The SCO Group Inc. has announced the availability of its “SCO Intellectual Property License” in New Zealand and Australia, much to the amusement of a number of Linux users.
SCO claims to own the code behind the open source operating system Linux and has plans to charge all Linux users a licensing fee of A$285 (US$219) excluding goods and services tax (GST) per desktop processor and A$999 excluding GST for each server processor.
Two of New Zealand’s largest Linux users are not about to reach for their checkbooks, however.
Massey University has deployed a 132 CPU Helix supercomputer running Red Hat Linux 7.3 at its Albany campus in Auckland and would be expected to pay NZ$171,192.61 (US$114,227) for the right to continue using its operating system. The director of parallel computing, Chris Messon, says that’s not going to happen.
“We have no plans to pay off SCO.”
Messon says the university will be waiting to see what happens in the U.S. courts over the matter and if it is decided that SCO has the right to charge for parts of the operating system, Massey will act to remove those parts.
“We would remove and replace them.”
Messon says while Massey isn’t about to mount a legal challenge of its own it is supportive of efforts to get to the bottom of the issue.
Weta Digital, Peter Jackson’s award-winning special effects workshop in Wellington, also uses Linux on its equipment and would face a whopping NZ$2,594,532.85 bill simply to maintain its 2,000-processor farm. Operations manager Milton Ngan says any move to pay the license would be seen as capitulation and Weta isn’t about to start down that road.
“We won’t make any moves till we see what the rest of the industry does. We’re a small company a long way from SCO so we’ll try to stay here out of sight.”
Ngan says Weta Digital is currently assessing its use of Red Hat given the move to commercialize the enterprise-level version of the operating system.
“We’re looking at it now as we’re post-Lord of the Rings. We froze our system about two or three years ago and now we’re assessing what to do next.”
Ngan says the company is project-driven and as such simply doesn’t have the funds to pay either Red Hat or SCO and is considering its options.
“We may shift to a different flavour of Linux but we have to consider the third-party software we use and any support issues that may arise, that sort of thing.”
SCO Australia’s spokesman Kieran O’Shaughnessy says no customers have come forward to pay the licensing fee yet but he is confident they will.
“Over time as the claims proceed through court we’re confident our customers will respond.”
O’Shaughnessy says he’s received numerous contacts from customers asking about the licensing scheme and “expressing an interest” in the issue.