It rained on the real Unix parade

It rained on the real Unix parade

Do not believe it when you are told it never rains in Santa Cruz, California, in August. It did this year.

It spoiled the really big party night Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) has each year for its followers - those devoted to developing, selling and supporting systems written in Unix.

They soon tired of stomping around in the mud even if the beer was free. Most of them drifted back into town to the numerous bars.

But more of this later.

As in the 10 previous years, several thousand on the Unix bandwagon came to this pretty city on the edge of Monterey Bay. Each day for a week they boarded the shuttle buses to be ferried from downtown hotels to the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California where the SCO Forum is held. And, yes, this year as in previous years, the air was full of "we hate Microsoft" stories.

This year it was different but it was hard to see if SCO realised why.

Compaq used the occasion to announce it was offering SCO Unix with its servers. The Big Texan was also pouring millions of dollars into a joint marketing effort with SCO to push Unix.

The man from Compaq looked bored at the announcement. After all, the company has similar deals with other major players - including Microsoft.

From Compaq's point of view, it was simply endorsing an operating system of choice for a percentage of its customers.

Let's face it, Compaq doesn't care if you sell a server with Unix, Windows NT or Operating System X, as long as the hardware carries a Compaq badge.

The man from SCO was more enthusiastic. He, rightly, saw it as a coming of age for Unix.

It was as if Unix was now mainstream. There were hints of similar deals being cut with other major hardware vendors.

IBM has already endorsed SCO Unix for its servers but fallen short of a joint marketing deal.

(At this year's Forum, IBM sponsored the production of the Forum's pocket guide and one of its South American operations kitted out the entire South American contingent to Forum with bright yellow windcheater jackets.)Establishing ownershipSCO also moved to establish its firm ownership of Unix. Combining the best of SCO OpenServer with UnixWare pushes Unix further up the food chain to the point where it really has the size, scalability and stability to become the operating system of choice for an enterprise.

It also used the Forum to launch Tarantella - a software vehicle for the delivery of applications to any Java technology-enabled client.

But at SCO Forum, there was still a lot of "Let's get Microsoft" floating around the spectacular setting of UC's Santa Cruz campus.

It was somehow symbolic that it rained on the night of the big party.

"It never, ever, rains in Santa Cruz in August," muttered the stunned people from SCO.

The rest of us said that if it looked like rain, felt like rain and fell from the sky like rain, then it probably was rain.

And just like it does in the real world it always rains when you least expect it.

On a wet Wednesday night in Santa Cruz, Unix joined the real world. I hope SCO noticed.

John Costello travelled to SCO Forum as a guest of SCO

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