SCO Touts Unix at Forum While LinuxWorld Roars
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
It takes a certain amount of chutzpah and planning (or a lack thereof) for the SCO Group to have scheduled the SCO Forum event for users of its OpenServer and UnixWare Unixes during the same week that the LinuxWorld trade show was garnering most of the headlines in the IT industry. But, whether by coincidence or design, that was the timing, and SCO tried to use its forum in Las Vegas to explain why Unix is still better than Linux.
SCO's chief executive officer, Darl McBride, who came in to run the company in August 2002 as SCO was preparing its legal assault on IBM and the Linux community for its alleged copyright and intellectual property violations against the Unix System V operating system, sent out an open letter to the IT community where he outlined the 10 reasons why the new "Legend" OpenServer 6 Unix release that SCO delivered in June is better than Linux. McBride was top-level manager for Novell before running a bunch of other companies and then ending up at SCO after it changed from being Linux vendor Caldera Systems and after it acquired the Unix business from the former Santa Cruz Operation, so he knows how to get attention.
Considering all of the animosity that SCO has generated by attacking the Linux community--as embodied in its lawsuits with IBM, Novell, and Red Hat as well as Linux user and former SCO Unix customer AutoZone--McBride has a tough job trying to get some good press, and trying to do it during LinuxWorld is just one more indication of the cheek that the management of SCO has had since the lawsuits started. But, as one of the few commercial Unix suppliers still delivering Unix on the X86 platform, SCO nonetheless deserves to have its products and positions on the IT market explained, just like any other vendor. Which is why we have always maintained a position of neutrality concerning SCO--we cover its product announcements, just like any other vendor, and we are basically bored to death with the legal wranglings of the various SCO cases. When the cases come to trial and a judge or jury finally decides the matter and something does or does not happen in the Unix industry, we'll let you know.
In his letter, which you can read here, McBride maintained that SCO's math demonstrated that OpenServer 6 costs less than commercialized Linux and that OpenServer has a better kernel--which is arguably true on some measures, but SCO's Unix is lagging on 64-bit support. He also claimed that the Unix System V Release 5 kernel at the heart of OpenServer 6 has better security than Linux, and that SCO has a customer-driven roadmap being coded to by professional developers. The implication is that Linux is created by a group of random bozos who can do whatever they want to do, but anyone who has worked in a merit-based technocracy (or a technology-based meritocracy, if that is how you want to think about it) knows this is not true. McBride also highlighted the excellent backward-compatibility of OpenServer 6, which can run Xenix and earlier Unix code, and he trumpeted the fact that SCO is unifying its code base at the same time that different implementations of Linux--each of which require independent certification by application suppliers and customers--have carved up the Linux installed base. And just because SCO makes a unified code base to simplify the lives of its programmers, resellers, and customers doesn't mean that there will be one Unix product. SCO could decide to sell a light version called OpenServer 7 and a richer version called UnixWare 7 if the company decides to keep its current brands, but they could be named anything if SCO chooses to license in this manner.
In addition to touting the benefits of Unix, and specifically its OpenServer 6 implementation, SCO said that it has released Maintenance Pack 1 (MP1) for that software, which includes support for the Mozilla 1.7.10 browser, upgrades to the Java virtual machine and related Web services features in OpenServer, and, most significantly, support for multicore X86 processors, which are making their way into production servers from the major server makers now. Interestingly, SCO is taking the same stance on multicores as have Sun Microsystems and Microsoft in that they both treat a CPU socket as the basic element of license pricing and they do not care how many cores are in that socket. In plain English, a software license for a dual-core processor is the same price as that of a single-core processor. Whether SCO, Microsoft, and Sun will say the same when processors with four or more cores to the chip are available remains to be seen, but for now they are just counting sockets, not cores.
What OpenServer 6 does not have, even with MP1, is 64-bit main memory support. However, OpenServer 6 does have the ability to allocate up to 64 GB of main memory for selected applications (such as database management systems) in limited scenarios. SCO has said in the past that 64-bit main memory addressing is slated for a future Unix release called "Project Fusion," which will actually merge UnixWare and OpenServer into one product. This week, SCO said Project Fusion will be based on Unix System V Release 6 kernel. Exactly how UnixWare and OpenServer applications will be supported on this platform is unclear, but Project Fusion will have other goodies such as unspecified server virtualization technologies (presumably the open source Xen hypervisor, which can be woven into SCO's Unix easily enough). VOIP, RFID, and XML technologies are also expected in Project Fusion, which is expected to roll out in beta in 2006.
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