SCO Tweaks SCOoffice, Offers Peek At Future OpenServer
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
You might think that The SCO Group could have picked a week to host its annual SCO Forum user group meeting that didn't coincide with the LinuxWorld trade show, which is raging out in San Francisco. But such timing, although ironic, is not intentional, and SCO Forum was hosted in Las Vegas with as much fanfare as SCO could muster for its OpenServer and UnixWare Unixes for the X86 platform.
Believe it or not, Unix has been available in one shape or form on the X86 platform for 25 years, including a partnership between the original SCO and Microsoft, which was an early and enthusiastic user of the Xenix Unix variant for years, before it created Windows NT. SCO is trying to stress that Unix on X86 has a much longer history on the Intel platform than does Linux, and that the deeper knowledge it brings to Unix makes it a better solution than Linux. In fact, the LinuxWorld trade show might never have come about if the heavyweights of the server world had not contributed their substantial expertise to make Linux 2.4, and then Linux 2.6, as stable as, and probably more scalable than, SCO's UnixWare (the scalability limits of UnixWare are in question, not Linux, which can scale to 32 processors or more with Linux 2.6). Had SCO decided to open-source OpenServer and UnixWare, and to charge modest sums for licensing the code and to support it, SCO might have been the powerhouse challenging the Unix giants and Windows upstarts today. All the right code was in place; all that SCO lacked was a vision akin to that espoused by the Linux community. An open source SCO might have been able to transcend the rift over System V Unix versus BSD Unix, which stifled Unix on X86 in particular and Unix across all platforms in general. That's a lot of mights. The honest truth about the 25 years of Unix wars is one of missed opportunities to collaborate and stop the in-fighting.
It is against that historical tide, to which Linux is a reaction, that SCO is trying to revitalize its Unix product line. As SCO's top brass hinted it would do some months ago, the company announced SCOoffice Server 4.1, a groupware collaboration application suite that rides on top of OpenServer 5.0.7. SCOoffice Server 4.1 is an e-mail server with anti-spam and antivirus software built in. SCO says that it can drop in as a replacement for Microsoft's Exchange Server, and can field e-mail to and from Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Netscape, Mozilla, and other e-mail clients that use the POP and IMAP protocols; users can also come into their e-mail accounts through a Webmail interface that is compatible with Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Mozilla. The software includes Exchange migration tools and connectors for linking SCOoffice Server to Outlook clients, including support for Outlook e-mail, folders, calendars, contacts, task lists, and other Outlook features. These collaboration features are also available in a native Web format, for companies that do not want to use Outlook as their groupware client. SCOoffice Server 4.1 complements the SCOoffice Server 2.0 application, for UnixWare; this product has more features than a typical small company using OpenServer needs.
SCOoffice Server 4.1 requires a Pentium II or Pentium III processor, running at 400 MHz or higher, as a minimum hardware platform; the server needs to have 512 MB of main memory, plus at least 1 MB of main memory per user. SCO recommends at least 2 GB of free disk space. The software also requires TCP/IP connectivity and a DNS server. The groupware software costs $299 for a five-user license, plus a per-user fee that ranges from $59 to $19 for additional users; the more users you add, the lower the per-user cost.
SCO also used its annual forum to give its customers and partners a preview of the forthcoming "Legend" kicker to the OpenServer Unix variant. SCO first started whispering about Legend this time last year, and says that it expects to have it ready sometime in the first quarter of 2005. A few months ago, Darl McBride, SCO's CEO, said that Legend would move SCO down the path of having a single code base for OpenServer and UnixWare, which have had very different development histories. As I have said before, I think that what SCO will do is cut back UnixWare and add a more sophisticated OpenServer runtime environment within that UnixWare in order to create Legend. UnixWare already has an OpenServer and Linux runtime environment, and all that SCO really would have to do is make UnixWare look like OpenServer (in terms of system administration screens and tool support) and--shazaam!--SCO has one Unix platform instead of two. There are many precedents for such a move.
The Legend update of OpenServer and the kicker to UnixWare are also expected to get support for 64-bit Xeon and Opteron processors next year, which is another reason to believe that Legend is really UnixWare in OpenServer drag. The Legend update will also include an updated Java environment. SCO supports Java 2 Standard Edition 1.4.2 and 1.3.1 in UnixWare and OpenServer, and SCO will likely add support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition 1.4 to its Unixes as part of the Legend rollout. Legend will also include the open source PostgreSQL and MySQL relational databases. (As I have said before, SCO is not against using open source software. It bought a Linux distributor, and its Unixes are loaded with open source applications. What SCO is against is this: having its closed source intellectual property put into open source projects. Although the courts have yet to determine whether this really happened.)
Legend will also incorporate virtual private networking (VPN) technologies and the SCOx Web Services Substrate development tool environment, just announced in June, with the UnixWare 7.1.4 update. This substrate is composed entirely of open source code: the Apache 2.049 Web server, the Tomcat 4.1.30 Java application server, Perl 5.8.3, and PHP 4.3.5.
SCO did not announce minimum system requirements or pricing for Legend, but it is offering select customers who attended the SCO Forum 2004 show a Legend Developer Preview, so they can take a gander at the new code. SCO reminded its customer base that customers who have OpenServer 5.0.7 and have acquired SCO's Update Service software maintenance will get Legend as part of that service.