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SCO's death predicted

© October 2003 Tony Lawrence

Thu Oct 2 09:12:08 GMT 2003 SCO's death predicted

Some people on the newsgroups and the web seem to be worried about things like:

What are you advising your customers? Are you telling them about the risk that they may be using an OS that is not supported in the near future?

The oddest thing is that many of these have an assumption behind them that people who use or support SCO systems have the fervent zealotry of many Linux users. I see things like

Face it, your favorite OS is heading for the toilet

and other language indicating that the writer thinks that SCO users and resellers have an emotional entanglement with the product.

People who use SCO do so because their software runs on it and it has been reliable enough that they want to keep it. Very few, if any, have anything even remotely resembling the passionate fervor exhibited by quite a few Linux users. Linux is a Movement, SCO is just an OS.

On the support side, there again is no religious feeling to be seen. People like me support SCO, and Linux, and usually other things - including Windows. So for both users and support organizations, it's business and that's all it is. Somewhere there may be some person who wants to wave a SCO flag in the manner so many Linux folk do, but I wouldn't want to try to find them.

As to SCO's demise, sure that's possible, at least as far as the present corporation goes. If they lose this lawsuit, that's fairly unimportant. Countersuits from IBM etc. could do real damage, but there is too much of value there to be thrown on the junkpile. There's too much money to be made from upgrades and new licenses. It's possible that whoever picks up the pieces might halt new development, but even that probably wouldn't happen, and the upgrades etc. will definitely still be sold.

On the support side, the Linux hand-wringers don't have any understanding of the types of people who use SCO systems. If it had not been for the Y2K problems, many of them would still be running SCO Xenix. Heck, some still are: once in a while one of the Google ads to your left will even be from someone offering Xenix support! SCO systems are often serving important software that isn't easily or cheaply replaced, and without compelling reasons to do otherwise, most small companies (which is where SCO systems thrive) will keep patching and coaxing these things along for as long as they possibly can. There will be support work for people like me no matter what happens. Some of that will be helping them to move to other platforms, but we've been doing that long before this lawsuit started.

All that is relatively short term, of course. As for the longer run, who knows? Both free Linux and commercial Unixes face real challenges over the next decade. There's too much turmoil and too many unknowns right now to have any idea what it will all look like five and ten years from now.

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