SCO OpenServer Is a Winner

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-08-01

SCO OpenServer Is a Winner

Despite all the pounding Ive given SCO lately, Im actually very fond of SCOs products. The companys policies are another matter.

You see, Ive been using SCO operating systems for almost as long as Ive been using computers.

I cut my teeth on Unix with SCO Xenix on 4.77MHz 8086s systems in the mid-80s.

By the late 80s, I was working as a system administrator using first Interactive Unix—a company that would be merged into SCO—3.2 and then 4.0 to run Sendmail mail servers and majordomo mailing lists.

By 1990, I was using my first graphical PC Unix: SCO Open Desktop.

Ive also long recommended SCO OpenServer as the best x86 Unix bar none.

Then, Linux came along. By January 2001, when Linux 2.4 came along, the handwriting was on the wall.

Unix on Intel had long been a niche product, but Linux was bigger and better.

That is not to say though that SCOs latest and greatest, SCO OpenServer 6, isnt a fine operating system. It is.

Heck, Im running it myself in my lab, and its a great operating system.

While eWEEK Labs analyst Jason Brooks would take Solaris on Intel and Windows Server 2003 over it, if it was just about the technology, Id go with OpenServer.

OpenServer has always been the most stable operating system Ive ever seen on an Intel platform.

People tell true stories about OpenServer servers being literally walled up in closets and then be forgotten about for years at a time. OpenServer just runs and runs and… you get the idea.

Next Page: New scalability.

New Scalability

This new version, after what seems like an eternity, finally has UnixWares scalability, making it much more interesting to enterprises with bigger demands than the SMB/branch offices that have heretofore been OpenServers best home.

Ironically enough, though, right after its improved scalability, OpenServers best feature is its strong collection of open-source software. Legend, the code name for OpenServer 6, comes with Apache 1.3, Mozilla 1.7, Samba 3.0.13, MySQL (the community version), OpenSSL, and the PostgreSQL database. It also uses KDE for its graphical interface.

Yes, thats right, SCO, the anti-open-source company, relies on open-source software. Yes, the companys whose CEO has argued that the GPL, under which MySQL and Samba are distributed, violates the U.S. Constitution.

Click here to read more about SCOs legal claims.

Amazing isnt it?

Its all quite legal, by the way. Open source means open to everyone—even its enemies.

There are two real reasons that while I really like OpenServer technically, I cant recommend it.

The first is, irregardless of my personal opinions on the lack of merits to SCOs courtroom shenanigans, its hard to see how SCO can survive the sheer volume of its law suits.

If IBM doesnt get them, then Novell—whos really going after them now with hammer and tongs—will.

Read more here about Novells battle against SCO.

To make it out of its legal morass, SCO has to win them all. Its enemies only need to win once.

And, the other is simply that, as good as OpenServer is, the business Linuxes from Novell and Red Hat are simply better and cheaper.

Even SCOs strong reseller channel, its ace in the hole for many years, is matched by Novells channel partners.

No, much as I may like OpenServer the product; SCO, the company, just has too much trouble on its hands for me to recommend its operating systems. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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