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What's with all the Linux?

© May 1999 Tony Lawrence

A few people have commented upon the growing number of Linux articles appearing here. Some have just been curious, some have been a bit puzzled, and at least one was apparently quite angry about my supposed "abandonment" of SCO.

Well, I certainly haven't abandoned SCO. If you look through the What's New? pages, you'll see that I really am still doing a lot of SCO specific articles, and I promise you that there are many more still hiding behind my fingertips. SCO is still very important to me, my customer base is almost exclusively SCO, and I plan to keep my SCO skills current, including both OSR5 and Unixware 7. I am not abandoning SCO.

But the fact is that Linux cannot be ignored. Yes, there's a lot of hype out there, and most of what you read about Linux sweeping aside SCO and Sun needs to be flavored with huge helpings of salt. Some of the Linux proponents are simply religious fanatics who have found the One True Operating System and feel compelled to bring their Truth to your attention, and much of their claims won't stand up to honest examination. Nonetheless, there is reality and substance behind this: Linux is real, Linux is stable, Linux has a lot to offer.

It's not all roses, of course, and there are very few places where I'd recommend replacing a running SCO system with Linux. Linux still has its share of warts and wrinkles, and while application and driver support is increasing daily, changing to Linux is not a casual effort. You may save the cost of buying SCO software, but spend more than that in consultant's fees or your own time to work out all the problems. There also is the very real concern that Linux vendors like Red Hat may not be able to make a commercial success out of a Gnu Public License product, and that alone would make me leery of basing important servers on Linux.

But I definitely would install Linux for auxiliary functions: web servers, ftp servers, mail servers and the like. The price is right, and SCO could (and should!) learn a lot by seeing what's already setup and configured right out of the box. Frankly, it is quite impressive. Linux is also, of course, a wonderful development platform, and a great desktop for true Power Users. And it gets better with every release, and the releases come a lot faster that commercial Unices ever do.

So, you will continue to see more and more Linux related material here. Don't get upset, don't cancel your subscription to the Notification List;(3 or 4 people do everytime I write Linux articles!) there still will be plenty of SCO. But don't be surprised to see a Linux section in the Skills Test eventually.

I do have concerns about Linux. I think it is possible that Linux could severely hurt SCO and other Unix vendors, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. It isn't at all clear that the GPL model can survive in the marketplace, and I especially wonder what would happen if Linus himself were not available to steer the kernel development.

But whatever happens, Linux cannot be ignored. If it is going to kill SCO, there's darn little I can do to stop it. If it is going to wither and die itself, I can't stop that, either. I sometimes worry that both things might happen: Linux driving all commercial vendors into oblivion, and then dying itself, thus leaving Microsoft uncontested. I sure hope that doesn't happen.

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-> What's with all the Linux?


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More Articles by © Tony Lawrence

Fri Dec 5 17:14:33 2008: 4849   TonyLawrence

It's now almost 10 years since I made this post (I came across it while randomly browsing to test some recent structural changes to the website).

I HAVE abandoned SCO :-)

Yeah, I'll still help someone with a SCO box, but I'm always advising them that they need to move on: that pony is done, time to switch horses.

Get off SCO asap.

Thu Dec 25 20:58:05 2008: 4981   BigDumbDinosaur

I recall in 1997-1998 when everyone seemed to be saying it's time to abandon SCO, Solaris, or whatever, for Linux. At the time, I was interested in Linux but could not see any justification for using it to support a primary environment (that is, one that a company would use to run their business). As Tony mentioned, there were numerous hardware issues, as well as a lack of focus on the part of the OSS gang with regard to addressing real-world needs. Also, there wasn't a good economic reason to select Linux over a commercial UNIX distribution.

Times have indeed changed. We have not shipped any servers powered by a commercial UNIX distro in some five years. We have a total of two clients running on SCO, compared to many times that ten years ago. The only SCO box with which I have regular contact anymore is the one under my desk that runs our local environment. Everything else we've done, with one exception, has been powered by SuSE's Linux distro. The lone exception is a Red Hat box that I slapped together in 2001 for a hobbyist (he's still running it).

The watershed event that led to our complete abandonment of SCO was when their legal department seized control and converted the company from a UNIX vendor to a lawsuit machine. Their claims of "Linux stole our code!", coupled with Daryl McBride's attempts to extort money from Linux users like a Chicago gangster, seriously pissed me off and I vowed we would never ship a SCO box again.

Even before the McBride BS started, I was already working to wean us off SCO. OSR5 was falling increasingly behind the curve -- there were jokes such as "The 1980s called. They want their UNIX back." -- and following the release of the Barton cored AMD processors in 2002, along with Intel equivalents, OSR5.0.6 wouldn't even run in a stable fashion on then-current hardware. It took hand-patching to one of the kernel modules to fix the problem. That along with the generally increasing quality of Linux in general, was the catalyst for our promoting Linux over SCO. When the lawsuits started, we were already on our way to phasing out SCO -- the legal mish-mash simply hastened the inevitable.

There's an old adage that says, "Nothing is as constant as change." I'm closing in on a retirement that is looming due to age -- I'm older than Tony by several years, and we already know he's older than dirt -- and an increasingly difficult health problem. I don't plan to completely stop working until I'm too decrepit to do so, as I sure the thinking and planning that goes with making computers do useful things will help me stay away from senility. I'm sure that I'll continue to see change in the software that powers the servers of tomorrow (and hopefully that change won't be more Windows).

However, just as the computer jocks of a generation ago probably couldn't foresee a Linux coming along and upsetting the applecart, I'm sure I'm not foreseeing anything similar in the future. But, then, my great-grandfather, who was a railroad engineer around the turn of the 20th century and was very familiar with the smell of burning coal and the thunder of a steam locomotive, assuredly couldn't foresee a day when a electrically-powered train would run across the French landscape at 180 miles per hour in regular service. I'm kind of excited to see what's next!


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