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LAS VEGAS— As SCO opens SCOForum, its annual trade show, reseller partners appear to want to know about what SCO will be doing with its SCO’s Unix products, not necessarily with its current Linux litigation.

SCO’s partners are, for the most part, resellers and system integrators. This powerful group has always had a strong pragmatic interest, not in intellectual property litigation, but in getting The SCO Group Inc. to support its most popular Unix operating system, OpenServer.

While Unix has been retreating from the server room, SCO’s resellers have long made a living from placing OpenServer in point-of-sales operations and in vertical applications. Its strongest selling point, resellers agree, is that OpenServer simply never breaks. Stories abound of SCO servers being left untouched for years at a time and continuing to deliver the goods for their users.

Resellers fear though that without adequate support from SCO management and ISVs (independent software vendors), they will be unable to continue to support their client base. SCO reseller customers tend to value stability highly, but they do welcome incremental improvement to their programs. Specifically, SCO’s partners fear that if the infrastructure of supported development tools and databases rusts out from underneath them they’ll lose their customers.

SCO has been reassuring partners that their attention has not been exclusively on its lawsuits. With a fight brewing with former financial backer BayStar, and minor defeats in its battles with former custumers DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone, SCO’s partners are still worried.

Still, prior to SCOForum, SCO appointed the well-respected Sandeep (Sandy) Gupta to be vice president of engineering. He will be responsible for continuing development and enhancement for all SCO products including UnixWare, OpenServer and a new embedded Unix offering, Smallfoot.

The Lindon, Utah-based firm has also released significant updates to its most popular operating system: SCO OpenServer 5.0.7 Supplement 3.

Besides general performance improvements the new version of SCO OpenServer, also includes J2SE (Java 2 Standard Edition) 1.4.2, the Tomcat Web application server, and the PostgreSQL database for deploying Web applications.

“We are very pleased that SCO now supports Java 1.4.2 on their OpenServer product line,” said Nico Spence, Chief Marketing Officer for BASIS International Ltd., a SCO partner, in a prepared statement “This is great news for our resellers and developers who can now deploy the applications they develop with BBj, our latest Java-based version of Business BASIC Extended (BBx).

“SCO OpenServer is the most popular Unix operating system for the Intel/AMD platform and our support for Java and PostgreSQL will make OpenServer an even stronger platform for our customers by delivering increased performance and greater support for applications,” said Jeff Hunsaker, Senior Vice President and General Manager, SCO UNIX Division. “Many of our customers, resellers and software developers have requested these added capabilities in OpenServer.”

Many of the improvements in this latest OpenServer update come from the open-source community. These include the Mozilla Web browser 1.6; the Apache Web Server 1.3.31 and the OpenSSH 3.8p1 network connectivity tools.

SCO’s partners though don’t care about irony. Indeed, several of them such as small software partners, AdminUX, Esker Software, and Go Software Inc. already produce programs for both Linux and Unix.

One NJ-based systems integrator suggested that SCO would serve itself and its partners best by first dropping its Linux litigation and then starting work again on its Linux Kernel Personality (LKP) technology. LKP enables SCO OpenServer and UnixWare users to run native Linux programs on these Unix platforms.

For SCO, Linux litigation may be the center of its attention, but for it resellers, it’s still all about operating system and software infrastructure support.

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