Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Thursday, April 24, 2003

 

Pigs


Went to sleep (got 5 hours!) with Pink Floyd's "Animals" playing. I woke up with the riff from "Pigs - Three little ones" replaying in my head. I started the day reading an interview with SCO's CEO about the 1 billion dollar SCO vs IBM lawsuit.

The sound of "Pigs" got louder and louder and louder. "Big man, Pig man - hah hah, charade you are..."

I then read the Open Source Initiative's rebuttal to SCO's charges.

"Pigs" swelled to overwhelm my head. "You well heeled big wheel - hah-hah, charade you are"

The chords vibrated between ear and ear inside my cerebellum, over and over again. Now, four hours later, the song fades - those chords are fading anyway - I'm replaying the whole album again, at maximum volume, fully concious, while writing and thinking.



I've got a story of my own to tell about SCO's history. It's a long, convoluted, tragic, stupid, crazy, funny, profound story. In a macro/micro-cosm it explains all that is wrong with the old software model, and much that is wrong with the corporate world itself. It's been too painful to write about, to think much about, for going on ten years. In 1993 I was still consulting for them, the last project I worked on was for "Olympus", their 3-5 year plan for developing the product.... After analyzing the rates of change and growth in the Linux source base and in the SCO source base... I predicted that Linux was going to eat their lunch in 5 years, unless they did something drastic to establish grassroots developer support. I predicted they were going to shrink, drastically, as the money dried up from their lucrative support contracts business because the up-front cost of the product was just too much... I predicted a lot of other things...



The people ostensibly doing that planning within the company never understood what was killing them in the first place. They didn't listen, and I never got paid for that gig. What happened in the months afterward is what hurts so much... let's just say that SCO has relied on lawyers rather than engineers for a long time.

Time has proven me right on most of what I was saying back then, and I'm having the last laugh today. Well, I would be laughing if I had any faith left in the legal system.



I was wrong on one thing though. They didn't die in 5 years. SCO shrank a lot - from 1200+ people in the early 90s to something like 80 now. It took 7 years before Caldera bought them out, and 10 before they made this last ditch move, this final reliance on lawyers rather than engineers to keep their company running.

"Hey you, Whitehouse,
Ha ha charade you are.
You house proud town mouse,
Ha ha charade you are
You're trying to keep our feelings off the street.
You're nearly a real treat,
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?"


The one positive thing I can say about SCO:

Every year, for spring solstice, SCO put on a great party, called the SCO Follies. There was always great food and drink, and the night was capped by a hysterically funny musical, written and performed by the staff, that satirized a literary work, and the computer industry. To say that SCO wrote the play would be... part of the problem that the old software/corporate model has. Creative people wrote it. SCO let it be performed. The copyrights to the performances have a vague status, so few people outside of the company have ever had the chance to enjoy them, but the videotapes I have are among my most prized possessions.

There hasn't been a Follies in two years. The last decent engineer has been laid off. SCO will die, soon. I hope to write some more of the obituary.

"Hah hah, charade you are..."

Michael
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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