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Unix Operating Systems Software

Why SCO UNIX Is A Bad Idea 312

Ashcrow writes "SCO UNIX has long boasted its 'true UNIX' code base, but is that really the case? A story running at The Jem Report looks into SCO's claims and holds it up to other UNIX variants to try and find validity for SCO's claims." The author has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but worth reading for the comparison of various *nix's.
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Why SCO UNIX Is A Bad Idea

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  • Apples and oranges. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @05:53PM (#6546779)
    SCO's own UNIX products, and the copyright and other rights sco owns with regards to the genetic UNIX codebase are two different things entirely.

    Whether or not SCO UNIX sucks or not has no actual bearing on their lawsuit.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      That's not entirely true. See this part of their complaint, which in my opinion is completely false. Linux didn't need any help from IBM to destroy the market for SCO's products. Red Hat and SuSE were capable of doing that alone.

      111. The acts and conduct of IBM in misappropriating and encouraging, inducing and causing others to commit material misappropriation of SCO's Trade Secrets are the direct and proximate cause of a near-complete devaluation and destruction of the market value of SCO OpenServer a
    • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <chris DOT travers AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:55PM (#6547114) Homepage Journal
      Whether or not SCO UNIX sucks or not has no actual bearing on their lawsuit.

      Paragraph 84 of the complaint: Prior to IBM's involvement, Linux was the software equivalent of a bicycle. UNIX was the software equivalent of a luxury car.

      According to the article, it seems like Linux is the equivalent of a luxury car and SCO UNIX is the equivalent of a..... No, a bicycle is too kind of a description ;)

      I once temporarily owned an old rundown Ford Econoline. The brakes needed replacing, the battery drained because sometimes the brake lights would stay on, and there was a short in the fuse box. Kind of reminds me of SCO UNIX ;)
  • What if SCO wins? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @05:54PM (#6546782)
    What if they're right? That's the key question over SCO's claims and it's also the one question the open-source community largely refuses to address. For all the pleadings and letters that will emerge from this maelstrom, SCO's claims are fairly simple: It owns the bulk of the intellectual property underlying Unix, and recently, some of its code has been spied in Linux. Actually, make that quite a bit of it, says SCO.

    It's not just the code. Programmer comments embedded in Linux -- English-language descriptions -- are identical to those found in SCO's Unix code, according to SCO. There's even a typo in one of the commentaries in Unix System V that also appears in a Linux commentary. Extracting the controversial code is not really a feasible solution. Because of the way intellectual property (IP) laws work, derivative products that use the allegedly pilfered code are also subject to liability. Anyone who bundles suspect products, or uses them, is also conceivably on the hook.

    My college roommate in my sophomore year, an electrical engineering student named Mike Foster, helped me coin that one. He had an answer for everything, and often it involved the death penalty, a flat tax or some other clean, simple solution that would have been absolutely insane to try in real life. Don't get me wrong. I stand in awe of people who can design transistors or even who can put up drywall. But there is arrogance inside the scientific mind, and it rarely knows when to stop.

    Put the SCO argument another way: What if you found out something you had a hand in was now the basis of a multibillion-dollar empire? Would you want a slice, or denounce yourself as a fraud? SCO could also be really overplaying some minor copying. But we won't know until the evidence is in.

    • If they're right: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:15PM (#6546926) Homepage
      IF they're right, exactly the following sequence of events will happen.
      1. SCO eventually releases/announces exactly what the copied code is, when forced to by a court.
      2. The person who put the SCO code into linux is identified, and the code in question is positively identified as stolen SCO code.
      3. The distribution licenses for all extant versions of linux since that stolen code was inserted promptly become invalid-- since the GPL only applies when you do in fact have the right to distribute the entire work, and unless the GPL applies, you have no right to distribute linux at all-- thus meaning distributing those kernels is no longer legal unless the offending code sections are removed.
      4. Within a really really brief amount of time, probably less than 24 hours, stopgap patches are quickly released for the major contaminated kernel versions, that remove the SCO code and replace it with code that does the same thing, although probably not very well because it was rushed, so that Linux kernel distribution can resume.
      5. Over time, probably not much time, people go back through and release complete patches that insert suitible, well-written, legal code in place of the illegal SCO code for each minor kernel version that people might concievably want to distribute.
      6. The person who gave SCO code to the linux community and presented it as his own work is sued for fraud.
      7. SCO is unable to collect any damages for the time that its code spent in Linux, since while it is easy to get an injunction stopping infringatory behavior, in order to collect *damages* for this sort of thing you must show that you made due dilligent effort to correct the problem. SCO made no effort whatsoever to correct the problem; in fact over a course of at least six or seven months (so far!) after SCO announced it had found the offending code, they refused to tell the linux developers what the infringing code was, *despite repeated requests they do so*. Moreover, since the code was relatively easily replaced once SCO revealed its identity, SCO can hardly claim either that they were damaged or that Linux significantly benefited from having the stolen code, since linux could have gotten by quite well with legally contributed code, and the linux community was totally unaware the code that was donated to them was illegally obtained.
      • Re:If they're right: (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @07:15PM (#6547212) Journal
        There is something else of import in this. Back in the days of the at&t/bsd debacle something interesting happened. Apparently Novell asked for the details of the findings to be sealed. What could this mean? Why would novell do that? I have my suspicions, if a may wax conspiracy for a moment...

        Its known that whole pieces of 'cloth' were taken, we really arent sure how much, but as the settlement fell out, it seems like a lot. My suspicion is that the judgment was sealed to keep the customers from knowing how much of what was begin sold was really available for free. Why would the BSD crowd allow this? I also suspect they wanted to have their project left well enough alone and couldn't care less about what the other guys passed off to their deep pocketed clients.

        So we are kind of left with a mystery. How much of SCO unix is really unix.. and how much ( if any) is BSD? Does it have any effect on the claim? If it does will it turnout that SCO/Caldera bought a load of goods, so to speak? Tainted by thievery in the past? This plot twist could make this from messy into a cesspool.
      • The fundamental problem with all of this is that IMHO recoding wouldn't actually help that much. Sure, it would sort out any simple Copyright issues, but not the generic "IP" bullshit that these guys will be chasing. They will claim that since it is a work-alike, then it is a derivative work. Or that the process being implemented is their "IP" beef rather than the code itself, which as stated previously is covered under copyright.

        That's why MS is getting up and making noise about their "IP" being everywher

        • by stwrtpj ( 518864 ) <p,stewart&comcast,net> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @08:46PM (#6547604) Journal
          They will claim that since it is a work-alike, then it is a derivative work.

          ... and will subsequently be laughed out of court.

          You cannot claim derivative work simply because product A works like product B. Think about it. If this were true, then anyone who is the very first company to get a product to the market will automatically have all exclusive rights to it and lock out all competitors, since anyone making a competing product that does the same thing will be considered derivative. This is obviously not the case, as any trip to the supermarket will tell you.

          What you CAN do is claim exclusive ownership of a specific means of implementation (generally by means of a patent). While SCO is not making a patent claim, it is claiming that Linux has something that belongs to it. Now this can indeed make any work based on the alleged SCO code a derivative work, but it is not retroactive to any code that is NOT SCO's, and the work ceases to be derivative if the code is removed.

          For SCO to go further, and claim that the rewritten, original code is infringing, they would have to claim patent violation, and SCO does not have the patents to do this, they have only the copyright.

        • Re:If they're right: (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Saeger ( 456549 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @09:03PM (#6547711) Homepage
          I suspect we are reaching a crossroads

          Yeah, and there's no avoiding a nasty trainwreck at those crossroads; the train being the entrenched interests with all the inertia (mountains of cash and old IP cashflow), and the VW Van being the public who is being refused the legal right to easily stand on the shoulders of giants as they've done throughout history...

          A future where ideas are owned in perpetuity is dystopian to all except a tiny minority. ...Such as in the short story Melancholy Elephants []:

          "My husband wrote a song for me, on the occasion of our fortieth wedding anniversary. It was our love in music, unique and special and intimate, the most beautiful melody I ever heard in my live. It made him so happy to have written it. Of his last ten compositions he had burned five for being derivative, and the others had all failed copyright clearance. But this was fresh, special?he joked that my love for him had inspired him. The next day he submitted it for clearance, and learned that it had been a popular air during his early childhood, and had already been unsuccessfully submitted fourteen times since its original registration. A week later he burned all his manuscripts and working tapes and killed himself."


          • Spider Robinson (Score:4, Interesting)

            by solprovider ( 628033 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @11:27PM (#6548275) Homepage
            I did not believe anybody on Slashdot had read the scifi authors who extrapolate the human consequences to technnology.

            I avoid posting to the "stories" about best fiction, because they tend to honor people like Ian McDonald. I am reading his books now, and they remind me of early C.J.Cherryh, before she learned that the story is more important than the setting.

            Heinlein extrapolated the consequences of technology very well, and wrote entertaining fiction about them. The problem with reading his stories today is that he miscalled the future of technology. "The Roads Must Roll" is a great story, but we bypassed the tech. His first sale, "Lifeline", was written in 1939 about the corporate reaction to new technology, and is relevant, even if the particular technology has (still) yet to be invented.

            Asimov did the same, but the Slashdotters seem to prefer the Foundation series, where technology (psychohistory) learns how to control people, rather than the Robot novels where people are adjusting to technology (robots).

            IMO, Robinson is the best writer of this type of fiction today. "Melancholy Elephants" was written in 1984, and summarizes the entire case against perpetual copyright in just over 20 pages. I kept wanting to scream at the posters and legal people who are arguing about copyrights while avoiding the main point. Did Lessig submit this story as evidence?

            Art is about discovering pieces enjoyable by humans, and humans have serious limitations on types of input. Eventually everything likable will be discovered. But humans need art, and if we do not allow the repeat of discoveries, calling anything reused to be "derivative" and illegal, we will lose a major part of being human.

            The problem is new, since the ability to record art is new. The printing press is 500 years old.
            - Recorded music is around 100 years old. New generations have learned to like new instruments (electric guitar), which has helped. But if "On Top of Old Smoky" was not public domain, we could not have the theme to "Chariots of Fire".
            - Moving pictures are younger, and the combination with sound is very new. Yet Disney is busy reusing the old stories because there are not that many stories that will appeal to human beings.

            Even Spider Robinson is moving away from discovering new ideas and spending more time telling stories. His short story collections of early work are incredibly full of new ideas. He even found a new twist on time travel. Now he spends less on finding original ideas and more time telling each story. "Callahan's Key" milked one more out of the Callahan series (Thought-provoking AND funny: read them all!). "Free Lunch" took one cool concept (living in an amusement park) and filled a book. He is living proof of the concepts in "Melancholy Elephants".

            Anyway, this is all off-topic and will probably be moderated to oblivion. I may repost it the next time we discuss copyrights.
        • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @09:14PM (#6547772) Homepage
          Have a group of kids who have never worked on Linux before (but who want to help) be told the inputs, the outputs, and what should happen in the middle. Rewrite from scratch. No Copyright infringement, because you cannot create a derivative work without seeing the original.

          Problem solved.
      • by eric76 ( 679787 )
        You didn't include all the steps.

        Step 1.5) After the allegedly copied code is revealed, a massive undertaking is done to determine the true source of the code and who owns the copyright over it. There were Caldera/SCO personnel contributing code to Linux. Could it be one of them? If so, I think they would have a decidedly tough time convincing anyone that there was a copyright violation even if it was their code.

        There would also be the question of why did they continue to distribute the code under the
      • by Reziac ( 43301 )
        6.The person who gave SCO code to the linux community and presented it as his own work is sued for fraud.

        And considering that SCO may well have been the guilty party here, back in the short lifetime of Caldera's OpenLinux -- SCO could well be put in a position of suing itself. Tho my guess is at that point SCO would go after the coders who worked for SCO/Caldera during that timeframe, alleging that they had no permission to contribute code to linux. Hopefully that will get laughed out of court, but these

    • by Big Sean O ( 317186 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:25PM (#6546983)
      SCO could also be really overplaying some minor copying. But we won't know until the evidence is in.

      Of course, SCO's current business model won't let that happen. Their hype machine alleges copying and then uses that to justify licensing fees which may or may not be legitimate.

      Mark my words, SCO has no interest in a speedy trial. They will keep alleging as long and as hard as possible because that's the only way they (a) can bolster their stock price and (b) keep enough cashflow to keep them solvent.
    • by Ian Lance Taylor ( 18693 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:34PM (#6547018) Homepage
      SCO has two different claims.

      One is the direct copying you discuss. However, that is a strict copyright claim applied to small bits of code. If the copied code is removed and replaced, the result will not be a derivative work (the replacement has to be done slightly carefully, but this is not hard). (I think that SCO does want to claim that direct replacement would still be a derivative work, but because we are talking about small pieces of code, this is unlikely to hold up in court.)

      SCO's second claim is the basis for their lawsuit against IBM. There SCO claims that the contracts they signed with IBM and Sequent specifies that SCO owns all derivative works, and SCO claims that IBM took that derivative work and contributed it to Linux. This argument relies on an expanded notion of derivative work, basically claiming that any work built on top of Unix is owned by Unix, even if there is no actual code in common. If SCO's claims here are correct, then simply replacing the code won't help, because this is extensive portions of Linux and the new code, being functionally equivalent, would also be derivative of the original work. Or so SCO claims.

      All of these claims rely on an expansive notion of derivative copyright which may not hold up in court. That is certainly a big part of the reason why SCO is not hurrying into court. They will do much better selling Unixware licenses to Linux users than they will suing Linux users.

      What if you found out something you had a hand in was now the basis of a multibillion-dollar empire?

      That's a weird question. SCO didn't have a hand in any of the code in question; they bought it. There is no multibillion-dollar empire anywhere in sight, unless you mean IBM, and Linux is certainly not the basis of IBM's money.

      More to the point, even the code which SCO bought is not the basis for Linux in any meaningful fashion. The direct copying which they have alleged is, they admit, small chunks of code, and Linux is comparatively huge. The derivative copying which they allege that IBM has done is not their work at all--IBM and Sequent could have developed their code just as easily using *BSD or even Linux in the first place.

      While SCO may possibly win in court--I doubt it, but it's possible--I don't think their claims have any moral standing whatsoever. They are exploiting the legal system in the name of pure greed, not in the name of justice.
      • Re:What if SCO wins? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Feztaa ( 633745 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @07:11PM (#6547187) Homepage
        SCO didn't have a hand in any of the code in question; they bought it.

        That's an important point, IMHO.

        If this lawsuit was about AT&T suing IBM for their misuse of UNIX technology, I wouldn't mind so much; AT&T gave us Unix, and they'd (hypothetically) just be looking for a little compensation. I still wouldn't like it, but at least I could understand "where they were coming from", so to speak. But because it is SCO doing the sueing, I am not at all impressed.

        Basically, SCO is a company that has done nothing good; they having not done any hard work, they have not contributed anything noteworthy to society, they just haven't done anything positive, and now they're looking to get paid for it.

        Perhaps if SCO had actually done some innovating, instead of just whining like a little baby, I might be a little more compassionate for them.

        That is more or less why I hate SCO.
        • One question I've wondered about is "Who interprets the contract?"

          By that, I mean that the contract was not between IBM and SCO, it was assigned to SCO.

          What if Novell announces that they interpreted it quite differently in a way that agrees more with IBM?

          After all, the meeting of the minds was between IBM and Novell, not between IBM and SCO.
      • While SCO may possibly win in court--I doubt it, but it's possible--I don't think their claims have any moral standing whatsoever. They are exploiting the legal system in the name of pure greed, not in the name of justice.

        This is exactly the point. While there has already been far too much debate here on Ye Olde Slashdot about whether SCO's claim of copyright infringement has technical merit, the management of SCO surely couldn't care one wit about the truth of their claims. I'd be surprised if the p

    • A comment or single line of code exactly the same prove snothing in big realm of doesn't even prove copyright infringment!

      THat is right copyright infringment refers to the development process to procude that code and comments on the underlying coments and code itself!

      So the heart of the SCO matter is the IBm dev process did it infringe or not..given the large contributions from SCO itslef in all areas it claims IBM infringed seem smost unlikely that IBM infringed..

      More likely that SCO M
    • by stwrtpj ( 518864 ) <p,stewart&comcast,net> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @08:36PM (#6547569) Journal
      Because of the way intellectual property (IP) laws work, derivative products that use the allegedly pilfered code are also subject to liability.

      And what, precisely, does this have to do with the SCO lawsuit?

      Are you stating that the Linux kernel is a derivative of UNIX? Bzzt! Wrong. Review your history. Linus Torvalds built the Linux kernel essentially from the ground up. He had no UNIX source code in front of him. Linux does work a lot like UNIX, and you see UNIX-isms in Linux, but this alone does not make it a derivative product, any more than my wife's Honda is a derivative of my Toyota just because the both have automatic transmission.

      Now lets talk about the SCO lawsuit. Recall that SCO has finally narrowed its specific claims to RCU, NUMA, SMP, and JFS. Yes, these are big hunks of code. But if SCO is found in the right, these are the only affected pieces. They cannot simply retrofit the law to extend this backwards in time and claim derivative works on all of Linux. Most of this code made it into version 2.4, the specific version that SCO is citing in their complaint.

      Now I agree that the SCO lawsuit is something that should be taken seriously, as much as I feel that SCO is serving up a nice load of steaming bullshit. But be careful in your conclusions. You're extending SCO's IP way too far, which is most likely what SCO wants people to do. Get armed with the facts so you can resist SCO FUD.

    • I call astroturf. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *
      An AC that can spell words like maelstrom, use reasonably correct grammer, etc. is improbable enough. One that also happens be slowwitted enough to be parroting the Gartner FUD (what is they are right, you just can't risk it) line is too improbable for a reasonable person to buy. So I call astroturf.

      We don't have to wait for the evidence because we would be waiting forever. There IS no evidence because there was no copying. The features SCO claims were copied do not exist in the old UNIX codebase SCO ma
  • by James A. A. Joyce ( 681634 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @05:55PM (#6546793) Journal
    SCO does not have any kind of intellectual property claim to UNIX. Therefore, claiming ownership of it will make them look like criminal idiots.

    And as a server OS, SCO UNIXes are worse since not all of them (yes, they do have all different kinds - even worse) support such things as IPv6 or ACLs which any modern day operating system such as Linux should have. And they're attempting to sue Linux programmers? Who incidentally implemented features they don't have? Hmmm...

    Besides, this article has nothing to do with the SCO lawsuit, editors. It's about comparing SCO to other Unices. (Though I presume everyone will make a comment about that anyway.)
    • by Ian Lance Taylor ( 18693 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:40PM (#6547050) Homepage
      SCO does not have any kind of intellectual property claim to UNIX.

      I think SCO is the villain here, but let's not go too far. SCO certainly does have an intellectual property claim to Unix. Thanks to Congress, copyright lasts, for practical purposes, forever, and SCO has purchased the copyright rights to the original Unix code.

      If you meant to say that SCO doesn't have an intellectual property claim to the word Unix, or to published standards for Unix-type operating systems (e.g., POSIX or Unix98), then I agree.
    • Novel retracted its claim of ownership over the IP.

      Sco does infact own the IP while the opengroup owns the copyright.

      However I believe SCO are the villians here. I believe the code in question that is 60 lines may have something to do with a protocal where the Unix version has embedded switch/break statements while the Linux version does not. Meanwhile I believe SCO cut and pasted the exact comments including a joke to make it look like Linus stole it. Why? Because comments are not compiled in and SCO can
  • by Cyno01 ( 573917 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @05:56PM (#6546799) Homepage
    You play as SCO. []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @05:57PM (#6546801)
    Who cares about "feature comparison" and stuff like that.. I want benchmarks! I want to look at the pretty pictures!

  • One Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Valar ( 167606 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @05:58PM (#6546820)
    Well, the first thing I can think of is: SCO probably won't be around this time next year. So chances are, you're going to be out of luck for support, unless someone pops up to cover SCO support contracts (for a significant price, I'm sure).
    • Why I chose Sun (Score:3, Insightful)

      I've been working on a proposal to implement a paperless office for a doctor in a hospital. After quite a bit of research, I decided that Sun was the way to go. They have some really cheap Intel severs right now, which is important because I'm trying to underbid competitors. The OS is already installed out of the box, which saves me time for real stuff like coding, and since one of the requirements for this was to last and be supportable for the forseable future, the fact that Solaris is not going to be pha
      • Re:Why I chose Sun (Score:5, Informative)

        by dirkx ( 540136 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:33PM (#6547016) Homepage
        You really want to read up on HIPAA - as it requires quite a quite a few very specific things for medical/hospital use which just have absolutely nothing to do with the buzzword 'military grade security'.

        In fact - there are a number of requirements in HIPAA with respect to accountability and privacy which run rather counter to the more traditional requirement/compromizes made in military systems where both hierachy and the desire to do counter-intelligence are fundamentally different. And thus each need its own set of engineering compromises.

        This is why just sprinkle some 'trusted unix' as pixy dust - and pretend you are HIPAA compliant is just not working :-)

        But seriously - do read up on it; the HIPAA standards ( are surprizingly readable and actually very preceise with clear lists of requirements. Almost a checklist.


  • by Ignominious Poltroon ( 654513 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @05:59PM (#6546822)
    I can't believe slashdot has posted another article about SCO, the Southern College of Optomertry []. I mean, optometry is geeky, but I come here to read about asteroids and anime.
  • But... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zifty ( 692892 )
    Things that aren't completely open source are a bad idea.

    At least, that's what I'm conditioned to think, and so far it's worked out.

    • Re:But... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CubeDude213 ( 678340 )
      Just because something is not completely open doesn't mean it's a bad idea. What about the iPod operating system? It's not open. Sure, a lot of open source projects(Apache, PHP) are awsome and pretty much the standard, but other closed products are also awesome and setting the standard.
  • Suddenly... (Score:3, Funny)

    by gearheadsmp ( 569823 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:00PM (#6546829)
    Suddenly SCO's web servers seem to have melted into puddles of molten metal and crispy silicon.
    • SCO UNIX has been known to make machines explode for no reason at all. I used SCO UNIX for a couple of years and it made my penis shrink 3 inches! That's right people, SCO UNIX MAKES YOUR PENIS SHRINK! SCO is soley responsible for the weak support beans that caused the World Trade Center to collapse. Use of SCO UNIX has been known to cause spontaneous herpes. Adolph Hitler is reputed to have used SCO UNIX on his IBM counting machines. SCO UNIX is responsible for all the disease, hunger and misery in the wor
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:01PM (#6546831)
    So he should fit right in at slashdot, right?


    Eagerly waiting to see what kind of outlandish thing SCO will do tomorrow.. they have to do something dramatic every monday, you know, or they'll fall out of the news...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:01PM (#6546837)
    And Timothy Dalton is the only true Bond, and Deep Space Nine is the only true Star Trek, and Attack of the Clones is the only true Star Wars, and vi is the only true editor, and MySQL is the only true open source database.

    That's all settled now. You're welcome.
  • A joke for you (Score:2, Informative)

    (from the article) When people think of server UNIX, they think of SCO. hhahahahaha. Mod +5 funny.

    I usually think of Sun, or HP, or AIX. But not SCO.
  • Addendum (Score:5, Funny)

    by tds67 ( 670584 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:05PM (#6546868)
    UnixWare and OpenServer are the only Unixes that I have listed in this article that...require you to pay for per-seat user licenses... matter what operating system you're running.

  • by oO0OoO0Oo ( 548702 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:07PM (#6546881) Homepage

    Why SCO UNIX Is A Bad Idea

    (Score:-1, Redundant)

    • oO0OoO0Oo:

      "We Are Familiar With Elephants By Virtue Of Their Size" -- that sounds like something that should be familiar, but isn't. Is this the basis of a mnemonic device? Did I spell the mn-word correctly? I wonder if there's an easily-remembered sentence with words whose first letters spell out the right version ;)

  • Missing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:07PM (#6546883) Homepage Journal
    The article is missing the single largest UNIX distribution in terms of licenses shipped, OS X []. Of course this begs the argument made on Slashdot before [], but given that I run much *nix code on my OS X boxes, many with a simple recompile, it's UNIX to me.

    • Re:Missing? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The problem with OSX is the pricing. You have regular price increases and need to buy a new OS every year. Hell, Jaguar has only been out 11 months and now it's dead. Who are you going to go to for support after Panther comes out?

      For long term use a product with a lifetime more than a year or two is absolutely mandatory. Once you have a working system, stick to it. It's not as easy with OSX as it is with other systems.
      • So skip a version or two. It won't kill you.

        I went from Mac OS 10.0 to Jaguar. The world didn't end...

        Support isn't that much of an issue. Most of the support issues happen at the beginning of the products lifespan, not at the end.

        I know someone who has run Mac OS 9 for at least 3 years. She's got the programs she needs and she never has a problem.

        Stop feeding the beast and you'll find you won't miss it as much.
      • Re:Missing? (Score:5, Informative)

        by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:47PM (#6547083) Homepage
        There have been no price increases. None. Mac OS X has held steady at roughly $130 per release since version 10.0.

        You don't *have* to buy the new version. The old ones continue to work perfectly well. People generally upgrade because they want to.

        The sole reasons for NEEDING to upgrade circle around application support (Well, and the relatively poor performance of OS X previous to 10.2. If you want to bitch about THAT, I won't stop you, but that is in the past.), as some applications use API enhancements that only work with a certain OS X version or later. However, from what I have seen, this is ONLY a problem with 1) Free software, either iApps from apple or software from the freeware/shareware community, and 2) Incredibly high-end software that you are paying well, well more than $130 for anyway. Outside of those two sets of applications, OS X app vendors have been relatively good about supporting a spread of OS X versions. The Mac OS 10.3 developer tools, incidentally, contain new features specifically designed to make it easier to target multiple Mac OS X versions. You can hardly complain of having to pay money every year and a half so that you can continue to use free software.

        "Having a working system and sticking with it" isn't really an issue since historically, Mac OS X upgrades have not broken existing software, and thus required little change in your system upon upgrade. If you don't like sitting every year and a half through an hour's worth of install procedure.. uh.. well.. then, sorry.

        OS X upgrades are comparable to Windows upgrades, when you consider that, as far as i can tell, Microsoft OS upgrades are rarer but cost more. OS X pricing cannot of course compare to linux pricing no matter WHAT apple does.

        Upgrading every time Apple releases an OS upgrade is an added cost, but it is not a significant cost when you realize you are ALREADY probably paying a decent amount more money for your computer than you would be with an x86 box merely to be able to run OS X in the first place!
    • Re:Missing? (Score:2, Interesting)

      It's also missing IRIX. Why is this never mentioned. I think it is system V based isn't it?
    • Re:Missing? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:51PM (#6547103) Homepage
      If I remember right, The Open Group has revoked Apple's use of the UNIX trademark [], because Apple didn't feel like continuing to pay the certification fees anymore. They were an open-group certified UNIX at first, but not anymore.

      This may or may not have been the article author's reason for not including Mac OS X. I'm not sure. He did seem to be gathering his list of UNIXes directly from the Open Group website, though.
      • Re:Missing? (Score:5, Informative)

        by dhovis ( 303725 ) * on Sunday July 27, 2003 @08:17PM (#6547485)

        Ummm.... Hello?

        He included Linux and the BSDs, niether of which is considered to be an official UNIX(TM) by the Open Group.

        Apple claims that MacOS X is UNIX-based, which is a perfectly valid claim. So why this guy left MacOS X off his list is a legitamate question.

    • OT, but I'd just like to congratulate you on a rare correct usage of 'begs' in this context. Keep up the good work!

      (For those who don't know, to 'beg' a question is to assume it in a circular argument, not just to raise or avoid answering it.)

      Oh, and as for OS X, it's just as much a Unix as FreeBSD is - which AIUI is to all practical purposes, though legally not. Either way, it's a great OS.

      • (For those who don't know, to 'beg' a question is to assume it in a circular argument, not just to raise or avoid answering it.)

        Says who? That doesn't follow from either the sentence structure, or any of the common meanings of either "beg" or "question".

    • SCO UNIX is targetted as an enterprise solution, and most of the comparisons made in the article refer to things that wouldn't matter to nearly every end user. Frankly, I don't care how well my PC's operating system would scale if I stuck in 31 more processors. OS X is great for home use, but I don't think it's the choice for an enterprise solution.

      Anyway, OS X is built on top of one of the *BSDs (IIRC), and they are mentioned.
    • Re:Missing? (Score:4, Funny)

      by eric76 ( 679787 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @01:08AM (#6548636)
      OSX is not Unix.

      It may have been somewhat based on UNIX, but the way Apple mucked it up, it is decidedly not UNIX any more.

      Anything requiring you to configure the OS through graphics interfaces instead of editing a file is just not UNIX.
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:08PM (#6546892)
    The reason sco is a very bad choice for current projects is it hasn't been alive for quite some time.

    Most people complain about the lack of driver support in Linux and BSD but its positively nonexistent in SCO. USB, SATA, Firewire, Sound, Video, high end nic's, backup devices the support isn't there. VMware and Virtual PC both won't support SCO. BOCHS will but only with an incredible amount of effort. This situation is not going to improve especially after SCO's recent actions. If you develop drivers are you going to develop for a company likely to sue you for porting your code ???

    There is the further "I am stupid take advantage of me" effect in dealing with 3rd party vendors. If you are implementing on SCO 3rd party vendors figure you are a mark and should be mercillessly taken advantage of. Their rational is that you are obviously trapped in a legacy system and have no ability to move. The licensing schemes for products on SCO open server can be so draconian as to destroy business.

    So yes why would you go with SCO, its not a software company any more. Its a protection racket.
    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      Most people complain about the lack of driver support in Linux and BSD but its positively nonexistent in SCO. USB, SATA, Firewire, Sound, Video, high end nic's, backup devices the support isn't there. VMware and Virtual PC both won't support SCO. effort.

      USB is present in SCO. OpenServe 5.0.7 has support for keyboards, mice, floppy, and mass storage (both optical and magnetic). Sure it doesn't do your digital camera, but that doesn't belong on a server.

      Serial ATA is still in it's infancy and more suppo

  • Nice research! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by corgicorgi ( 692903 ) <{corgi_fun} {at} {}> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:14PM (#6546919) Homepage
    This article is very in depth. I agree with the arthur. UNIX comes in many different form nowadays, especially in the backend perspective. The appearance might look and feel similar, but each OS is very different in how it is implemented. SCO's "true UNIX" is but a propaganda phrase. At the end of it, it is just another form of UNIX. SCO should not have the rights to claim what is being developed by indenpendent companies and open-source communities.
    • Re:Nice research! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tet ( 2721 ) * <slashdot AT astradyne DOT co DOT uk> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:30PM (#6547001) Homepage Journal
      This article is very in depth.

      Well yes, but it is far from "nice research". In fact, it's incredibly poorly researched and written. It's inaccurate, misleading and very biased. Sadly, this just serves to undermine the credibility of the valid points in the text.

      • My favorite part was how he referred to "Red Hat Enterprise GNU/Linux AS" and "SuSE GNU/Linux Enterprise Server 8". At that point, I decided that the article was a giant troll. Saying that RedHat should name their product "GNU/Linux" is fair enough, but deliberately misnaming their product is pathetic.
      • Exactly, he lost me when he got to scalability. He starts that section with a little quip about there being no clear definition of what scalability is - so no matter how wrong he gets it, he can just say "well this is MY definition".

        Given that, he then goes on to describe something more accurately called a migration path. Scalability, in all the years I've been in IT (god! Almost 20!) has always referred to handling an increase in load. Whatever the load for the particular system is, ie. a Transaction Pro

  • Meh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:16PM (#6546935)
    This article has one of its most important facts wrong. In the list of UNIX operating systems, there's no mention of IRIX, which is a UNIX98-certified and Open Group approved UNIX operating system.

    I quit reading at that point. If the author can't be bothered to get the most basic (and trivially verifiable) facts right, why shoudl I waste my time reading what he has to say?
  • Nice but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by gtshafted ( 580114 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:22PM (#6546967)
    There are a lot of technical articles of why not to cower to SCO... unfortunately I think the main audience is being ignored: executive, business people in charge of the cash money. I would think most techies know SCO is full of it. A lot of execs (but not all) don't and are pretty clueless. Sadly, I rarely see any articles on the Wall Street Journel or Forbes with this article's message.
  • *BSD non-genetic? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by platipusrc ( 595850 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:25PM (#6546987) Homepage
    Some examples of non-genetic Unix operating systems are GNU/Linux and *BSD

    I had to stop reading after that line. That line and his belief that people think of SCO software when people say Unix entirely undermines the credibility of this article in my opinion.
    • BSD is not Unix.

      It hasn't been since 92.

      He mentions Free and Netbsd later on under non Unix's. I believe the point of the article was not to find the best OS but rather how much worth is the Unix IP.

      Believe it or not many government contracts require Unix and or Posix. This is why NT has minimal posix requirements. Its to go through government paperwork.

      The british military for example who just purchased Unixware needed to for their paperwork. For these customers its Solarisx86 or Unixware, OpenServer.
  • <fawlty>A _CHIP_ on his shoulder??!! I should bleedin' well hope he's got a chip on his shoulder with SCO, the scum-sucking, low-life, degenerate, scabby, pea-brained, evil... *choke*
  • by drfireman ( 101623 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:32PM (#6547013) Homepage
    The author uses the term "scalability" to mean something like forward compatibility for hardware. Seems like an odd lapse.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This story seems to be primarily focused on operating systems features and seems to gloss over almost completely some of the basic reasons why people select the operating systems that they do: application availability and support.

    If all you need is a commodity web server, then go for whats cheap and good like Linux or BSD. If you need an application to run a dentist office and have vendor support, you're probably going to be looking at SCO or Windows.

    I find it curious that HP/UX wasn't discussed at all d
  • by thepacketmaster ( 574632 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @06:48PM (#6547090) Homepage Journal
    This site, [], has an historical timeline of *ALL* the Unix variants. One thing I don't see is anything crossing over from SCO to Linux. I do see SCO taking some stuff from Linux. Maybe Linus is owed some royalties?
  • You slipped another SCO story passed peoples filters by using the Unix icon. Cheeky monkeys.

  • If SCO refuses to show what code is infringing, then why not look at what "hints" they've given, for instance, I've read that the SMP related code is tainted... so why not just rip all the SMP stuff out and rewrite it?

    Taking that same tatic, you could easily replace all the code that is possibly infringing, and in the process, refine what portions had to be recoded. Everyone wins? eh?

    • by Ian Lance Taylor ( 18693 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @07:29PM (#6547285) Homepage
      SCO's claims for the SMP and other code rely on an expansive notion of derivative copyright. SCO didn't actually write any of the code in question. They are claiming ownership essentially because some versions of that code were written as a part of Unix, and SCO claims that that makes the code a derivative work of Unix.

      SCO goes further to claim that pretty much any connection between the code for which they claim ownership and the code contributed to Linux means that SCO owns the code contributed to Linux. For example, SCO claims that they own the JFS code contributed to Linux even though they admit that code was initially developed for OS/2, because the first version of the JFS code was developed using Unix, and some of the same people worked on the first version of JFS and the version of JFS which was contributed to Linux.

      So, simply replacing the code in Linux isn't that simple. If there is any similarity, such as, perhaps, functional equivalence, SCO will claim that the new code is really a derivative work of the old code, and therefore a derivative work of Unix.

      The only step which would avoid SCO's claim is a clean room implementation of Linux--a massive project which nobody is going to undertake.

      Now, I happen to think that SCO's expansive claims won't hold up in court. But then SCO cares a lot more about spreading FUD now, and making some money on Unixware licenses now, then they care about winning in court in five years.

      Anyhow, my point is that your simple tactic won't work. It won't make Linux more likely to win in court--Linux is already likely to win in court. It won't make SCO shut up--nothing will make SCO shut up.
  • Where IRIX? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @07:28PM (#6547278) Homepage
    Just wondered where IRIX is on that list.. As I can't see it

    • Re:Where IRIX? (Score:3, Informative)

      by stevel ( 64802 ) *
      The initial list is said to be restricted to UNIX variants that are certified UNIX98 compliant. I have no clue whether or not IRIX meets that requirement for inclusion.
  • by SUB7IME ( 604466 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @07:38PM (#6547322)
    Author says: "But there are so many more choices out there, the least of which offers a dearth of advantages over SCO's Unix products." Dictionary says: Main Entry: dearth Pronunciation: 'd&rth Function: noun Etymology: Middle English derthe, from (assumed) Old English dierth, from dEore dear Date: 13th century 1 : scarcity that makes dear; specifically : FAMINE 2 : an inadequate supply : LACK So to me it looks as though this gentleman is suggesting that the lesser *NIX clones have an inadequate amount of advantages compared to Unix... Subliminally funded by SCO, perhaps...
  • Laughable Research (Score:5, Insightful)

    by carsont ( 648940 ) <tc+slashdot@jc.d ... minus threevowe> on Sunday July 27, 2003 @07:38PM (#6547329)
    As a comparison of different Unix platforms, this article is pretty much a joke. He seems to be comparing the vendors' marketing materials instead of their actual products.

    For example, he concludes that Red Hat has poor security not because of its record of security holes and useless, vulnerable services enabled by default, but because he couldn't find a list of security features or a security policy on their website. Impressive.

    All he has to say about OpenBSD is that it "takes a cryptographic approach to security" and "is rumored to be the most secure OS on the market". Even though he claims to be "looking at Unix operating systems sold as they are", he doesn't mention how OpenBSD has only a minimal number of services enabled by default, unlike Solaris and Linux where one's first task in securing a system is to disabled the many useless, possibly exploitable daemons the vendor has enabled in the default install. He also doesn't mention the many steps that have been taken of late to make OpenBSD more resistant to stack smashing attacks.

    He concludes that "Solaris is one of the most secure choices you can make" apparently only because he was impressed by Sun's website. Although I'm a big fan of Sun and Solaris, I would certainly be inclined to disagree here. In my experience, Solaris is comparable to Linux in terms of security; it's not secure by default like OpenBSD, but it can be made fairly secure with a bit of work (turning off services, enabling the non-executable stack, possibly using roles or auditing, etc).

    So, although I'm as eager to slam SCO as the next guy, I'm somewhat skeptical of this article's criticisms, seeing as they seem to be based entirely on SCO's website and product literature. Without any personal experience with any of their systems, I'm not going to take this guy's word for it.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @07:41PM (#6547354) Journal
    The article is not a technical anaylsis of which is the best server OS. Its about how much the Unix IP is really worth.

    Unless your a government contracter who requires real Unix( not like or just plain possix) then its not worth it.

    Linux and the BSD's are examples of great OS's. However the new 2.6 kernel now is comming into pre-release versions so his arguments on scalability are about to become outdated.

    FreeBSD supposed to have better stability then the 4.x series but it has not been benchmarked yet. Also its not as scalable as Linux. Certainly more reliable though.

    May SCO Unix just die.

    Bell Labs Unix was cool in the 80's but has been neglected as soon as the Unix team focused on Plan9/Inferno. Also Sun and SGI improved Unix in their own proprietary versions. Seriously it has been since the mid 80's since any new features have been added( sco unix that is).

    Running Unixware today is like running Dos 4, os/2 2.0, or Novell 2.1. Its very gone.

    And to top it off McBribe actually believes Linux was the reason that Unixware never took off. Nevermind Novell and Bell labs before them could not get anyone to buy it. Yes, drivers have nothing to do with. He even stated that Linux would not be so hot if Linus cut and pasted code from Unixware in

  • SMP in the *BSDs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Graabein ( 96715 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @08:45PM (#6547603) Journal
    Quote from the article:

    GNU/Linux has an amazing amount of native software packages and supports a modest number of CPU architectures. It can easily do symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP) with up to 16 CPUs (the 2.6 kernel can do up to 32) unlike Free/Open/NetBSD which is still struggling with proper SMP implementation

    Oh, really? I know OpenBSD isn't quite there yet []. but what's not proper about the SMP implementations in FreeBSD (5.x) and NetBSD? Inquiring minds want to know, can anyone here shed some light?

    • Re:SMP in the *BSDs (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2003 @09:48PM (#6547919)
      what's not proper about the SMP implementations in FreeBSD (5.x) and NetBSD?

      Scaling. BSD works great on two CPUs, but not 16 or 32. Any operating system can support X CPUs just be changing a define, but a lot of work went into making Linux 2.6 perform great on massively parallel boxes.
  • by mindmaster064 ( 690036 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @09:55PM (#6547953) Homepage
    Back in 1998, I was in the midst of creating my consulting business and was introduced to SCO via a business support group that I had become a member of to gain industry contacts. I spoke with a SCO representative and was told that I could could become a SCO reseller/authorized support center. I figured this could be a good opportunity (SCO was one of a few UNIX vendors that I was looking to work with) and maybe could get some cool enterpise software in the process. Anyhow, my wonderful SCO pack arrives with nearly every piece of software they were pushing at the time (it really was about about 30 cds!) and I get out the latest copy of SCO Openserver and get ready to install it on my dual pII box with the very common LX chipset. I put the cd in, begin the installation... FREEZE... I reboot.. put the CD in.. FREEZE I reboot.. put the CD in... FREEZE I hit all the documentation shipped in the box, and everything on the web.. Nothing.. Nothing.. I would have to get SCO support to get the damn thing to load. SCO succeeded in proving one thing to me, supporting their "product" would be a living nightmare! It amazes me how long it takes such an antiquated pile of junk to finally make it to the trash heap.. -Mind
  • It's simple (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Sunday July 27, 2003 @10:33PM (#6548072) Homepage
    Using SCO software is a bad idea for the same reason Windows is a bad idea -- if you feed the alligator, the best thing you can hope for is that he'll eat you last. Sooner or later, you will get bit.
  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @12:46AM (#6548567) Homepage

    In looking over these tables, one can't help but wonder why SCO's UnixWare and OpenServer are even mentioned. They offer nothing over GNU/Linux, *BSD, BSD/OS, and Solaris, yet UnixWare is astonishingly more expensive than its competitors.

    In every single instance that I've seen SCO installed, it's been running a vertical market application running on unibase. The single biggest factor driving SCO sales has been a varitable legion of programmers and resellers who are making money from programs that were written 10 years ago when SCO made some amount of sense.

    Given that the programs are unique to Unibase, and given that Unibase runs just fine under Linux and has for some years, SCO's market (which is small businesses that are just large enough to spend a few thousand on a computer system up to ~$50M/year businesses that aren't large enough to buy a real Unix system) is running to Linux. I've seen a few VAR's holding out on SCO, but very few and dwindling.

    I have one client still using SCO, and they're doing all they can to leave it. I've been out in the real world as a consultant for 9 years now and in that time I have never (not even one time) heard of or observed a new SCO installation, nor have I found anybody who has even considered it.

    SCO was basically dead a long time ago, I guess nobody bothered to tell them.

  • And this happened as soon as Linux started to be stable and compatible enough for people to switch. A large client of ours ran their back office system on SCO, and still does, but all development and training servers run RedHat. They don't switch only because they have had the servers for 5 years and will keep them for another five.
    SCO Unix as a product has almost zero relevance to today's world, and to SCO's actions. Remember that this is a company that bought the SCO baggage and then used it to launch lawsuits.
    Would you buy an operating system from a firm of lawyers? Nope, me neither.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10