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Unixware Review

© December 2003 Tony Lawrence

Tue Dec 16 11:10:50 GMT 2003 Unixware Review

Link: UnixWare 7.1.3 Review

Good, balanced review of Unixware that avoids most of the current SCO/IBM controversy, though of course some of the reader comments do start to get into that. At least in the early stages, the comments have avoided the wilder Linux zealotry and are mostly sensible and intelligent.

I do have to disagree with statements like "SCO has never been a major unix player". You still can't spit in any major city without risking hitting a machine running a SCO OS. SCO may never have been a well known company (very poor marketing didn't help that), but they had and still have a large user base.

Although the reviewer doesn't explore this aspect, I think reading this review points out many of the reasons why SCO has lost both market share and success (before the current troubles, of course). They just haven't kept up. In fairness, they probably didn't have the financial resources to do so, but on the other hand, saddling themselves with the development burden of two very different OSes (Unixware and Openserver) can't have helped. They also seem to have concentrated their efforts on features important to the big chain customers they do have: McDonald's, Ground Round, some airlines etc. While the licensing from those volume sales was no doubt important, they ignored the needs of their small customers, of which there were once very many.

They also rather stupidly ignored hobbiests. Had a free, home user version of SCO been available, Linus Torvalds never would have started work on Linux. He wanted an affordable Unix system, but at the time, no such thing could be had. Later, SCO did offer a free, single user license, but they've since discontinued that again - more bad decisions.

I don't know that the world would be any different if SCO had been smarter. Microsoft is a rough player, and certainly a good deal of SCO's problems had to come from Microsoft's encroachment. I do say that SCO's ignorance of needed features made it that much easier for Microsoft to steal business away. Maybe it wouldn't have been enough to turn the tide, but this sure wasn't helping.

And of course now we have the IBM suit. My position on this is that SCO probably thinks they have a legitimate case, but whether they do or not, proving it is going to be confusing and difficult. I don't like this business of casting the GPL and open source in general in a bad light; I think that plays right into Microsoft's hands. In fact the whole thing, even without the GPL nonsense, is unlikely to benefit anyone but Microsoft in the long run.

They do have a right to sue, though sometimes the smarter thing is to just ignore your "rights". Losing this battle will cost them dearly, but unfortunately so will winning it. Destroying (or just damaging) Linux and Open Source will only strengthen Microsoft. It won't turn people back to proprietary Unixes, especially when you consider the sad state of these as this review attests.

When angry Linux folk tell me that SCO will disappear because of this lawsuit, I have to disagree: SCO has been in a downward spiral for some time, and neither winning nor losing this lawsuit is likely to change that. Nor is it important: what's important is how well Linux and Open Source weather the storm. I don't mean the little SCO/IBM squall: I mean the larger assaults. Darl McBride sees Linux as a threat to his business, but it is what Microsoft and other entrenched players see that is really important. While Linux folk rant against SCO, other people are quietly working against open source. That's what is important.

Oh, Unixware? I wanted to review it myself, but couldn't get a working install. I still have the CD's, and when I can free up a piece of hardware it might like better, I'll try again.

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