More on SCO's Linux-in-UnixWare gambit

The host with the most?

Following our report yesterday about SCO's Linux personality for UnixWare, we received some incandescent emails, some even suggesting that SCO was "raping" the GPL in principle if not in practice. But that doesn't seem to be the case at all.

Although our notes from yesterday's session include the words of "subset" and "Linux kernel" - and so do notes of our colleagues - we're assured that this was a ZDNetification of the truth. It's all very odd - as we were even given detailed figures - but the word is now to disregard these completely.

So instead of the dumb-down version, here's what's really going on, according to the fiendishly clever Dr Kienhoefer, engineering lead on the project.

Kienhoefer says that instead of taking a slice of the Linux kernel source, SCO has implemented a clean room set of interfaces. There's no Linux code there, so there's no obligation to publish anything GPL. That said, SCO will probably make source code available around October. The full LKP is scheduled for release by the end of the year.

SCO says it has implemented a clean room environment. The user installs the distro of your choice into a /linux tree. The full process tree is implemented, says Kienhoefer, as are ptrace() and strace() calls. So you could use Linux sessions as a faithful development environment.

In practice administrators will be able to add Linux users via the UnixWare admin console - and vice versa too, according to Kienhoefer. This lends itself to the kind of server consolidation logic espoused by IBM with its S/390 and AS/400 strategies, where you host hundreds of virtual sessions on the big iron. However technically the analogies doesn't get too far. Although IBM speaks of adding, Linux instances would be shared everything SMP model, all managed by the single instance of The plan is to get the Non Stop Clusters services available to the hosted Linux applications eventually. Scaldera (how much longer, Lord, before this merge is approved) has already said it plans to merge NSC into the main UnixWare kernel.

SCO chief Doug Michels said the test of a decent host environment was if it could install any off the shelf Linux distro, and run applications faster than Linux could on the same hardware. For non-Unixware sites, it might provoke response of why bother? But for existing UnixWare sites, if cost and performance live up to billing, it could be pretty attractive.

Keep an eye on the official Web site, although it's empty at the moment. "Sometimes engineering is ahead of marketing," explains the good Doctor.

We asked SCO if they thought that Microsoft could, or would want to ape this strategy by offering a Linux environment over Windows 2000? After all, it has an ancient POSIX layer in there, and has worked with Interix to provide Unix hosts. "It's only software," reckons Doug Michels. "And we could then run Tarantella on it..." ®

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