SCO OpenServer 6 Pushes Unix Line Forward

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

After years of development, SCO's OpenServer 6 arrives packed with UnixWare and open-source applications.

After years in the making, SCO OpenServer 6 has finally been released. OpenServer 6 is the first major upgrade to SCO's flagship Unix operating system since its parent companies, Caldera and Santa Cruz Operations, merged in 2000.

The SCO Group Inc. has perhaps been better known for its contractual and intellectual-property fights with IBM, Novell Inc. and Red Hat Inc. in recent years. Recently, the company seems to be focusing on its Unix product lines: OpenServer 6 and UnixWare 7.

Despite some conflict with the open-source community over issues such as the legality of the Gnu GPL (General Public License), SCO has included numerous open-source programs in OpenServer 6.

These include the MySQL and PostgreSQL DBMS, the Apache Web server, Tomcat, OpenSSH and OpenSSL, Samba file and print services, and many others. The new OpenServer also supports UnixWare 7.1.4, Xenix and J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) 1.4.2 applications.

To read more about SCO's focus on Unix operating systems, click here.

While meant primarily as a server operating system, OpenServer also offers a nod to desktop use. Besides its native interface, OpenServer comes with a KDE-based desktop with such applications as the Mozilla and Firefox browsers and OpenOffice.org office suite.

OpenServer also comes with multithreaded application support and native Unix System V Release 5 Unix kernel support. The preemptive SVR5 kernel supports multithreading for C, C++ and Java applications via its POSIX interface.

SCO and Novell get their day in court. Read more here.

The new OpenServer also supports file sizes up to 1TB (terabyte) for both disk-based and network files. File systems can also grow as large as 1TB, and larger network files are supported through NFS (Network File System) Version 3.

On the processor side, OpenServer 6 can handle up to 32 AMD or Intel processors and 16GB of general-purpose memory, while additional memory can be dedicated for special applications, allowing databases to access up to 64GB of memory.

SCO OpenServer 6 is available now. SCO encourages customers to work through their local resellers.

The operating system is available in two editions: the Starter Edition, priced at $599, and the Enterprise Edition, priced at $1,399. The Starter Edition provides a two-user license and supports up to 1GB of system memory and one processor. The Enterprise Edition provides a 10-user license and supports up to 4GB of system memory and four processors.

"The shipment of SCO OpenServer 6 is the culmination of extensive customer feedback, testing by hundreds of product beta testers, certification testing with dozens of SCO software and hardware partners, and significant preparation by SCO engineering, support, marketing and sales teams," said SCO CEO Darl McBride in a statement.

"Our resellers and customers can feel confident in deploying SCO OpenServer 6 for the increased performance, security and reliability that they have come to depend on from SCO," McBride said.

Click here to read about partner reaction to SCO's distribution deal with supply chain provider Synnex.

SCO's partners, which had been looking forward eagerly to OpenServer 6's release, agreed with McBride. "I think that OSR6 will be playing a big role in our business in the years to come," said Deepak Thadani, president of SysIntegrators LLC, a New York-area solutions provider and SCO partner.

"With the release of SCO OpenServer 6, HP continues to build on our leadership position of supporting SCO UNIX operating systems on HP ProLiant servers," said Paul Miller, Hewlett-Packard Co.'s vice president of marketing for industry standard servers.

To further support the new Unix, HP will also be releasing a robust portfolio of "OpenServer 6 certifications on HP ProLiant platforms, storage, and networking options offering customers the best managed infrastructure for SCO deployments," Miller said.

Computer Associates International Inc. is also supporting OpenServer. "With the availability of CA's Ingres r3 on SCO OpenServer 6, customers have an open systems server platform and an open-source DBMS on which they can fulfill even the most demanding systems requirements," said Emma McGrattan, CA's vice president of Ingres development.

Next Page: SCO: smart choice or dead loss?

From an analyst's viewpoint, Dan Kusnetzky, IDC's vice president of System Software, said, "As the flag-bearer of the UNIX-on-Intel environment, it's encouraging to see the SCO Group continuing its development of SCO OpenServer."

"Based on the performance and security improvements, as well as integration with many popular open-source technologies now found in SCO OpenServer 6, the SCO Group has given its customers quite a number of reasons to upgrade and continue investing in the SCO OpenServer platform," Kusnetzky said.

Other analysts agreed that this was a step forward for SCO.

"SCO's release of OpenServer 6 is significant because it demonstrates that SCO does indeed have a product strategy, and this may help maintain, if not grow, SCO's customer installed base," said Stacey Quandt, principal analyst at Quandt Analytics.

Today, more than 60 percent of SCO's revenue is attributed to sales and support of OpenServer, Quandt said.

The reason for this, even though the publicity spotlight on SCO has been mostly on its legal dealings, is that the company still has a strong customer base. "SCO has more than 40 percent market share among U.S pharmacy retailers. For example, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS pharmacy all use SCO software. Also, more than 12,000 McDonald's restaurants run OpenServer," Quandt said.

These customers, and SCO's loyal reseller channel, Quandt said, make this choice because "they want a Unix system they can run on Intel systems that can meet the needs of the small-to-medium business market. The release of OpenServer 6 may be enough for SCO's customers to stay the course with OpenServer and prevent migration to alternatives such as Linux, Windows, MAC OS X or Solaris x86."

Others aren't so sure that SCO still has a future. Gordon Haff, senior analyst for Illuminata Inc., said he doesn't see the release of OpenServer 6 as having a chance of saving SCO's position.

"In a word, no. Looked at in isolation, there's a lot to like about the new OpenServer. It adds a lot of new capabilities and it finally largely merges the OpenServer and UnixWare trees. But OpenServer is in wild decline—the victim of Windows, Linux and years of SCO mismanagement," Haff said.

And if that isn't bad enough, Haff continued, "Today's SCO is a pariah of the IT industry that's far more focused on litigation than innovation. OpenServer is a niche product; SCO needs a miracle."

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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