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Darl's Open Letter, "Long Live UNIX," and other PR Blizzardry from SCOForum
Monday, August 08 2005 @ 12:32 PM EDT

SCO CEO Darl McBride has sent the world another open letter, "Long Live UNIX: An Open Letter from Darl McBride, President and CEO, The SCO Group". He trash talks Linux again, which will not surprise you, and uses Microsoft's "Get the Facts" technique of quoting only positive and selective statements, some from controversial entities (like mi2g), that don't stand up under closer examination.

He tries to present Linux as a "paradise for hackers". That is ironic coming from a company whose website was attacked and completely shut down for days by those we now know were Windows "hackers" (they were really crackers, professional gangs spreading spam, but since Darl used the word hacker, I did too). Then there is their record of patching flaws. Not so good. It also flies in the face of dominant thought among security experts. Look at the most recent SANS report, and you'll see Red Hat Linux barely shows up at all (the two issues were already patched by the time of the report), as Red Hat highlights on its website under the Latest News banner, "Linux Network Security Higher than Other Platforms", and properly so:

The report identified the top twenty Internet security vulnerabilities. Of the twenty, only two affected Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscribers, for which Red Hat has already issued patches via Red Hat Network.

"There are many research reports that try to compare the number of vulnerabilities between Linux and other operating systems but none take into account the severity of the issues." said Mark Cox head of the Red Hat security response team, "This report shows there are relatively few critical issues affecting users of Linux based operating systems." . . .

Established in 1989, SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, Security) is a leading source for information security training and certification. SANS also develops, maintains, and makes available at no cost, the largest collection of research documents about various aspects of information security, and operates the Internet's early warning system - Internet Storm Center. Its programs now reach more than 165,000 security professionals, auditors, system administrators, network administrators, chief information security officers, and CIOs who share the lessons they are learning and jointly find solutions to the challenges they face.

Here's a list of the SANS experts, and as you can see, it includes Jerry Dixon: Deputy Director National Cyber Security Division for the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), as well as experts from the British National Infrastructure Security Co-Ordination Center. (NISCC) and the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre. So, there you have it, folks. Do a Google search for mi2g, by all means, and then decide who you wish to believe, them or the SANS Institute.

eWeek mentions the SANS report as well:
A recent report by The SANS Institute, of Bethesda, Md., found that RHEL subscribers are less susceptible to network security holes than users of other platforms. Of the top 20 Internet security vulnerabilities identified in the report, just two affected RHEL subscribers, and patches for those have already been issued.

Red Hat and HP are announcing security initiatives at LinuxWorld, but it's really mainly for antiFUD purposes. You can buy an antivirus product for Linux, but for which viruses? Go ahead, if it makes you feel better, of course.

But the oddest quotation is from a headline from eWeek. The headline reads,"OpenServer 6 is a Winner." But did you see the article itself? It's by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, and he writes that in his opinion, he can't recommend OpenServer 6. The article begins like this:

Opinion: Now if only SCO wasn't such a loser. There are two real reasons that OpenServer can't win a recommendation. . . .

I've also long recommended SCO OpenServer as the best x86 Unix bar none. Then, Linux came along. By January 2001, when Linux 2.4 came along, the handwriting was on the wall. Unix on Intel had long been a niche product, but Linux was bigger and better. . . .

Ironically enough, though, right after its improved scalability, OpenServer's best feature is its strong collection of open-source software. Legend, the code name for OpenServer 6, comes with Apache 1.3, Mozilla 1.7, Samba 3.0.13, MySQL (the community version), OpenSSL, and the PostgreSQL database. It also uses KDE for its graphical interface.

Amazing isn't it? It's all quite legal, by the way. Open source means open to everyone—even its enemies.

There are two real reasons that while I really like OpenServer technically, I can't recommend it. The first is, irregardless of my personal opinions on the lack of merits to SCO's courtroom shenanigans, it's hard to see how SCO can survive the sheer volume of its law suits. If IBM doesn't get them, then Novell—who's really going after them now with hammer and tongs—will. To make it out of its legal morass, SCO has to win them all. Its enemies only need to win once.

And, the other is simply that, as good as OpenServer is, the business Linuxes from Novell and Red Hat are simply better and cheaper. Even SCO's strong reseller channel, its ace in the hole for many years, is matched by Novell's channel partners.

No, much as I may like OpenServer the product; SCO, the company, just has too much trouble on its hands for me to recommend its operating systems.

Amazing indeed. No wonder they call their product "Project Fusion" in a second PR release. They also announced Tim Negris as their new VP for marketing and announce a partnership with Cymphonix. Perhaps this is all his handiwork?

Now, you tell me. How did the headline from that eWeek article become that OpenServer 6 is a winner? And why did no one fix such a blooper, if it wasn't intentionally and cynically done? The article was published on August 1. Another odd thing. That headline was listed on Yahoo! SCOX message board until today. Now you can't find it even in the old headlines, or at least I couldn't. You can't find it on Google either, searching by the title. I had to go to eWeek itself and search for it.

Of course, McBride doesn't tell you the headline comes from eWeek, so you can't look it up and see how the headline distorted the content, but surely he knows that Groklaw would notice and would point it out. Don't they ever get tired of being shown to be less than straightforward, shall we say? This isn't quite as bad as movie studios quoting nonexistent reviewers, but it's in the ball park. If SCO's not getting tired of being shown up, fine and dandy. We're not tired over here either. And it's fine with me if people want to buy OpenServer 6. I would say this: if you trust Darl McBride, soldier on and buy his products, by all means.

Update: Darl has also posted this letter on his site Eventually, they tried to use robots.txt to block Wayback, but they were only partially successful, which is kind of par for the course.


Long Live UNIX: An Open Letter from Darl McBride, President and CEO, The SCO Group

LINDON, Utah, Aug. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --

Three years ago, when I first joined The SCO Group, we focused the company on the area that was most profitable and provided the most benefit to customers, investors, resellers, developers and employees: UNIX. People thought we were crazy. But since SCO owns the UNIX operating system and it made up 95 percent of our company's revenue, and we were getting strong demand from customers for a next generation version of UNIX, that's where we concentrated our efforts.

Since then, people have often asked me, "Is SCO a company that is really focused on innovating products and technology or are you just hoping to win a lawsuit against IBM and then ride off into the sunset?" "Isn't SCO just all about defeating Linux?" Of course we are innovating and we absolutely want to defeat Linux, just as we want to defeat any other competitor. We work and live in a competitive environment, as do most companies. The competitive battle between Pepsi and Coke is legendary, as is the battle between GM and Ford, Boeing and Airbus, and the Red Sox and Yankees.

If you had a chance to walk the halls of SCO's offices, you would clearly know that we are a company focused on furthering SCO UNIX and innovating in new product areas. Some of these developments we've been public about and others will be introduced in the coming months. One thing is certain: while our lawyers are protecting UNIX in the courtroom, SCO is clearly focused on winning in the marketplace with superior technology and better value for our customers.

In June, we released SCO OpenServer 6, which was a multi-year, multi-million dollar development effort that resulted in a product that goes beyond simply leveling the playing field with Linux. Based on the feedback from our strategic partners, customers, resellers, engineers, and many others, I believe SCO OpenServer 6 outshines Linux on a number of fronts:

1. OpenServer 6 Costs Less - OpenServer 6 offers very aggressive pricing. The purchase price for SCO OpenServer 6 is priced from $599 to $1399 which includes the license to the product, software fixes, and access to SCO's online knowledge base. Customers pay once for the product and run it for as long as they like.

Linux vendors, on the other hand, seem to have a "bait and switch" pricing model. The initial attraction to Linux was a price tag of zero cost. Yet, they typically charge customers from $349 to $2,499 every single year. Calculating the cost of running Linux over a five year period of time, that same customer pays from $1,745 to $12,495. Since the Linux license itself is "free," are you really happy to be paying annual subscription fees that are, in effect, higher than SCO's price for both licenses and software fixes?

Is Linux really free? Of course not.

"Free" is one of the most searched words on the Web today. When you type in "Free" in Yahoo search, it brings up more than 3 billion hits. "Free" is a very powerful marketing concept. We all love free. Linux lures you in with the promise of its being "free." But before you get out of the "store," you are surprised to find out that it was anything but free. Just remember the proverb, "Free is the most expensive price."

2. SCO Has a Superior Kernel - SCO OpenServer 6 includes the UNIX System V Release 5 (SVR5) kernel, the result of more than 25 years of high-end development work that has created a proven track record of stability and reliability. With our latest release, OpenServer provides support for up to 32 processors, 64 GB of memory, terabyte file sizes, and full support for multi-threaded applications. Linux is still young from an operating system perspective. I would challenge any kernel out there to match us head-to-head. While Linux may appeal to some as the sleek, new "racer" on the track, the experienced IT professional will truly see the real power under the hood when they test the UNIX kernel and the tried and true power of UNIX combined with the new capabilities of SCO OpenServer 6.

3. OpenServer Has Better Security - IT managers rank security today as one of the most important decision factors in selecting an operating system. According to technology risk management firm mi2g, SCO OpenServer is one of the most secure operating systems in the world. A study confirmed that SCO UNIX platforms had the lowest number of vulnerabilities of any operating system they had studied. SCO OpenServer 6 has all the latest security protocols and encryption systems.

We also believe in quickly responding to the latest security threats. In CNET's, May 27, 2005 article entitled "OS Makers Slow to Fix Flaw," a vulnerability was discovered affecting Intel's hyperthreading and allows a local hacker to steal sensitive information. A notification was given to all operating system vendors in March. "FreeBSD security team member Percival has received formal responses to the issue from the makers of the BSD family of open-source operating systems, as well as SCO and Ubuntu Linux. However, Linux vendors Red Hat, Novell and Mandriva have been slow to act, as has Microsoft," he said. SCO was first to respond to the security threat.

Unfortunately for Linux, mi2g also confirmed that the Linux operating system has become somewhat of a hacker's paradise. In a study conducted only seven months ago they found that overall, the most vulnerable operating system for manual hacker attacks was Linux, accounting for 65.64% of all hacker breaches reported.

Regarding Linux vulnerabilities, mi2g stated, "For how long can the truth remain hidden that the great emperors of the software industry are wearing no clothes fit for the fluid environment in which computing takes place, where new threats manifest every hour of every day."

4. SCO Has a Customer-Driven Roadmap - Customers expect to see a published roadmap of product development. Linux development plans and schedules are generally as unknown as they are unpredictable. Contrary to that approach, SCO believes in a solid, public, and planned roadmap based on the tried and true methodology of listening to customers, evaluating technology and bringing it to market in a timely manner. SCO is committed to deliver on its roadmap promises -- on time and on target.

Linux will likely continue to face challenges about its development methodologies and roadmaps as long as it continues to be a loosely organized set of volunteers who develop what they want, when they want.

5. OpenServer 6 is Backward Compatible - In listening to our customers, we've received the strong message that backward compatibility is essential. Backward compatibility is almost non-existent for Linux customers. Linux has a "community" of contributing volunteers, and while some would say this is a boon for Linux, I would characterize it as a bane because channeling all of these contributions into another point release for Linux inevitably causes problems. Who is checking for compatibility across thousands of applications, drivers, hardware and peripherals? Who is verifying backward compatibility? When a new upgrade of Linux is required, software vendors and end users most likely have to upgrade their application as well.

SCO OpenServer 6 customers get a stable operating system with full compatibility for applications back to the earliest versions of SCO OpenServer and Xenix. SCO customers don't worry that their application won't run with the new version of their SCO operating system because backward compatibility is built into each new release. It's part of the product release criteria, and SCO's focused engineering team makes it happen every time. As is the case with OpenServer 6, older applications written on this operating system work seamlessly with the new features and capabilities built into the product.

6. SCO Allows You to Focus on Your Core Competency - A popular animation on the Internet features a guy named Steve, the Linux Super Villain. During the course of the 60 second animation, he describes his work with Linux stating, "First you have to config it, then write some shell scripts, update your RPMs, partition your drives, patch your kernel, compile your binaries and check your version dependencies..." While the animation is designed to be humorous, it's not far from the truth. If you're adopting Linux, get prepared to go into the operating system business because that's exactly the path you will be taking.

One of the primary reasons customers choose SCO is that they don't want to be an operating system vendor. They want to be free to manage their businesses, and leave the operating system details to SCO and our army of resellers, support engineers, and product development personnel.

7. SCO Owns and Warrantees its Products - SCO owns the OpenServer 6 operating system that it licenses to its customers. SCO also owns the UNIX operating system technology that has been licensed to thousands of firms over the years. Alternatively, Linux distributors ship an operating system for which they have little control and no ownership. In fact, the General Public License, which governs the use and distribution of the Linux operating system, makes it clear that Linux conveys no warranty to end users. From the standpoint of intellectual property rights, SCO OpenServer 6 is backed by a company that warrantees its products.

8. SCO is Unifying its Code Base - Yogi Berra once said, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." Forking is exactly what is happening to Linux. The grand promise of Linux was that it wouldn't fork or fragment into multiple Linux operating systems. A noble sentiment, to be sure; but Linux distributors have ensured exactly the opposite. They are attempting to get ISVs locked into a specific flavor of Linux, thereby forking Linux with every new version of the product.

By not certifying any of the "free" versions of their operating system (like Fedora), they instead concentrate their efforts on only certified, "paid for" versions. They have caused the very problem that they promised they would never create. The problem is compounded when software and hardware partners are forced to certify to multiple Linux distributions.

While UNIX has had its own history of forking, SCO is committed to a policy of converging and unifying its code base as is evident with the release of OpenServer 6. To simplify the vender certification process, OpenServer 6 has actually reduced the number of certifications required of our software and hardware partners by providing a single-certification for applications that now run on both UnixWare and OpenServer. These partners welcome the opportunity for the industry to create fewer certifications rather than more.

9. SCO UNIX: Legendary Reliability - Customers value and trust a vendor whose products provide reliability and stability year after year. A good operating system is like a strong building foundation, you may not think about it everyday, but you're glad it's there.

Some of the world's largest and most well-known companies trust SCO to run their business. One large SCO customer has chosen OpenServer as its operating system of choice in thousands of locations due to this legendary reliability. Their method of deployment was recently described to me this way: "We put the server in a closet, lock the door, and hide the key. We never have to touch it again." I believe this is a key competitive advantage for OpenServer.

10. SCO Has an Award-Winning Support Team - Customers of OpenServer 6 have access to a support team that knows the product inside and out. They have decades of experience with our product line and are available around the world and around the clock. In addition, the SCO support team has access to the very development engineers who created the product. This cannot be said of Linux distributions. For most customers who have an immediate need, SCO can respond much faster than Linux because our support staff is in-house and has direct access to the developers to answer all customer questions.

Conversely, when Linux customers run into problems and need professional technical support they really have only two choices. First, they can turn to the Linux distributor who played a big role in packaging the product but had nothing to do with its core development. Or second, they can turn to the Linux volunteer community. These volunteers were not paid to develop the product; and they received nothing from the Linux distributor, there's no obligation for that volunteer to support the product. Would you really want to trust the backbone of your business to the likely unpredictable response times of this Linux "volunteer fire department" support model?

So that's my "Top 10 List" of reasons you should consider SCO UNIX as an alternative to Linux. Of course you, the reader, probably think this byline is biased. Of course it is. But what are the press saying about OpenServer 6? Here is a quick sampling of recent sound bites:
"OpenServer 6's features form a very powerful server."

"The price, for what you get, offers a significant return on investment that cannot be overlooked."

"This makes a powerful and reliable server combination that should meet the needs of most organizations."

"Sporting an updated kernel, The SCO Group Inc.'s OpenServer 6 offers significant scalability upgrades, along with new UnixWare application and driver compatibility. These improvements, along with a set of new and updated open-source software components, make OpenServer 6 a compelling upgrade for sites already running this venerable operating system."

"SCO OpenServer 6 is a Winner"

I'm very proud of the work our SCO team has put into OpenServer 6. We recognize that we're not perfect and there is much work to be done. However, as the stewards of the UNIX operating system, SCO is committed to providing technology leadership and delivering on the promise of UNIX-based solutions for many years to come.

SOURCE The SCO Group Web Site:

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