1.9 Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) was originally defined by Gene Amdahl after he left IBM to found his own company. He used it to describe the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that the IBM sales people were spreading to their customers who might be considering the competitions products. The competition was Amdahl! More recently the term FUD has increasingly become associated with Microsoft, using the tactic to ensure customers stay with their products. Spreading incorrect and unsubstantiated rumours to fuel doubt about a product is the name of the game.

An example of this is a famous case initiated by a company called SCO which attempted to extract ``rent’’ from all users of Linux. The company claimed that Linux included code that they owned. Hence, everyone using Linux had to be worried that SCO would soon come after them with substantial financial claims. Having been interviewed by the Australian press on this matter the author of this book become well aware of the effective impact this type of campaign can have on organisations considering a move to GNU/Linux from Microsoft.

In particular, SCO took IBM to court over the matter. The company did not disclose any code publicly, hiding behind the fact that they disclosed it all to a judge and regrettably this limited their ability to disclose it publicly. Fortunately, in February 2005, this Judge Kimball found it incredible that after trash talking IBM in public for two years, SCO has presented no evidence to back up their words:

Viewed against the backdrop of SCO’s plethora of public statements concerning IBM’s and others’ infringement of SCO’s purported copyrights to the UNIX software, it is astonishing that SCO has not offered any competent evidence to create a disputed fact regarding whether IBM has infringed SCO’s alleged copyrights through IBM’s Linux activities.

Fortunately, while this attempt to discredit GNU/Linux was unwelcome, it certainly lead to significant due diligence to ensure there was no risk to GNU/Linux. Unfortunately, the case continues to drag out in the court even, to April 2007, wasting time and money, but for what purpose? How are we as humanity going to really benefit from all this?

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