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Self defense for SCO users

(Much of the advice here applies to any legacy system you need to keep running, and some of it is useful just for general disaster planning)

If you are running a SCO system, it's time to get very serious about protecting yourself. This article assumes that you either cannot switch to another platform or that switching is too difficult (see Time to Dump SCO?).

At this writing (May 2004), we have no idea what will happen as a result of SCO's lawsuits. It's a strange world, and it is certainly possible that they will emerge victorious, or will lose without being seriously damaged. However, the prospects don't look all that rosy right now, so if your business is dependent on this software, you need to proactively defend yourself.

Things to consider:


If the reason for your being "stuck" on SCO includes defunct hardware such as a specialized i/o board no longer being manufactured, try to buy a few of these boards to have on hand in case of failure. The obvious place to look is eBay.

You also need to protect your system hardware. It's quite possible that the SCO OS you have now will not run on hardware manufactured just a few years from now. Buy up some systems as reserve. Don't neglect duplicating your backup solution and make sure you have spare media. Yes, DAT tapes will probably be around for a long, long time, but better safe than sorry.

Test that you CAN duplicate your system on other hardware. Take the time to do a fresh install or a restore from a Supertar and be sure everything works. Better to find out about problem areas now than later.


If you aren't currently running the latest version of Openserver or Unixware, consider buying the upgrade now even if you don't plan on installing it now. Consider also buying extra user licenses in case you add employees and are unable to purchase this software then.

Buy the upgrades for backup software like Microlite Edge, LoneTar, Facetwin, etc. These folks may continue making SCO versions for many years, but you never know.

Consider downloading all available patches and supplements, even if they relate to hardware or software you are not running now. You may also want to get all available Skunkware software. You never know what you may need in the future.

Make copies of all install CD's. Do the same for all floppy disks, and also transfer the floppy disks to disk images (dd if=/dev/fd0135ds18 of=thisdisk) and get those onto cd or dvd media.


Make sure you know where all relevant documentation is: installation manuals, user manuals. Make copies or purchase duplicates now (again, eBay is the place to look).

Now is the time for a brain dump from anyone who works on or maintains your system. If SCO does disappear, some of your external suppliers and contractors may move on to greener pastures and of course employees always come and go. Get them to document as much as they possibly can about your system. If your support people do become unavailable, check my Consultants list for other resources.

The point of all of these things is to be able to keep your legacy systems running as long as possible. Of course you will investigate other alternatives, and you may never have need for some of the measures suggested,but being prepared can make the difference for you later.

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Don't forget to make reproductions of all those certificates that say "Reproduction of this certificate is strictly prohibited."

--Dan Martin

And put them in a safe deposit box!

"Yes, DAT tapes will probably be around for a long, long time, but better safe than sorry."

Adtually, it appears at this time that DDS (often improperly referred to as "DAT" :-)) has a bright future. Despite "advances" such as DLT, DDS continues to get bigger and better, especially since DDS stalwart Hewlett-Packard started shipping DDS-5 drives (up to 72 GB per cartridge with 2:1 compression).

It is important to note that any tape media, DDS, DLT or for you old dinosaurs, DC6xxx, deteriorates in storage. I routinely advise my clients to run their archive tapes at least once per year to verify readability. Although not nearly as common as it was 20-30 years ago, tape "sticktion" can occur when a tape has been motionless for a long time.

"It's quite possible that the SCO OS you have now will not run on hardware manufactured just a few years from now."

That was a problem a little over two years ago, when it was discovered that OSR 5.0.6 would not run correctly on higher end AMD Athlon and Intel P4 hardware (see the OSS657a supplement if you have recently souped up your server and are now experiencing instability). Who's to say it won't happen again?


. most SuperTars should make this uselesse but make a copy of (or better
print) the "hwconfig -h" output (the "laundry list"); this might help
when trying to restore a system or mount the HD on a different box

. save relevants files using JPR's savefile script

. have a logbook with all the relevant passwords for the system

. make sure you know how to recover from a "forgotten root password"

. if needed, set up a different server with the same network config and
perform regular backups of the data on this box in the case your
business can't stop

I'm sure there are plenty of other useful suggestions but this is what
my brain can offer now ;-)

Rob (the on you might know from Italy :-)

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