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Santa Cruz and its "Linux Strategy" Back in the 1990s
Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 03:40 AM EDT

Here are some more screenshots for you, showing the real Santa Cruz Operation relationship with Linux before the modern day SCO Group began suing the world and its dog. Back in the late 1990s, Santa Cruz had what it called its "Linux strategy". It included both money and support to help Linux succeed.

Our first headline, from 1998, is "SCO Sponsors Linux." Yes, Santa Cruz represented itself at the time as hopping on board the Linux train, which even back then was being used in the corporate environment. At the time, SCO wanted to encourage Linux as an alternative to Microsoft, which at the time was considered its "enemy". In a press release, it talked about its "ongoing strategy to support the Linux and Open Source movements". Let me show you, please, what I found.

Here it is, and here's a screenshot:

Did you notice that way back in 1998 Santa Cruz realized that Linux was being used in the enterprise? So SCO joined Linux International, which the article says means it gave money to help spread the use of Linux and support to make Linux better. What direction might that support take?

Emulating Linux applications on SCO is likely to be a lot easier, and since most Linux distributions can already emulate SCO binaries, it effectively doubles the potential market for applications, making it a lot more attractive to develop for both platforms. Is this is a tacit acknowledgement of UnixWare's defeat? Since Linux showed up in surveys as the only non-NT operating system to be increasing its market share, everyone from Computer Associates to Informix has jumped on the open source bandwagon.

So, if any UnixWare were to be in Linux, where might it have come from? At a minimum, we can conclude that Santa Cruz wanted Linux and SCO's software to be able to be able to run applications, both ways. And look at this: SCO did a deal with SuSE in 2000:

SCO also recently closed a deal with SuSE Linux AG through which the Santa Cruz Operation will provide its SCO Professional Services to SuSE customers. SCO Professional Services will provide planning, installation, configuration and deployment support and consultation for customers using SuSE's Linux operating system.

And here's another headline, "SCO Contributes to Open Source", from 2000, and another screenshot from it:

So, the handwriting was on the wall, and Santa Cruz began contributing source code to try to represent itself as part of the community. Not everything went smoothly, and when Doug Michels was quoted by the media in 1999 saying some dismissive things about Linux, he felt it necessary to send a letter to the Board of Directors of Linux International, apologizing for media reports he said distorted his words to make them sound negative toward Linux. Here's a screenshot:

Um. Let's look at one part of that statement close up:

So there you have Doug Michels saying that his position was that Linux is a good thing and Santa Cruz wished to promote its success. Nowadays, of course, the modern-day SCO would like to sue your pants off if you try to use it, but we're establishing the history here, not the current revision.

Here's a screenshot from Linux Weekly News, dated 1999, announcing that Santa Cruz had taken an equity stake in Linux Mall:

Here's the meat of the press release referenced:


Expands Strategic Involvement in Linux Community, Takes Stake in Leading Linux Portal

SANTA CRUZ, CA (October 14, SCO (NASDAQ: SCOC) today announced it has made a significant investment and formed a strategic partnership with, the leading Linux e-commerce site and vendor-neutral Linux portal.

As part of its ongoing strategy to support the Linux and Open Source movements, SCO along with Hambrecht & Quist have committed to a substantial investment program, aimed at allowing to dramatically increase their growth. As a result of this investment, SCO becomes the largest external investor and will hold a seat on the board of WGS, Inc., the parent company to

"SCO has a long history in the Open Systems and Open Source movements," said Doug Michels, president and CEO of SCO. "We have been distributing Open Source offerings for over five years as part of our product line. is a fast-growing company with a very compelling business model. The opportunity provides SCO with a way to pursue new business opportunities in the Linux marketplace with a partner that is distribution neutral."

"We're thrilled to be working with SCO. Doug Michels and I have been in contact for many years and I believe that SCO is a perfect partner for a company like," said Mark Bolzern, CEO of "First, SCO's industry and technical experience are very valuable resources for us. Secondly, they are fully committed to the Linux Community. will remain independent, based on the same Community-centered ideals that have made us the number one Linux E-Commerce site and portal for Linux."

As a corporate sponsor of Linux International, SCO is a strong proponent of the Open Source movement, citing it as a driving force for innovation. Over the years, SCO has contributed source code to the movement with lxrun and OpenSAR, and currently offers a free Open Source Software Supplement CD that includes many Open Source technologies. Most recently, SCO announced a comprehensive set of Linux and Open Source-related professional services. See for more on SCO's Linux and Open Source activity.

It's clear Santa Cruz was trying to endear itself to the Linux and Open Source communities. The press release references its "ongoing strategy to support the Linux and Open Source movements".

Here's a vnunet article from 2000, about SCO porting Tarantella to Linux:

And finally, here's a 2000 SCO press release, where SCO said it had been working on Linux for two years:

"SCO has been working on Linux and Open Source initiatives for more than two years," said Mike Orr, senior vice president of worldwide Marketing at SCO. "At LinuxWorld Expo, we will showcase exciting new products and initiatives that will bring UNIX, Linux, and Windows Systems closer together, enabling solution providers to take better advantage of the worldwide network computing infrastructure."

About Linux and SCO Open Source

Over the last eight months, SCO has expanded its strategic business opportunities in the Linux and Open Source markets. SCO has announced an alliance and investment in and a strategic business relationship with TurboLinux. Most recently, SCO announced that it has taken an equity position in Caldera Systems, Inc. Last year, at SCO Forum1999, SCO announced a comprehensive set of Linux and Open Source-related professional services.

As a corporate sponsor of Linux International, SCO is a strong proponent of the Open Source movement, citing it as a driving force for innovation and business opportunities. SCO has contributed source code to the movement with lxrun and OpenSAR, and currently offers a free Open License Software Supplement CD that includes many Open Source technologies.

Here's their motive, according to this article in vnunet in June of 2000:

Linux and Windows NT/2000 continue to squeeze Unix market share. Many pundits will tell you that life is becoming a little too interesting for the old guard. Michael Dell for instance, was spotted in London recently, promoting his vision that Unix will give way to Linux in the not-too-distant future.

Now word has leaked from semi-private briefings that Unix stalwart Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) will release its own Linux distribution by the end of this year. While some are asking what this will mean for the future of Unix and Linux, the real question is: what took it so long?

The writing has been on the wall for some time that SCO was going to evolve, if not into a pure Linux company, then at least into a major Linux player. The firm couldn't afford to let Linux pass it by.

That Linux distro never materialized, that I know of, but because they did the deal with Caldera in August of that year. And if the news leaked that it was planned, is it even conceivable that SCO had no knowledge of the innards of Linux? And would IBM or anyone have any reason to think that donating to Linux would be contrary to SCO's wishes or that it would do anything but help them? Also, for any who may be thinking, but what about the GPL? Here's some evidence Groklaw earlier published that indicates that not only Caldera but Santa Cruz also released code under the GPL.

So, that's enough for one article. But in case SCO is entertaining daydreams about resurrecting SCOsource, I thought it would be useful to make sure this history is part of Groklaw's permanent collection.

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