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Buy Linux from a veteran

Network World Fusion

June 19, 2000
Web posted at: 10:43 a.m. EDT (1443 GMT)

(IDG) -- Companies lacking faith in the pack of young companies selling Linux will soon have the option of buying a version of Linux delivered by a relative old-timer: The Santa Cruz Operation.

SCO, which has been around for more than 20 years, this week will unveil plans for its own brand of Linux, one that will come with the kinds of management, clustering and Web serving technologies that have helped the company become a leading Unix supplier. On top of that, the company has a network of 15,000 resellers and development partners, plus a support organization.


Although SCO declined to get into product or pricing specifics during a briefing with Network World, officials say the company will target customers looking to introduce speedy Web, file and print servers.

Observers say the company's one-two punch of Linux at the low end and Unix at the high end could be an attractive alternative to other firms' separate Unix and Linux offerings, as well as Microsoft's operating systems.

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"SCO is in a unique position to dominate this [Linux] market," says Tony Iams, an analyst with D.H. Brown Associates, a Port Chester, N.Y., consulting firm. "They own the low-end Intel/ Unix market. They know this space like no one. They have a tremendous set of relationships with resellers and OEMs."

The timing on SCO's Linux announcement couldn't be better because the Linux industry could use a boost. Most Linux headlines of late have been negative, such as those about layoffs at TurboLinux and LinuxCare.

While SCO may be rolling out its Linux distribution long after Red Hat and Caldera hit the market with theirs, SCO is no open source Johnny-come-lately. The company offers support services to Caldera and TurboLinux customers. In addition, the company's Tarantella middleware supports Linux, as will Monterey, the Intel-based version of Unix that SCO is building with IBM.

SCO is expected to announce 32- and 64-bit versions of Linux for Intel-based servers, which will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. In early 2001, SCO plans to deliver a 32-bit Internet Infrastructure Edition that will come bundled with a Web server and other IP applications. The company is also working on a 64-bit edition for service providers, including ISPs and application service providers, which will feature special billing and management tools.

The company is also expected to explore the following areas:

  • Building the Linux clustering capacity to be in line with SCO's NonStop Clusters technology, which scales to 12 or more boxes with advanced reliability for data and applications. Current Linux clustering technology is generally limited to two or four nodes.

  • Beefing up Linux's symmetric multiprocessing capabilities. Currently the number of CPUs per Linux server is usually limited to eight; UnixWare can run on servers with up to 32 CPUs.

  • Managing multiple Linux servers as well as applications from a single console as if they were a single system.

  • Improving security and the ability of Linux to handle applications such as e-mail, including instant messaging.

  • Adding online support services and documentation.

Crucial to the company's success will be ensuring that it rapidly offers adequate device drivers and APIs to let independent software vendors port existing SCO Unix applications to SCO's Linux, says David Boyes of Dimension Enterprise, a data center design and testing firm in Herndon, Va. His company runs a variety of Linux applications, mostly using TurboLinux.

Observers say SCO has a big opportunity to make a splash in the Linux market, but needs to be more vocal about it. Dan Kusnetsky, program manager at IDC, a Framingham, Mass., market research firm, notes that SCO owns more than a quarter of the Unix market, but that hardly anyone knows it.

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SCO, Open Source and Linux (SCO white paper)
Linux International
Linux Installation and Getting Started
Linux Journal

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