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Linux/Unix battle hots up at Caldera; only one to survive

Oct 17, 2000, 14:32 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Cath Everett)

By Cath Everett, VNU Net

Unix and Linux will fight each other for supremacy over the next 18 months but only one can survive, according to Caldera Systems.

The statement follows the Linux distributor's decision to acquire the Santa Cruz Operation's (SCO's) Unix business in August for an estimated bargain basement price of $130m. The agreement includes rights to SCO's Unix SVR5 source code and the UnixWare and OpenServer operating systems (OSs).

The deal was expected to close in October, but will now be completed between 5-10 December.

Edgie Donakey, Caldera's vice president and chief of staff, said that the two companies were currently reselling each other's products, but that the aim over the next six months or so was to offer two new OSs.

One will be based on the Linux kernel and will include two so-called personalities that run OpenServer and Linux applications, while the other will be based on the UnixWare kernel and run Linux and UnixWare applications.

But Donakey claimed that only one of the kernels would remain within the next 18 months.

"It will not be a two kernel situation into the future. As the Linux kernel develops and the Unix kernel is open sourced, the solution will be whichever works the best. It will be the survival of the fittest. People are not doing a lot of development on the Unix kernel these days because people see Linux as exciting and the future," he said.

He added that Drew Spencer, Caldera's chief technology officer, and the supplier's legal department were now looking at the ramifications of licensing the Unix kernel and UnixWare personality under a GNU General Public Licence - one of several ways to license open source software.

This means that the source code would be made available to the open source community for free to allow them to tinker with it, but that any changes would have to be handed back so that others can benefit from them.

As a result, the aim is to encourage kernel and application developers to work on the code and to "give them added insight into the way the OS works".

Original equipment manufactures, such as IBM and Hewlett Packard, would still have to pay a fee to license the SVR5 Unix kernel source code, however, if they wish it to remain the basis of their own commercial iterations of Unix.

Donakey added that over the next six months, Caldera will target the Linux-based offering at the desktop and low-end server markets to run on machines of up to two processors, while the UnixWare-based product would be positioned as a high-end system for machines using four chips or more.

Users wanting to migrate their Linux packages from the low-end to the high-end OS will be able to do so because the Linux personalities will be binary compatible.

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