Yesterday I visited a company running a Pick MRP app under a SCO 5.0.2 system, For those of you unfamiliar with SCO, that makes it circa 1995. I almost turned them down flat just for that reason: this stuff is ancient, and it can be difficult and quite scary to work on. You can't reinstall SCO on modern hardware, so that's out. Upgrade? Maybe: most apps that ran on SCO 5.0.x will run on SCO 5.0.7, which can still be purchased and can still install on a lot of current hardware. But upgrading to 5.0.7 is like upgrading your 1974 Gremlin to a 1990 Yugo - whoopee, that's a big improvement!
With Pick, there are better options. Pick can run on modern operating systems and that's the other reason I didn't want to get involved in this. Pick isn't chained to SCO - for a relatively small amount of money, they could take that app anywhere.. assuming availability of source code, of course. And even without that, Google says there are Pick decompilers. That might cost a little more, but how bad can it be? Compared to buying a new MRP system, it's dirt cheap. So why waste time and money on SCO?
Well, because times are really bad. This company deals primarily with the auto industry and we know how well they are doing. So, they found the idea of possibly transitioning to SCO 5.0.7 appealing as that would be less expensive than moving to another OS.
Well, maybe again. I warned him that Pick might insist on an upgrade and relicensing. If they do, then you might as well get away from SCO unless they charge a tremendous amount extra. And sheesh: I can't imagine that they aren't willing to deal a bit in this economy either..
But after we talked about all that, I agreed to come up and help him investigate moving the app to 5.0.7. When and if that idea comes up today, I always suggest virtualizing it to avoid the aging OS problem: SCO 5.0.7 should be able to survive a lot longer as a VM than it will be able to on real hardware. So that's what we intended to look at: SCO 5.0.7 under VMware. VMware considers SCO "experimental" at this point, but we know it works, so..
They had SCO installed and running by the time I got there. They also had their Pick consultant there to help with that. So..
Pick installs with Custom. For some reason it insists on being single user mode - probably just being over cautious, but fine, we can do that. But Custom failed to read the floppies.
My first thought was that the floppies were bad, but no, I could read them from the command line. Well, at first, no: the VMware wasn't properly identifying /dev/fd0 so I had to be specific and read from fd0135ds18. I extracted the files from two floppies and ran "/tmp/init.pick" and the install worked. Great.. but now Pick itself needed to read some more floppies and it wasn't doing well at it. It's configuration file suggested that it expected to read from /dev/rdsk/f0q18dt but that always died without success. I changed the config file to read from /dev/rfd0135ds18 and that worked.
I guess it shouldn't surprise me to have trouble in floppy-land. This is VMware running an "experimental" OS under Vista. I can't imagine that Microsoft or VMware have put a lot of effort into their floppy disk drivers. Why would they?
So at that point, Pick worked. Single user, unlicensed, and none of the customer's data. Encouraging, but far from helpful. The Pick consultant had contacted TigerLogic about D3 (that's current Pick) upgrade pricing during all this, but we had no firm answer yet.
Pick uses it's own raw file. We did try just transferring that over. It appeared to work, though again single user and although programs seemed to run, the main screen said that it was corrupted. My bet is that someone who knows more about Pick than I do could fix that up but there still is the licensing to deal with.
So there it is - it looks like it is possible to run an old Pick app under SCO 5.0.7. Again, I'm not convinced that there is any valid reason to do this unless TigerLogic comes back with ridiculous upgrade pricing.
How bad could it be? The Pick consultant told me that IBM Universe (their version of Pick) runs about $400 a user brand new. This is a 50 user system, so that's $20,000. Sure, not pocket change, but if we're considering limping along with SCO on 15 year old hardware.. it's not that much money, is it?
Staying with SCO is silly. Time to move on.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-03-20 Anthony Lawrence
Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do. (Donald Knuth)