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UNIX in the 1990s-2002 - Was SCO the Market Leader?
Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 06:26 PM EST

As you know, I've been going through all our records during a lull in SCO activity, trying to get Groklaw caught up so we can complete our preservation work. And we're making some progress.

Here's something. I found a 2001 DH Brown comparative technical assessment of Unix players. Guess who was the UNIX leader? Sun Solaris won that year. HP won the following year. So exactly how is SCO a market leader in the first wave of UNIX beginning in the 1990s, as SCO alleged in its recent Disclosure Statement in its bankruptcy, followed by Linux in the next wave? IBM references SCO's claims on page 18 of IBM's Objections [PDF] to SCO's Motion to Approve Disclosure Statement. IBM quotes SCO:

If one were to think about the landscape of UNIX-based application platforms, SCO would be the clear leader in the first wave with 43% market share in the 1990s. The second wave would see Linux at the forefront being led by IBM.
SCO's UnixWare came in dead last overall, as I'll show you in some screen shots I took for you, because the 2001 DH Brown report is no longer available online, that I could find. At the time, the executive summary was free to the public. But you know me and copyright law. I try to be a good do-be, so I'll just show you just some fair use bits and pieces. You can purchase the complete report from DH Brown. So, fair warning to those of you on dial up -- graphics ahoy!

UnixWare only got an OK rating, dead last, in the Executive Summary:

You can still read the press release, by the way, in a couple of places:

D. H. Brown Associates, Inc. ( has released its 2001 UNIX Function Review, a detailed technical assessment of the functional capabilities of five leading UNIX operating systems.

The study employed more than 115 technical criteria to rank the systems across five major functional areas: Scalability; Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS); System Management; Internet and Web Application Services; and Directory and Security Services. The studied systems include Compaq's Tru64 UNIX 5.1, Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX 11i, IBM's AIX 4.3.3, Santa Cruz Operation's UnixWare 7.1.1, and Sun Microsystems' Solaris 8.

SCO ranked high in terms of Linux interoperability, but so did Solaris, according to the 2001 UNIX Function Review, but in everything else, SCO was definitely not the leader.

As for market share, I think any SCO claims relate to Unix *on Intel*, not to the market as a whole:

UNIXWARE 7.1.1: Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) historically dominated the UNIX-on-Intel market with over 85% of marketshare and a deep understanding of the platform. SCO achieved its position through its long-standing OpenServer product. This product generated a respectable set of third-party solutions for meeting small-business requirements. More important, SCO gained expertise in supporting the vast and diverse array of hardware that permeates the Intel X86 landscape, offering a competency matched only by Microsoft. In recent years, SCO has focused on the more advanced UnixWare, which it acquired from Novell in 1996. UnixWare is an implementation of System V Release 5 (SVR5) with PC-oriented networking extensions, integrated Internet connectivity, and enhancements targeting reliability and scalability. UnixWare 7 allowed SCO to make the leap from targeting small-to-medium-sized businesses to become a serious UNIX competitor, poised to take on enterprise requirements. However, despite its early success in lining up OEM partners, SCO was unable to continue the investments in UnixWare required to compete with the heavyweight UNIX systems from Sun, HP, IBM, and Compaq. SCO announced in late 1998 that it would no longer position UnixWare as an enterprise platform when IA-64 arrived, choosing instead to embrace the AIX kernel as the foundation for the next-generation “Monterey” product.

Since then, SCO took a step further and announced that it would sell all of its UNIX products, including OpenServer and UnixWare, to Caldera Systems Inc., a leading Linux-distribution supplier. The transaction has not yet been completed, but Caldera has stated that it will sustain SCO’s efforts to enhance UnixWare for IA-32 platforms, which will remain relevant for some time until IA-64 enters mainstream markets. Caldera also plans to introduce a “Linux Kernel Personality” (LKP) for UnixWare that will allow it to run Linux applications. Caldera plans to position UnixWare as a kind of super-charged Linux environment that is fully compatible with other Linux distributions, but has more powerful functions under the hood than the traditional Linux kernel. To deliver on this promise, however, Caldera will have to marshal sufficient development resources to keep up with the investments of the established enterprise competitors....

UnixWare’s scalability fundamentally depends on the capabilities of the Intel server architecture, which will not complete its transition to 64-bits until later this year. UnixWare supports state-of-the-art enterprise servers based on current IA32 processors, including the Unisys ES7000, a mainframe-class machine that can be configured with up to 32 processors and up to 64 GB of memory. 10 Although UnixWare supports all 32 processors in ES7000, the maximum SMP configuration for which UnixWare has produced credible database-benchmark evidence on is eight processors. Like AIX and Solaris, UnixWare supports file systems and files up to one TB.... UnixWare supports up to 32 processors in SMP systems, but very few Intel X86based servers currently support more than eight processors. TPC-C results for UnixWare have only been produced on an eight-way server (41,085 tpmC on the Unisys ES2085R). However, Unisys recently began shipping a 32-way ES7000 server that supports UnixWare, so more competitive results may well appear in the future. AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, and Tru64 UNIX have all run natively on 64-bit processors for years, and have been fully tuned and optimized for their respective environments (see Table 3 below).

Sound like UnixWare was leading the pack? Or OpenServer, for that matter? Or does it sound like a niche product for small to medium businesses on Intel, while the big boys took the rest of the market, the large enterprise customers? So, it comes down to how you define market share. Are you talking numbers of customers, without looking at size of the business or the hardware? Or are you talking about the entire Unix market? It would yield different results, I gather. For example, UnixWare isn't even on the list of supercomputing on page 24 of the DH Brown report. And UnixWare lacked certain functionality that all the others had. For example, the report says "All of the systems except UnixWare allow their respective Windows NT networking services to be protected with HA clustering tools." That's on page 65. And on page 67, it says that all the others, except UnixWare, supported cryptographic hardware:
All of the studied systems except UnixWare support cryptographic hardware, which offloads the encryption task to special-purpose processors, boosting the scalability of secure websites. Indeed, SCO has historically focused on supporting departmental and small-business applications using traditional access methods such as terminals, and UnixWare includes relatively few tools for managing enterprise networks or web-based infrastructures. UnixWare offers very little support for LDAP, runs the fewest non-LDAP directory services, and includes none of the studied network security functions except for TCP/IP wrappers....

All of the studied systems except UnixWare include at least one directory service that is compatible with LDAP V3 (UnixWare still provides an LDAP V2 server). ...

All of the systems except UnixWare allow the LDAP directory service to be integrated with the user login mechanism in the UNIX base operating system.

Here's a tidbit about APIs:

Application Program Interface (API) Compatibility: Although Linux APIs are very similar to those of the studied UNIX systems, there are enough divergences in the names, syntax, and semantics that porting issues will inevitably arise. To overcome these barriers, some UNIX vendors have launched efforts to implement the Linux APIs on their systems as faithfully as possible 45, seeking to allow applications to be recompiled on their platforms with relatively few hitches. The GNU tools and compilers mentioned earlier are of course important for this purpose as well.

UnixWare and the Intel X86 version of Solaris 8 46 each have the ability to actually run existing Linux binaries by including the lxrun tool. UnixWare will strengthen its compatibility for Linux applications with the introduction of its Linux Kernel Personality (LKP) due in the next release scheduled for June of this year, which provides support for a full Linux distribution using the UnixWare 7 kernel. UnixWare 7.1.1 also supports device drivers written to the Uniform Driver Interface (UDI) Version 1.01. Device drivers written to UDI work without recompilation across a number of platforms, including UnixWare, Linux 2.2, and AIX 5.1. UDI support helps Independent Hardware Vendors (IHV’s) who can reduce their investment in device-driver maintenance by writing to UDI. UDI also allows for more advanced execution and protection environments, so that a driver written to UDI that misbehaves cannot, if running in such an environment, bring the entire system down as is the case in most native driver interfaces....

All of the studied systems except UnixWare can also integrate the LDAPdirectory service with their e-mail functions, allowing the sendmail that is included in the base-operating system to perform LDAP X.500 directory lookups. Solaris and Tru64 UNIX also integrate LDAP services with printing....

All of the studied systems support TCP/IP wrappers, and all of the systems except UnixWare provide trusted TCP/IP commands.

Let's look now at some of the graphics, because it will give you a clear picture of where UnixWare really stood in comparison with the others.




System Management:


Get the true picture?

In other progress, all the Comes v. Microsoft exhibits are available now as PDFs, as are the Minnesota antitrust litigation exhibits from Gordon v. Microsoft. We're still working on completing the posting of a description of each of them, but at least the PDFs are there now. You can always find the links to these exhibits from our permanent MS Litigation page.

Update: Q: There is also an interview with SCO's then President of Server Division David McCrabb, dated May 5, 2000 on Slashdot, which includes this tidbit:

Q: Will SCO be contributing / open-sourcing any technology and/or patents that it holds as part of its Linux adoption effort?

Also, did your market research pan out - is Linux really being used in large businesses or is it still primarily used by small startup companies strapped for cash?

McCrabb: SCO is accelerating its participation in, and contributions to, the Open Source Community. In some cases, we will be taking current technology that we think is needed in the Linux market and driving it forward as the project maintainers. Right now, we are focusing on bringing some of our high-performance Intel development tools to Linux.

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