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SCO to enter Linux distro business

Big announcement coming this week, apparently

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If you can't beat 'em, join 'em - a maxim which almost certainly explains why veteran Unix-on-Intel provider SCO is about to offer its own Linux distribution.

According to a Network World report, SCO will unveil its distro later this week. It's a canny move, and one that should worry existing Linux distributors and service providers - or at least those of them who want to make money out of it.

SCO has, of course, been offering a version of Unix for x86 machines for ages, and built itself a reasonable share of the Unix marketplace in the process. Not, as the Network World story points out, that its ever done much to actually tell people about the fact.

That's why SCO has gone largely ignored over the last few years as the Linux scene has exploded. Linux wasn't much of an issue for SCO in the early days, with its focus very much on the enthusiast space. But as the open source OS has come to challenge mainstream business OSes, most notably Windows, it has also come up against SCO. And SCO has a real tough time making its 'we were here first!' noises heard above the Penguinary throng.

And with business now taking an interest in Linux, it's going to be even harder for SCO to stand out. The solution is clear: give the punters what they want, not just what you think they should have. And if that means Linux, so be it.

Linux provides SCO with an opportunity to target the growing number of businesses interested in the open source OS, and to then flog them the technologies that make Unixware stand out, products they might not normally consider.

Good news for SCO - what about everyone else? No too good, it seems. SCO is coming into the market with much far more of channel, support and services infrastructure than almost any other player. SCO is already providing support to Caldera and TurboLinux customers.

"They own the low-end Intel/Unix market," D.H. Brown Associates analyst Tony Iams told Network World. "They know this space like no one. They have a tremendous set of relationships with resellers and OEMs." Absolutely.

This week's announcement will, it's believed, highlight IA-32 and IA-64 versions of SCO Linux, both scheduled for a Q4 2000 release. Next year, SCO will release versions targeted at specific types of user, such as ISPs and ASP.

Over time, many of Unixware's features will make their way into the Linux distribution, most notably its clustering and symmetric multiprocessing capabilities, and security and server management facilities. ®

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