Linux group starts petition over RBC’s SCO investment

A Canadian open source association is asking its members to pull their accounts from RBC and to sign a petition following the bank’s decision

to contribute towards a $50-million investment in SCO Group.

Linux-Quebec launched the petition about two weeks ago and has so far collected almost 150 signatures, mostly from users in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. The petition reads: “”Given the fact that SCO has taken hostile action against free software and well-known companies that contribute to free software, we, users, developers and members of the Open Source community from Canada protest the recent investment of RBC in The SCO Group.””

The petition asks RBC to stop any further investment and pull the $30 million it has given to BayStar Capital, whose investment SCO has said will be used to fund software development and pay its legal costs.

RBC has refused to comment on the controversy.

SCO, which sells Unix, has claimed it owns some of the intellectual property contained in an early version of the Linux kernel that is freely used by hordes of IT users around the world. The company has sent threatening letters to some large enterprise Linux users warning them that they will have to pay SCO a licensing fee, and it has launched a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against IBM for its use of Linux.

Benoit Des Ligneris, the Linux-Quebec member who started the petition, said the group plans to forward the petition to RBC’s CEO. Already, he said, 10 RBC customers have pulled their accounts. The University of Sherbrooke’s Linux User Group, where Des Ligneris works as a distributed computing researcher, decided to pull its account on Wednesday, he said.

Des Ligneris said he wants to get letters from some of the people who have put their names on the petition before sending anything to RBC. “”It’s not an official petition, because they’re just typing their names. They’re not (physically) signing it,”” he said. “”I think this would be more effective if we had letters.””

Linux-Quebec president Maxime Bouffard said he expects considerable support for the petition, given that Linux-Quebec is also part of the Association québécoise pour la promotion de GNU/Linux.

“”We try to represent about 20 groups,”” he said. “”With all the mailing lists, it’s spread really fast, and we also have people from France and around the world who also want to sign it.””

SCO Group spokesman Blake Stowell maintains that the company doesn’t want to jeopardize Linux development.

“”When you own the core Unix source code and the core Unix operating system and you’re licensing it out to third parties, you have to expect that they will abide by the terms of their contract,”” he said. “”I suppose the only thing we could do to stop the flow of Unix into Linux is to simply stop licensing Unix, but that’s simply not something that the company’s going to do.””

Linux-Quebec is recommending RBC customers explain to their branch managers why they are closing their accounts.

“”You never know what will work. In the community of Linux, when people decide something, they can make pressure by all the means they have,”” Bouffard said. “”The Linux community is growing faster every month . . . I think we can make a difference.””

Des Ligneris said the difference may be subtle.

“”I don’t think we’ll see a retraction of what was done,”” he said. “”I see it more as education. We just want to tell them that we’re looking at what they’re doing, and if it’s bad, they will lose customers.””

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