. From my perspective they were not a company with which I wanted any kind of relationship.

When I joined Ingres one of the first voice mails I received was from SCO wanting to enter into a relationship with us. I wasn't the only one who received the calls. My advice was to ignore the calls - don't even return them. If SCO was asked I'd rather they would have to answer that they left us voice mails rather than they were in any type of discussions with us, even if those discussions would ultimately be fruitless.

The other interesting item in the Groklaw post was the identification of the "Chicago 7" as another group with whom SCO had a damaged relationship. I never really paid any attention to the Chicago 7 thinking it was a 1960's radical group of some type that I missed out on. As it turns out, the Chicago 7 is a label used for a meeting of a group of people at the Chicago O'Hare airport back in July of 2003. I was one of the "7" at that meeting. Darl McBride spoke about the "Chicago 7" as if it was some type of conspiracy against SCO.

Honestly, the only things I really remember saying about SCO in those days came from a very short list:

"What a bunch of idiots."
"What a bunch of morons."
"What are they thinking?"

Experiences are important - they help us learn and grow. The folks at SCO have a hell of an opportunity to grow. But, then again, my sayings about SCO from 2003 probably still hold true. I won't miss them when they're relegated to the ash-bin of history and are just a faint memory.


Anonymous said...

It deserves to be repeated:

Anonymous said...

You'd think this was simple common sense. But it seems the 'common' in common sense is not as common as we think.

Jamie Welsh said...

Regardless of the interesting subject matter, I think it's cool that you are part of something called "The Chicago 7".