Another side of the SCO story

Dan Kusnetzky remembers the Santa Cruz Operation and Caldera/The SCO group

My ZDnet colleague Dana Blankenhorn posted SCO story ends with a whimper today. I thought that I'd take a moment out of my time at the Uptime Institute event in Atlanta to comment on Dana's post.  Although Dana called the company "SCO", the actual name of that company was "The SCO Group." SCO, is something else completely.  It's a common mistake, so I won't criticize Dana.

I remember The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) when it was an innovative supplier of UNIX software for Intel-based systems.  At one point, SCO was the leading supplier of UNIX software when shipments was the metric.  They were never in a leadership position when revenues produced by those shipments were concerned. It was possible to put together UNIX-based computing solutions that were amazingly cost effective.

It would have been hard for a business person to go through a day without touching or being touched by a system running SCO UNIX or SCO OpenServer. The software was everywhere doing things like running elevators, acting as a point-of-sale server supporting cash registers, being the main computing environment for many small to medium organizations or supporting distributed sites for larger organizations.

SCO put on an annual event at the University of California Santa Cruz, called SCO Forum, that was one of the highlights of my year.  I was invited to speak for 8 or 9 years running and always enjoyed the event.

The growth of Windows and Linux as server operating environments put great stress on the Intel/UNIX market. The resulting decline in revenues forced SCO to sell its assets to Caldera, one of the Linux distributions. Caldera renamed itself "The SCO Group" in hopes of capturing some of the mind share that SCO held in the market.

For a time, Caldera/The SCO Group's song was UNIX and Linux living together, sharing the same tools and being part of a loving, happy family. Software for SCO UNIX could be found on the same FTP server Caldera used for their free distributions of Linux software.  When Darl McBride was appointed CEO, the message and the music changed.

Dana explained a bit about what happened next. The SCO Group decided that litigation and forced licensing was a better way to increase revenues than continue to drive towards innovative products.That plan didn't work as well as Mr. McBride intended, however.

I'll remember SCO fondly.  I won't remember The SCO Group with the same fondness.

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