While I doubt the package contained pure evil (in fact, I was pretty sure it contained some install CDs and perhaps some manuals), I'm sure many of my friends as well as tens of thousands of others in the open source community would conclude otherwise.
For you see, the package was from SCO. Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnn.
The purpose of that lame little melodrama was to illustrate the rather unique context of this operating system review. I want to be as objective as possible, but I'd be a fool to think such a review could possibly avoid the controversy and raw emotions surrounding the company offering the product I've chosen to evaluate.
The SCO Group has earned their now nefarious reputation of pure evil from the open source community and others for their recent legal tactics. However, separate from the legal arguments and the drama of the battle of the open letters, SCO does actually sell a product (beyond "licenses" for Linux).
Actually, they have a pair of Unix offerings: UnixWare and OpenServer. SCO recently announced they'd sold licenses to these products to a number of companies, including McDonald's and Warner Brothers. Not having used either, and giving the mounting controversy, I decided to take a look at what SCO considers their premier Unix offering, UnixWare 7.1.3. Drama aside, UnixWare is an operating system that people do use, so I figured it's worth a look and arranged to do an evaluation.
The Test System
The system I used to test is definitely not top of the line, but it is indicative of the type of hardware currently still commonly used in a server environment. It's also the only system I currently have available to perform such evaluations.
Vendor: VA Linux
Processor: (2) Intel Pentium IIIs at 600 MHz, 256 KB cache
Motherboard: Intel L440GX+
RAM: 512 MB PC133 ECC
DISK: (1) 9 GB Maxtor SCSI LVD 10,000 RPM
SCSI Controller: Adaptec AIC-7896 Dual Channel
Video: Cirrus Logic GD 5480 2 MB RAM
Installation was fairly straightforward. It's a text-based installation, and while not as fancy as the newer graphical-based installations, it was still fully functional. UnixWare had no problem recognizing any of my hardware, and installed the drivers automatically.
The only real difference from most installations, including a recent Solaris installation I performed, was the prompting for a license key. If you lack a license key, you can defer entering one in favor of an evaluation license which is good for 60 days. I didn't have a license key, so I opted for the evaluation license. It took about 20 minutes to get the first CD loaded, and then prompted me for a reboot.
After the system rebooted, the installation continues by asking to insert each CD (there were 5), and prompting for which packages on the CDs I'd like to install. This was very different than the usual "pick what packages you want to install, and I'll figure out which CDs you need" method more commonly used by installers. This was much more time consuming, and it required a much higher level of interaction.
The packages on these install CDs had their own very unique install scripts, and there were additional license keys required for several of the portions, including the NeTraverse Merge, ReliantHA Host Monitoring Software, and others. It seemed a bit disjointed and patched-together.
You can defer going through the other CDs which is what I'd recommend as it saves quite a bit of time. UnixWare and most of what you need comes on the first disk and installs in about 20 minutes. You can go back and install the other packages later if necessary.
Despite using a dual-processor system, SMP support is a licensed feature, so this installation only recognized one of the two processors.