Granted, I'm not a Groklaw junkie. Lawsuits are the epitome of bureaucratic boring and are not a creational activity. So, keep in mind that I only read the occasional major headlines from The SCO Group's escapade in futility. It does come as a relief that the show is finally over.

The situation in many ways paralleled the AT&T UNIX lawsuit of the '90s. It is every bit as ironic considering, for instance, that BSD folks were largely responsible for the success of UNIX. In SCO's case, their OS (SVr4 UNIX) is based largely on the work of Research UNIX, BSD, and even includes a wide selection of GNU tools in userland.

Except this time, no offending code was ever demonstrated, just a straw-man argument and utter defeat.

Still, I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness over the whole affair. Santa Cruz Operation and System V UNIX were respectable in their time. My guess is that SCO along with UnixWare (the natural evolution of System V) will fade into oblivion along side the countless other dead UNIX implementations. Linux zealots often take jabs at other implementations, but I think UnixWare could have held a viable, if niche, place in the enterprise had been under proper stewardship.

As time goes on, the UNIX diaspora seems to be waning. We are left with, essentially:

  • Linux, with a mostly GNU userland as the heavyweight contender
  • The BSDs, perhaps equal or greater in architectural quality but relatively unknown giants. We can however lump Mac OS X in here which is the most widely used.
  • Solaris, which might be considered an open source System V fork. An interesting OS that has a a great lineage and potential, but lacks in trust and certainty for contributors at the moment.
  • AIX, a System V and BSD hybrid with plenty of IBM thrown in for good measure. Perhaps the gold bar and only remaining competitive mid-iron standard due to IBM's silicon prowess.
  • HP-UX, an older System V linage perhaps on a slow deathbed due to reliance on the vapid Itanium

History has been unforgiving to those companies that try to unfairly weasel programmers and users in this market. The lesson is to work with and encourage your development community and not bite the hand that feeds. My eyes are on Oracle for the time being. Sun had a hard enough time nurturing the Solaris community despite being a favorable company, and Oracle can just as easily kill this operating system through boneheaded maneuvers if it is not careful.


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