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Unixware 7

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Articles about SCO Unixware. I don't follow any SCO products closely now so you probably won't find anything new here.

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This article was written in May 1998. I have just come back from a two day Unixware 7 Administration class, and have then installed it on a spare machine, and begun to play with it. Honestly I am 100% sold on Unixware. This is the future of SCO, it is the platform you want to be on, and although I have the usual reservations about first releases of anything, I personally am ready to stand up and say this is the platform I want my customers on.

As far as I am concerned, SCO could have called this Gemini. No, it doesn't have every tool that Openserver has, but it has most of them, and it has enough that an Openserver geek like me doesn't feel horrified as I did when attempting to use Unixware 2.12.

More important, however, is the things it has that Openserver does not. If this was just Unixware 2.12 with a few Openserver tools grafted on, I'd think it was OK, but I wouldn't be chomping at the bit. But this has wonderful new features.

Let's start at the beginning with installation.


First of all, you will need beefier hardware. Machines that run Openserver reasonably well can be sluggish on Unixware. Supposedly, you can run on a 486DX with 500 MB of disk and 16 MB of memory. That's a crippled system, however: plan on Pentium, 64MB and 1GB or more.

I installed it on a 48 meg machine: it was swapping.

UW7 asks for licensing right up front, but it can be deferred. If it is deferred, you get a 60 day evaluation copy. During installation, you get to choose to install all or part of the optional products that you may not have licenses for. If these are installed, you also get a 60 day license for those products.

Next comes device configuration and any unusual drivers if necessary. If you've done Unixware before, you already know about the Device Configuration Utility (DCU). This lets you specify hardware details (addresses, interrupts) during installation. It's a nice feature, not usually necessary during installation, but nice to have when you need it. Similar functionality is provided by Openservers "defbootstr" commands, but I think the DCU is easier, though it obviously doesn't provide all the same capability.

Unixware has always used HBA (Host Bus Adapter) diskettes to handle Boot Time Loadable Drivers. This version is no exception, except that the standard HBA's are simply on Disk 2 of the installation and that is not specifically identified as an HBA diskette. The installation does still offer you the chance to load addtional HBA's if you need to.

I'm not clear that UW7 offers anything that exactly matches the functionality of "defbootstr". There is the ability to get to a boot manager (both during installation and after) that allows setting variables, and it may well be that between that, the DCU and HBA's that everything that we can do with defbootsr can still be accomplished, but I've got some definite fuzziness right here.

To get to that screen, you simply hit any key while the graphical Unixware screen is displayed. Doing this brings you to a text screen. A "?" there displays all the commands you can enter that would affect the boot.

The install continues with making a UW partition. That's typical fdisk, though I liked the interface more than the Openserver version. After this comes creating the file systems.

Unixware uses the "slice" terminology for what we call divisions in Openserver. The major difference is that UW7 allows 15 slices. That means 15 file systems. Interestingly, it looks like /usr has to be part of root, as in Openserver. The default inode allocation for a file system is 64k, but this can be overridden during installation.
Annoyingly, if you change the size of a file system, you have to do the math for remaining space; this doesn't calculate it for you.

The /tmp directory gets mounted on a memfs by default. This means that /tmp is mounted on what we'd call a ram disk in Openserver. It also means that files in /tmp do not survive a reboot, and that /tmp has limited space. That's certainly something you might want to change if you have memory to spare.

After the install, a "mount" and inspection of /etc/vfstab (replaces /etc/default/filesys) will show some other interesting filesystem types, including procfs, profs and specfs. The procfs is described under "man proc", but so far I can't locate man pages on the others. Fortunately, memfs and specfs are used on Sun and other SysV unixes, so the information is available, and I'll cover it in another article.

After laying out the disk, you select the System Profile. This lets you install either what is appropriate for your license, or to select other configurations as explained earlier. There are several packaged license options, which seem (in my opinion) a little confusing because they also talk about Unixware Editions. I'm sure this will all make sense once I have a few more installations under my belt.

Next is Network Card and TCP/IP configuration. This can be deferred, of course. Date and time and security level come next, and then are the prompts for "System Owner", which is a Unixware concept for a user who can do just about everything root can (but not quite: see below).

All of these prompts use the Unixware/Novell tradition of F10 to proceed, F8 to defer. This takes a little getting used to, and there may be one or two places where it isn't entirely consistent.

At the very end, you get a chance to save all of your responses to floppy disk. This is an obvious boon for replicated sites, but using the diskette only reads in default answers for all screens. You will have to push F10 to get through them all. It's still a very useful feature, though.

After this, the installation proceeds unattended until it is time to reboot. One final piece of configuration is done after the initial boot, and that is configuring the mouse. This is nicely done; it lets you test your configuration before committing to it.

There is also support for installing over the network, and apparently that can be done over a pure IPX network, also.


Once it's installed, you'll be pleased to find that the Openserver style console switching still works, though you have to use CTRL-ALT-Fn always, the Open Server character mode of just ALT-Fn will not work. The Unixware style sequences works: hold ALT-SYSREQ, release, then press H, P, N, or a function key. Only 8 screens are enabled by default. The graphical login defaults to CTRL-ALT-F1, so if you are trying to switch away from that, use CTRL_ALT-F2.

Note that the Unixware Console login (ALT-SYSREQ,H) is not accessible by a function key, and is actually tty00. It is accessible by CTRL-ALT-ESC, which sort of makes sense if you think of ESC as being F0 because it's next to F1.

By the way, you'll want to switch to that console screen when shutting down after anything that will require a kernel rebuild. That's the screen you will see rebuild messages on (anytime you change anything that requires a rebuild, this will be done automatically upon shutdown or reboot if necessary).

CDE Desktop

After this, the first thing you'll notice is the CDE desktop. If you really like the Openserver style desktop, you can still get it (it's called the Panorama Session), but I honestly can't imagine why you'd want to. CDE is powerful, flexible, and a standard. I personally don't like the standard setting that gives focus to windows as your mouse moves into them, but you can change that easily. The Desktop includes a nice Calendar, a panner (different than pmwm, but conceptually the same) and the usual terminal window, text editor, icon editor, etc. A nice addition is a Vacation Manager for setting up mail responses when you are out for a few days or weeks. The CDE also includes a screen lock.

You will probably want to run the Video configuration manager right away to increase resolution and colors. I was pleased to find that UW7 recognized the video card immediately: when I installed Openserver on this machine I had to fake it by using a choice that had a similar chipset.

There is also an Audio Configuration Manager; I haven't tried that as of yet.

You can enable and disable the automatic graphical login with scologin disable and scologin enable, and start sessions with startx just as in Openserver.


If you use the desktop to call up the SCO Admin program, you'll notice that it looks a little different than it does on Openserver, but just about all the managers that you are used to seeing are still there. You can also run "scoadmin" from a character based session. Unfortunately, none of the "mkdev" shortcuts are implemented.

It is also unfortunate that the concept of System Owner (you create this user during installation) isn't perfectly implemented. The System Owner can accomplish most tasks, but for some it needs to su to root first, and this is not always done. You'll probably grow weary of System Owner and just log in as root and run startx.


The Scohelp is now much different looking than it is on Openserver. It's done with panes, and though generally pretty good, there are some broken links here and there, where references in the right hand pane are mal-formed and won't work. You can usually work around those either by finding an equivalent link in the left hand pane or by using the built in search engine to zero in on the thing you are trying to get to. This has the effect of generating a link in the left-hand pane, and (so far) that's always worked for me.

The same documentation is also available over the internet at

Differences and Similarities

One joyous discovery is the absence of the SSO scheme that Openserver used. There are plenty of symbolic links for directories, but the SSO's are gone.

Command compatibility has obviously had a lot of attention here. The graphical Help has a good deal of space devoted to explaining what's missing, what's new, what the equivalent commands are, etc. This is given from both viewpoints: a Unixware person will find "Differences for Unixware 2 users" and the rest of us will be interested in "Differences for Openserver users". This information is not entirely accurate: there are "missing" Openserver commands that are not documented here, but it's a good start, and overall there really isn't anything horribly absent.

For some commands, the differences were considered serious enough that Openserver versions are present in the /OpenServer/bin directory. These include cpio, tar, compress, dd and both sh and ksh.

For reasons I don't understand yet, there is an OSRCMDS environment variable that you can set and export to cause the commands in /OpenServer/bin to be used. I'm not sure why you wouldn't just put this directory at the start of your PATH instead, or just call the command explicitly.


With the Enterprise, Departmental and Intranet configurations, Visionfs (version 2.01 ) is installed by default. So are a lot of other things. There's information at .


The default file system type is Veritas. That was the case on older Unixware also, but you didn't get the graphical administrative tool that you get now.

I had to install vxvm after the initial load. I can't remember now if I had the option to install during the initial load or not. You must install both vxvm and vxva. Once that's done, you run vxva_setup and then you can run vxva -t to get a demo mode. This lets you fool around and learn what you need to learn without destroying anything. (See also Veritas Volume Manager)

Device Names

Device names are radically different, and are sure to cause confusion for those of us used to Openserver.

Disk names follow the Controler-Bus-Target-Device-Slice convention. For example, your root partition might be /dev/dsk/c0b0t0d0s1 (and of course it is also /dev/root).

Floppy disks have a similar scheme: /dev/rdsk/f0q18dt is your 3.5 inch A: drive. Fortunately, there are also the traditional /dev/rfd0135ds18 style entries.

CDROM's are tough: the device will be found in /dev/cdrom. Since you probably only have the one device, a shortcut mount trick is:

mount -F cdfs -r /dev/cdrom/* /mnt

The man page for this is man 7 sc01

Tapes are in /dev/rmt. A man 7 tape should get you acquainted with these names.

Unlike Openserver, you don't specifically add SCSI tapes. If the tape is out there (controller configured, of course), it will automagically get added to the kernel.

If Arcserve is installed

as_devmgr -deviceinfo 2
as_devmgr -tapeinfo 2

would give you information about a SCSI tape at id 2. See UW7 Tape Drives for more on this.

(c) May 1998 A.P. Lawrence. All rights reserved