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SCO revamps UnixWare with Linux features

The upstart operating system has helped UnixWare more than it has harmed it, SCO says.

Santa Cruz Operation added the ability to run Linux programs to its UnixWare operating system, declaring that the upstart operating system has helped UnixWare more than it has harmed it.

While Microsoft executives say Linux competes chiefly with Unix systems such as SCO's instead of Windows NT, SCO believes the opposite.

"So far as we've seen it's actually helped us," said Greg Schwarzer, director of small and medium business marketing at SCO. "Linux has got the word out that Unix on Intel is a viable alternative to Microsoft."

In moving from version 7 to 7.1, SCO also has added a new version of UnixWare geared for smaller businesses and has added a "Webtop" that lets users and managers communicate with a UnixWare server using only a Java-enabled Web browser, Schwarzer said.

The new $1,399 Business Edition of UnixWare joins its higher-end brethren, the Departmental Edition and Enterprise Edition. And next month, SCO will announce a new top-end version geared for the "data center" computer, which companies use to run their most important programs, he added.

The new Business Edition of UnixWare will gradually supplant SCO's OpenServer in the small to medium business market, Schwarzer said, although SCO will continue to support the company's older Unix product by writing drivers, for example. UnixWare will henceforth get most of SCO's development efforts, and OpenServer won't get any new features.

OpenServer is a Unix product ultimately derived from a Microsoft version of Unix called Xenix. UnixWare, on the other hand, is the version of Unix SCO obtained from AT&T, via Novell, in 1995. Several companies must pay SCO royalties for their Unix products, Schwarzer said.

The future of Unix is equally complex. In a joint project with IBM and Sequent called Monterey, SCO and the other companies are turning SCO's UnixWare and IBM's AIX into a new version of Unix for systems using PowerPC chips and next-generation Intel 64-bit chips.

In the future, Schwarzer predicts that the Unix market will consolidate. Monterey, along with Sun Microsystem's Solaris and Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX, will remain as contenders, while others such as Silicon Graphics' Irix, Compaq's Tru64 Unix (formerly Digital Unix), and Data General's DG/UX will fall by the wayside.

Linux, meanwhile, has reinvigorated the Unix market, he said. "It has given a fresh, revitalized look to what people could do in the Intel space. Linux is a Unix movement. Revenues are going up strongly," Schwarzer said.

Adding support for Linux was a pragmatic choice. "We wanted our users to be able to take advantage of a lot of those applications being written for Linux," he said.

SCO has made the Linux compatibility software source code--the original programming instructions--publicly available, he said, giving the code back to the open source programming community that has developed Linux.

More important than the Linux support is the new WebTop software, Schwarzer said. WebTop is software that lets people interact with UnixWare servers using a Java-enabled Web browser, simplifying tasks such as launching programs on the server, checking who's on the network, and interacting with programs.

The browser interface works with either graphical or text-based programs. Special "application broker" software on the server intercepts the requests from clients and the responses from the server, translating back and forth so that programs on the server don't have to be rewritten.

WebTop expands the number of systems that can be used by clients, Schwarzer said, mentioning regular PCs, network computers, or dialup computers from home.

SCO will demonstrate the WebTop software at the LinuxWorld Expo next week in San Jose, California.

Along with WebTop, UnixWare Business Edition comes with support for streaming audio and video technology from Real Networks. SCO also has improved its VisionFS software, which provides file and print services for Windows machines. UnixWare 7.1 also comes with ArcserveIT backup software.

The Business Edition supports a single-CPU system with up 4 gigabytes of memory and up to five users.