posted by Tony Bourke on Tue 16th Dec 2003 00:42 UTC

"UnixWare, Page 5"
In doing a comparison with other open source and commercial Unix and Unix-like operating systems, UnixWare is significantly more expensive. To illustrate this, I did a quick price comparison between UnixWare, Linux (both free and enterprise), Solaris x86, and FreeBSD. For the comparison, Enterprise Linux is defined as the distributions that come with some level of support (such as Red Hat Enterprise Server, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), and the free Linux would include projects like Slackware and Fedora.




Enterprise Linux

FreeBSD (and other BSDs)

Solaris 9 x86
























(supposedly possible, but no price is listed)

For the pricing I used listed prices from RedHat and SUSE (recently acquired by Novell) for their base packages. Obviously, support levels will differ from vendor to vendor as well as prices based on levels of support, so of course doing your own comparison based on your needs would be beneficial if you're evaluating operating systems.

From this comparison, you can see that UnixWare is dramatically more. On top of that, extras like the UnixWare UDK (and the C++ compiler) and/or access to the UnixWare Update Packs can add significant cost.

UnixWare's Future?

The future of UnixWare seems a bit murky. There's something I noticed while searching through SCO's press releases, or rather something I noticed was missing: Any announcement of 64-bit support for either Itanium 2 or AMD's x86-64 platform. It doesn't appear that 64-bit is on any publicized road map for UnixWare, while other operating systems such as Linux, Solaris, and Windows are either currently supporting or have announced impending support. To me, this is a major strike against UnixWare.

And as I've said before, the SCO litigation can't help UnixWare's adoption, and is probably in fact severely harming it. While not wanting to get into the FUD factor that SCO has been accused of, one wonders what all this could bode for the future of UnixWare.

The Good

The Linux emulation (LKP) works extremely well and I was not able to measure any performance hit from my tests. SCO administration is a good graphical system administration application.

The Bad

There are very few enterprise applications available for UnixWare. Compiling applications is difficult, and requires a greater amount of compiling savvy than Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, and others. The cost is extremely high compared to other free and commercial Unix-type operating systems, and given the limitations, doesn't seem worth it. SCO's legal maneuvers place a dark cloud over the future of UnixWare, and have created an angry backlash.


All in all, it's hard to find a compelling value proposition in UnixWare, even without taking into account the animosity that SCO has generated. When you do consider the SCO issue, (as it is impossible to ignore) the UnixWare story is even less compelling. I can't consider it a leading operating system, in terms of either technology or functionality, and I couldn't imagine any situation where I'd recommend it as a solution.

While The LKP is indeed impressive, it would only make sense running UnixWare-native applications with a need to run a few Linux apps. Given that few commercial applications run natively in UnixWare while most run great in Linux, this doesn't seem to a situation that would be very common.

Linux offers a far greater value and far better enterprise application support. In addition to Linux, FreeBSD and the other BSDs, and Linux offer a far better open source environment, better hardware support, and more features.

If you want to use a commercial Unix for x86 (and one not targeted by SCO – at least not yet), then Solaris x86 is a very strong offering, with far more enterprise applications available, is far less expensive, and leverages a much larger install base than UnixWare.

In short, the lack of commercial applications and user community, the difficulty with open source applications, the SCO litigation, and the high price are all marks against UnixWare. There are just very few reasons to adopt UnixWare as your platform, and plenty of reasons to adopt (or migrate to) other platforms.

Table of contents
  1. "UnixWare, Page 1"
  2. "UnixWare, Page 2"
  3. "UnixWare, Page 3"
  4. "UnixWare, Page 4"
  5. "UnixWare, Page 5"
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