Packet Rat: The wired one waves a red flag at justice

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

The Rat always enjoys watching a brutal legal battle between software moguls'especially when it's fought in the court of public opinion.

But one particular case on the docket has him scurrying for deep cover: the SCO versus IBM subpoena-thon.

The SCO Group (formerly known as Caldera International Inc.) slapped Linux creator Linus Torvalds and Gnu master Richard Stallman with subpoenas in preparation for what may be the closest thing to a courtroom cage match since the World Wildlife Fund pile-drove the World Wrestling Federation over use of its acronym.

SCO also dispatched notice-servers to Torvalds' employer, Transmeta Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., and to a Linux set-top-box vendor.

Then IBM Corp. fired back with subpoenas to analysts and SCO investors, so the legal attack dogs of SCO chief Darl McBride will certainly up the ante.

'I'm betting SCO subpoenas every Linux customer in the world,' the whiskered one told his better half as they watched a DVD movie they had neglected to return for the last three months. 'And I'm not waiting for them to get to my name on the list.'

'But how is SCO going to know you use Linux?' his spouse inquired. 'You downloaded the source code off the Web and compiled your own flavor. You hand-coded your interfaces. I mean, what trail of customer bread crumbs do you think will lead them to you?'

The Rat put a paw into his toddler daughter's toy box and pulled out his name tag from last year's LinuxWorld conference. 'This,' he sighed. 'I preregistered.'

'Preregisteread?' Mrs. Rat repeated in dismay. 'You mean, in your own name? But you always sneak in, on forged press credentials'why register? Think of the mailing lists you're on!'

'I got a free T-shirt,' was the Rat's justification. 'So anyway, SCO got hold of the list from that show because they exhibited. Their lawyers at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP probably know the name of every kernel geek on the East Coast by now.'

Mrs. Rat sank low in the couch. 'So you really think they'll subpoena you? We'll have to hire a lawyer?'

'Like I said, I'm not waiting for them to get to my name on the list,' the wired one grinned. 'I've put wheels in motion that should give SCO bigger fish to fry than yours truly. You've heard how China is standardizing on its own version of Linux, called Red Flag?'

His wife nodded.

'Well, I figure that makes every Chinese citizen a Linux user. I just logged into the database at Boies, Schiller and put more than a billion-plus Chinese users onto the subpoena list ahead of me.'

'Won't they figure out that all those people are in China?' Mrs. Rat asked.

'Only after they figure out how to parse and translate a billion records' worth of Chinese Unicode. By then, they'll have settled or Novell Inc. will have acquired SCO with extreme prejudice.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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