One of the joys of working a lot from home is getting to see your children at their absolute best. This morning, my 4 year daughter came running in my office screaming at the top of her lungs. When I asked what was going on, she said "JoJo's going to put a snake on me!" I asked her: "Did you see the snake?" "No." "Then why are you screaming?" "He said he had one!" I told her that JoJo didn't have a snake and to stop screaming because it was scaring me and the dog.
After spending the last week basking in the glow of the absolute rage of Linux users toward SCO, I can't help but think of my daughter and the unseen snake. Darl McBride and SCO keep trotting out unsupported claim after unsupported claim in news conference after news conference and each time the Linux community goes wild and runs around screaming.
Now, recognizing that what I'm about to say is against human nature, I have to wonder: what would have happened if when SCO had first came out with their claims, we'd all just shrugged our collective shoulders and said "so what?" I guarantee that the press wouldn't be paying so much attention to the story. What if next week we just stopped paying attention? Do you really want this at the top of the tech headlines from now until the trial?
Someone said in a comment on my blog: "I can't believe their stock price keeps going up!" I know exactly why its going up: the Linux community is giving SCO so much free publicity that their stock can't help but go up. Right now, if you believe the markets, there's lots of people betting that SCO will win and the more air time SCO's arguments and claims get, the greater the number of people who will make that bet.
If all the noise were doing some good, I could understand it, but there's only one thing that's going to settle this now: the outcome of the litigation. That outcome is not likely to be very much affected by ranting and raving on Slashdot. IBM has a big pile of attorneys and if I were going to bet, I'd bet on IBM coming out on top. At one point they might have settled, but SCO's rubbed their noses in it too much. I can't do too much to affect that one way or the other.
The problem with all the screaming is that it scares the dog. All that the free publicity that the Linux community has given SCO has accomplished is to scare the pants off any CIO who had reservations about open source software. Many CIOs had been moving past their fear of using open source software in the last several years, but they've now got a very big reason to wait. At this point, the only thing that's going to reassure them is a positive outcome to the litigation. All the ranting and raving is accomplishing is to scare them more. And believe me, the bile has an even worse effect.
Maybe I'm wrong. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me why you think anything other than the litigation will leave open source software on solid footing. Feel free to tell me how all the bile will make a difference too. I'm all ears.