Logging on the first time, I found a pretty bare-bones system. For instance, neither of the shells tcsh or bash were installed (which was annoying as I can't imagine using a system without one of the two). Also installed is a built-in UnixWare (non-GCC) C compiler, but not a C++ compiler (see the compiling section for more on this).
One of the oddities I found while using this system was the tar utility. UnixWare's version of tar is very garrulous, and will throw warnings all over the place.
x tcsh-6.12.00/win32/stdio.c, 15774 bytes, 31 tape blocks UX:tar: WARNING: Cannot get passwd information for christos UX:tar: WARNING: tcsh-6.12.00/win32/stdio.c: owner not changed
It'll send warnings on just about everything, which can be very frustrating if you're trying to follow along with what files are actually being unpacked. You can of course suppress these warnings, but that means using a different syntax than you're probably used to. Installing GNU's tar, which of course does not suffer that malady, is probably a better solution.
The overall feel greatly resembles Solaris, owing of course to their common System V heritage. The package management system is very familiar, and includes the familiar commands
pkginfo, although the syntax is a bit different. On Solaris, I'd typically do
pkgadd –d . or
pkgadd –d packagefile.pkg to install a package. In UnixWare, that particular syntax does not work, so to add a package file you'd
run cat packagefile.pkg | pkgadd -d –.
When checking out the file system, I was surprised to learn UnixWare includes a version of the venerable Veritas File System (vxfs). You can use the old stalwart UFS, but there are several advantages to using vxfs, primarily speed and fscking issues.
The history of UnixWare is a bit confusing. (Take a look at this site for a more detailed chronicle of UnixWare's history, as well as the history of Unix in general.) UnixWare jumped from version 2.1.2 to version 7 in 1998. Then, in 2001, the new release of UnixWare 7 suddenly became Open UNIX 8 (7.1.2?). In 2002, Open UNIX 8 was updated as UnixWare 7.1.3.
One side effect of this constant name changing is that it sometimes confuses build scripts when compiling software (as it did with tcsh).
The login screen, again familiar if you're used to Solaris, offers either a CDE, KDE (Linux-based), or OKP login environment. (OKP is the OpenServer Kernel Personality). The CDE desktop is fairly Spartan, with no fancy anti-aliased fonts and a color scheme that makes Solaris's CDE desktop look like Mac OS X, but it's fully functional.
Aside from the bland CDE layout, the graphical SCO administration application was impressive, and it included the ability to choose not only the screen resolution, but the refresh rate (something missing in most Linux installs, and Solaris). It's a full featured graphical administration program, allowing one to administer mail, file systems, process priorities, and more all from a graphical menu.
One oddity of the UnixWare X11 install is that it's X11R5, not X11R6. I didn't compile any X11 applications, so I wonder what kind of problems this might present. The Linux emulation environment sports an X11R6 installation.
Software availability is certainly not one of UnixWare's more attractive areas. As far as modern enterprise applications go, there's just not a lot available. Sun's Java is only current through 1.3. Oracle hasn't released a UnixWare port for a while, and are not planning on doing any future releases. UnixWare just doesn't seem to be on the radar for enterprise application developers.
The solution, for the most part, is to run applications (such as Oracle) on UnixWare's Linux Kernel Personality (LKP), its Linux emulation environment (discussed later in this review). I could see this making sense in situations where most of the software is running UnixWare natively, with a few applications required that only run Linux running in the LKP. But I can't see it making any sense to run the UnixWare operating system and having all the applications running in the LKP.
SCO has a "skunkware" download site, which includes pre-compiled UnixWare binary versions of open source applications such as Apache and GCC. Some of the pre-compiled binaries are old, and I wouldn't recommend running them (for instance, Apache 1.3.26 and PHP-4.1.2 are the most recent on the site, while Apache 1.3.29 and PHP 4.3.4 are out now). If you do use one of these pre-compiled, make sure it's a version that doesn't include known security vulnerability.