Historical background to the APA

El Corton

March 4, 2010

The following is a slightly edited repost of msg 64342.

I've tended to think of the copyright provisions of the APA as a dodge concocted by Novell and real SCO to hide the dubious legal underpinnings of the UNIX business from their customers. The underlying intellectual property was damaged goods as a result of the 1992 ruling by Judge Debevoise in USL v. BSDi, denying the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. The Wikipedia article on NetWare has a section headed "Strategic mistakes" that casts some additional light on what may have been the mindset of Novell executives at the time.

Novell's strategy with NetWare 286 2.x and 3.x was very successful; before the arrival of Windows NT Server [in 1993], Novell claimed 90% of the market for PC based servers... As Novell used IPX/SPX instead of TCP/IP, they were poorly positioned to take advantage of the Internet in 1995. The first implementation of TCP/IP for NetWare 3.x was not compatible with IPv4. This resulted in Novell servers being bypassed for routing and Internet access, in favor of hardware routers and Unix-based operating systems such as FreeBSD and Linux for web servers.

Novell NetWare - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novell_NetWare ]

Novell had started out as a hardware vendor like Sun, selling a proprietary hardware/OS solution, and in 1990 it enjoyed what the article calls "an almost monopolistic position in NOS for any business requiring a network." But that position began to weaken quickly with the release of SVR4 for x86 and SPARC. The company entered an unstable period in the early 90's. It made several ill-fated acquisitions, including USL; Ray Noorda was fired, and several short-term CEO's followed. Against this background, UnixWare shows up as an attempt to insert the NetWare networking stack in the commodity UNIX server market. The UnixWare article quotes Noorda as saying that it was one of the "three pillars" of Novell's long-term business strategy, along with NetWare and AppWare (whatever that was.) That gives you an idea of just how precarious the company's survival was. The article observes:

UnixWare never really had a chance to prove itself in the marketplace. By the time it was starting to mature in late 1994, Noorda was in the process of being forced out of Novell. With his departure the new management decided to return to the cash cow [NetWare], ignoring and then selling off all of the acquisitions Noorda made over the previous few years. This was, in retrospect, a terrible move; SuperNOS was perhaps the only obvious way for them to stay relevant. But, as one of the 'Noordisms', management saw it as just another useless product distracting them from the 'real' market.

So the APA was drafted when Novell was in upheaval, and in the throes of a backlash against Noorda's policies. Post-Noorda Novell management seemed to develop amnesia about the period, to the extent that Darl was able (apparently) to scare Jack "OK, so SCO has the copyrights" Messman out his senses by revealing the existence of Amendment 2.

9:11:05 AM


Source: Investor Village SCO Board [ http://www.investorvillage.com/smbd.asp?mb=1911, https://www.investorvillage.com/smbd.asp?mb=1911&mn=99516&pt=msg&mid=8670977 ]

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