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Is it time to switch SCO systems to Linux?

© July 2005 Tony Lawrence

Does this question even need to be asked? Yes, if at all possible, it is time to convert any existing SCO system to Linux. Or, more likely, replace the SCO with Linux.

SCO has released their OpenServer 6 product, which finally achieves what needed to have been done years ago by merging OSR5 into Unixware. OSR6 uses a lot of open source offerings, and of course has Unixware features that make it attractive, so no doubt some users will upgrade to that.

I expect that most will be making the move to Linux instead.

SCO administrators shouldn't have great difficulty in making the transition to Linux, however they shouldn't assume that their SCO knowledge is completely applicable. Even common every day commands can have major differences both in syntax and in available features, so you need to spend time with the man pages or books (see the Linux section of my Book Reviews)

Obviously the easiest way to do this is to start before you have real need. Set up a separate box, install Linux, and start testing to see what will bite you.

Linux technical folk charged with converting a SCO system to Linux may find themselves in a more difficult situation. You need some familiarity with SCO to move data, do conversions, etc. but you can find yourself hampered by less powerful commands, unfamiliar file paths, and other oddities. You may find that the SCO box lacks basic networking, and that may not be easy to correct: many SCO systems are so-called "Host" versions and are incapable of using any networking but ppp over serial lines. See New to SCO and Data Transfer for help with that.

Just being in unfamiliar territory can lead you into problems. For example, let's say you do have the "Enterprise" version that will let you add a pci network card. You do so, find the "netconfig" command, and see that bring up a list of nic cards to choose from. You may think that was correct behaviour, but it was not: the netconfig should have found that pci card automatically, and the fact that it didn't means that this box lacks the right nic driver. That can cause later problems in data transfer or may not work at all.

There are certainly many other problems that may confuse or slow down the Linux tech person trying to prepare a SCO box for transition. This website has a tremendous amount of SCO related material; use the Search at the top of each page to find resources.

Moving systems from SCO to Linux may require relicensing or buying or creating an entirely new application. Common SCO applications include many Cobol apps, a lot of home grown or consultant written FilePro applications, and RealWorld accounting systems; not to mention many, many others. SCO was a popular platform for many, many years, so you may find just about anything running on it. Fortunately, you have a lot of choice in converting these apps, and of course many vendors who provided SCO ports have also ported to Linux: SCO Cobol apps can usually be converted, Filepro has a Linux port, Counterpoint supports Linux, etc.

The move isn't always going to be easy. I've touched on that in other articles here. There are many other resources here that provide assistance in moving SCO systems over to Linux, and this posting is intended to provide an index for future reference:

Postings related to converting or switching SCO systems to Linux

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Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

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Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course

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