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DistributionWatch: SCO Linux 4--Ready for the Big Time

Down to Basics

  • January 13, 2003
  • By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

SCO, formerly Caldera, have taken the lead in bringing UnitedLinux consortium's UnitedLinux server operating system to the reseller market. And, that's big news. SCO Linux 4, SCO's version of UnitedLinux 1.0, may not look that different from OpenLinux. In fact, it really just looks like a typical-albeit stripped down to the vital server basics-Linux server distribution. Which, when you get down to it, is exactly what it is. But, that's the point.

UnitedLinux is an attempt to create a standard business server Linux with common file directory conventions, command options, installation routines and high-end options like clustering and shared memory multiprocessing (SMP). The main idea behind UnitedLinux is that when a customer buys a UnitedLinux branded distribution he can be certain that any UnitedLinux applications will run on it without tweaking.

As resellers know, common business application and operating system compatibility is far more important to customers than having the latest and greatest file system. So it is that SCO Linux 4 has more in common with business operating systems like Windows 2000 Server or Solaris 9, than well-thought of, but end-user oriented, Linuxes like Debian or Slackware.

That's not to say SCO Linux 4 isn't really Linux. It's Linux from top to bottom with a 2.4.19 kernel, KDE 3.03 and BIND 9. For the server trimmings it comes with up to date (as of January 2003) server programs like Apache, Samba, and NFS. SCO Linux 4.0 also comes with such mail essentials as Sendmail and Postfix and such developer necessities as gcc, cpp, and Tomcat.

If, however, you're looking for a Linux with multiple Web server choices and every last new Linux program known to Freshmeat.net, you're looking at the wrong distribution. SCO Linux 4 contains the most popular business Linux software choices and that's about it.

In fact, if you know your Linuxes well and you look hard at UnitedLinux, you'll find yourself thinking this look a lot like SuSE's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 7.0. And, you know what? You'd be right. SLES 7 is UnitedLinux's immediate ancestor.

What's different about UnitedLinux isn't so much the technology as the idea of providing business with a single common Linux server platform. With a common Linux platform, the UnitedLinux companies, and their major ally IBM, hope that independent software vendors (ISV)s take a permanent seat on the bandwagon. So far, it seems to be working. Borland, Computer Associates, NEC/Siemens, PeopleSoft, Progress Software, and SAP are all supporting it.

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