A New Open Letter to Darl McBride
A New Open Letter to Darl McBride
By: Wesley Parish
Sep. 16, 2003 12:00 AM
Dear Darl McBride,
I have been reading various comments by you recently about how you think the Open Source Community should bow the head and bend the knee to your gentle efforts at making a workable "business model."
The problem I personally have with that is that I actually proposed a workable business model for SCO's previous incarnation, Caldera, to stay an Open Source company even while it digested the remains of the original Santa Cruz Operation and came to terms with the relicts of AT&T's proprietary code (osOpinion: SCO into Caldera Without Getting SCalded).
Unfortunately osOpinion is off-line now, so I can't point you to that particular article, but my thesis then was that Caldera could do a lot worse than seek to develop the current SCO OpenServer channels - for which it bought out most of the original SCO - into an Open Source Community. At the time I had not thought it through thoroughly enough, so I must apologize for lack of clarity.
But the idea was simple - companies like Netscape had made the best of a bad situation by releasing Netscape as Open Source Software, and had thus rescued their software from mothballing and their company from total uselessness. While Caldera had bought SCO's Unix assets on the basis of using the then large distribution channels.
Unfortunately, the channels don't seem to have benefitted Caldera as much as it would have liked, apparently because of Operating System loyalty - they made their living off OpenServer, and weren't about to budge.
My idea was by releasing OpenServer and UnixWare as Open Source Software, to turn the distribution channels into software development partners, and hopefully turn the IT support staff at the end-user companies like McDonalds and Papa John's Pizza, etc, into software development partners too; and end the inevitable whingeing that IT staff and distribution channels get into when they need a bug fix or a feature that their supplier is not able or interested in doing.
I had the idea that perhaps the BSD/MIT license would be appropriate, since every man and his dog (Sorry, Gates and Ballmer, I wasn't referring to you - go back to sleep.) seemed to think it was better than the GPL.
I later developed the idea that a two-layer support contract thing would have been the way to go - with Caldera retaining the SCO contracts, but adding the twist that if the channel or end-user decides to do their own debugging and returning viable fixes, they get a discount on the terms of their contract in return. Quid pro quo.
Looking back at my idea, I wonder how long it would take before everybody was in on it - for the good and simple reason that everybody wants the cheaper rates, and paying the local college students to do the hard work is cheaper than paying a twenty-percent higher annual contract fee. Not long, I'd say.
But I never got around to developing the idea properly and explaining it to the Caldera management, and then Ransom Love left - and he was the only one who might have understood the idea and been able to do something with it.
It's too late now to do anything about it, seeing as you have undertaken to destroy every shred of goodwill Caldera (now SCO Group) had built up. Unfortunately my business instructors never went into detail on the reverse of "goodwill" - goodwill being defined as the attempt to quantify a positive reaction to own's brandname, an attempt to put a value on someone else's willingness to do business with one - so as far as I can see, you're now attempting to fill in where my instructors left off.
And as far as the Unix SVRx and its cognates OpenServer and UnixWare go, you've destroyed their value as well. No one could put a value of $699.00 on the source code mentioned, let alone the compiled binaries by themselves, and retain any self-respect.
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