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Time to dump SCO?

© May 2004 Tony Lawrence

Mon May 3 13:21:08 GMT 2004 Time to dump SCO?
Link: https://www.theinquirer.net/?article=15665

Certainly SCO wasn't the first to think that the GPL might be unenforceable; even some Open Source supporters have expressed concern about its language, and have suggested that other licenses might be easier to defend in court.

But "unconstitutional" and insisting that copyright law over-rides this and effectively makes it illegal is (we hope) ridiculous.

It's hard to imagine SCO surviving this mess now. There's always the possibility of some amazing revelation, but it is more than a little late in the day for that.

So is it time to dump SCO if you are still running it?

If you are not now locked into a difficult app, if switching is low cost and low stress, yes, of course you should be thinking about switching. Why run SCO if Linux will do the job? Linux isn't in any danger of going away (unless this silly SCO suit really does have hidden teeth), and there is much more software available than there ever was for SCO.

If you haven't been at least thinking about how you might replace a SCO system, well, you have your head rather firmly stuck in the sand. SCO's been in trouble for years, threatened by Microsoft on one side and even more threatened by Linux on the other. Couple that with apparent blindness to marketplace demands, and it's plain they have a rocky road ahead indeed.

But replacing SCO isn't always easy. Not every app vendor supporting SCO has moved to Linux, and many SCO machines are running software that just doesn't exist at all any more. So you may be stuck, or the high expense of switching to new software may be more than you can reasonably afford. What then?

Well, it's not quite panic time yet. SCO is still in business, and even if they do go down in flames, and even if no other company buys up the IP rights and distributes the software, you can keep running as you are for at least a few years. Buy a little spare hardware and you might even stretch that out to a decade if you had to. So there really is no need to take any drastic action. Don't let the time just slip away,though: you will need to switch someday, so it definitely is time to start looking for alternatives. No big rush, but time to look around.

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"SCO is still in business, and even if they do go down in flames, and even if no other company buys up the IP rights and distributes the software, you can keep running as you are for at least a few years."

Actually, you can keep a SCO box running indefinitely -- assuming hardware issues don't get in the way. It's not as though the software is going to rot away like it does with Windows. And if you have a media kit, you can always scratch-install if necessary.

Be that as it may, the time is probably right to work out the details of switching over to Linux. If SCO manages to come out of this legal donnybrook intact they will have to generate a lot of cash fairly quickly to cover the financial aftermath, especially attorneys' fees and such. That would almost certainly mean hefty price increases for their products.

The real concern I have is the connection between SCO and Microsoft. Although there's no smoking gun at this point that says Microsoft is behind all of this "Linux stole our code" noise, they (Microsoft) would be the ones to benefit the most from a SCO legal victory that resulted in a severe blow to the future of Linux. In my mind, that automatically taints SCO's products and undermines the trust I've had in SCO all these years.


SCO has a slightly different view of its prospects:


I find it interesting that every time the Novell-SCO suit comes up in questioning - Darl answers with: "Would you buy an operating system without the source-code copyright? If you don't have copyright, they can turn around the next day and screw you." (or words to the same extent) - the only trouble with that statement is that people with a bit of historic knowledge know that the only reason Caldera bought up SCO was to get at the distribution channel.


Right, though I think that access was worth far less than they thought it was. Most of us "in the channel" have been moving away from SCO for some time.


But isnt the hardware going to be an issue for servers running OSR5.0.0. to OSR5.0.5???

If the only replacement hardware you can get is P4, then if there is a calamity with the hardware running these older versions, you could have a bit of problem as SCO has said you should only run P4's on OSR5.0.6 and above.

We support about a dozen OSR502's, 1 x OSR504 and about a dozen OSR505's on &lt;P4 hardware.

Worse still I still I have a dozen XENIX2.3.4 sites as well (horrors). Any gross failures here result in a OSR507 upgrade...very painful to their pockets.

The trouble is these users wont upgrade because it currently works OK, so why spend. Unfortunately they dont realise they are "like 'possums staring into the headlights...". Hence the dilemna.

If SCO does belly-up what happens if we have to subsequently replace the hardware for these sites and upgrade them to OSR5.0.7+.

The legacy application we support is written in DBL so it must run on a SCO architecture. I did an evaluation with Caldera eServer Linux2.3 about 3 years ago and it needed ibcs to provide the correct environment, plus many Linux commands use different switches to SCO to get the same result.. for example lp and echo. A serious rewrite of the application would be required where these commands are used, so they can be executed as variables based on the OS version.


You need to shop eBay for older hardware..

But you don't need to rewrite the app, just change the PATH so that a directory of yours comes first, where you have "lp" etc. scripts that take the flags that the app gives and rearrange for the real command and call it.


"The trouble is these users wont upgrade because it currently works OK, so why spend. Unfortunately they dont realise they are "like 'possums staring into the headlights...". Hence the dilemna."

Well, it is your job to make them realize the peril that they are in. You need to spell out in plain, blunt language exactly what will happen if the motherboard, processor and/or memory head south and you are forced to replace those items with current technology (BTW, stay away from the P4 for SCO applications -- it's a dog). Make it REAL CLEAR to them that they may be out of commission INDEFINITELY with no viable hardware upgrade path. Also, explain to them that the cost of upgrading the software pales into insignificance compared to the cost of a dead system and no way to process.


Mon Nov 5 01:51:05 2007: 3224   anonymous

I realize this article is quite old at this point and the technologies I am going to mention were (mostly) in their infancy at its inception, however, it seems the best solution in this case would be virtualization. Unless there are specific cpu-bound timing problems, I would suspect that many of the free (FLOSS etc..) and proprietary (VMWare) virtualization products could fill the void, especially considering the era of hardware we are talking about. Not that this is an ideal solution but it could be a bandaid for many years to come.


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